Visiting the Pyramids in Egypt has always been one of my dreams. When I first joined Emirates I was so excited as Cairo was only a 3 hour flight away from Dubai. 6 years later, I still hadn’t visited mainly because I had heard that it was nearly impossible for staff to travel because the flights were always full. Eddy and I happened to have one day free before our leave to Brazil for our besties wedding so I knew – Egypt was definitely going to happen!
Of course when I checked the loads of the flights to Cairo from Dubai they were all overbooked. This didn’t dishearten me, I knew we would manage to get there somehow. The reality of staff travel is connecting anywhere is a possibility. A few years ago Eddy and I didn’t manage to get seats on a SYD-DXB flight with Emirates so we flew SYD-NRT with JAL, had some sushi for lunch at the airport then continued along NRT-DXB with Emirates. Yes it took double the time but such is life when you are only paying 10% of the normal airfare!
I had asked a few of the crew what the best tour in Cairo was and Cairo Layover was the most highly recommended. I got in contact straight away and booked the dates for Eddy and I.
What I really appreciated is that since this tour is actually operated by an Emirates crew members family it meant that they really understood everything that was necessary for the trip. A sim card was sent to me via the company internal mail so that on landing in Egypt I would have data and be able to call the driver. They also knew the dilemma of making it on an Emirates flight so they were able to check the loads for me on Egypt Air as a back up option. I had never booked with Egypt Air before and they were even able to tell me just exactly how to do that.
We did end up flying with Egypt Air and landed in sunny Cairo at 7am. The visa process was extremely easy. Eddy and I lined up and bought one for $25 USD each. Note that this must be paid for in cash. They also accept Euros and Pounds. We also changed some dirhams into Egyptian pounds so we could buy lunch/dinner and some souvenirs.
As soon as we landed Cairo Layover called me and let me know exactly where our driver would be standing. He was easy to spot as he was holding the Cairo layover sign. We were given some cold water and some goodie bags which I will reveal later! P.S wifi is available in the car for the entire trip but Eddy and I were too in awe of our surroundings to use it!
We picked up our tour guide who spoke fluent English and made our way to Giza. I was beyond excited and when I saw the first glimpse of a pyramid, I was over the moon!! You may think that July isn’t exactly the best time to visit Egypt considering it is the Summer season however we really lucked out. The temperature dropped significantly on the day we landed and there was a lovely breeze that cooled us down throughout the entire day. The heat in Cairo is very different to that of Dubai. It isn’t as humid and we easily spent the entire day out in the sun. So if the only time you can make it to Egypt is during the Summer don’t stress, you will still have a great time!
We decided on a camel ride first. Our driver accompanied us during the ride and took all of these lovely snaps for us. Eddy and I regularly ride camels in Dubai when we bring our friends and family on desert safaris so we felt like quite the pros! At this point I don’t think it had hit me yet that I was standing meters away from the incredible pyramids. I couldn’t believe it, I was finally in Cairo ticking off one of my bucket list goals!
The pyramids are only a ten minute camel ride away and you are presented with this incredible view of all of the Great Pyramids of Giza. From here you can see the Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Giza. The three smaller pyramids that can be seen in the foreground are actually subsidiary pyramids to that of Menkaure – one of them was believed to be the tomb of Queen Khamerernebty.
It really is quite the sight to be seen – standing at one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world and I am so glad that I was able to experience this with Eddy!
After the camel ride we headed down with our guide to the Great Pyramid of Giza also known as the Pyramid of Cheops. We learnt about the history of Egypt, the contents of each tomb within the pyramids, how the pyramids were built and he was able to dispel the myths that surrounded the pyramids like that of the Pharaohs curse. I could have listened all day, I love history and Egyptian history is just incredible. Our guide knew where all the best photo spots where, my particular favourite is this shot below where you have a view of 4 pyramids in a row!
We actually got the opportunity to enter one of the pyramids and head down to the tomb. The walk down was extremely steep and the air very thin once you arrived at the entrance of the tomb. Of course Eddy had to get the ‘mummie’ shot! Entrance to this pyramid is included in the price of the tour however if you would like to enter the larger Pyramid of Cheops you will need to pay extra.
This is the Pyramid of Cheops below – our guide explained that the Pharaohs would build pyramids for their Queens and important minsters of government. With that in mind he asked us what we thought this little pyramid was for? We thought maybe for a child or a pet? Eddy was almost certain it was for a dog. We were both wrong – this is actually the top stone of the Pyramid of Cheops that has fallen over time. It has been restored as you can see but the bottom layer and top layer are still original!
After a couple of hours exploring the Pyramids we drove down to the Sphinx. The Sphinx was actually created from left over limestone that was used to build the pyramids. Some say that workers created the structure so that they wouldn’t be asked to move the rock later on it time as it obstructed the view of the pyramids.
No one seems to know definitively what happened to the nose. I did look up what a recreation of the Sphinx would look like with the nose, I think I prefer it without one hahahha! Of course I had to take the usual cheesy shots with the Sphinx too, is a visit complete without them?
I have heard that a lot of people think that visiting the pyramids is overrated. I couldn’t disagree more. I had an amazing time during our visit and was really impressed with them! Yes there were a lot of people selling souvenirs but as we were with a local tour guide they left us alone for the entire time. Our visit here will definitely be an amazing tale for our children one day!
Next up on the tour was a private felucca ride on the Nile River – the lifeline of Egypt. These traditional sailboats hold about 10-12 people usually but we were very lucky to have one all to ourselves thanks to our tour! We danced along to Egyptian music blaring from the speakers while sailing down the worlds longest river, waving at everyone that passed us by. We enjoyed amazing views of Downtown Cairo and we even spotted Cairo Tower the tallest structure in Egypt from the boat!
No trip to Cairo is complete without a visit to the Egyptian Museum. With over 120,000 items on display you must set aside quite a lot of time to explore if you’re particularly interested in antiquities. I would have been pretty overwhelmed if we were left to our own devices as I wouldn’t know where to start, luckily our guide and expert Egyptologist was with us every step of the way who showed us around and answered any and every question we had. The Egyptian Museum has the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities which I was most interested in – particularly that of Tutankhamun. My favourite piece from that collection would have to be the Death Mask of Tutankhamun discovered by Howard Carter which is made up of 11kg of solid gold!! Unfortunately no photography is allowed in the Tutankhamun room where all of his priceless possessions are kept.
In regards to mummies there are a few on display in the public areas of the museum however if you would like to view the Royal Mummies exhibition there is an extra charge. In my opinion it is worth a visit. If you have come all of this way you may as well see the Royal Mummies too. Included in the room is Ramses the Great (Ramses II) who was 91 when he passed away and is still preserved even with some hair. It was very interesting to see as a few were still completely wrapped while others had their hands, feet and head visible. I am not going to lie, I didn’t stay very long as I started to get the heebie jeebies being completely surrounded by them.
Another option that can be taken as part of the tour is a visit to Khan el Khalili Bazar one of the oldest souks in Egypt home to an array of shops, coffeehouses and restaurants. Eddy and I were exhausted by this part of the day as we had flown from Melbourne to Dubai, slept for about 5 hours then hopped straight on a plane to Cairo, so we decided to skip this stop. If you want to grab some bargains on souvenirs though, it is definitely a stop worth making. Before heading to the villa we decided to grab some dinner. I previously had tried koshari before in Dubai and loved it so we asked if we could be taken somewhere that served it. Koshari is a traditional Egyptian dish that originated in the 19th century made up of lentils, macaroni, rice, chickpeas and fried onions. It is topped with a spiced tomato sauce and some garlic vinegar. I also added some lemon juice into mine and we weren’t disappointed at all – it was absolutely delicious. I could eat koshari all day, every day!
It was approaching about 6pm by the time we arrived at the Villa. It is located within a secure compound and the room itself has its own private access. I was extremely impressed with the cleanliness and interior of the room as it was better than most 5 star hotels I stay in with work. With an extremely fast wifi connection, mini bar, air conditioning, safe, toiletries, hair dryer, iron, robes, slippers and a tv available in the room there is nothing else that you could possibly need. Can you believe room service is even available!
Eddy and I showered and hopped into the comfiest Egyptian cotton (impressive) bed and passed out for the next 12 hours! I also wanted to show you our little goodie bag below that we received on arrival at Cairo airport. So cute and thoughtful, I now didn’t need to buy a magnet or souvenir as we were kindly gifted them straight away.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast prepared by Mr Cherif in the garden on the terrace. We enjoyed a traditional Egyptian meal of falafel, yogurt and honey! It was perfect.
Eddy and I were lucky and were able to fly back with Emirates as there were a few seats available on the midday flight. We landed back in Dubai by 5pm ready for our next adventure to Brazil!
I cannot recommend Cairo Layover enough. We honestly had such an amazing time in Egypt because of this extremely well organised tour. No detail was overlooked and our comfort and safety was always a number one priority.
I didn’t want my time to end and I honestly wish we had more to time to stay and explore the rest of Egypt. If I ever return, I would love to visit Luxor, Alexandria and Sharm El Sheikh. We also received some leaving presents that I unwrapped on the plane ride home – great mementos from an amazing trip.
If you’re planning a visit to Egypt definitely get in touch with Mr Cherif from Cairo Layover, he always responds promptly and trust me you will have the most amazing trip with memories to last a lifetime!
Whatsapp: + 20 122 312 4641