Travel Talk Tours Egypt Itinerary; Part 2
Welcome back to our Travel Talk Tours adventure through Egypt! If you missed Part 1 of this itinerary, check it out and come back to see the end of Egypt.
We’re picking up on our last 4 days through Egypt before heading over to Jordan for our last 5 days. Although every day of this trip was full of adventure, these last few were some of my favorite. That could be because I got to check off two bucket list items in one day, so I’m biased. I hope one day we get to go back to a normal life and start traveling the world again. Until then, I hope this helps your wanderlust and makes you add Egypt to your bucket list too.
One week in and we had already seen so many incredible monuments and experienced the amazing history of Egypt. But day 7 was easily my favorite day of the trip. I almost cried waking up this morning because of how excited I was. After disembarking our cruise boat early in the morning and left our bags with our bus driver. We were actually heading back to Luxor, but across the Nile River to get there. We sipped some coffee and tried to wake up before getting to our destination.
stop 1: Hot Air Balloon Ride
Alright – this activity needs a little backstory. Kenny and I have tried to take a hot air balloon ride in multiple countries, including our own. Every time we have the reservation set up, something goes wrong. We had one set up when we were in Lithuania only to have inclement weather thwart our plan. This is also the case with sky diving for some reason, which we still have yet to accomplish. Either way, this was a no brainer for us to do in Egypt. It was an optional activity that cost quite a bit extra, but it was 100% worth every penny. It was a highlight of our trip. We got to fly over the Valley of the Kings and watch the sun finish rising over the Nile. It was incredible.
extra price: $124 USD
stop 2: Valley of the Kings
After finishing our balloon ride, we headed back to the rest of our group and bussed to the Valley of the Kings. Ya’ll this is what my dreams are made of. This was the single most important monument that I wanted to visit. It’s what started my love affair with Egyptian history way back when – and probably why one of my favorite movies is The Mummy.
I could’ve cried when we entered the first tomb. The Valley of the Kings is also called the “City of the Dead” and rightly so. This valley is where many Pharaohs were buried with their treasures for the afterlife. It’s basically a mazed city of underground burial chambers. The walls are adorned with colorful paintings and preserved hieroglyphics of the dead’s journey to the afterlife.
There are 62 tombs altogether, although only 12 of them are accessible. With our entrance ticket, we could pick 3 to visit and pay an extra ticket fee for some of the more “extravagant” tombs. That included the tomb of King Tutankhamun III, arguably one of the most famous Pharaohs in all of history. We chose not to do this specific tomb but did pay extra for the tombs of King Ramses III and King Ramses the VI. I definitely recommend checking out Ramses III tomb, as it’s one of the most well preserved and colorful of all the tombs we saw. I could have spent so many hours visiting the Valley of the Kings, it’s one place I do wish we could’ve had just a little more time exploring.
stop 3: Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple
Queen Hatshepsut was also a very well known figure in ancient Egypt. She took over the throne after her husband Thutmose II died and her stepson was not yet of age. Hatshepsut was the second female Pharaoh and her 20 year reign was one of Egypt’s most flourishing and peaceful eras. She started depicting herself as a male in many statues and pictures to assert her authority as Pharaoh. Her temple, close to the Valley of the Kings, was dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra. It is very well preserved and commemorates Hatshepsut’s prosperous reign.
We stopped on our way top lunch to ride some local donkeys along the side of the road before heading back towards Cairo. We had a miserable 8 hour drive ahead of us again, but it was such an eventful and long day that we welcomed the rest.
After a night of much needed rest, we were heading into Cairo for a full day tour of the city. Today we would see many different sides of Cairo and get to experience the joys of traffic in a 20 million person metropolis. Mo educated us some more on the different areas of Cairo that we hadn’t driven through up to this point, pointing out noteworthy places along the way. He also gave us some insight to their political issues and complicated history of independence.
stop 1: Egyptian Museum of Cairo
Our first stop brought us to the the Egyptian Museum, the oldest museum of Cairo. It houses an extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts, including an assortment of King Tut’s burial chambers and antiquities found in his tomb. Mo walked our group around the museum pointing out important relics, especially when they related to other things we had seen around Egypt. At the end of his tour, we got time to explore on our own. We beelined it to the most important part of the museum – in our opinion – the Royal Mummies Hall. This ticket is an extra fee to visit, but it was worth every bit.
When you walk into the Royal Mummies Hall, it feels like you just walked into a tomb! The two air conditioned rooms hold about 12 or so mummies, some of them extremely famous and all very old. The coolest part for us was that we finally got to see some of the Pharaohs we had learned about throughout our tour. The big name mummies include Amenhotep I – III, Ramses II – VI, and Thutmoses I – IV. Queen Hapshetshut is scheduled to be on display in the coming years as well. Some of the mummies are incredibly well preserved, a few still have hair on their head! This exhibit offers such an interesting glimpse into how the Egyptians cared for their dead and prepared them for the afterlife.
You can’t take pictures in the rooms so we don’t have any photos, but it adds to the allure of visiting the ancient Kings!
stop 2: The Hanging Church
Our second stop was at the Orthodox church, called the Coptic Hanging Church. It is called this because it was built upon the towers of an old Babylonian fortress. The church is one of the oldest in Egypt and one of the oldest built in a basilican style. The wooden interior is definitely unique and an interesting change from a lot of other Egyptian architecture. We especially liked the beautiful color that all the flowers added to the otherwise neutral colors of the church.
stop 3: Citadel of Saladin + Mohammed Ali Mosque
We journeyed up to what seemed like the highest hill of Cairo to the Citadel of Saladin. It was formerly a military fortress in the Middle Ages occupied by Saladin, Egypt’s first sultan. Within the walls of the Citadel, there are many museums and mosques. We had time to visit the Mohammed Ali Mosque, also called the Alabaster Mosque. This Ottoman style mosque was modeled in a similar design of the Blue Mosque in Turkey. It has quite a grand interior and a beautiful courtyard overlooking the city.
We sat inside for quite a while learning about Islam and the mosque itself. Mo’s family is Muslim so we got a personal look into how they practice their religion and the importance of certain things about this mosque. It was the only place we visited that the girl’s had to fully cover their knees and hair. Everyone also took their shoe’s off before entering. I think it might have been the first mosque we’ve ever really visited so it was a really cool experience!
stop 4: Khan El-Khalili Bazaar
Our last stop of the day was the famous Khan El-Khalili bazaar. This was much bigger than the bazaar we visited in Aswan and much busier! We had some time to haggle our way around the shops and pick up souvenirs. You can actually get some really good prices on stuff in the bazaar, depending on what you’re looking for. The best part though is sitting in a little cafe, sipping tea, smoking shisha and people watching in the busy square!
We made it back to our beloved Oasis Hotel, the first hotel we stayed at in Cairo. It was our last night with some of our crew who we’d come to love so much. We were spending a couple more days in Egypt before heading to Jordan, while some people were heading home or staying in the Cairo area. It was such a fun night of exchanging info and having a few last drinks with our new friends.
Days 9 + 10
I think we survived again on 2 hours of sleep since we stayed up celebrating and packing our bags for our next destination. We got up at 2:30 am to hop on our bus heading for Dahab. We were in for another 9 hour bus ride to the Asia side of Egypt, also known as the Sinai Peninsula.
We got to spend our final days in Egypt resting in the beach town of Dahab. This is the paradise of the country, a hidden gem among the desert country. Dahab is situated on the Red Sea and brings in divers from all over the world to experience the beauty of the deep blue waters. We got to experience some of that beauty firsthand by snorkeling in the Blue Hole. This well known diving location has a depth of 328 feet and is a popular spot for tourists to start their introduction to diving. We took a few hours and snorkeled in and around the Blue Hole, exploring around the coral reef and saying hi to Nemo’s family. I was terrified to get to far out into the middle of the hole, cause it is deep and DARK!
optional activities: snorkeling + intro to diving
We really loved being in Dahab. It felt like the perfect restful end to our time in Egypt. Our last days were spent exploring the town and enjoying the view from the restaurants on the waterfront. Some of our group did another optional activity, four wheeling into the mountains. A little group of us took our skills of haggling once again into the shops for some beach wear. We capped off our day in town with one last shared dinner watching the sun go down with friends and shisha!
optional activity: four wheeling
One thing I do want to mention is that Dahab is the only place in Egypt that we found liquor stores!! We frequented one store that had pretty much everything at a reasonable price and they were even open late! We actually found some pretty good Jordanian wine and even bought some beer to take to dinner with us. Dahab was the only place we could freely buy alcohol during any time of day, so you better believe we stocked up!
On our last night in Dahab we had a bonfire at our little hotel and for reals said goodbye to almost everyone left in our group. It was the last night we would get to spend with Mo, so we sat by the fire and smoked shisha with him and the other tour guides. There was lots of laughing and reminiscing on the last couple weeks, ones to be remembered for a lifetime.
Egypt was a truly incredible country. It was everything I could have ever dreamed that it would be and so much more. Our whole experience was so unique to any other places we had traveled to before. The whole almost two weeks we spent here were jam packed with history, learning, culture, and most of all fun! We can’t recommend this trip enough and hope you’ve enjoyed our recap of our Travel Talk Tour, Egypt. Next, we’re heading to Jordan!
Are you adding Egypt to your adventure list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Til next time,
The Traveling Tavener’s
P.S. If you’d like to see some more Egyptian adventures, check out our girl Emily Daly’s vlogs. Not only for Egypt, but the rest of her travels and advice! You can follow along on her Youtube channel, Emily Claire Daly.