This is a second part of the amazing Egypt trip. My trip to Alexandria Egypt was back in 2008. In the second half of the trip we went to Cairo Egypt, as well as Siwa Oasis. The impressions are unforgettable! Everybody should see the desert at night – so many stars! The Giza Pyramids are a true wonder of engineering and a must see, too. The best thing is it only takes 3 hours to drive from Alexandria to Cairo Egypt (compared to 6 hours from Red Sea resorts Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada).
Day IV Cairo Egypt
Really early wake up call (4:17 am). The drive went really smoothly, although the traffic was hardly any better than in Alexandria. Cairo is huge! Our first stop was at the famous Giza pyramids. Impressive sight, however, we had to fight off greedy Bedouins begging for money and demanding fee for photos with them (or their camels). Some fellow travelers told us tales how they invite you to sit on a camel and then demand money to help you down from the animal.
At some point a police officer called us to a nice spot and agreed to take some pictures. OF course, he asked for a tip, too! Our next stop was another tourist trap – perfume and papyrus shop. Nothing much to tell about these – either you pay or you stay out.
As requested, our guide took us to the famous Khan el-Khalili – the oldest bazaar in Cairo Egypt, famous for merchants selling souvenirs, antiques and jewelry. A great place for people who know how to haggle. Skilled salesmen will get you to buy trash if you are not careful! For me – I just enjoyed the scene and didn’t bother buying anything there. The feeling of constantly being watched from all sides is quite frightening and uncomfortable. It’s in their culture and I understand that now. But back then it really seemed like invasion of privacy. I wouldn’t have liked to be there alone.
Our last stop was Egyptian museum – another must see in Cairo Egypt! This outstanding museum has a rich collection of Egyptian antiques. Among the most important artifacts, without doubt, is the famous Gold Mask of Tutankhamun, composed of 11 kg of solid gold.
Although I spent almost a whole day in Cairo, I can’t say I’ve seen it. These are just little fractions of the most important sightseeing’s. The city is full of little gems and you need to spend there some time to really understand it.
Day VI: Siwa Oasis
Another early morning wake up call due to a really long bus ride – 480km and 5 hours drive. That’s five hours through the desert with nothing much to see. When we finally arrived at our destination, it seemed almost unreal – huge green oasis in the middle of sandy dunes. And even better – there is a whole town! Water (hot springs) coming from the ground created a perfect setting for plants and trees. Siwa Oasis is one of Egypt’s most isolated settlements, with 23,000 people (mostly Berbers). The place is mostly known due to its ancient role as the home to an oracle of Ammon. The remains of the temple are a popular tourist attraction.
Siwa Oasis is an interesting place to visit due to it’s culture and relatively isolated community. Additionally to already mentioned Oracle temple, there are some other great attractions, such as the Gebel al Mawta (the Mountain of the Dead), a Roman-era necropolis featuring dozens of rock-cut tombs and “Cleopatra’s Bath”, an antique natural spring.
The highlight of our trip was an adventurous sand dune jeep safari. Locals are particularly proud of this entertainment and gladly take you on a wild ride. The emotions are hard to describe – one should try it at least once!
On our way back it got dark quickly and suddenly millions of stars were showing the way! I have literally never seen a sky so clear and bright with stars. There is zero light pollution for hundreds of kilometers. I wish we stayed in the desert and watched the skies. The memory of it is still haunting me!
As I mentioned before, this trip was my first ever solo trip and my first trip to a relatively remote destination. Although it was fully organized, it gave me a feeling of freedom and curiosity to keep going. It was like nothing I have seen before. I got bitten by a travel bug and came back with just one wish – get on another flight and explore the world! Egypt is amazing, despite all the negativity written about it in the papers. People are hospitable, although their culture needs some getting used to. Some day I hope I will board on a river cruise to check out famous Luxor temples and all other treasures along the Nile.