In case you didn’t know, my husband and I spent the last week honeymooning in Egypt! It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to share all the pics and deets with you guys!
We booked the trip through a tour group called Abercrombie & Kent. A&K arranged the entire itinerary, took care of all our transportation, and provided most of our meals. Basically we just followed them around and they did all the hard bits. 😉
Day 0: Arriving in Cairo
I’m calling this day 0 because it hardly counts as a day. This was our arrival and relaxation day.
We landed in Cairo at about 4:20am local time… Yikes!
As soon as we exited the plane, we were met by the Abercrombie & Kent representatives. They immediately helped us through the visa process (by taking $25 per person and doing everything else for us from there!), guided us through security (skipping to the front of every single line, thanks to their airport connections!), and then collected our bags for us. We were immediately impressed by how kind, attentive, and efficient they were. And this whole “skipping the line” thing was definitely a sign of what was to come. Abercrombie & Kent have connections EVERYWHERE, it’s impressive.
Abercrombie & Kent drove us to our first hotel in Cairo, the Mena House Hotel.
It was still insanely early (getting on for 6am at this point) and we had barely slept. So, hubby and I immediately cuddled up in bed and slept until 1pm.
Once we woke up, we finally had a chance to look around a little, including outside our very own hotel room window. And hot damn! Check out that view!
Pool and lunch time
Time to scope out the pool and find some food!
We finally found a restaurant by the pool, which looked great and had a beautiful view. After settling down, we realized that it was an Italian restaurant. That’s not so good for our low carb diet! So we immediately started “cheating” and ordered lasagne… which was AMAAAAZING!
A romantic dinner
That night we were on our own for dinner. We ate at the grill, which was situated next to a bunch of pools. It was sooo romantic with the water and all the pretty lights!
Day 1: Egyptian Museum, Memphis & Sakkara
At 8am this morning we met up with our Abercrombie & Kent tour group. A&K had four groups together, each consisting of 18 people. We always stuck with our individual groups, and each group was assigned its own Egyptologist tour guide. Plus, each group had its very own bus. This allowed us to feel like we were in a small, private group, which was great! Much better than being with 70 other people.
While on the bus to the Egyptian Museum, we drove past the infamous Tahrir Square. They actually had several tanks parked near the square! They weren’t really needed, they were mostly just there for show and to discourage any activity, I guess. At no point did we feel unsafe (but I’ll touch more on that later).
Sadly photos weren’t allowed inside the Egyptian Museum. 🙁 But we were in there for about an hour and half and saw artefacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb, mummies, and more!
Lunch at Andrea El Mariouteya
We stopped for lunch at Andrea El Mariouteya, a place famous for its grilled chicken. Before sitting down to eat, we stopped by this area where local women were making the bread we would be eating for lunch! They were preparing the bread and putting it in the ‘oven’ (which was more like a fire pit type thing).
Then we entered this gorgeous area covered with overhanging trees and flowers, where we sat down to have lunch (and eat the home made bread!).
In Memphis we saw the statue of Ramses II. This is a MASSIVE statue about 10 metres long. It was hard to get a picture of it just because it’s so damn big!
Sakkara is a burial ground, which is home to the famous Step Pyramid. The Step Pyramid was kind of the first attempt at building a pyramid. It wasn’t originally intended to be a pyramid, but they kept adding more and more layers until it ended up looking like a crude pyramid.
Shame about all that scaffolding!
Next we visited a carpet school in Cairo. This school takes in young children (something like ages 12-17) and teaches them how to make carpets. This is their job until they turn 18, then it’s off into the world! These kids were crazy fast at making those carpets. You could barely see their fingers as they worked!
Yep, low carb is on hold…
That evening we had a welcome dinner with the whole tour group. At this point, we knew we’d be putting our low carb diet on hold for the rest of the trip… haha!
Day 2: Giza Pyramids
During the day
We started the day off being harassed by a seller in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza. First he had me take a photo of him and my husband, which was fine. Then he insisted on taking a photo of us in front of his camel. Then he insisted on a tip. Then he insisted that we didn’t tip him enough. Then he followed us all around the pyramids for about 30 minutes, demanding more money. Argh!
Lesson learned: don’t talk to any sellers, even if they start out asking you seemingly harmless and friendly questions (like “where are you from”). More about this later…
We even got to go inside the pyramid of Cheops! This was AMAAAAZING! It was super dark and you had to bend down and walk most of the time (sometimes up super steep “stairs”). There wasn’t much to see once you got in there (just an empty sarcophagus), but it was really the brutal climb/crawl that was the highlight. It was actually an incredible workout, haha!! My legs were burning for days. I think it’s just because you have to squat down and walk for a long period of time (often slowly), so you could really feel the burn!
After going inside the pyramid, Abercrombie & Kent took us to a photograph point where we got an awesome view of all three pyramids.
Then came one of my favourite parts of the whole trip… I GOT TO RIDE A CAMEL!!! It was a very short ride, but OMG it was so much fun!
After the pyramids, we had a shopping opportunity. I finally got to do the thing I always regretted not doing the last time I went to Egypt… buy a cartouche necklace with my name in hieroglyphics!
I got a gold cartouche with my name in silver hieroglyphics. I LOOOVE IT!!!
At night: the light show
At 7:00pm we went to a light show in front of the sphinx and the three pyramids. The narration was pretty cheesy, but the lights themselves were pretty awesome!
Day 3: Karnak Temple, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and Valley of the Kings
This day was amazing, but BRUTAL! It started with a 4:15am wakeup call… Holy crap. We were taken to the airport, where we caught an 8:30am flight to Luxor. We landed at 9:35am and immediately went to the Temple of Luxor. This is where I realized that I massively underestimated the temperature.
Prior to the trip I had been checking Cairo weather. It was averaging about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. But I didn’t think to check the weather in the other places we’d be visiting (mainly Luxor), because I assumed they’d be about the same. WRONG!! In Luxor we were greeted with 110 degree weather! X_X Actually it started out at 95 when we first arrived, but then quickly rose to about 110 in the mid afternoon (around 2-3pm). Man, it was BRUTAL!
Temple of Karnak
Many of the columns in Karnak (and other temples as well) had graffiti carvings from the 1800s.
Lunch on the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV
After Karnak, we checked into our new home: the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV. We took a lovely little motorboat called Titanic to the cruise ship. (We didn’t sink, luckily.)
The Sanctuary Sun Boat was INCREDIBLE!! Not only was the boat itself amazing, but the service and crew members were phenomenal. Sure they were friendly and polite, but they really stood out because of how genuine they were. They weren’t just being polite because it’s their job, they were clearly so genuinely happy to have us on board. I love how they always went above and beyond even with simple things, like memorizing our drink orders.
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
After a delicious and satisfying lunch, we headed to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. At this point it was like 1 or 2pm and the full 110 degree heat was beating down on us. I remembered this temple quite vividly from when I was last in Egypt, and it’s one of my favourites. But man, it was soooo hot, so I was pretty out of it. We only looked around briefly before heading back to the nice air conditioned bus.
Valley of the Kings
Sadly this is the only photo I have of the Valley of the Kings, because photos aren’t allowed inside. But we went inside three tombs: Ramses (I forget which numbers, but we went into two different ones) and King Tutankhamun. It’s funny how King Tut is one of the most famous and well known, but his tomb is pretty small and plain. But Ramses, on the other hand, has an INCREDIBLE tomb with beautiful hieroglyphics and artwork. It’s absolutely stunning how much they can cram onto those walls.
Back to the boat!
Oh my god this was a long day! I think we finally headed back around 4:30 or 5pm and that was after being up at 4:15am, taking a flight, and touring all day long in 100-110 degree weather. I was so beat!
Day 4: Denderah & Luxor
Temple of Goddess Hathor
At 8am we set off for the Temple of Goddess Hathor. This temple had two highlights:
- It is the only temple that displays Cleopatra’s cartouche.
- It has one of the most gorgeous interiors (in terms of art and colours).
Sadly, the Christians (I think it was the Christians..) started using this temple at one period, but they used a bad method of lighting the temple (I think it was burning animal fat or something?) which resulted in the walls and and ceiling being COVERED with soot. A few years back they started a big restoration project to remove the soot from the temple, but they were never able to finish. But in this picture you can see the before and after comparison. It’s pretty crazy!
Then we got to go on top of the temple and there was a gorgeous panoramic view!
Temple of Luxor
We left for the Temple of Luxor at 5pm. It was pretty light when we arrived, but the sun set pretty quickly and then the temple was lit up. It was SO GORGEOUS!!! I took about five million photos but only a handful actually came out decently sharp. Most were just blurry since I didn’t have a tripod and didn’t want to kick up the ISO too high.
As you can see, the temple was GORGEOUS at night! But you know what one of the best parts was? The teenagers who were there. I had about 10 different Egyptian teenagers approach me and ask to take selfies with me. Uhhh, how awesome is that?!?! Usually when someone asks to have their photo taken, take a photo with you, or offer to take a photo of you, they’re actually a vendor looking to sell you something or just looking for a tip (in exchange for taking/being in the photo). Ultimately it’s a sales pitch. They say, “Want me to take your photo? No charge!” But then when you’re done they demand a tip.
But these boys were different. They weren’t selling anything, they were just so happy to see Americans and were genuinely friendly. They wanted a selfie with an American girl! So the boys were literally lining up to take a photo with me and Peter, hahaha!! I’m so disappointed that I didn’t take any with my phone. 🙁 I didn’t think to do that until afterwards.
Day 5: Temple of Horus (by carriage) and Kom Ombo Temple
Journey to the Temple of Horus by horse-drawn carriage
At 9am this morning, Abercrombie & Kent arranged for horse-drawn carriages to take us to the Temple of Horus. The carriage ride was pretty fun, but I honestly felt SO BAD for all the horses. In general, all the horses in Egypt looked to be in very poor condition. They were all underfed, with many of them having very clear rib lines. I even saw one or two with open wounds from where people hit them with sticks (like riding crops). Since they were so skinny, the crops hit them on the bone, and after enough hitting they started to bleed.
None of the horses drawing our carriages were bleeding, but they still just looked underfed and not all that happy. I felt so bad for them!! 🙁
In the afternoon we had a cooking lesson with the head chef on the boat. He showed us how to prepare a few Egyptian meals. They even provided us with recipe cards for the meals they taught us.
Too bad none of them were low carb!
Kom Ombo Temple at night
At 6:30 we visited another temple at night: Kom Ombo. This was another gorgeous scene, and seeing temples at night quickly became my favourite part of the trip!
“Egyptian Night” costume party
That night we had a costume party! We all dressed up in galabeyyas and had a romantic dinner on the boat deck.
After dinner, Abercrombie & Kent surprised us with a honeymoon cake! It was chocolate and INSANELY DELICIOUS!
Day 6: Philae Temple, Unfinished Obelisk, & Felucca Ride
The Philae Temple is basically located on an island. When they built the Aswan Dam it caused the area around the Philae temple to completely flood, to the point where the temple was actually drowning! So then they had this big project to save the temple by cutting it into pieces, moving the pieces to higher ground, and then reassembling the temple. Nuts, huh?
In order to get to this temple, we had to travel in a motorboat! Along the way we saw a few houses overlooking the lake. They were so colourful!
The unfinished obelisk
I didn’t take many pictures of the unfinished obelisk because it was so hot, I was tired, and it was not a very picturesque place. All the granite made for boring photographs.
But the ancient Egyptians started carving out this granite obelisk. After a while (probably as they started carving out the bottom) it got two huge cracks in it so they had to abandon their work. Imagine doing all that carving away in the scorching hot sun, just to have it all be for nothing. I’d be pissed!
We got to climb all the way up the granite and got a pretty awesome view from the top!
A felucca is a typical Egyptian sail boat, and we got to go on one! We had a lovely sail around and at one point a few Egyptian boys paddled up to our boat, hung onto the sides, and started singing!
We started sailing at around 3:30 or 4pm and we were on the boat long enough to watch the sun set. It was insanely gorgeous.
Day 7: Abu Simbel & back to Cairo
Phew, this was another busy day! We woke up at 7am and caught a 9:30am flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel. Abercrombie & Kent actually chartered this flight, so the people in our tour group were the only ones on board!
I don’t have a lot of photos of Abu Simbel because pictures weren’t allowed inside the temples. But it is a pretty spectacular sight! These two temples (for Ramses II and his wife, Nefertari) were actually cut apart and rebuilt. When they built the Aswan High Dam, the temple was going to be submerged in water. In order to save the temples, they took them apart and rebuilt them on an artificial hill on higher ground.
Since the time of Ramses II up until now, there’s a solar phenomena two days out of the year: October 22nd and February 22nd. On those two days, the rays of the sun hit the entrance to Ramses II’s temple and fill the inside, illuminating the statues of the gods at the back, but leaving the statue of Ptah (the god connected to the Underworld) in darkness. This is why our tour guide insisted that Abu Simbel should be the eighth wonder of the world. 😉
Back to Cairo
After our visit in Abu Simbel, we returned to the airport and boarded our chartered plane back to Cairo, where we checked into the Four Seasons First Residence Hotel. When we entered our room, we found goodies!!
A honeymoon cake from the Four Seasons staff!! They also left a card congratulating us on our honeymoon. So nice!! Now let’s check out the ultra comfy Four Seasons room:
And that doesn’t include the massive hallway from the door that leads to the bedroom, or the wardrobe! It was really an amazing room. We both wished we could spend more time there.
Day 8: Sultan Hassan & Refaie Mosques; Islamic Walking Tour
On our final day, we visited two mosques in Cairo. After the mosques, we did a walking tour around the old walled city and saw a bunch of market stalls.
Mosque of Sultan Hassan
With the trip coming to a close, we knew it was our last opportunity to indulge before going back to our strict low carb diet. So we did! And surprisingly, I gained less than a pound on the entire trip. I thought I’d come home and find myself 10 pounds heavier with all the amazing food they kept feeding us.
What an amazing trip!
This was a dream come true honeymoon for my husband and I. Not only was Egypt itself phenomenal, but Abercrombie & Kent always went above and beyond. They made us feel like royalty!
Reasons we loved Abercrombie & Kent
- Our Egyptologist, Ibrahim, was fantastic! He was knowledgeable, funny, and it was so clear that he cared about Egypt and its history.
- The buses were clean, spacious, and air conditioned.
- We got door-to-door bag service. Any time we went on a flight, Abercrombie & Kent would collect our baggage from our hotel room, get it to the airport, get it on the plane, collect it from baggage claim, and deliver it to our next hotel. We never had to do anything!!
- They always provided us with hand sanitizer after being outside.
- The crew on the boat was some of the nicest staff I’ve EVER encountered.
- Ibrahim and other A&K staff members were always very clear about our itinerary and daily activities. We were clearly told how long we’d be on the bus, how long we’d be at the temple, and what time we’d get back.
- They surprised us with an epic chocolate cake!
- Everyone was so nice and helpful. They made sure we had their contact numbers and made it clear that we could contact them any time (day or night).
- The food was outstanding! Breakfast and lunch were always buffet style (except at the Four Seasons Hotel), then we got menus for dinner. But the quality and variety of foods was great.
We never, ever felt unsafe
Yes we were always provided with an armed guard during our travels, but it wasn’t because Egypt is unsafe. Tourism is a major source of income for Egypt, and they’ve always had a special police branch for the “Tourism Police”. Even when I first visited Egypt 10 years ago, we were given an armed guard because that’s the standard way they operate. Security is tight because they care about their tourists and want them to feel safe and secure. It’s not because it’s actually unsafe.
Most of the people we met were friendly, and whenever we drove past people (especially teenagers/children) in the bus, they would smile, jump up and down, and wave at us. They were so excited to have tourists in the country!
The vendors were the only downside
Vendors in Egypt have always been pushy. They were pushy when I was there 10 years ago and they were pushy this time. But I swear they got even pushier. Maybe it’s because they’re so desperate since they need the money due to lack of tourism.. but regardless of the reason, it was NOT cool. Here are a few examples of their pushiness:
- They put a scarf around your neck, say it’s a lovely gift, and ask you to visit their shop after you’re doing touring. They REMEMBER who you are, find you after you’re done in the temple, invite you to their shop, you say no, then they demand the “free gift” back.
- A man comes up with his donkey, says “Let’s take picture! No charge!” You say no, but he continues to insist and repeats “No money, no charge”. Then after the photo shoot, he demands a tip.
- You walk through a marketplace because it’s on the way to the temple, and vendors try to put scarves and other clothing ON YOUR BODY and demand payment.
- Vendors flash books and post cards in your face, quoting a price, you say “No thank you”, and they continue to follow you, decreasing their price with every other step. You continue to say, “No thank you”, but they keep pestering.
- People approach you and start out really friendly saying, “Welcome to Alaska,” or “Where are you from?” or “What’s your name?” But once you respond, that’s it. It’s the start of their sales pitch. Be prepared to have them follow you around for 10 minutes trying to sell scarves and sculptures and books.
- They follow you around for 5 minutes saying, “Come to my shop—no hassle! No hassle at my shop, come visit.” But what they fail to realize is THEY’RE HASSLING YOU RIGHT NOW!!
The main problem is that they don’t understand or accept “No thank you”. I actually think they do themselves a disservice. Because vendors pester you SO MUCH, it discourages you from browsing their shops. Because as soon as you express interest in ANYTHING, they’ll follow you around, quote prices, and try to sell you 10 other things you don’t want. I was so sick of being hounded, so I had to just stop browsing all together. It’s not worth it. I couldn’t even be friendly with these guys and that made me sad. What you have to do is look straight ahead, don’t make eye contact, and don’t say ANYTHING. Don’t say “hi” or “no thank you” — nothing. Because if you give them an ounce of attention, they’ll start the sales pitch you don’t want.
But, if the vendors were to leave people alone, I’d actually be more inclined to browse. There were things I’d have liked to look at and maybe even purchase, but the vendors make it impossible for you to do that since they hassle you so much. And if you express an interest in one guy’s shop, you’re suddenly THE PERSON WHO BUYS THINGS. Then all the other vendors descend upon you.
Thanks to my amazing parents!
Anyway, annoying vendors aside. 😉 They were really the only downside of the trip. Everything else was perfect!
I can’t write this post without giving a huge thanks to my parents, who funded this honeymoon for us! It was so special and romantic, and it wouldn’t have been possible without mom and dad. 😉 Thank you!!!