The Natural Beauty of the Nile Egypt

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To me, there has always been something mystical about the thought of gliding down the River Nile, Egypt. It has always conjured up beautiful and romantic images against a backdrop of history and wonder.

I was so fortunate to experience this on a trip to Egypt in June this year. We were lucky enough to stay in a five-star cruiser sailing from Aswan to Luxor in addition to taking a ride on a traditional felucca in Luxor and seeing the Nile from many different locations across this fascinating country.

The length of the Nile in Africa. Image: YouTube

The Nile of course, does not just travel through Egypt.

At around 6,650km (or 4,130mi) in length, it is acknowledged as the world’s longest river.

In total it flows through 10 other African countries including Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan.

 

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The passage of the Nile through Egypt. Image: TripAdvisor.

As so much of Egypt is covered by the Sahara, it is not surprising that the vast majority of the population can be found all along the banks of the Nile.

The Nile is life.

It has been this way for countless generations here. It is the primary source of water for millions of Egyptians and has been the main source of transportation and trade for Millenniums.

 

 

First Impressions

My partner James and I arrived in Cairo very late at night on a flight from Europe. Hence there was no chance of seeing the Nile from the air on approach to landing and although our hotel was just opposite the Nile, we were so tired we just crashed in our room.

The following day after getting ready, we headed down to the restaurant to grab some breakfast with the intent of checking out the Nile immediately after. The table we were provided actually overlooked the Nile, which made for a great way to start the day.

 

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Our first glimpse of the Nile on the first day of our Egyptian adventure. Photo: our lovely waiter.

 

The river looked so blue. I know that’s the way rivers are meant to look but in a major city like Cairo with 23+million inhabitants, I honestly did not expect the Nile to look this good. At least not in downtown Cairo. It made me long for our upcoming itinerary where we would escape the city and explore the more remote parts of this land and to see the Nile in a much quieter and natural setting.

 

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The Nile looks great as it flows through Cairo, a city of 23M. Photo: James Visser.

 

Catching our Nile Egypt cruiser

A couple of days later, leaving Cairo well behind, we had arrived by overnight train in Aswan. Aswan is famous for its dam and is the gateway point to other places in the south of the Nile, Egypt such as the beautiful Lake Nassar and legendary Abu Simbel.

We checked into the cruiser ‘Miriam’. The Miriam has 5 levels including 2 floors for restaurants, bars, lounges and reception, 2 floors of guest cabins and a top-level area for sunbaking, swimming and sightseeing. It also had a gym, retail shops and a library. Most of all, it had great air conditioning which is very welcome, particularly in the middle of the day.

This was to be our home for the duration of the travels on the Nile as we headed toward Luxor.

 

A side shot of the Miriam as we were about to board at berth in Aswan. Photo: James Visser.

 

Reception area. Photo: James Visser.

 

Front lounge area. Photo: James Visser.

Another lounge/cocktail area. Photo: James Visser.

 

Up on one of the guest cabin floors. Photo: James Visser.

 

Our cabin was bigger than most average hotel rooms on land, together with a private ensuite and a fabulous Nile view. Photo: James Visser.

 

The top level with a 360 view for the voyage. Photo: James Visser.

 

Sightseeing on the Nile

The days we were on this cruise were spent simply relaxing and enjoying the scenery and atmosphere of this incredible river. The Nile, Egypt is just not like any other river I can recall, given its unique mixture of greenery and dry desert as it backdrop.

The stark contrast between the lush vegetation that you see so close to the Nile versus the barren desert land of the Sahara immediately behind does hit you. The demarcation is just so sharp. It is literally a line that separates one from the other with no gradual blending in or out. I found that to be quite surreal.

 

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There’s green as green can be and then the Sahara takes over. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Look at the blue of the Nile. No photo-shopping done here. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

A fair number of palms can be seen all the way up the Nile. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

The land was particularly flat here. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

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Really enjoying the cruise and views from the top deck. Photo: James Visser.

 

The outlook from the Captain’s perspective. Photo: James Visser.

 

Observing another Nile cruiser ahead of us. Photo: James Visser.

 

The wildlife you could see was just as fascinating. To observe birds and even farmed animals above, on and along the riverbanks just makes anyone want to reach for their camera to preserve the memories of what they are witnessing. It is an experience anyone who loves the outdoors should plan on doing at some point.

 

Birds observing us as we passed them on floating vegetation. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

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Egyptian cattle being farmed on one of many islands in the Nile. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Keeping herds close to the Nile is the best way for survival. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Interaction with local people that wave to you along the banks was also so nice. The people this far south on the Nile, Egypt I found particularly genuine and more so the Nubian people were especially friendly. There are some very entrepreneurial people along the Nile also who take to their boats and attach them to the cruiser while they throw up goods to sell to passengers above, who in turn throw money back down to them to purchase all sorts of souvenirs.

 

A friendly wave between travelers. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

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A community of bathers on a hot afternoon. Photo: James Visser.

 

Friendly Nubians taking a dip just at the border of Aswan. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Vendors alongside our cruiser making sales. Photo: James Visser.

 

And finally, here I need to mention the sunsets. The photos really do speak for themselves as I’m sure you would agree. This just completes the entire ‘picture’ of every you imagine a trip down the Nile, Egypt, should be. Simply magical.

 

A lovely time of day to be on deck. Photo: James Visser.

 

Not a bad view at all. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Another Nile cruiser close by. Photo: James Visser.

 

A town on the banks, close to Kom Ombo. Photo: James Visser.

 

Hard to imagine this photo being confused for anywhere else but the Nile, Egypt. Photo: James Visser.

 

A visit to Kom Ombo

A key stop of our cruise was to visit the double temple of Kom Ombo, situated right on the banks of the Nile.

 

Heading downstairs as we come alongside Kom Ombo. Photo: James Visser.

 

Constructed during the period between 180-47BC, the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god ‘Haroeris’ while the southern part was dedicated to the crocodile god ‘Sobek’. This is also where a few hundred crocodiles were ‘mummified’ with some of these recovered and on display within the crocodile museum located next to the temple.

 

At the front entrance of the Temple of Kom Ombo. Photo: James Visser.

 

This may not have been a major center but again, the scale of the temple is impressive. Photo: James Visser.

 

Can you believe this paint is well over 2000 years old? Photo: James Visser.

 

The Crocodile Museum Image By JMCC1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=22448662

 

Like other temples and monuments we visited across Egypt, there was a lot of damage inflicted over the years. However, there were also a lot of living history that remains. The solid structure, the clear Egyptian hieroglyphics and symbols tell us a lot about life back then and we were fortunate to have a qualified Egyptologist explaining much of this to us.

 

Travelling through the Locks at Esna

When you mention locks in connection with waterways, most people immediately think of canals such as Panama, and of course in the case of Egypt, at Suez. It was a surprise to many onboard that the Nile has locks as well.

Esna is a city located some 55kms south of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile. Here we went through the locks on our final leg of the journey to Luxor.

This was a fun experience as all the way on the approach to, as well as while in the locks, the locals were extremely interactive with all the passengers. There was much going on in the way of selling with local goods being thrown up for inspection and negotiations on price. Other passers-by called out friendly expressions or just waved. Local police were about to ensure the peace was kept to a degree and it was interesting to watch this scene all unfold.

 

Travelling through the locks at Esna. Photo: James Visser.

 

Passengers negotiating deals with vendors on smaller boats below. Photo: James Visser.

 

A police boat keeping an eye on vendor boat activities beside the city of Esna. Photo: James Visser.

 

A more traditional way to explore the Nile, Egypt

Having enjoyed such wonderful and carefree days on the Nile Cruiser ‘Miriam’, we arrived in Luxor completely refreshed and rejuvenated. It was a fabulous and fulfilling trip but there was one more thing we wanted to experience where the Nile was concerned.

Namely, we were keen to sail on the Nile in a traditional ‘felucca’. If you haven’t heard of a felucca before, it is an Egyptian traditional wooden sailing boat. It is the sailboat most featured in images that depict the Nile, Egypt and would be included in most Egyptian holiday brochures you are likely to come across.

 

A felucca up close on the Nile Egypt near Luxor. Photo: James Visser.

 

We joined with a group of other keen tourists to hire a felucca to take us all for a sail on the Nile. It was a more intimate experience as the river was so much closer to where you sat aboard the felucca. The water was just below eye level. You felt the vessel cutting through the water as the wind filled the sails right above you.

It was the closest thing to actually being in the Nile itself. A few of our fellow passengers decided to jump in and have a bit of a swim during our sail and then found it quite a challenge to get back in! Whether you were keen to go swimming or not, taking a sailing trip on a felucca down the Nile Egypt is something I would definitely recommend you have on your bucket list.

 

Much closer to the water sitting in a felucca. Photo: James Visser.

 

Fellow passengers in our group get comfortable as we head off. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Me up the front of the felucca. Photo: James Visser.

 

Our felucca Captain who was single-handedly did everything. Photo: James Visser.

 

Our Captain adjusting sails as we were returning at sunset. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Having dropped us off, Captain and felucca sail off into the sunset. Photo: James Visser.

 

 

Conclusion

My time experiencing the Nile Egypt was extremely special. I think it will always stand out as memorable from many other places I have visited. There was a connection with nature on a different level for me compared to elsewhere which is not easy to explain.

Being there calmed me, excited me and fascinated me. It was not a destination so much as it was the journey. Something I hope you enjoyed my sharing and something I hope you will want to experience also.

 

 

 

This article is part of the Natural Beauty Travel Series, authored by travel writer Nicole Anderson.
Founder and Publisher at | Website

Outdoor adventure enthusiast that loves nature having travelled locations across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Passionate Travel Writer, Blogger and Influencer.

134 thoughts on “The Natural Beauty of the Nile Egypt

  • August 7, 2019 at 2:57 am
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    The cruise looks exceptional! Going down the Nile sounds like a dream. Everything looks beautiful and very elegant. It makes me think visiting Egypt to experience that would be so good.

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  • August 7, 2019 at 2:25 am
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    Though I haven’t travel a lot, I like to travel to different regions. The Nile, in particular, is such a beautiful place.
    Thanks!

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  • August 6, 2019 at 10:22 pm
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    This looks like the trip of a lifetime! In terms of safety, how did you feel? I keep waiting for the “right” time to go. It looks amazing and I think the river cruise is the best option to see the most.

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    • August 7, 2019 at 11:24 pm
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      I’m not sure there will ever be a “right” time as such, Debra. I do know what you mean about safety, particularly as there have been well-publicized incidents in the past. However, there is a fair amount of security around, especially if you take a tour. Do stay tuned for the last (7th) article in the series on Egypt where this is looked at in more detail. Entitled “Solo Women Travel: Egypt” a lot more is discussed in this regard. There is also a lot more to see in Egypt that is worth considering, beyond the beauty of the Nile, which is also covered in this series.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 2:03 pm
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    Wow, looks like an amazing experience and what lovely accommodations you had! I love river cruises and will definitely be looking into this one.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 1:10 pm
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    Woah the Miriam looks like a luxury ship, and that beautiful view of the Nile is out of this world! I’m getting major wanderlust and would love to sail on the Nile one day!

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    • August 7, 2019 at 11:16 pm
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      I felt the same way when I saw similar promotional shots of Egypt, Thuy – and hence why I really wanted to make this trip. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed and I hope you will experience this as well.

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  • August 6, 2019 at 2:17 am
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    I’ve always wanted to go to the Nile! I’m not much for traveling but I’ve been racking up quite the list of places to go when I retire. The Nile and Egypt in general is one of them. Great pictures of some beautiful land!

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    • August 6, 2019 at 2:31 am
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      Thank you so much Kaye. I’m not surprised that Egypt is one of the places you really want to see when you retire. There is really so much to see there. Do stay tuned for the other five posts coming in the series for a lot more in the way of things to see and do.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 11:29 pm
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    Wow! A lot of those shots are breathtaking! I didn’t realize that the Nile was so beautiful and it looks kind of out of place right along a city. But it’s gorgeous!

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    • August 6, 2019 at 2:27 am
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      It certainly is gorgeous Alexandra, even in the massive city of Cairo. Luckily for us though, most of the Nile, of course, is well away from major cities. It looks so wonderful out in rural areas – much like it would have looked back in the times of the Pharoahs.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 9:46 pm
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    Wow! What a gorgeous place to visit! That cruise on the Nile looked absolutely breathtaking!

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  • August 5, 2019 at 9:17 pm
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    Egypt has been one of my bucket list vacation destination that I’m looking forward to going. Hopefully I will be able to make it soon.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 2:11 pm
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    Wow….that cruise screams luxe ? I would love to checkout all the spots someday. For a moment I thought those crocodiles were real!

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    • August 6, 2019 at 2:21 am
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      The condition of the crocodiles is certainly amazing when you consider how old they are Snehal. So much amazing history like this has been preserved so well. Hope you will go and check it out as well someday and thanks for reading and commenting.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 1:50 pm
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    What gorgeous pictures! Egypt is on my bucket list of places to visit. We’ll be Empty Nesters all too soon, but traveling overseas is what we plan to do after the kiddos are off and on their own 🙂

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    • August 6, 2019 at 2:18 am
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      Now that is a great plan Karen and Egypt would be a perfect place for you to consider once you are empty nesters! You can bring back stories, adventures and photos to inspire your kids as well. Thanks so much for reading and commenting and do drop us a line sometime when you are starting your new adventures.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm
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    What a beautiful and life-enriching experience! I totally understand when you said your Nile (Egypt) trip was more a journey than a destination – Egypt is considered the birthplace of modern civilization and you, perhaps, were experiencing the unseen essence of the Nile’s significance to that history. I certainly felt it throughout your post! Your photos are so gorgeous, too. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 10:31 am
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    I have never been to Egypt. The Nile Cruiser looks like a great way to explore the country. Lovely pictures as well.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 6:06 am
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    I’ve been waiting for this post, Nicole! Ever since you wrote about the beginning parts of your Egypt trip. This is the one that excited me to finally see the pictures. The pictures didn’t disappoint either! I can only imagine what a fantastic place this was to visit. I totally understand what you mean when you talked about a journey and not just a destination. I’ve felt the same way when I was in Scotland and I am so drawn to going back and experiencing it over again. I’m so glad you shared this incredible place with your readers!

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    • August 6, 2019 at 2:11 am
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      Thank you so much for such lovely comments Erica. I’m so pleased you can relate to this being a wonderful journey, rather than a destination. Your Scotland experience sounds fabulous and I am definitely looking forward to going there one day.

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  • August 5, 2019 at 5:03 am
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    Wowza! What beautiful photography you have of your trip! You’re right, the sunsets are spectacular and I love the look of the Nile with the intensely green shoreline and desert in the background. It reminds me how unbelievable and beautiful our planet can be! I am also astounded by the vendors who would come right up to the ship and sell like that! I feel like it would be a difficult means of trade but hey, i guess if it works, why not!

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    • August 6, 2019 at 2:08 am
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      You bet Lindsay! They are certainly very entrepreneurial along the Nile but still extremely friendly nonetheless. I totally agree with your observation of the beauty here and thank you so much for your comments on the photos.

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  • August 4, 2019 at 10:38 pm
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    The pictures are beautiful. It seems like an awesome experience to take a cruise through the Nile. It seems very calm and relaxing.

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  • August 4, 2019 at 6:35 pm
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    What beautiful photos. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I have a friend who did a cruise like this a few years ago and she said it was the best trip she’d ever had.

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  • August 4, 2019 at 4:06 am
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    This looks like such an amazing experience!! I am loving all the pictures…Egypt is on my travel bucket list!!!

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  • August 3, 2019 at 10:45 am
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    What a magnificent tour and a terrific set of photos from one of my favorite parts of the world. My best friend and her mom were on the same tour in June… Serendipity!

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    • August 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm
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      Thank you so much Elizabeth. There are literally so many different types of tours with a number of operators, all of which have different itineraries and some just having the cruise as one component. The numbers of tourists are definitely on the increase to this fabulous destination and it’s great to hear that your best friend and her mom had a great time as well.

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  • August 3, 2019 at 5:50 am
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    I have always wanted to visit Egypt and this post has intensified the wanderlust to the Nile. Ps love your colorful outfits 🙂

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  • August 3, 2019 at 1:11 am
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    Beautiful! What an adventure of a lifetime.
    Next time you go, ill just stow away in your suitcase…deal?

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  • August 2, 2019 at 10:55 pm
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    I’ve never thought about an Egyptian river cruise, but it’s a great idea! I love seeing all your pictures. Egypt is such a beautiful place, so rich in culture and history.

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  • August 2, 2019 at 8:32 pm
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    What an interesting contrast in topography with the Nile and the Sahara like that. And two very different experiences in the river for you in two very different vessels but each offering it’s own bit of fun. I would one day love to visit Egypt and experience all it has to offer. Just the sheer history.

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    • August 3, 2019 at 2:19 am
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      Thanks so much Scott. It certainly is two very different experiences but each offering a lovely time there. And yes, you are right, the history, of course, is just second to none.

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  • August 2, 2019 at 3:54 pm
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    Looks like a really fun trip! I’ve been to Egypt once but that was in 2007. We were staying at the tourist resort but had a one day trip to Cairo and the pyramids. I assume much has changed from then. Will have to go visit it again!

    Reply