One of the perks of working in the travel industry is that you get insider knowledge about the hottest holiday destinations. From experience, we know that overrated, crowded destinations is just not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to travel. And some destinations are congested with tourists no matter what time of the year you visit.
If you’re looking for a fresh, non-clichéd place to visit with the best service, fantastic food and sights to behold – look no further! Egypt is at the top of our list of the most sought-after destinations for 2019-2020!
Ananda, Melicia, Dani and Angus, four tenured members of the Expat Explore team, each had the opportunity to tour Egypt as guests of the Egyptian State Tourist Office. We didn’t think it was possible, but each of them came back even more obsessed with this Middle Eastern destination than before they left! They let us in on their highlights. (You didn’t hear it from us, but if we can give you some great advice, it’s best to book that Egypt tour right now.)
“Getting to Luxor in time for sunrise meant that we had to get up at 4:30 a.m. We soared over the Westbank of Luxor and could see the Nile, Valley of Kings and Temple of Hatshepsut from the sky. Every moment in the sky took my breath away and still think it’s one of the most amazing views in the world.”
If you were under the impression that a holiday to Egypt is all dusty treks along cramped, murky corridors beneath ancient pyramids, guess again – Egypt is more fun than a barrel of proverbial monkeys! To give you an idea, Dani’s tour highlight was a ride on a Sudanese camel named Moses, while Ananda enjoyed snorkelling in the Red Sea within walking distance from the tour accommodation. Melicia had a fabulous time on the optional hot air balloon ride and everyone raved in unison about the five-star Nile Cruise. They even visit to the famous perfume trading houses where you can sample all sorts of handmade perfumes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg (or pyramid if you will).
Let’s address the elephant in the room. We get why a lot of people are skittish about booking Egypt vacations. The civil unrest we’ve seen in Egypt was scary. We were still on the fence ourselves, but then these four returned and completely set our minds at ease. And hustling? Yes, hustling is a necessity for most of the locals and they will offer to do anything for tourists -from running errands to selling ‘low-cost’ excursions. The local hustlers are part of the experience and will demand your attention sooner or later. In fact, they will hail you like an old friend when they notice you’re a tourist! But they are completely harmless and will not ruin your experience. Top Tip: Keep your cool and respond with a friendly: “La shukran” (no thanks).
“I travelled in October and it was perfect. The daytime temperature reached the high twenties to low thirties (degrees Celsius). So, it was still hot, but not too hot to handle. When you go into a pyramid or underground temple it’s a bit cooler. And it wasn’t crowded, which made it so much easier to take in the experience.”
Summertime (June-September) in Egypt is extremely (read unbearably) hot. In mid-summer, the daytime temperatures easily reach 40°C (104 °F) and that makes it almost to get to all the sites and enjoy the journey there and back. Egypt’s peak season is consequently overwintered from December to February. This means the shoulder season is early March to April and October to early November. During these months you can expect warm daytime weather, cooler nights and not-so-crowded attractions.
Let’s be honest, for most of us, a holiday is just an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. If you’re a foodie at heart, we’ve got great news – Egyptian cuisine is exceptional! Thematically it draws on Turkish, Lebanese and Persian cuisine. So you can look forward to a variety of bread and pitas, delicious Egyptian kebabs and lentil soup. Oh, and an abundance of fruit and vegetables! Best of all? The street food is divine! Just be sure to check with your guide before you dig in; they know where to go!
Top tip: If you ever make your way to Egypt, try to include an authentic Nubian dinner on your itinerary. Guests are welcomed in a local traditional Nubian house and entertained by dancers, get henna tattoos, and enjoy Nubian fare prepared the traditional way. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in this ancient cult
The tourist industry is vital for the Egyptian economy, and for local jobs. The locals are delighted to see tourists, and will certainly make you feel welcome. Our team members all agreed on how hard the Egyptians work to please tourists. Everything was well prepared with precision and attention. The overall hospitality and service of every person encountered were excellent.
“I saw pictures in books, heard and read about Egypt, but being there was truly amazing. The locals speak mostly English and Arabic. They like calling each other ‘Habibi’ which means darling. ”
“The Great Pyramids and Sphinx are understandably the icons of ancient Egypt and recognised the world over, but for me, the various temples we visited as we made our way sailing up the Nile were even more spectacular. They’re not quite as colossal as the Pyramids, but the construction and architecture are arguably more complex, and every inch of the walls have been adorned with intricate carvings.”
The unrest in Egypt resulted in dwindling tourist numbers over the recent year. But may we remind you that this is the country of the most amazing sites in the world? Abu Simbel, the Kom-Ombo and Edfu Temples, the Valley of the Kings, the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza. Not to mention the Red Sea and the bustling capital of Cairo! All of these destinations are larger than life and can definitely not be experienced by looking at photographs. Or hearing recounted travel tales. You have to see it to believe it!
Biting at the bit to book that Egypt group tour ticket yet? We don’t blame you! Stay ahead of the curve and secure your spot on one of our Egypt tours so you can get there before the huddled masses descend.