When we decided to go to Egypt, we were really anxious. We knew we wanted to experience for ourselves the bulk historical porn on offer but we were anxious about safety and had heard stories. When we arrived into Cairo airport though and couldn’t find the driver we had booked, a taxi driver called him for us and expected nothing in return and it gave us a really good feeling. The significant historical sites of Ancient Egypt that you can still see today are absolutely incredible and we think everyone should visit Egypt at least once in their life. We are SO glad we did. I’ve tried to consider what our own considerations and concerns were before we arrived and discuss them here. If you have any other questions or are sitting on the fence about Egypt (for one, jump off the fence and go! For two…), feel free to message on the thread below.
Our 1 month Egypt Itinerary
|# of Days||Location||Things we did/ saw:||Transport between locations…|
|4||Cairo/Giza||Stay out near airport then head to Giza the next day. |
Stay somewhere cheap with an awesome view of pyramids (many options online).
Visit Pyramids (go early in the morning).Pyramids visit x 2 (with an Egyptologist).
|Overnight train to…|
|2||Luxor||After disembarking train… straight to|
Day 1. Karnak Temple complex at sunrise plus Hat Shet Sut’s temple
Day 2. Valley of the KingsHop on to the cruise ship for afternoon cruise
|2||Edfu & Kom Ombo||Day 1. -Temple of Edfu (one of the best preserved sanctuaries of the antiquated world. The structure is devoted to Horus, the falcon God). -Sail to Kom Ombo, check out the twin sanctuary of Kom Ombo (dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus)||Cruise to…|
|2||Aswan& Abu Simbel||Day 1:Visit the High Dam and the Unfinished Obelisk in the stone quarries of old Egypt, the biggest pillar yet found. |
Temple of Philae, dedicated to the two goddesses Isis and Hathor. Nubian village on Soheil Island. Aswan botanical gardens. Sunset felucca rideMarket
Day 2:Day trip to Abu Simbel
|Day trip and back to Abu Simbel then afternoon train to…|
|Luxor||Stay overnight in Luxor. Up early for bus to Hurghada.||Bus to….|
|7/14||Hurghada||-Two weeks in all inclusive resort (could be one week!)-Scuba Diving day trip, organised in the hotel.||Bus (wish we’d flown) to…|
|3||Cairo (New Cairo)||Stayed in New Cairo- really different to downtown / Giza, lots of fancy restaurants, shops and actual supermarkets.|
|2||Alexandria||Overnight trip to Alexandria. We didn’t do this but so wished we had. This is where we should have slotted it in.||Train or private driver/ tour|
Want more insights on those locations?
Our Uber driver got into two physical altercations on our 2 hour drive out to Giza from our hotel near the airport. Once with the owner of a donkey cart who had reversed into him and the other with a fake tourist police. Eek. Giza is busy and filthy but is definitely a must see as the pyramids are here and it’s all a bit remarkable. Our accommodation cost us about $45 a night and had the most incredible, unobstructed view of the pyramids and the sound and light show could be heard plainly from our rooftop. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the place we stayed at but many around us were at the same price point and probably had similar pros and cons.
As our place was so close to the pyramids, we got up super early and went, the back entrance was quiet even though it didn’t have a sign, you can’t miss it. It’s near the Sphinx.
We got absolutely accosted by screaming, excited teenagers intrigued by us and wanting us to be in photos with them. It was funny at first but definitely became a little intense. Cover your hair if it’s blonde!
A guy from the ticket office walked us into the site from the gate. He wasn’t a tour guide but told us not to show our tickets to anyone as this was unnecessary and a common ploy by tour guides to get your business. Not 2 minutes after he’d said goodbye to us, we were stopped by a very unofficial, ‘official’ lanyard wearing man asking earnestly for us to show him our tickets. We refused but he would not let us pass and insisted, so we showed him. Then he followed us for around ten minutes and made us stand in various poses (I’m kissing/touching/ lifting the sphinx, pyramids). We could have refused but we were a little taken aback to be honest and were interested to see what he wanted from us… Well after the photos he requested we give him anywhere between $50 and $100 USD. Uhhh what?! My mother in law handed him a $5 CAD and he quickly pocketed it, called it a souvenir only and asked for more. Uh no buddy. Before he could respond we had hot footed it away from him. Eek!
Then we decided to walk towards the desert side to get a good panoramic view of all the pyramids. Another roadblock. This time, a camel riding tourist policemen who began his campaign sternly but allowed us to pass with some sweet talking, an offering of a chocolate bar and on the proviso that we agree to take his photo. Ahh shrug. Ok!
The whole experience was an adventure really. We probably wouldn’t do anything differently. Sometimes you just have to go along with these things and see what happens/ enjoy the ride.
We really liked Luxor, it felt calmer and cleaner than chaotic Cairo. The Luxor temple offerings are incredible and include Karnak Temple (AMAZING), Luxor Temple and the mortuary temple of Hat Shet Sut. This is also the location of the Valley of the Kings, the burial site of ancient Pharaohs (including Tut Ankh Amon) and you can also go hot air ballooning here.
If you’re in Egypt, you must must, must visit Luxor. We took the overnight “luxury” train from Cairo. Those parenthesis are THICK, this train is DEFINITELY not luxury but it was comfortable enough, slept two to a berth with a lockable door and felt quite the adventure.
Luxor is also the place where the Nile cruise ships depart from. You can either book one online before you get to Luxor but if we had our time again, we’d book into a hotel for the night and approach boats in person to get a better deal than what we paid. The cruise was a massive highlight for us, it meant we saw so much, made some new friends and had a very knowledgable guide with us at the most interesting sites.
Valley of the Kings:
I think, inside all of us is a kid fascinated by Egyptian mummies, treasure filled tombs, tales of curses and the Book of the Dead (not actually a book, apparently!). The Valley of the Kings is the place of that little kid’s dreams… The burial site of 62 (so far discovered!) Pharaohs and their treasure trove tombs that extend under ground the most magnificent limestone rock faces in a place that seems other worldly. Cue Indiana Jones theme song! 🎶
The only discovered mummy that still resides there is King Tut Ankh Amon, ancient Egypt’s most famous and youngest ruler whose death and discovery is shrouded in mystery and legend, and whose mummy is too delicate to move. Apparently he was buried quickly to avoid revealing how he died- a new theory suggests he was hit in the head and murdered. Many of those involved in excavating his tomb in the 1920s subsequently died inexplicably or suspiciously, beginning the legend of the curse of the Mummy! Coooooooool!!!!
This place just feels sooo… adventurous. Being inside the almost 3000 year old tombs was absolutely mind blowing and there is still excavations happening today- a renowned Egyptologist believes the tomb of Queen Nefertiti is behind that of Tut Ankh Amon’s and Egypt is waiting with baited breath to see what the excavations will uncover.
Aswan, like Luxor is really beautiful and a lot calmer than Cairo. There are some major universities located here that draws young people from all over Northern Africa. The Botanical Gardens are really beautiful and there is a great market near the train station where you can buy souvenirs, cotton clothing and other market goodies. We took an afternoon, sunset felucca ride along the Nile here and it was a beautiful experience.
Abu Simbel is about a 3.5 hour drive, south from Aswan, through the Western desert right on the Sudanese outskirts. It is the incredible temple of Ramses II. The twin temples were carved out of the mountainside during the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, whose dedicated temple sits right next door. Amazingly, the temples were moved stone by stone in 1968 to save the temples from being ruined by water from Lake Nasser. The stone temples are absolutely imposing and incredible. They’re absolutely huge and, in our eyes, a must see if in Egypt.
We really enjoyed our time in Hurghada, along the west coast of the Red Sea. It was so relaxing and a lovely change of pace for us. We didn’t realise it when we booked but the places we stayed in were all inclusive. The food wasn’t amazing at either place but it was ALL INCLUSIVE and we barely lifted a finger, except to push the button on the espresso machine, or to flip our book to the next page. We had Jordan’s mum with us and there was a kids’ club at both resorts so we all had a probably much needed break from each other. Hurghada is famous for its diving so we took a day trip out on a boat for some fishing, snorkeling and diving. The sea was so rough, many were sick on the boat so take note of the wind and eat some nausea meds if you get motion sickness.
The diving wasn’t spectacular but it was a fun (albeit terrifying) experience. The snorkeling was a lot of fun and we saw dolphins and a whale shark.
The cruise was a real surprise highlight for all of us. The boat had a rooftop pool and the crew were really kind and friendly to the girls, they gave them balloons and did magic tricks for them. Just watching the Egyptian life along side the banks as we sailed past was totally mesmerising and the stops along the route from Luxor to Aswan were incredible. Like I said earlier, if we knew what we know now, we’d have arrived into Luxor before sailing day, stayed in a hotel and approached the boats physically to get a better deal.
So, Is Egypt Safe for kids??
There wasn’t any point where we didn’t feel safe in Egypt with the girls. It was more like an awareness that things could happen… a city of 20 + million people and the chaos of that; all the dogs, traffic, horses etc, it felt like we had to be hyper vigilant and always on but there were no specific instances where we felt unsafe.
The traffic is crazy in Cairo and no one wears seat belts. We had travel car seats with us but couldn’t really set them up as the getting in and out of cars happened quickly and often in precarious places where it wouldn’t be safe to put them in. You obviously have to do what feels right for you though and most of the time we were on public trains and buses.
Kids are really adored by people and everrrrrryone gave our girls chewing gum and other sugary treats. That’s not always ideal, particularly when trying to teach them to be aware of strangers and taking gifts from people they don’t know.
Final Egypt Budget:
In many ways we were under budget in Egypt but in a lot of ways we were also over, ok so we were over, way over as we dipped into our tours and activities budget in a mega way…
Most meals were included- on the cruise and all meals when we were in the resorts in Hurghada and food is a massive budget chunk for us. So we came under by about $400 in our everyday spending but the 4 day cruise set us back about $3000 AUD. We would definitely do it again though and we felt like it was totally worth it. The Egyptologist we had with us made it so worthwhile and we felt we would have missed things if we’d done it all alone. The cruise included a night in Cairo on each end as well as a visit to the pyramids,, a trip to the Cairo museum, Karnak, Kom Ombo, Edfu and Abu Simbel all with Wael, our Egyptologist extraordinaire.
Total General spending for Egypt 24 Days: $700
Transport (trains/buses and uber): $117
Miscellaneous (tips, toilets, wifi, gifts, visas on arrival): $498.70
Further to our usual spend:
- Entry fees to all sites (kids were free, this is just two adults): $366
- Day trip to Abu Simbel from Aswan (entry fees, transport, guide): $600
- Four night cruise + 1 week accommodation in Hurghada + amazing tour guide to all sites + transport between Cairo- Luxor, Luxor- Hurghada- Cairo + accommodation in Cairo on either side): $4000
- All other accommodation in Cairo / Giza / Hurghada: $1200
= $6873 for 24 days
Eek ! I think we could have done it cheaper but we didn’t know what to expect and were really glad to have a portion of it with a guide. If we had done nothing we would have gone under budget but we didn’t come to Egypt to do nothing! If we go back again we maybe would try physically approaching boats in Luxor to get a better deal and heard of many who had done this successfully. There are a bunch of hotels right along the Nile in Luxor, so you could arrive in Luxor before sailing day, stay overnight in one of these and find your boat in the afternoon, you would definitely find a one, there are over 200.