IT’S the land of the pyramids, pharaohs, temples, incredible treasures, and offers an amazing gateway to ancient times.

It also has the magnificent Nile, vibrant cities, beautiful weather, stunning sea resorts, and mummies…..lots of mummies.

 Take a trip to see the ancient landmarks

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Take a trip to see the ancient landmarksCredit: Getty – Contributor

Egypt has everything for the perfect adventure holiday and my first visit to this unique country blew me away and left me wondering why I had taken so long to visit. I certainly won’t wait as long to return.

From the moment I was picked up in Cairo to be whisked through the totally crazy 1am rush hour traffic it was clear I was about to experience a holiday, and an adventure, like no other.

I had signed up with G Adventures 12 day Egypt Upgraded tour which aims to give you a real taste of the best this majestic, sprawling country has to offer.

And you really do hit the ground running.

As I joined the other travellers in my group very early on my first day we boarded the shuttle from our hotel, the Mercure Cairo Le Sphinx Hotel in the city of Giza, and headed for the pyramids.

I had a superb view of the pyramids from my hotel balcony, but nothing can prepare you for when you see them in the flesh.

Just a 15 minute bus ride from the hotel took us to the site of the three Great Pyramids and at almost 4,000 years old these incredible, giant structures defy belief, prepare to be knocked sideways.

We visited all three, the Great Pyramid of Khufu which is the largest and most iconic, and you can actually go inside it but there’s little to see there.

WAHT COSTS WHAT?

A meal for two including soft drinks will set you back around £15-20.

DO: make sure you pay the extra and visit Seti Temple.

DON’T: miss out on taking a trip to downtown Cairo.

 

The Pyramid of Khafre, the second largest is also the best preserved with much of its original limestone summit still intact.

We rounded off a mind blowing morning with a visit to the Pyramid of Menkaure before a short bus ride took us to the Great Sphinx, the mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Got to say it’s a bit more impressive than the Duke of Wellington with a cone on his head…

After a hectic morning exploring the wonders of the world it was nice to head back and chill at the pool, for other tourists probably. But with G Adventures, the emphasis is on ADVENTURE and we were soon leaving Cairo behind to head north on a three-hour bus trip to Alexandria.

The journey was broken with a visit to the Wadi Natrun Monastery. It dates back to the fourth century and we were given a fascinating tour of the monastery by one of the monks before continuing north.

 There's no shortage of great things to see


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There’s no shortage of great things to see

Alexandria has the same bustling, crazy vibe as Cairo, but it’s also very different, being right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea it definitely has more of a European feel.

Our hotel, the Cherry Maryski Grand Royal, was right in the heart of the city, and only five minutes walk to the seafront and winding corniche which lets you stroll round the port taking in the sights and soaking up the atmosphere.

Evening meals are generally not included in the package on this trip, but as it was Ramadan during our trip the Cherry Maryski laid on a fantastic buffet meal free of charge for all of us on both nights of our stay which was a real bonus.


You can visit some of Britain’s top attractions for free this week 


Alcohol is pretty hard to find in Egypt during Ramadan, but myself and a few resourceful members of the group found a magnificent rooftop bar right on the seafront and we were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of Alexandria by night while nursing a cold Sakara beer.

Day two in Alexandria included visits to Pompey’s Pillar, the impressive Kom ash-Shuggafa Catacombs and the jaw-dropping Alexandria Library which should be a candidate for one of the new wonders of the world. We also squeezed in a visit to the historic 15th century fort the
Citadel of Qaitbay.

All that exploring had left us ravenous so Michael, our excellent tour CEO, suggested a visit to the Fish Market seafood restaurant. Suffice to say I could have eaten there EVERY night of this holiday. The location overlooking the sea is stunning and the food was out of this world.

I dined like a pharaoh on the biggest red snapper I have ever seen, and best I’ve tasted. Including two cans of 7-Up it came to just NINE pounds. Unbelievable value and every dish looked superb.

No let-up in the adventure as next day we headed back to Cairo on the bus for one of the highlights of the holiday, a visit to Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. We spent five hours in this magnificent museum but had we spent five days there I doubt we’d have scratched the surface.

Hosting almost 130,000 ancient Egyptian antiquities, most dating back thousands of years, the museum gives a colossal insight into all eras of this ancient civilisation.

GO: EGYPT

GETTING/STAYING THERE: G Adventures’ 12-day Egypt Upgraded Tour starts from £1,629 per person including eight hotel nights, three nights on a Nile cruise boat, 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners, CEO guide and entrance to many of the attractions.

See gadventures.co.uk

Pretty much everything is here, from the treasures recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamun…including THAT golden mask, to the collection of magnificent statues and treasures from the great Pharaohs, to the Royal Mummies room and the amazing animal mummies room.

Some rooms you have to pay a few pounds extra to visit and you also have to pay a few pounds to take pics inside the museum, but it’s a pittance considering what you are seeing.

The animal mummies were fascinating with the giant crocodile mummies the highlight. But make sure you visit the Royal Mummies Hall where there are 11 very incredibly well preserved mummies, not sure about how well you will sleep that night right enough….

A brief night’s rest back at the Mercure Hotel in Cairo was followed by an early flight the next day to Aswan as we started to ramp up the adventure.

Aswan, famous for its amazing new dam and being the gateway to the Nile, is more laidback than the big citites. After checking into the beautiful Basma Hotel there was just time for a quick dip in the pool before sailing across to the Nubian village in a traditional felucca.

You have dinner with a Nubian family in their home on the island and the visit gives you an insight into a very different way of life, stripped of all the things we take for granted.

A very early start the next day meant an early night. The iconic twin temples of Abu Simbel were the destination and you leave before sunrise so you can get the maximum effect as you make the long journey into the desert.

The temples, built by Rameses II in 1274 BC should be underwater but they have been saved by the wonders of modern engineering. Even by Egypt’s standards these temples are astonishing and you could spend days exploring the ruins. It’s a bit pricey to take pics inside but well
worth it.

 There's plenty to see and do

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There’s plenty to see and do

After such a hectic few days it was time for some relaxation and boy did we do it in style as we sailed down the Nile on our luxury cruise boat, setting sail from Aswan.

With the weather pushing 100 degrees it was just as well that our rooftop sun deck had a small but very welcoming pool. With plenty of sun loungers also on deck it was the perfect way to chill as we made our way down the Nile for three days.

There is plenty of free time on board which lets you get to know your fellow G Adventurers a bit more. All meals, are included on the cruise, although you have to pay for all alcohol with meals and in the bar areas. The food on board was simply excellent and the service superb.

At night there is traditional Egyptian entertainment and everyone is encouraged to join in the fun. There is little better than drifting down the Nile in glorious weather while enjoying the passing desert sands.

On day two of the cruise there is a visit to the magnificent and imposing Kom Ombo Temple which also houses a crocodile museum including a mummified crocodile from thousands of years ago, if crocs are your thing this is definitely the place.

It’s with some reluctance we left our mini cruise liner but the rewards that lay in store in Luxor more than made up for it. Our hotel in Luxor, the Mercure Karnak on the banks of the Nile, had more of a resort feel about it, and what a location. With its huge swimming pool and sprawling gardens it’s the kind of place you could easily spend a fortnight in.

But we were here for adventure, remember. And next up was perhaps the most exciting trip of them all – to the Valley of the Kings. You spend a full day exploring the ancient tombs of the pharaohs and the royal families of the Egyptian dynasties.

The Valley is perhaps most famously known for the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun and it’s one of the many tombs you can visit, but virtually everything rescued from the massive tomb now resides in the Egyptian Musuem in Cairo. One thing that does remain is Tutankhamun’s mummy.

 Experience all the ancient treasures of Egypt

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Experience all the ancient treasures of EgyptCredit: AFP – Getty

Visits to three tombs at the site is included as part of your G Adventures package, but you can pay to visit extra tombs.

The tomb of Seti 1 is the most expensive to visit at around £45 a head, but it really is worth every penny. All the tombs we visited had an astonishing amount of well preserved murals, paintings, carvings, art work, statutes, coffins, and frescos, with the colours in particular leaving everyone shellshocked at how untouched they were by time despite being up to 3-4,000 years old.

But the Seti 1 temple, a shrine to the son of King Ramesses 1 just blows away anything you have seen previously.

The colours and decorations simply bring ancient Egypt to life in front of your eyes, this unique country is full of surprises but a visit to this tomb stays with you for days.

All that exploring had our stomachs rumbling so our next stop was just what was required as we had lunch with a local family at their home on the west bank of the Nile. Great food, special atmosphere and a fascinating insight to family life in this part of Egypt.

Next morning brought another major highlight of the trip with a visit to the mind-blowing Karnak Temple – the biggest in Egypt.

This breathtaking collection of temples, tombs, chapels, statues and other ancient relics is the second most popular tourist attraction in the country after the pyramids and it’s easy to see why.

 Enjoy some fine dining

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Enjoy some fine dining

Karnak dwarfs all the other historical and religious sites we visited and even after spending six hours there you only see a fraction of what’s on offer, a truly amazing experience.

After you leave Karnak there is the chance to visit the local museum or enjoy a frenzied afternoon of bartering with the local sellers in the Bazaar and markets. But with temperatures nudging 100 again and feet that felt like they were mummified after all that walking, the lure of the massive pool complete with swim-up bar at our hotel proved too tempting and was the perfect spot to spend a few relaxing hours before dinner.

Sadly our adventure was nearly over and the next morning we caught a flight from Luxor back to our Cairo base for the last day of the trip. You arrive back in plenty of time to take a taxi to downtown Cairo and spend the day there and if you are still keen on visiting historic sights then head for Cairo Citadel which houses the spectacular Muhammad Ali Mosque.

We also managed to fit in a visit to the magnificent Presidential palace, only the lower floors and gardens of the Palace are open to the public but it’s well worth finding time to visit.

Cairo Old Market is a night market and the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere make it a must-do if you have time, but it can be crazy trying to deal with the endless amount of stalls and hyped up sellers but it’s great fun and also home to the best designer fakes you’re ever likely to see..

The perfect way to say farewell to this incredible city is one last trip down the Nile on a Cairo Dinner Cruise, or if you would rather stay near the hotel in Giza then the pyramids come alive at night with a spectacular music and light show, and listening to some of the G Adventurers who went to that I felt I missed out.

But it will be top of my list on my next visit.

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