Egypt and The Nile tour – day 3!

We got off the overnight train in Aswan in the morning and got onto another bus which would take us to our Felucca. We spent a few hours on this small boat cruising along the Nile and stopped on the other side to walk up the sand dune for photos standing on the Sahara Desert. The amazing photo above was taken by Gary with his drone. We also went past the place where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile which was an exciting moment for me as I love her books.

After the cruise we got back on the bus and drove to Kom Ombo to meet our big cruise boat for the next 3 days. Normally you would board in Aswan and travel overnight to Kom Ombo on the boat however they river had filled with sands and needed to be dredged before the larger boats could reach Aswan. We arrived at our boat and after the overnight train everyone had very low expectations….however it was absolute luxury. The boat was so clean, had lots of beautiful touches and was really fancy. We went to our rooms to drop off our things, we had two perfectly made single beds and a little bathroom. Everything was like a nice hotel room and the pillows were divine. We then made our way excitedly for the late buffet lunch we had all been waiting for.

After lunch everyone had a rest and an explore of the boat before we met up to go to the Crocodile temple right by the boat. Sherif took us on a tour of the temple and then we went and saw the mummies of the crocodiles in the museum next door. The temple was beautiful at sunset and the detail in the carvings was incredible.

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We went back to the boat for a delicious buffet dinner and then most people followed Sherif to the local coffee shop for turkish coffee (crazy strong), mint tea with sugar and/or Shisha (a water pipe that you smoke flavoured tobacco through) which I tried for the first time. We shared a one between a few people, I enjoyed the mango more than the apple flavour and I didn’t cough much after the first try. It was quite pleasant but I wouldn’t do it outside of any countries that normally enjoy it as standard in their life as it was just for the experience for me. Back to the boat for a good sleep and an early wake up for our flight to Abu Simbel!

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Egypt and The Nile tour – Day 2!

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The first official tour day was an early one, we wanted to be at the Egyptian museum ready to walk through the front doors before it opened at 9:00am. Sherif knows all the little extras and made sure we would leave early enough to allow for slow traffic (guaranteed) and slow security/ticketing at the museum. We had a delicious buffet breakfast at the Oasis Pyramids hotel and got on the road in a full sized bus, heaps of room for the 17 of us and a security guard with a gun! Sherif was very informative on the bus ride and told us all about the housing, the people and the sights we were seeing out the window as we passed. He made sure we understood the tipping system, haggling when purchasing items, the current unrest in Egypt and how to keep safe.

We arrived at the museum, went through security and got our ticket from Sherif. I have to say the x-ray scanners are great for checking the bags but when every single person beeps going through the metal detector and they only check a couple of men here and there and none of the women then I am not sure that counts as complete security… Anyway another security check inside the door and we were in the museum, also note if you want to take photos you have to have a camera ticket or they take your camera and store it. Sherif took us around alot of the museum telling us about different pharaohs, artwork and hieroglyphs. It is a very big museum (soon to be even bigger when they move to the new site) so we ended up going back on our last day when the tour was finished to see the rest. We paid extra to see the royal mummy room which I’ll be honest was not really something I needed to see (cold and creepy for me) but worth it when you go all that way. Small side story –  a girl on tour got trapped in a toilet cubicle there and had to climb over the top when some guy with tools couldn’t open the door (this just leads into a few other toilet incidents on tour!). We left the museum and headed towards the pyramids while Sherif kept us informed with everything we were passing and it’s history. We stopped at a petrol station to get some snacks for the road and the overnight train later that night before parking up by the pyramids. And what an incredible sight up close, this was half of the reason I had booked the trip to Egypt and it was amazing!

We took a camel ride out in the desert and had the most amazing views of the Giza Pyramids. The camel ride was great fun, I felt like my legs were holding on for dear life at the start but I eventually got comfortable. Our guide even let me go off on my own for a bit which is how I got this amazing photo up ahead of the group off and away with my camel.

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We took some photos together, went to the third pyramid to take a look inside and walk down the very short tunnel and then on to see the Sphinx (much smaller than the pyramids to my surprise). At the end of the day Sherif took us to a restaurant by the pyramids where we could watch the sunset and have a group meal before the train ride to Aswan.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the train, let’s just say you should have extremely low expectations haha…. it was interesting for sure. After waiting on the platform for a while we were just grateful to get on, then grateful to get out of our tiny cabins after a meal (could you call it that if you could only eat some rice and a bread roll as the rest was advised against by our guide earlier?) was given to us and into the bar car where we basically stood round in a group at the bar and played drinking games. We saw in Christmas day with a drunk middle aged woman singing and counting down to the 25th as if it were New Year. Then everyone slowly made their way to the chilly cabins and tried to get some sleep while the train violently shook and made all sorts of noises. In the morning I tried to open the door to get out of the bathroom and it wouldn’t open. Luckily another girl on my tour heard me and got the steward who asked me to stand aside and kicked it open so hard I thought it would slam back and get stuck again. What was hilarious about this is that once we got off the train and onto our bus I heard that another three people on tour had also been trapped in the bathroom at different times of the night with the same scenario of the man kicking open the door. Luckily all was well and we had made it through the night (with no shower since the morning before and having ridden on camels and sweated in the heat all day :D). Time for the Nile!

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Egypt and The Nile tour – Day 1

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I arrived in Cairo after 25 hours of flying and it had been about 34 hours since I left Dunedin – this is the downside to living in New Zealand, it takes so long to travel everywhere! Upon arriving at Cairo airport all I needed to worry about was getting some money out, paying for a visa and finding the man with the Contiki sign. I saw the Contiki guy straight away hurrah, he told me another girl was on my flight and had gone through to get her luggage. He directed me to the ATM a few metres away and told me the visa price was $25USD or 450 Egyptian pounds. The first issue occurred when I started to walk away from the ATM and realised I was carrying the money but didn’t think it gave me back my bank card first like normal. I had not opened my bag or done anything in the few steps I had taken however the guide advised me to search all of my belongings to check for the card and if I could not find it then the guy at the visa office would probably open the machine…. No luck, I didn’t have time to take the card and put it anywhere so by then I was certain that the machine had swallowed it. The visa guy took my money, stuck a visa in my passport and then came around and tried to open the machine (took ages – said he couldn’t find it – then said wait maybe I can – came back with a tool of some kind and finally got inside) and eventually came to me with about 20 bank cards that had been stuck in there and asked me which one was mine! With my card back in my possession I felt infinitely better and we proceeded through passport control (no trouble there). Just as we went through to exit an Australian girl (Isabella) was hauling her pack off the carousel and I felt relieved that I hadn’t made her wait while getting my bank card out of the machine, she had already been waiting for her bag forever (glad I packed carry-on)!

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Isabella and I followed the Contiki guy back to the shuttle and were driven to our hotel. What a drive it was! This was my first time in a country where your horn must be honked every three seconds and road rules were an afterthought. There may have been some lanes painted on the road but no one was in them, it was every man for himself. It was also the first time I had been anywhere in the desert and even though we were in the city we were still seeing plenty of the dry sandy gold that would follow me for the entire trip. Once we had checked in to the hotel we were shown to our rooms and made plans to have a shower and meet to do something after.

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Isabella and I met two fellow Contiki girls, my roommate Taylor and a Canadian girl Caroline. They had been out with a taxi driver having a look around and recommended we do something similar while they had a rest. We arranged a taxi with the hotel staff and went to a local shopping mall to get a coffee. We then asked Emat (our driver) to take us on a drive around the city and he offered to take us to his friends bazaar to look at souvenirs as well.

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Once back at the hotel we met in my room with Taylor and Caroline to get to know one another before the 7pm meet up with everyone else. We arrived early and greeted everyone as they turned up. There were 8 Americans, 1 Canadian, 2 Germans, 2 Australians, 1 South African, 1 Somalian and 1 New Zealander (Me!). Our guide Sherif is a local Egyptian who has done the same tour for 15 years, he is an expert and an absolute gem to have leading the group. Sherif talked about the week ahead and prepared us for the next day. We then all met at the outside bar for a bite to eat and a catch up. It was an excellent day, if only I had slept all night but I woke at 2am and was awake until the alarm went off at 6am!

Egypt Winter packing list 

I went to Egypt for Christmas 2017, it was Winter and from my research I thought it was going to be warmer than it was! Don’t be fooled, it can cool down alot in the evenings. I recommend layers and one warm jacket so you can be snug if you need to.

I’ll start by saying my pack was 7kg and my small bag was 1.5kg when I left. I took a few things out before I left home and at the airport and on the trip I missed them and wish I had swapped them out with a few other things that I didn’t use. Hindsight is 20/20!

Let me begin the list with toiletries and miscellaneous:

  1. Zip lock bags
  2. Hairbrush 
  3. Insect repellent (essential)
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Power bank
  6. European adaptor 
  7. Eye mask
  8. Cards – unused
  9. Old camera (backup in case something happened to my phone) – unused
  10. Plastic bags
  11. Usual daily medication
  12. Pain killers 
  13. Bandaids
  14. Upset tummy pills, quikeze 
  15. Antihistamines
  16. No jet lag pills and sleeping pills for plane
  17. Mosquito bracelet
  18. Tissues
  19. Face wipes
  20. Feminine products 
  21. Voltaren 
  22. Toothbrush
  23. Mini toothpaste 
  24. Hairties
  25. Soov gel for bites 
  26. Roll on deodorant
  27. Mini perfume 
  28. Solid shampoo from lush
  29. Solid conditioner from lush
  30. Mini shower gel
  31. Light makeup
  32. Didn’t end up taking Vaseline, moisturiser or dry shampoo

Clothing and shoes:

  1. Skirt
  2. Long leggings 
  3. Short leggings
  4. 2 Kathmandu Long sleeve tops with zip pocket for money (worth their weight in gold – washed them so I wore them both twice 
  5. Maxi dress – unused
  6. Shorts (doubled as swimwear)
  7. 2 Long sleeve basic tops 
  8. 2 t-shirts (one for sleeping)
  9. 2 nice blouses – one unused
  10. 2 pairs of loose linen pants – both worn a few times but only as I did not bring my jeans. I wish I had swapped one pair for jeans as being on a tour there weren’t as many times that you needed to be covered or in looser clothes.
  11. Cardigan
  12. 2 bras, underwear, singlet and socks
  13. 2 Scarves (essential for respectful coverage or warmth), sunhat and a belt – belt was only used to secure my bag when checking it in on way home
  14. One light hoodie (my warmest item)
  15. Teva sandals – amazing 
  16. Toms shoes – unused
  17. Skechers Sneakers

Carry on bag:

  1. Ipod 
  2. Tablet
  3. Charging cables
  4. Flight documents 
  5. Passport
  6. Water bottle
  7. Money
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Book – didn’t read a page 
  10. Glasses
  11. Did not take the cap
  12. Packable backpack
  13. 36l osprey pack

On my way back home I checked my backpack in. First I put it inside a Kmart bag, secured it with the belt and then had it wrapped for about 2usd at Cairo airport.

During the winter the temperatures across the north of Egypt go from about 16-20 celsius during the day and 7-11 at night. Further south it gets warmer and we had mid 20s during the day and about 10-13 celsius at night. 

I handwashed some things on our cruise boat so if I did the trip again I would take a few less tops and swap out the dress and extra linen pants for a pair of jeans. I’d leave the toms shoes behind and bring my puffer jacket for cool nights. All in all I think I did well to pack carry on only for the first time but for 10 days it should be easy… 

Feel free to ask any questions and if you are going to Egypt I hope you have the time of your life!

Flying out in less than 5 hours!


Anddddd….. I’ve managed to pack carry on! My pack is just under 7 kilos and I have a small packable backpack with my tablet, a book and all the plane essentials. Beside them are my travel clothes I will put on shortly and then off to the airport I go. 

I will post my packing list later and tell you what I managed to squish in there and a few of the things I had to ditch after weighing it all. On return I will tell you how much of it was unused (likely to be a few things!) and what I bought over there. 

Stay on the lookout for photos when I can post them 🙂