I decided to go in search of the sun (that will only make it's re-appearance in southern Africa later this year).
So, I headed to Egypt with two weeks spare. I wanted to make sure the days were jam-packed and that I covered the most amazing highlights of Egypt in the short time I had - so I jumped on the 14 day 'Best of Egypt' trip starting in Cairo.
On arrival in busy Cairo I had my first day to spend as I pleased and decided to just soak it all in and absorb the place. Very different to what I am used to but with a grain of salt it grew on me very quickly. The next day was filled with sight seeing experiences covering the amazing Pyramids, the 'smaller-than-I-thought' Sphinx, and the jam-packed Egyptian History Museum before jumping on the overnight train to Aswan.
Aswan is much more laid back compared to the hustle and bustle of Cairo. I spent the day wandering through the souk (market) and visited the Old Cataract hotel (made famous by some Agatha Christie novel) for high tea - it is the only way they would let you in!
The 3am wake up to get down to Abu Simbel was not so welcome but it was really well worth the trip! The two massive rock temples on the western bank of Lake Nasser left me in absolute awe - it's huge!. Not only are the two temples at Abu Simbel among the most magnificent monuments in the world but their removal and reconstruction was an historic event in itself.
From Aswan we jumped aboard a felucca and spend the next two days watching farms and villagers, kids and sleepy donkeys glide past. After a stop at Edu Temple and Kom Ombo Temple we arrived in Luxor. I was dying to get here and see the Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple! I couldn't wait!
Karnak Temple left me with the same slack jawed look I had at Abu Simbel. Breathtakingly beautiful and still leaving many wondering how ancient Egyptians managed to accomplish all they had. It also makes you realise how self-important Ramses II was! We visited the Colossi of Memnon and Valley of the Kings which completely blew my mind! Slaves carve these tombs into the side of a mountain while the Pharoah is alive and the carvings and paintings are intricate, huge and glorious. Then as soon as the Pharoah dies they have a couple of days to finish the tomb. So the section where the sarcophagus finally rests is kind of thrown together at the last minute, has a bit of paint slapped on it and (when compared to the rest of the 'tunnel') feels like a Rom-Com with a unhappy ending!
Spending a last night in Luxor I was already feeling like a 5yr old on Christmas Eve knowing what was coming next. I was heading for Dahab one of the diving capitals of Egypt, where many visitors flock to to explore the depths of the Red Sea. With my Open Water dive ticket I was allowed to view the Red Sea from a very unique perspective. We covered sites like Islands and Eel Garden and Lighthouse with great, colorful and fish-filled coral reefs to explore. Wish my camera worked down there!
Sadly my two weeks was coming to a close and I was heading back to Cairo all too soon.
Egypt has captured the imaginations and fascinated many but only when you travel to a country and experience its culture, its people and its history can you understand it.
So thanks Egypt, I got your message, and I'll be back!