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Dates: Dec 26-28, 2020


Route: Flew Egyptair from Mumbai.

It’s an understatement to say there is a lot of history in Egypt. If you want detailed reads on all the monuments, go here.

Cairo…. the city’s name conjures up images of adventure and ancient mysteries. Home to possibly the best known wonder of the world, the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo features vibrant bazaars, eclectic restaurants, buzzing nightlife and one of the best museums of the world. We landed in late Dec on a breezy and cold morning… not what we were expecting. It apparently was one of the coldest winters but at least it was sunny. After checking into the fantastic Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir, we set off to explore the amazing Egyptian Museum around the corner. This is an excellent place to begin your visit to Egypt as it has all of the items from antiquity and provides the background to the many places you will visit later. It is advisable to get a guide but the haggling (like with everything in Egypt) gets annoying. We only kept our guide for an hour to get highlights and then explored on our own. The items here are beautiful and well-preserved and you can easily spend half a day wandering the many hallways. We went back to our hotel late afternoon and after a much-needed shower, walked to the west bank of the Nile. There are many nice bars and restaurants here and we ended up at the permanently moored Le Pacha boat which has multiple places in it.

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The next morning we set off to see the Pyramids and began our tour at the very first pyramid the Egyptians built which is in Saqqara, about 40km from Cairo. This is a step pyramid and fairly well preserved and there are some good ruins to walk around in. A good blog on the complex can be found here.

From there we went to Memphis, a 15 minute drive, where the massive Statue of Ramesses II is located in the Great Temple of Ptah. This complex is small but the statue is well worth seeing. It was found by accident, half buried in the mud by an Italian explorer.


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We then drove to the Pyramids and were taken to an area that houses camels and horses behind the Giza complex. Despite our love of animals, we decided to take a camel (me) and horse (Rupa) and it was the worst mistake of our holiday. Egyptians do not care at all for their animals and all service ones are treated very badly. My camel had a hard time walking and it had numerous cuts and bruises on it. We saw horses with their hoofs bleeding and donkeys worked to near death. Please DO NOT do any of the animal rides and walk the Giza complex instead. You can just pay any camel owner $5 to take as many pictures as you want. Giza and the Pyramids did not disappoint, and no pictures will ever do them justice. The sheer amount of work and manpower that must have gone into their construction leave one is awe of what was accomplished here using the blood and lives of thousands. We got lucky with a storm cloud that passed over the pyramids and combined with the late afternoon sun for some beautiful photographs. We spent this afternoon just walking around the outside of the entire complex. We came back another day, after our White Desert trip, to see the insides of the pyramids. Our biggest advice is don’t carry too much as you will literally have to crawl on your stomach up and down narrow vents to get to the middle of the pyramids. I have never felt claustrophobic in my life until crawling into the Great Pyramid with very little airflow. But, it’s all part of the experience and getting to the King’s Chamber at the heart of the pyramid feels like an accomplishment. We got lucky here in that there was maybe 2 minutes where there was nobody inside. Bribing the guard $5 to allow us to meditate (it is legally forbidden), we did so touching the walls. I felt an intense vibration as if the entire pyramid was alive and the overall sensation was being one with the pyramid and the entire complex all at once. Later, sitting outside I reflected on what I had seen in all of Giza and of one thing I am convinced… they were not built as tombs as what is told to the general public. There were no mummies found there and none of the interior of the pyramids have any of the intricate and beautiful inscriptions or hieroglyphics like those in Luxor. As to what I think they are, that’s for a conversation over some good wine :-).


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Outside of the Pyramids and ancient monuments, another fun place to visit in Cairo is the Khan Al-Khalili bazaar. Located in the historic center of Cairo next to the towering Al-Hussain mosque, this is one of the best markets we went to in Egypt. Made up of many narrow alleyways and niches, you can find shops selling everything from jewelry, souvenirs, paintings, clothing, spices, tea and perfumes. Our favorites were the small shops selling antiques and colorful lamps that are displayed in a stunning tapestry of color. We went there twice for both shopping and photography.


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