Egypt

How to Visit the Valley of the Kings: What you need to know in 2019!

There are more than 60 royal tombs in Egypt's Valley of the Kings - that we know of! Many more may lie undisturbed beneath the desert.  Let's face it you are not going to be able to visit them all in a day. You probably only have a few hours - it will be hot, even in winter, and there is a fair bit of walking, mostly uphill. You need a plan! David and I went to the Valley of the Kings in 2006 and again in December 2018. We have put together this guide to give you an idea of how to get there, what to expect when you arrive, what it will cost and a few other things which are useful to know.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment here or send us an email. We love to help out fellow travellers.

Cruising the Nile on a Dahabiya with Nour el Nil: 5 days of luxury in Egypt

dahabiya
It is winter in Egypt and we have taken advantage of the coolest time of year to indulge ourselves in a Nile cruise. Dozens of boats ply the route between Luxor and Aswan. Mostly they are diesel powered cruise ships - river boat behemoths like floating hotels. Then there are dahabiyas - if you want slow travel or to channel your inner Cleopatra (or Marc Antony perhaps) then a dahabiya is for you. More Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot than Cleo and her lover, David and I have splashed out on a Nile cruise on the Meroe, a dahabiya operated by Nour el Nil.

What do you mean you left your passport on the plane!

We are in Egypt. After two weeks exploring CairoAlexandria and the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor is our final stop together - click the links to read my posts on each destination. David and I are to join a dahabiya (sailing boat) for a Nile River cruise to Aswan while Andrew, our son, heads home to Australia.

Andrew has already left the hotel. He has an early flight to Cairo where he will connect with another flight to Dubai and then, after an overnight stop, fly home to Sydney. David and I have just been collected from the hotel for the hour and a half's drive to Esna where we will join the dahabiya. The other cruise guests are coming from hotels on the opposite bank of the Nile River so we have the mini-bus to ourselves - just me, David, our driver and a guide.

Cruising the Nile on a Dahabiya: slow travel in Egypt

Meroe Nour el Nil
Our dahabiya is under sail, propelled along the river by a soft breeze, in a rhythm unchanged for thousands of years. I have woken early and have the deck to myself on the first day of our Nile River cruise. The sun is still low in the sky glistening to the south as if pointing the way for our journey. We left Esna, an hour's drive from Luxor in Egypt, yesterday afternoon. Our five night dahabiya journey to Aswan will be not much longer than a Nile cruise on board one of the large diesel powered passenger ships also plying the route, but there are thousands of years between our experience and theirs.

Howard Carter House and the Tomb of Tutankhamun

During the years he searched for the Tomb of King Tutankhamun, Howard Carter lived in a modest adobe house a few kilometres from his work site. The house is still there, as if waiting for Carter to resume his work. When we first visited Luxor in December 2006 we glimpsed the house from the road as we drove past on the way to The Valley of the Kings. It wasn't open to the public then but in recent years it has been restored, and on our most recent visit in December 2018 we were able to see both the house and a replica of the burial chamber of King Tutankhamun's Tomb tucked away at the back down a garden path.  If you have the time, Howard Carter House is well worth stopping at, if only to give you an idea of how the man who made one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times lived.

11 things to do in Alexandria, Egypt - one is a bit weird!

Citadel of Qaitbey
Me - 'Why are we going to Alexandria?'
David - 'Because we have a few days to spare and Andrew wants to go there.'
Me - 'Egypt is a huge place I'll bet I can find somewhere much more interesting than an old city founded by a dead conqueror'.
David - 'It is too late. I have already booked the hotel and transfers.'

This is what happens when you travel with children (even if they are 26 years old and several metres taller than you). You go places you have barely heard of to see things you won't be interested in. Wrong! Andrew, our son, as often happens, pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Our three days in Alexandria were the most fun of our whole trip. Partly it was lack of expectations and partly it was that Alexandria, with its mix of Ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman heritage is a great place to visit. Take my advice. If you get a chance - go there!

The 9 & 1/2 best places to visit in Cairo - and one to avoid!

Great Sphinx
You arrive in Egypt, surviving a long haul flight in the process.  If, like us, you have come from Australia you were in the air for 20 hours or more - half that time if you are lucky enough to live on the east coast of the United States. You spent interminable hours hanging around airports, lining up to check-in, lining up to go through security, lining up to board the plane. You waited while your fellow passengers boarded, stowed their over-size cabin baggage and took their seats, then you waited while the pilot 'just waited on paperwork' (does anyone know what that paperwork they wait for is - couldn't they stay back at the office the night before and clear it up like everyone

A complete guide to visiting the Pyramids of Giza and my tips to avoid the scams.

Pyramids of Giza
There is nothing in the world quite like the Pyramids of Giza. Built more than 4,500 years ago, they are the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world in existence today. To say the feeling of standing in front of them and looking up is awesome doesn't come anywhere near to describing it. Sadly however, the one thing most difficult to do at the pyramids is to stand back and soak in the atmosphere.

Lonely Planet describes it as 'the pyramids hustle'. There is no getting around it - once you set your sights on visiting the pyramids you might as well put a target on your back because you will be fair game for every tout, shonky tourist guide, cheap trinket seller

A guide to visiting the Tomb of Mehu: Egypt's NEW 4,000 year-old tomb

Tomb of Mehu
In September 2018 Egypt opened to the public the 4,000 year old Tomb of Mehu. Discovered at Saqqara in 1940 the tomb has never before been open to visitors. Situated at the Saqqara Necropolis, only a short distance from Cairo, the tomb is maddeningly difficult to locate once you are there. In typical Egyptian fashion the Ministry of Antiquities publicised the opening of the tomb with much fanfare around the world then neglected to post a single sign to help visitors find it.   In late November 2018 David and I found the tomb and explored it. After reading reviews on Trip Advisor by disappointed tourists who either couldn't find the tomb or couldn't gain access once they found it, I decided to write this post. If you are planning a trip to Egypt and you would like to see something few other people on the planet have seen (so far) then scroll down to 'How to Find the Tomb of Mehu' and follow my directions.