I fell in in love with Egypt as a child and it has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, before I even knew what a bucket list was. My all time favourite film is The Mummy, and trust me, I already know it’s terrible so please hold back your judgment. There is just something so intriguing, exciting and mysterious about ancient Egyptian temples; and it just blows my mind that so much history has just been swallowed by the sands of time and forgotten.
Egypt has always seemed so unattainable to me since it is marketed in Western media as being really unsafe. However, after reading a post by one of my favourite travel bloggers, it was all the justification I needed. I booked myself onto a Top Deck tour and set off to my dream location.
Here are the top bucket-list experiences I had while I was in Egypt in January earlier this year.
The Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are iconic, so obviously they were at the top of my Egypt bucket list. I actually can’t describe to you what it felt like to see these in real life for the first time. I actually had to pinch myself because it was so amazing. I was completely overwhelmed by their size, and I almost fainted when I was given the opportunity to GO INSIDE A PYRAMID. I felt like Indiana Jones walking up the steps to the Pyramid before descending, crab-walk style, down a steep slope into the very heart of the pyramid where I had to outsmart a series of booby-traps before I was finally able to lay my eyes upon the golden treasures…
There wasn’t anything in the tomb, just a rectangular hole. Still a cool experience though.
The Cairo Museum is a must-do experience while you’re in Egypt, and once I discovered that I could face swap with some of the statues and mummies, it was all over for me.
In all seriousness, I really enjoyed the museum and could easily have spent another couple of hours roaming the various exhibits. Egypt has such a rich and diverse history, and this is clearly evident in the various artifacts housed in the museum. once it was pointed out to me I could easily see the Greek and Roman influences on the artifacts, and differentiate them from the various different kingdoms of Egypt.
While I was at the museum I paid an extra fee to go into King Tut’s ‘tomb’ and see his golden mask. The only rule with this room is that you are not allowed to take any photographs even if you paid for a photography pass upon entering the museum. Despite this I did manage a cheeky photo, but since I wasn’t supposed to take the photo in the first place me thinks I’ll just keep that one to myself.
This was an unexpected highlight of my trip. We actually spent two nights sailing a felucca up the Nile River from Aswan to Luxor. Felucca’s are open-side boats that sail in a zig-zag pattern. Being on the water was such a beautiful experience, and on the second day when we docked for lunch we were encouraged to go for a swim…which I did.
The water was FREEZING and crazy deep. It was only after I’d jumped for the second time that I remembered that the Nile is home to crocodiles, but when I asked, I was assured that there were no crocodiles in this section of the river since we were sailing between two dams. I’m not 100% on how true this was but I survived, so all’s well that ends well.
The Karnak Temple Complex is home to the largest religious building ever constructed in Egypt, and is one place I wish I’d had more time to explore. It was built over a number of centuries and is home to some of the most amazingly well preserved Egyptian hieroglyphics and art work. I literally cried when I was able to feast my eyes upon art work that still contained the paint used by the ancient Egyptians over 2,000 years ago. You can see a photo of this in my post 20 Photos to Inspire you to visit Egypt.
Another highlight of the Karnak Temple Complex was the photo shoot my friend and I staged by weaving in and out of all the columns that decorated the temple. As you can see, I am clearly model material.
Just down the road from Karnak Temple (literally), is one of the most well known Egyptian Temple complexes in the world, and to get to it, you have to drive along a road of ram sphinxes. This temple complex is so amazing, and to think it was only re-discovered in the late 1800’s and seriously excavated in the 1960’s. This complex was added to over the ages by Ramses II, Tutankhamen and Alexander the Great, but was swallowed by the sands of time and the rise and fall of the banks of the Nile.
It was in this temple that I learnt my most favourite god origin story EVER. The story goes that there was once a village where all the men went off to fight a war. They were gone for several years, and when they returned they found that all of their women were pregnant or had recently had babies. Outraged, they searched for the culprit and found a man hiding in their village. They decided that must take revenge on him for sullying their women, but, at the same time, they were also rather impressed by his stamina and vitality, so they chopped off one of his arms, one of his legs, but left him with his penis and made him the god of fertility, Min.
I got to ride my first camel while I was in Egypt, and it was pretty cool, though we only went about 200 meters. We crossed the Nile River to the very edge of the Sahara Desert and rode camels to a local Nubian village. There we were treated to a delicious home cooked meal, henna tattoos and lots of market shopping.
One thing that I never expected when I went to Egypt was to get the opportunity to lounge around on a beach and snorkel with the fish, but that’s exactly what you can do in Dahab. We drove out to the Blue Hole and snorkled along the coast and along the edges of the Blue Hole. The coral in the Blue Hole was very damaged from the masses of tourist that visit every year and can’t resist the urge to touch it, but the coral along the coast was much better.
Hot-air ballooning over the Valley of the Dead was absolutely stunning…until we had a crash landing (but that’s a story for another day). I found the contrast between the deep greens of the Nile River banks and the bland yellows of the desert indescribable. I was filled with such a sense of wonder as we sailed over ancient ruins, and once again, I felt like Indiana Jones, hoping to spy an undiscovered temple or tomb.
Despite having been in a hot-air balloon before, I can safely say after my hot-air ballooning experience in Egypt that while I really enjoyed the ride and the views were gorgeous, I will never set foot in a balloon again, though that shouldn’t scare you off trying hot-air ballooning for yourself.
Abu Simbel is actually two temples: The Great Temple of Ramses II and the small temple dedicated to his wife Nefertiti. Both of these temples are just amazing. Did you know that the entire temple complex had to be pulled a part and reconstructed further in land in 1968 because when they decided to dam the Nile River it would have resulted in them becoming submerged? Neither did I.
This is another one of the temples that brought me to tears when I was able to see some of the original paint used to decorate the carvings remained. It is also another temple where photographs inside are not allowed, and I decided not to risk it this time since there seemed to be more guards here than at the Cairo Museum for some reason.
What is on your Egypt bucket list? There is so much to do and I definitely didn’t get to do everything on my list, so share your thoughts below!
You might also be interested in: