Selaam! I’m back from my 9 day adventure with Travel Talk tours on the Jewels of the Nile tour. Honestly, this was the most intense trip I’ve ever been on…EVER. Good and bad. It’s pretty full on, action packed and you fit a lot in. You get your money’s worth that’s for sure.
I’m absolutely exhausted but I’m happy I’ve finally ticked this country off my list.
I’ve wanted to travel to Egypt for a long time but I’ve been too anxious to actually book it. Why? Other people’s comments. That’s why! I can’t tell you how many people have put me off travelling to Egypt…
“You can’t travel to Egypt?! It’s not safe for a white, blonde haired, women”
Is it not safe to travel to Egypt if you’re Caucasian? Have blonde hair? As a woman? Or is it because I tick all of those boxes? I can’t change my skin colour (well you can but let’s not go there) and I like my hair colour. I identify as a woman, so that’s not changing either.
However, there’s nothing I enjoy more than proving people wrong.
If I want to go somewhere, I will. End of. Unless there’s a war or something really dangerous happening. The main lesson I learnt is, not to listen to other’s doubts and trust my own gut.
READ MORE: AN ANXIOUS TRAVELLER’S GUIDES TO…
My main advice is to do lots of research before travelling to particular countries. Once you feel more reassured and confident about that country, it’s just down to how you feel the most comfortable and safest travelling there.
For me, I love group tours and I felt like it was the best option for me when travelling to Egypt. I’ve travelled with Travel Talk Tours before to Morocco and had an absolute blast with them, so I picked them again for my Egypt adventure.
Despite booking with a highly recommended company, I was still anxious about a few things on my upcoming trip. Here’s some of the anxieties I had before travelling to Egypt:
Is it “Dangerous”?
One of the main reasons my family didn’t want me to travel to Egypt was due to a recent suicide bombing/terrorist attack in Cairo. However, my family live in a little town in the north where nothing really happens there and I live in London where we’ve been dealing with event’s like this for a while. Yes, it’s scary but you can’t let them win by stay in doors the rest of your life.
There was also a recent incident in New Zealand which is well known to be one of the safest countries in the world.
The best part about a group tour is that it’s well scheduled, you stay in 5* accommodation, you have a secure coach to travel in, expert tour guides who constantly think about your safety and let you know where to go but also where to avoid.
We also had our own policeman with us on the coach rides and even a police escort from Cairo to Luxor and back. If that’s not safe, I don’t know what is?
Practice caution, be safe, use your common sense but don’t be scared to travel.
So you’ve landed in a new country and…now what? That’s right. The madness that is Egyptian customs. What’s going to happen? What do they need? Will they let me through? I have this stressed out moment every time I land somewhere but here was some additional madness.
It was crazy! I got to customs and there was no organisation, no queuing system (which gives me OCD anxiety and annoyance just because I’m British as we love a good queue) and I was worried about my visa.
I was given a landing card when I arrived but I forgot to pack a pen, which is weird for me as I’m an over packer and I usually have one. However, as I arrived at the crazy queuing system there waiting for me with a sign was my lovely Travel Talk Airport Transfer guy (I’m really sorry but I forgot his name – it was very late).
He explained what to do and put me in the shortest queue. He even gave me a pen and helped me fill out the form. He asked me if I had a visa and I explained I was told by Travel Talk that I would buy it here. He had a VISA ready for me and told me I could pay him the $25 for the VISA later. What a hero!
Travelling alone as a solo female
The best part about group tours is that you arrive alone but you will never be alone. On most of the tours I’ve been on with any company there has been a high percentage of solo travellers and most of them are female. YES GIRLS!
I feel very comfortable travelling in groups and that’s why I chose a tour. It’s also a lot safer as a female traveller as there’s a group of you travelling together.
Egypt isn’t really a great place to wonder around by yourself. I went to the shop across the road from our cruise ship which was docked at the time, and the police insisted on escorting me across the road. True story.
I felt very safe on this trip and even made quite a few friends on the way. A reunion is definitely in order.
Dressing the part
Egypt isn’t your standard shorts and t-shirt location. A bit more thought needs to go into it which means more stress for me. I don’t have an extensive wardrobe as all my money goes into plane tickets. I’m not a fashion blogger.
I actually had a little panic shopping a week or so before my trip because I couldn’t find anything suitable to wear. For Egypt you need to cover up a little, mainly your shoulders and knees. However, when it comes to the cruise you can wear bikinis, shorts etc, like a standard holiday.
I highly recommend 3 different “looks”. Again, I’m not a fashion blogger, I believe in being comfortable and necessary travel items.
First “look” would be a maxi skirt with a blouse or nice top. Second “look” is culottes/pants/trousers with a top and/or jeans with a kimono. Lastly, a comfy maxi dresses or jumpsuit. Don’t forget your main accessory…a scarf! Maybe I should be a fashion blogger…
OK. Harassment is a pretty harsh term, but that’s what I was thinking and worried about before arriving into Egypt. I was expecting it to be a little like Morocco in terms of “Hard selling“ in the Bazaars but I didn’t think it would be everywhere.
In Morocco, the “sellers” pretty much stayed to the shopping areas but in Egypt they were everywhere. They were there when we got off the coach, outside the tourist areas, while we were trying to take photos of temples, listening to our tour guide telling us about where we were, etc. Everywhere.
My issue is that people invading my personal space, getting up in my face and shouting at me, really rattles my anxiety. When it’s also consistent, with many people, in a crowded environment then yes it’s going to be difficult.
The best formula we found was just not to engage with them at all. This led a straight path to your destination so they will go bother someone else. Don’t look at what they have, keep your head down and don’t say anything. Indicating something on their stall like “look at those cat statues” will make them perk up and follow you like a magnet.
Obviously, if you want to buy something then by all means go ahead but make sure you understand the value of the product, know your exchange rate and be prepared to haggle. Don’t be intimidated to haggle. Some tenders are selling for 2/3 times what they are worth, including drinks and snacks.
Egypt is a beautiful country and most travellers want to take photos. Obviously. Our generation are looking for the best photos for our Instagram and not afraid to pose a little for the best shots. This is becoming more and more common but the locals in Egypt are now trying to profit from it, which is annoyingly smart.
They will try to get money from you for taking photos. Seriously.
You can’t go around taking photos of their camels or the locals without them asking for cash. To be fair, you shouldn’t be taking photos of locals anyway without their permission. I wouldn’t want someone taking my photo and putting it on the internet.
However, they will try to trick you which is quite cheeky. They will say “$1 for photo” for taking a photo of the camel but then they will try to let you sit on it and then ask for more money. This is “upselling” but with no warning of increase in price. Cheeky.
You also need to buy a “Photo Pass” for some of the Museums and Temples. Yes. You’ll need to buy a ticket to get in but an additional ticket to take photos inside. Seriously. Prices can range from 50 – 400EGP. I didn’t get any photo passes at first but I really regret not getting one for Valley of the Kings.
I also got a Photo Pass for the Cairo Museum but you couldn’t take photos of Tutankhamun or the mummies. I also had to buy an additional ticket to go into the Mummy rooms. Yeah, they like their added extras.
Weirdly, you’ll find that you might be the main attraction. Everywhere we went, kids were trying to take our photos or asking us for selfies. Makes you feel kind of famous in a weird way. I didn’t let them do this and was getting quite annoyed by the end of the trip. However, some of the girls did have a few photo ops but it did eat into their time as once you say yes to one, then they all want a photo.
I booked the cruise version of the trip. There was also the option of the Felucca or the bus ride back to Luxor. The most popular version is the Felucca which is a sail boat which sails from Aswan to Luxor but takes longer. I really fancied the cruise and I wanted to treat myself for my birthday.
I was worried that the 5* cruise wouldn’t exactly be a our standard of 5* and I was very anxious about what to expect as there aren’t many photos online or on the Travel Talk website for it. If I’m honest, it’s more like 3* cruise and 4* service in Europe standards. The US would be a bit more harsh.
It was actually really nice and the staff on board were really lovely. The rooms were a bit small but I didn’t really mind. The bathrooms were still a bit unclean for my liking. My highlight had to be the view from our bedroom window (after we left the dock because before that was just the porthole windows the ship next to us). The sunsets up-deck weren’t that shabby either.
We also had some decent entertainment which included a belly dancing show and a lot more chill time that the guys on the Felucca. Let’s not forget the all you can eat buffet with tons of options.
I have minor OCD so I was really worried about the bathroom situation. After the Morocco trip, I was a bit more prepared for what to expect but I must say it was a bit worse than Morocco.
It makes me really appreciate having a clean toilet and bathroom back home. The public toilets, were a slight issue for me. The term “drip dry” was used quite a lot by many of the girls on our trip which we oddly bonded over.
There was always someone in the bathrooms who would “maintain” the rooms. Keep it clean and stocked. They will hand you a rationed amount of toilet roll and that’s it. No more. You also have to pay them after you’ve done your business, which is typically about 5EGP which is about 20p and you have to pay this every time you use a public toilet.
My best advise is to make sure you bring extra tissues with you into the public toilets. Just keep them in your bag. Face wipes are even better for extra freshness. It reminds me of camping at a festival.
Will power required. Don’t pet the stray dogs and cats. They’re cute, yes. Do they probably contain diseases and flees? Most definitely yes.
Let’s be honest. I should call this part “Diarrhea Dilemma“ but it’s not just the poos I was worried about.
I’m a fussy eater. I’ve got a broken nose which means I can’t really taste and go by textures mostly. I also have a bad habit of eating things that are bad for me through habit.
This was a great detox for eating rubbish food and drinking more water. I mostly ate salads, chicken and rice. What a cleanse. I did sneak in some chocolate at a rest stop but I ate considerably less than my normal standards.
OK. Let’s talk poo. Shockingly no one on my tour got sick (that I know of). However, after eating a considerable amount of street food, shockingly it was the hotel food that got to me. But I think it might be an intolerance to goats milk more than anything else.
I had a long journey home and let’s leave it at that.
My top tips are to NEVER drink the tap water, just buy bottles water. Don’t even use it to brush your teeth. Be careful of street food and just use your common sense.
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IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO EGYPT YET, WHAT ARE YOU THE MOST WORRIED ABOUT? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.
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Disclaimer: I purchased my own seat on this tour for my birthday holiday by myself. I didn’t receive any payment or gifted items for this tour and Travel Talk didn’t request me to provide any content in exchange for services. I wanted to write about my own experience on this tour. All words and thoughts as always are my own.