Fearless Travel & Adventures in Egypt

adventures in Egypt
Camel riding around the great pyramids of Egypt.

 

Please welcome our newest Guest Adventurer, Kathy Gottberg. She is the author of five published books and writes and blogs at SMART Living 365.com (http://smartliving365.com) where she shares ideas about creating a happy, healthy, and meaningful life every day of the year. And obviously she also loves to travel!

adventures in Egypt
Yes, that’s the real Sphinx in the background.

 

Fearless Travel and Adventures in Egypt

For as long as I can remember I wanted to travel to Egypt. I’m not sure if it was a vision of the pyramids or movies about Cleopatra that created the longing or not. I just knew that given the chance, I would go. In 2015, I turned 60, and I had no interest in a big party or an expensive gift. Instead, as usual, travel was at the top of my list.  Now, after just returning from nearly three weeks in this chaotic, ancient and mesmerizing country, I still don’t know for certain why I needed to go. But what’s clear is that the biggest thing to fear about traveling to Egypt is the challenge it gives to our comfort zone, our limited scope of history, and our egocentric view as citizens of planet Earth.

adventures in Egypt
Inside one of the amazing temples in Egypt

 

Like most people in the U.S., the media influences my thinking and planning. Fortunately, I have been a longtime follower of a couple of online travel forums that offer perspectives from average people who recently visited and enjoyed Egypt. Hearing from real people rather than only what the media wants us to know helped make the final decision. Is there an element of uncertainty in Egypt right now? Yes! Is there an element of uncertainty in just about every country on the planet, including the U.S., right now? Yes! The challenge is picking through all the noise and finding the reality of life on the ground.

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Of course, Thom and I also traveled the weekend after 9/11 when most people were too frightened to go near an airport. We also frequently journey to Mexico, which continues to be a place with conflicting messages about safety. While we regularly practice awareness and conscientiousness whenever visiting an unfamiliar location (including those in the U.S.), we usually feel as comfortable in foreign cities as we do at home. Of course, if your ideal vacation is Las Vegas or a cruise ship, Egypt will not be appealing. But those of us who crave adventure, awe, and stretching our personal boundaries, Egypt will exceed your expectations. At least, it did mine.

We weren’t complete adventurers. We found and hired a tour company who arranged nearly everything within country. And because our lifestyle allows us certain luxuries, we didn’t travel economically either. (See why we “rightsized” our lives!) Instead, with research, I located a highly recommended guide who represented himself as able to introduce us to “real Egypt” instead of “luxurious Egypt.”

Is there a difference? Yes. Some travelers want only the most pampered and privileged perspective of travel while seeing the sites. We wanted some of both. While most of our accommodations were quite comfortable, there was a level beyond. In addition, we purposely selected opportunities to experience how real people live and experience life in Egypt.

adventures in Egypt

One of our many guides who wore our “peace” glasses when we told them they were to promote peace

 

Highlights include:

  • Waking up and seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza from our hotel window the morning after our arrival.
  • The opportunity for Thom and I to ride camels through the desert around the pyramids with only a handful of people in the distance.
  • Climbing deep inside a pyramid and feeling the weight, the history and the resonance of the place.
  • Connecting with our tour company owner and guide Samir, and spending hours discussing politics, religion and life in general while driving from site-to-site, or over tea and several meals.
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Drinking coffee one morning on the bank of a small island with the captain and crew.

 

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Our Dahabiya for five nights while sailing the Nile River. Amazing!
  • Boarding a Dahabiya on the Nile River as the sole passengers of this type of ancient sailing vessel. Coasting down this iconic river aboard the Dahabiya remains an incredible experience never to be forgotten.
adventures in Egypt
The Captain, Chef and I checking out our roast turkey dinner on Christmas Eve.
  • Enjoying an amazing Christmas Eve on board the ship where the crew spent several hours decorating the ship with lights and Santa’s, and then having our “chef” cook us a special roasted turkey dinner—yes turkey! After that, we sang, danced, played games and laughed until the tears rolled down our cheeks.
adventures in Egypt
Dancing with the Captain on Christmas Eve!
  • Becoming friends with a young Egyptologist and guide named Mohamed who not only taught us an amazing amount of history about ancient Egypt, but also shared our interest in world religion, psychology and philosophy. Deep conversation!
adventures in Egypt
Baking a traditional bread in Egypt (called feteer Mashaltit) with a local family in their mud-brick oven. It’s harder than it looks!
  • Wandering through several small villages and seeing people and life as though it has likely been for thousands of years made a deep impression. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. Egyptian men and women have dark and expressive eyes that communicate so much and share their compassion.   Instead of saying hello or good morning to each other, the common greeting is “Salaam, Alaikum.” – Peace be unto you.
adventures in Egypt
Stopping for tea and cappuccino with our guide Mohamed and new friends from Germany.
  • Just like in the U.S. or other countries where we have traveled, the vast majority of people in Egypt practice their faith in their own quiet and non-obtrusive way. Because it was the holiday season during our visit, there were Christmas trees, Santa’s and lights everywhere we went—but there was no hostility whatsoever for our desire to celebrate a Christian holiday. I deeply appreciate the customary call to prayer that Muslim’s practice five times a day. Imagine if everyone in the world stopped for five times a day for about five minutes and either prayed according to their faith or just paused and meditated on peace, how transformative that would be for our world?
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Abu Simbel…. AMAZING!
  • Learning how the history of the world is tied to the history of Egypt and yet how the interpretation of that history continues to unfold and evolve as time goes by. When you consider that the Egyptian history goes back at least 10,000 years (yes they have records and proof!) it makes us laugh to contrast that with U.S. history at just slightly over 200 years.   With humor, our guides continually reminded us that just about everything, “first happened in Egypt!”
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Philae Temple in Aswan–at the sound & light show.

 

Many people approach travel like a checklist.  Egypt: check!  Pyramids: check! Nile cruise: check!  I’m happy to say that our experience of Egypt expanded my knowledge of history, culture and myself in more ways than I can say.  Like I’ve written about before, travel teaches us about what is most important and that has nothing to do with buying more stuff, working like a slave at jobs we dislike or putting off our dreams to a distant time in the future.  As Ray Bradbury said, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”  Don’t wait–do it now.

I could go on sharing example after example of our wonderful experiences in Egypt. Sure there are lots of details that made up every day and our overall impression of the trip. But I hope that my photos and these few words show you that traveling and feeling safe exists first and foremost in our minds—no matter where we live or what we are doing. Remembering that idea is the SMART way to travel, and nearly always leads to a fearless adventure.

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To see more of Kathy’s adventures: She writes and blogs at SMART Living 365.com (http://smartliving365.com)

Thank you Kathy!

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Fearless Travel & Adventures in Egypt”

    • Thanks Tam! I know you travel quite a bit AND scuba dive so you really, really should make it to Egypt now. The Red Sea is supposed to offer awesome diving and now is really the time to visit Egypt because there is no crowds whatsoever. It’s desert climate so traveling in the U.S. winter (or spring or fall) is advised but it really is a wonderful place to visit. Please let me know if you ever plan to go and I’ll be sure and give you more tips. ~Kathy

      Reply
  1. Oh man this looks great!!! I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt and had plan to go a few years back until all the turmoil in that region canceled my plans. I would love to start replanning my trip there. I hope to do more local things but it scares me a little bit. Any advice on that?

    Reply
    • Hi Hung Thai! Now is an EXCELLENT time to go to Egypt (but don’t wait too long because it gets really hot in the summertime. But I highly recommend the visit if it is someplace you’ve always wanted to see. And if you are nervous, I can recommend the guide that I used. He and his company covered just about EVERYTHING. We were met at the airports, taken on all the tours and also had the opportunity to do local things. It does cost more but it takes away any concern you might have about safety. Email me if you want the contact. ~Kathy

      Reply
  2. Even though I’ve been to all these places, I really enjoyed reading this article. It’s always good to be back in Egypt one way or another. Anyways, I wanted to share something interesting I’ve recently learned about the way the great pyramid in Giza was built. A french architect proved that it was actually built from inside out. There was only one major outside ramp that was dismantled once they’ve reached certain height. Afterwards, all stone blocks were moved through a elaborated network of internal tunnels. Simply genius!

    Reply
  3. Hi Gareth! Isn’t Egypt incredible? I didn’t hear about the great pyramid being built from the inside out but we did learn there are LOTS of theories but no inconclusive truth. In fact, they make new discoveries all the time that changes what we know about history–it’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Being there and seeing the place is something I think all of us should do at least once! ~Kathy

    Reply

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