Egypt: Plan your visit
Let me start by saying that I absolutely love Egypt. From the picturesque markets to the vibrant city centre, this is one of the countries that should be on the top of your travel bucket list. With that said, friends often ask me if Egypt is safe and if it is a good destination for women. There is no simple answer to this question. I travelled in many different parts of the capital and yes there were times that I felt in danger. I guess I’d say exactly the same for Mexico. However, that doesn’t mean that I become less in love with its culture what this represents. Below, I’ll give you a few ideas and suggestions for your “adjusting” plan to Egyptian experience.
First thing first – Find your own Egyptologist
Throughout all the different guides I’ve red including Lonely Planet, booking an Egyptologist seems a must-do thing in Egypt. I can’t recommend this enough and there is a number of reasons why this is something you will never regret:
- Speaking from personal experience I’d say that the most painful part of being a tourist in Egypt is unwanted attention from people who constantly asking for extra money. Its not that I felt unsafe at this part, just extremely uncomfortable. Even if you think that situations like these can be manageable, believe me they are not in Egypt. The best advice I can offer you is to simply find an Egyptologist who knows very well how to set the right boundaries.
- In case that visiting Egyptian pyramids, the Egyptian museum, the Nile and as many ancient sites as you can is on top of your bucket list, get prepared to find no explanatory information, guidance support, or even signs in any of these places. If you feel like you really want to learn more about the breathtaking Egyptian cultural sites and to explore what Egyptian alchemy mysteries mean there is only one way to do so: an Egyptologist!
- If you are planning to spend even less than 3 days in Egypt and make sure you wan to make the most of it. If you don’t want to be wasting any extra time on over planning then a tourist guide is what you need. Normally booking an Egyptologist includes hiring a van/car (with air-condition), and a personal driver for a full day plan. Having all these on a fairly cheap price makes the whole idea even better!
Best places to visit
On my first day the tourist guide recommended us to visit the pyramid of Djoser one of the first overground tomb built and one of the very few pyramids in the world which are still accessible in the Saqqara necropolis . It was by far one of the most amazing moments I had in Egypt and comparing the rest of the pyramids it was the less crowded. Djoser was the first Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty of Egypt and this pyramid is considered as the oldest intact pyramid in the world.
What I found most fascinating in the Egyptian museum was the Mommies and the sculptures from Cleopatra’s era. Also, I highly recommend a visit to Coptic Cairo, where you’ll find a fascinating mix of greek churches and colourful mosques. Better to visit this place on a Sunday morning when the ceremonies at Greek Orthodox churches taking place.
Travelling in Egypt alone?
Travelling to Egypt alone might be a trip full of unwanted surprises. However, if you do want to experience Egypt alone, consider joining an organiser tour group. There are incredible options all over the Egypt that are worth checking out. In terms of the culture, Egypt is predominantly islamic country which means that you might need to think of dressing very conservatively.
Lastly all I wanted was to share my personal experience so that you can have a better idea and more realistic expectations before visiting this gorgeous destination. Aside from the unwanted attention, I had a fantastic experience in Egypt and most people I met were absolutely wonderful.
Walk: Exploring Egypt by foot is a risky thing to attempt. Keep in mind that there is no traffic lights, drivers act like they are on a rally, there is no zebra crossing and buses seem even more dangerous option with their open doors and broken windows. Even if you are an adrenaline junkie, trust me that this experience is far wilder from any other challenging transportation you have ever imagined before.
Taxis: Do you want to get the safest option? Welcome to the Egypt taxi land, the place where the drivers do not speak English, are fast and furious and driving while swearing to each other. Fasting your belt? Surprise surprise, there is no belts. Better to hire an uber or a van car with a personal driver.
Accommodation: If you are planning to stay in Egypt for 3 days, might be a good idea to stay in a 5 stars hotel. Except of the fact that the food’s quality is on very hight standards, the luxuries that you can enjoy are easily compared to a 5 stars hotel in Instabul or even in Germany but its price might be twice less. There you can have amazing swimming pools, spa, Gym, 3/4 different restaurants, coffeeshops, bars and lounge areas.
Traffic: Keep in mind that traffic in Egypt will be one of the worst you will ever see. On my way back to airport, I was almost at risk to miss my flight only because of a bad rash hour. Its worth noting that being in a taxi in Egypt can be a nerve-wrecking experience. Therefore, always plan in advance.
Best place to stay: Hotel Kempinski Nile, Cairo
What to see: Great Sphinx of Giza
Where & what to eat: Hotel Kempinski Nile, Cairo
What to do: Go to see the panoramic views of Pyramids by riding camels -once in a lifetime experience
Worst things: The fact that you can not really walk along the city centre. Getting a taxi is not the most pleasant experience either