Monday, November 29, 2021

Useful Information on Egypt Trip Planning

I got back to Kenya from Egypt a couple of days ago and I have just been taking it easy catching up with friends and relaxing. I figured while still in this relaxed mode maybe it would be a good idea to post some useful tips that might come in handy when planning a trip to Egypt. Here goes... 

Flight - I flew to Cairo directly from Nairobi on EgyptAir. It was a 4 hour nonstop flight. 

Entry Requirements:

Covid Test - has to be taken within 72 hours and the certificate presented at the airport. 

Yellow Fever Certificate - I always carry mine whenever I travel and this time around it came in handy as it was requested at the airport in Nairobi.

Visa - you can get an Egyptian evisa or buy it at the airport in Cairo for $25. I opted to buy it at the airport in Cairo. I was concerned about getting change back since I didn't have the exact amount but it turned out not to be an issue.

Currency - in Egypt they use the Egyptian pound and the exchange rate in dollars is 15 Egyptian pounds for every dollar. 

Language - English is widely spoken in the touristic areas and from my observation, so are Spanish and French. I did not experience any language barrier.

Accommodation - there are plenty of hotels, guest houses and airbnb's to choose from. I stayed at a guesthouse that I found on in Giza right by the pyramids.

Dressing - I would say dress in what you are comfortable in and what is weather appropriate because temperatures can get pretty high. I saw a mix of everything in the big cities in terms of clothing but It could be different in smaller cities. 

Best Time to Visit - Temperatures are cooler and more comfortable between October and April so for me personally this would be the ideal time to visit if you want to avoid excessive heat.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Al Fayoum

I wanted to get away from the chaos of the city (Giza) so I booked a tour to Al Fayoum, the largest oasis in Egypt. Fayoum was once very fertile thanks to diversion of the Nile river, and as a result of this it was full of plants animals and of course human settlements. This was thousands of years ago.

The history of Fayoum is pretty long and I can't get into it further since I am not an expert on the subject matter, so I will summarize my visit by mentioning some of the main highlights of my visit.

The whale valley where you can see fossils of the earliest and now extinct whales. There is also a museum that explains how the land evolved from millions of years ago and highlights the early animals that existed in the area at the time.

The magic lake which got it's name because it changes it's color several times a day depending on the time of day and the sunlight it receives.

The waterfalls of Wadi El Rayan

Last but not least, the beautiful landscape of the desert.

That's it folks! It was quite an adventure and what I can advise anyone visiting Fayoum is, put on plenty of sunscreen, wear light clothing including long sleeved tops, bring a hat or any head cover that will keep your head cool, bring sun glasses of course and try to visit early in the morning when the sun is not yet at it's peak. Of course I didn't follow a lot of this advise and regretted it so that's why I am passing on the lesson. 

Today is my last day in Egypt before flying back to Kenya at night. One of the guys who works at the guesthouse volunteered to walk me around Giza and show me around. He is pretty cool so that should be fun. Truly, this has been a fantastic holiday, I may have blown my budget but I have had a good time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Day Trip To Alexandria

I decided to take a day trip to Alexandria for a little change of pace and also see what this port city is all about. From Giza where I am staying, the trip takes about 3 hrs each way depending on traffic, so my guide and I had an early start to try and maximize the day. We set off at 7 am.

Alexandria is located in Northern Egypt by the Mediterranean sea and was founded by Alxender the great in 331 BC. It was the site of one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the Pharos lighthouse and also the legendary library of Alexandria, unfortunately both were torched down. At the time, Alexandria was the most vital cultural center that attracted scholars, scientists, philosophers  etc.

Having a guide really helped me appreciate the historical significance of Alexandria. We visited the main attractions of the city which include:

The catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa - huge necropolis and and royal cemetery.

Pompey's Pillar - Roman triumphal column.

The Citadel of Qaitbay - A 15th century defensive fortress.

That's it folks! Alexandria was worth the day trip even though traffic was horrible coming back. Honestly there is so much history in Egypt and it's amazing to know that more is still being discovered. Truly, this has been an educational trip. I have two more days before going back to Kenya so keep stopping by for updates.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Visiting The Egyptian Museum in Cairo

I am not a person who cares to visit museums but I decided to check out the Egyptian Museum since it came highly recommended by my hosts at the guesthouse. Honestly I almost changed my mind at the last minute but I couldn't let my host down since he had arranged to accompany me and show me around the museum. He studied Egyptology so I knew I was in good hands.

I am happy to report that I actually enjoyed the museum more than I thought I would! Could be because I had someone explaining things to me about the significance of the incredible pieaces I saw, with so much passion. Yes, there are written explanations but they lack that human touch to make things more interesting.

I would definitely recommend checking this museum out. It's located in downtown Cairo and is open daily from 9 to 5, the entry ticket for adults is $8 per person which is about 75 Egyptian pounds. 

That's it folks, just a short post showing my appreciation of the Egyptian Museum. 

Saqqara, Egypt

Internet was down yesterday so I couldn't update the blog but here I am now. Yesterday I went to Saqqara with a guide from the guesthouse that I am staying at and got to see the oldest pyramid in Egypt.

Saqqara is the oldest archeological site in the country where nobles were laid to rest when Memphis which is close by, was the capital of ancient Egypt. One of the highlights of Saqqara is the step pyramid of Djoser which is the oldest pyramid that is essentially the prototype from which other pyramids like the famous Giza pyramids were built. This pyramid was built by Imhotep who is one of the first recognized architects in history and it stands at 60 meters (200 feet). 

There is so much history to be found at Saqqara and I am glad that I went with a guide because it helped having someone explain the significance of certain areas. 

After exploring Saqqara we headed to Memphis to check out the open air museum that has the famous colossal laying statue of Ramses II who was one of the most powerful pharaohs that ruled Egypt during it's golden age. I can't even begin to imagine the work that went into making this statue, it's truly remarkable.

That's it folks! It was a day well spent and I am glad I got to learn a lot of Egyptian history. I am just summarizing everything as I could not possibly remember it all. Watch out for the next update as I have more adventures coming up.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Giza, Egypt

I am currently in Egypt for a week before heading back to Kenya. This was planned as a side trip since Cairo is only about 4 hrs away from Nairobi by plane, I decided to take advantage and visit as I had always wanted to check out Egypt.

I am staying at a guest house in Giza which is a city that neighbors Cairo, and the incredible thing about my accommodation is the proximity to the very famous Giza pyramids. We are neighbors basically and I get to enjoy the sites of the pyramids as soon as I step out of my room, onto the veranda.

There are 3 main pyramids in Giza but the biggest one is the Great Pyramid which was built during king Khufu's reign over a span of more than 20 years. It stands tall at 146 meters (479 feet) with a base of 230 meters (754 feet) research has shown that there was no slave labor involved. Paid Egyptian workers were actually employed to build the pyramids. It is believed that the pyramids were built to serve as tombs for the kings but no one knows for sure. What is certain though is the incredible workmanship that went into building them, it's incredible!

The other two main pyramids aside from the great one were built by King Khufu's son and grandson during their respective reigns. Smaller pyramids can also be found in the surrounding areas and these were built for the queens.

The Sphinx is also another remarkable site close to the pyramids. It has the body of a lion with a human head and it stands 20 meters (66 feet) tall with a length of 73 meters (240 feet). Imagine all that curved from a single mass of limestone, incredible! Right?

Take a look at the wall below and tell me that's not perfection. See how precise the cut of each block is? Air pressure was used to fuse them together and they have stood the test of time. I was just wowed by it all!

That's it! Folks, first day in Egypt I hit the ground running as I am trying to maximize my stay here, more adventures await so do watch out for another update.