Guide to Valley of the Kings

Another must see on any trip to Egypt is the valley of the kings, making a journey to Luxor well worth it. The valley of the kings is made up of at least 63 known tombs with 20 or so belonging to known kings. The tombs are not as grand in scale as the temples and are mostly devoid of any antiquity now- however the art work on the walls is really impressive to see.

The colors are all original and almost all the wall space (including the ceilings) is covered. The way the tombs have been preserved against time is really incredible to witness in person, as is walking the steep narrow corridors down into the rock.

*Most of my photos are near the bottom in the section assigned to the tombs we saw. If you’re here for the pics, scroll on down.

Post Index:

About the Valley of the Kings

History

The tombs in the valley of the kings house kings, royals, and other important political figures that reigned during the new kingdom of Egypt. (1570 BC to about 1077 BC) Important key pharaohs you learn about through other sites like Abu Simbel and the Luxor temples were buried here with the most famous including King Ramesses II (most known for building a lot of the great monuments), King Ramesses III (largely known as the last great pharoah), and King Tut (the boy king whose tombs was just discovered in 1922 intact). 

Location

Location of the valley of the kings comes down to 2 very important aspects. The first is that it is on the west bank of Luxor (ancient day Thebes- the capitol for many kings) The Egyptians built their temples and homes on the east bank in order to greet the rising sun as a sign of life. Mostly tombs and mortuary temples were built on the west bank to represent the fading of the sun and the afterlife.

The second thing to note is the valley is located under the mountain peak Al-Qurn which has a pyramid-shaped appearance. This echoes the old kingdom (the actual pyramids) and symbolizes those who are buried there being closer to the gods through the peak of the mountain.

Design

The usual tomb architecture includes a long corridor usually depicting spiritual and religious texts. A lot of the tombs (the newer ones specifically) contain the book of the gates which shows the sun god passing through the 12 gates of night on his journey back to day. This was meant to help the owner of the tomb make their way through the 12 gates of night as well and rise again with the sun god. Some of the older tombs have a 90 degree bend that was on purpose in order to fill the upper corridrs with rubble and conceal the entrance to the tomb. Later tombs have bends in the corridor as well which is more due to unwittingly digging into someone else’s tomb and needing to divert in order to continue finishing the tomb. (King Ramesses III is a good example of this)

The ceilings of the burial chambers were usually decorated with the Book of the Heavens, which also describes the sun’s journey through the 12 hours of night. Major players who are represented in this artwork of the tombs are scarabs who were instrumental in protecting and helping the sun disk, Anubis, the god who presides over the embalming process and accompanies dead kings to the afterlife, and Nut the goddess of the sky and stars who frequents the ceilings in many tombs and temples. 

Information for visiting the valley of the kings

Tickets:

With the standard entrance ticket, you are permitted to enter 3 tombs (out of many) however there are some tombs that cost more and require an extra ticket. If you go with a guide, they will likely tell you which tombs are the most impressive to see on your trip. I’ll review the 4 tombs we went visited in more detail below but here is an overview of the tombs worth visiting.

The standard entrance ticket cost is:

240 EGP ($15 USD) per person

Discounts are available for children or students for 120 EGP.

*It is important to note the tombs are on a rotation schedule and some of these may be closed to visitors during your visit. This is to protect the delicate reliefs and paintings from the carbon dioxide, friction, and humidity from hot sweaty tourists.

Best tombs to visit included on the standard ticket:

Tomb of Ramesses I (KV16)

Tomb of Ramesses III (KV11)

Tomb of Ramesses IV (KV2)

Tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6)

*Again it is likely these won’t all be open on your visit. Only the first 2 were open when we visited.

Tombs you can pay extra to visit:

Tomb of Ramesses V and VI (KV9) – Requires an extra 100 EGP ($6 USD) per person. Absolutely worth it. This was our favorite tomb

Tomb of Seti I – Extra ticket costs a whopping 1000 EGP ($64 USD) per person. Photos and everything I’ve seen of this tomb don’t really seem worth the high price to me but if you’re looking for a tomb with multiple rooms, this one has a more adventurous feeling to it.

Tomb of Tutankhamun (famous King Tut) (KV62) – Extra ticket costs 300 EGP ($18 USD) per person. Not the fanciest of tombs but you can see his mummy still in his tomb. If you visit the Egyptian museum, you’ll see better preserved mummies and most of King Tut’s tomb collection. So may or may not be worth it.

Photography:

When we went, taking pictures and videos with your phone is free. Taking pictures or videos with anything other than a phone requires a photography ticket. This includes DSLRs, small handheld point and shoot cameras, and even gopros. (we saw someone get caught with a gopro and seemed like they were in for it) It’s most important to note that the photography ticket ONLY COVERS 3 TOMBS. So if like us you bought a ticket for an extra tombs, bring a bag to put your camera in for one of them. They punch a hole in your ticket to keep track.

The photography ticket is pricey and cost 300 EGP (about $19 USD) per camera. Luckily Braden doesn’t really care so we just bought one ticket to cover my camera.

The facilities

There is an electric train that will take you from the visitor center to the beginning of the tombs avoiding a very hot uphill walk. The cost of this train was included in our tour but if you are visiting on your own, it was only 4 EGP. ($0.25)

There’s also an airconditioned visitor center with a cool 3D model of the valley of the kings and bathrooms at the beginning but if you need facilities once you’ve already reached the tombs, there are also decent bathrooms up there. (Both require a tip so make sure you have small change on you)

If you get hungry or thirsty when exploring the tombs, there is a café centrally located to them all but I recommend bringing at least one bottle of water with you.

How long to plan for your visit:

Between the 6 minute round trip train ride and learning about each tomb from our guide before going in, we probably spent about 45 minutes. Then another 10 or so minutes in each tomb. I’d expect a tour including 4 tombs to take somewhere from 1.5 hours – 2 hours. 

The tombs we visited:

Tomb of Merenptah (KV8) –

This was the first tomb we visited and while it wasn’t the most spectacular, it was somewhat unique. It was in the highest state of disrepair with much of the decorated plaster missing. Where the plaster remained however there were brilliantly colored drawings and the final burial chamber is an impressive size (maybe second to only Ramesses VI that we visited) It’s all a downhill walk and was the deepest tomb we visited.

Tomb of Ramesses I (KV16)

This was the 2nd tomb we visited and was a nice lead up to Ramesses III. It’s a short and sweet tomb that drops quickly with a smaller burial chamber that was likely meant more to be part of the corridor but had to be finished quickly due to the early death of the king. The depictions in this tomb are very vibrant and if you’re a fan of the god Anubis, this tomb features a lot of him well.

Tomb of Ramesses III (KV11)

This tomb was our favorite of the “included” tombs we saw. The colors and depictions were the most vibrant and it was one of the larger tombs we visited taking the most time to take it all in. Ramesses III is also one of the more interesting kings to learn about as he had a long reign that ended with a murderous plot and likely his murder (though that is still being proven). This tomb is actually unfinished as well because at the time of his demise, the workers who were building his tomb went on strike for missing wages.  If this tomb is open on your visit I definitely recommend it over the other 2 we saw.

Tomb of Ramesses V and VI (KV9)

This was definitely our favorite of all the tombs. It features a very long hallway, series of staircases, and massive burial chamber featuring the sarcophagus in an interesting position that appears as if it was just discovered. The depictions in this tomb are also pretty clear in containing the book of the Heavens (the regeneration of the sun god with each new day) and the book of the dead. The ceiling in the burial chamber has a beautiful depiction of the sky and stars goddess Nut wrapping around the beautiful night sky.

Our overall experience:

Visiting the valley of the kings took much less time that I expected as most of the tombs are straightforward and quick to visit. We took the train which avoided most of the very hot uphill walking and enjoyed most of the tombs completely to ourselves. While I may enjoy the soaring temples in memory the most, the original colors in these tombs are not to be missed. We also largely had the tombs to ourselves thanks to visiting during the heat of the summer and Covid putting a damper on travel.

As a final note, beware the locals in the tombs acting as “tour guides.” This includes even the ticket guy. Since your guide won’t be allowed in the tombs with you, there’s a strong likelihood you’ll be approached by these guys. If anyone starts to point things out and follow you, say you don’t need a guide and avoid encouraging them unless of course, you find them interesting and want to tip them on your way out.

Hot Air Ballooning in Luxor

One of the most serious bucket list activities I’ve had on my list forever is hot air ballooning. It’s up there with the usual: sky diving, climbing such and such mountain, paragliding (now checked off in NZ) and other wild adventures. I’ll be honest I actually had no idea ballooning was a popular thing to do in Luxor and it wasn’t even on our radar until the day before when our tour guide mentioned it as an add on experience. When I thought of taking a ride soaring over Luxor with sunrise on the Nile river slowly lighting up the monuments of the west bank including the valley of the kings we couldn’t turn the experience down.

*It’s also a pretty mild price compared to similar experiences in the US.

About our experience

Pickup was ungodly early at 3:15 and we needed to have all our luggage ready to go and checkout of the cruise ship. We met our tour manager for the morning who escorted us via van to pick up another group for the morning, and then on to a boat that would ferry us from the east bank of Luxor to the west bank.

Once at the boat we “signed in” and were given tea or coffee and small cookie while we waited for clearance from the river police to cross the Nile. This took almost an hour but we learned about landing positions for the balloon (very important safety info) and could see monuments on the west bank hill lit up nicely.

We also learned the layout of the basket which has 4 sections around one with the pilot in the middle. There would be 15 of us in total on our balloon– 2 families each that had 2 kids, another group of 4, the pilot, and then Braden and myself.

The airfield

Once we had clearance to cross, it was a short boat ride to the other side, followed by another van that took us to the airfield. The airfield was pretty mindblowing and pretty indescribable unless you’ve visited other balloon festivals. So many giant air balloons filling up and expanding toward the sky at once. It was still dark so the light from the jets was even more stark and the roar was almost deafening amidst the silence of the early morning. We were lead to our specified balloon and instructed to get in while the balloon was almost full height and still on the ground.

In the air

Then there was a couple adrenaline filled moments as the ground team started releasing the ropes and the balloon began to drift upward above other balloons still filling and below still others that took off earlier. All around there was silence apart from the sound of the hot air jet punctuating the air as we drifted high and higher. It. Was. Magical.

Our pilot began to point out the significant monuments we were flying over including the windy path that snakes through the tombs in the valley of the kings, the stunning mortuary temple of queen Hatshepsut (right photo above), and the temple called Ramesseum (in honor of Ramesses II)(left photo above).

Slowly our pilot would turn us about so we could get the best view of everything in the valley and watch as the sun rose above the horizon of the Nile and the lights of the memorials flickered off. We were in the air over 40 minutes, taking in all the beauty you can only experience during flight. Between the sights of the other balloons too far away to hear over the sound of our own jet, silently lighting up as they drifted around us, and the cooler crisp air of the high altitude, it was an experience to remember.

Landing

After our specified time in the air, we made our way over the many agriculture fields of the west bank passing houses and canals. Our pilot steered us as close as he could to the edge of a field close to a road and the grounds crew came along to help pull us down and guide us into a good landing spot. While the description of landing earlier in the morning was a little scary, it was surprisingly easy and no cameras were harmed in the landing of the great balloon.

We waited around while the ground crew got everything brought down and got our certificates of flight. We tipped both the grounds crew and the pilot and were then ushered into a different van to meet up with the rest of our tour. (There were, of course, kids running around while things were packed up asking for money so that is where the peaceful experience ends).

Afterward

The new van brought us and one other group from our flight to a café on the west bank to wait for our cruise ship tour guide and tour friends to meet up with us. We had around 15 minutes to have a coffee, dig in to our breakfasts packed from the cruise, and use the bathroom before we were ready to venture groundside- to the tombs and monuments of the west bank in Luxor.

Guide to Luxor’s East Bank

When most people think of Egypt, the pyramids and Memphis (the old kingdom capital) come to mind first. Luxor (ancient day Thebes) holds a huge part of story and is not to be missed, from soaring temples constructed through the ages and bright colorful tombs buried beneath the earth- Luxor holds the key to understanding and learning some of the most interesting parts of Egypt’s history.

Luxor Temple

Like 2 sides of a coin, there’s 2 banks of Luxor and they each hold different types of archeological sites and different historical importance. The West Bank, where the sun sets, represents a journey of the dead to the afterlife. This is where you will find mortuary temples (temples created for preparing the kings for burial) and the magnificent tombs that were built to help guide their occupants to a successful here-after.

Information on the East Bank Temples

The East bank is where people live, work, worship… it’s where you’ll find a lot of the temples as the sun rises in the East- this represents life. Among the many temples that were built on the east bank, 2 of the grandest are located in Luxor- Karnak and Luxor temples. Both temples are generally combined in a combo tour and while they are massive, they only take a few hours to visit.

About Karnak Temple

The Karnak temple complex (for a complex it certainly is) is the second largest temple complex in the world. (the first is Angor-wat) It was not built by any single pharoah and was actually contributed to by over 30 known kings of Egypt. Started sometime in the middle kingdom (around 2000 BC), it was mostly developed during the new kingdom but continued development through the Ptolemaic kingdom (305-30 BC).

Its history is wrapped up in the history of Thebes and its changing role as capitol in the ancient world. It’s not designated for any single deity although the largest section is dedicated to Amun-Re. There are 4 sections of the temple, with the other 3 dedicated to the god Montu- a god of war, Mut- a mother goddess known to be the wife of Amun-Re, and Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV)- a controversial pharaoh who tried to change the religion of the time to include himself as a god.

The precinct for Amun-Re

This section is the largest and most impressive section of the temple- it’s also thankfully the section that is open to the public. Amun- Re is the chief deity represented here and there are lots of impressive statues and one of the largest obelisks- standing 95 feet (29m) tall in this precinct.

The pylon is also the largest of any temple in Egypt and there is still evidence of how they carved these giant gates with the presence of an unfinished mud hill (slope) that they used to carve the top and slowly remove as they moved down the wall.

The most impressive section however is definitely the hypostyle hall. It was built around the 19th dynasty (1290-1224 BC) primarily by Seti I. The hall encompasses an area of 50,000 sq feet (5,000 m2) with a mind-blowing 134 columns arranged in 16 rows. 122 of the columns are 33 feet (10m) tall and the other 12 are 69 feet (21m).

You can probably interpret my feelings on the hypostyle hall from all these photos I took.

The height difference in the columns allowed for a light to come in- a sort of ancient day type of skylight since the entire area had a ceiling when it was built. This was the only area in any temple where we saw active restoration work going on. This is largely due to an event in 1899 where eleven of the columns collapsed in a chain reaction from ground water undermining their foundation. They were restructured in 1902 and similar work continues to strengthen the rest of the columns.

About Luxor Temple

Luxor temple while smaller than Karnak, is similar in that it isn’t designated for a single deity or pharaoh. It’s instead widely believed to have been dedicated to the “rejuvenation of the kingship,” and was used either in reality or just conceptually- as a place where kings of Egypt were crowned. It was built primarily by Amenhotep III in the 18th dynasty (1386-1349 BC) but other parts such as the colonnade were built by the young (famous) king TUT(ankhamun) and Ramesses II.

One of the more interesting parts of this temple is the history of various religions represented throughout. As the temple was buried in sand, other religious built ontop of the solid columns. First part of the temple was converted to a church by the Romans in 395 AD, and then converted to a mosque in 640 (a mosque that is still active and in use today). There’s evidence of Christianity in many temples throughout Egypt (including Karnak) however less records of there being a legitimate church on the site like there are at Luxor.

About our experience

We visited Karnak temple around 3:30 and then Luxor temple right after as part of our Nile Cruise tours. These were probably the busiest sites we visited but that could be due to time of day and just being located in a major, easy to visit city. This also felt like the hottest tour/ day we had but that could be chopped up to the fact that there’s very little breeze from the river and we spent longer at both temples than we did at any of the others.

While both temples were incredible to see in person (especially the height and number of columns in Karnak) you could say we were templed out? By this point in our tour we’d already visited 3 temples that were all unique and impressive in their own way and less crowded… that being said, these are still considered must sees on any trip to Egypt and are easy to combine with the absolutely must do west bank sites.

A final sunset from the cruise ship deck.

Guide to Aswan

Aswan was actually my favorite city in Egypt- might be because it was our first stop and I was just SO grateful to actually be in the country or it might be due to seeing the prettiest sunset of our trip from our hotel patio. Or in truth, it might be just because I loved the places we went to during our stay in Aswan that much but either way- it should be on any Egypt itinerary you’re planning.

Best way to get to Aswan:

Planes– Fly from Cairo to Aswan (from $100-$140 one way) *This is the option we did

Trains – If you fly or take the a train to Luxor, you could take a 3 hour train to Aswan from around $4/ person one way. You could also take a sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan from around $100. That train journey is 10-13 hours and usually includes dinner and breakfast.  

Nile Cruise –From Luxor, take a Nile cruise to Aswan stopping to see incredible temples along the way in what is usually a 4 day tour. Read my post here about our experience on a Nile cruise to Luxor (reverse direction).

Temperatures in Aswan

Luxor and Aswan are among the hottest cities you’ll visit in Egypt and one of the main reasons travel sites tell you not to visit in the summer. The highs most days in July and August are around 120 F/ 49 C. If you want more moderate temperatures but would still like to swim, visit in the spring/ fall. Winter (December- February) the highs are in the 70s so you may find that walking temperatures are perfect but it’s too cold to swim at your hotel pool.

Best things to see in Aswan.

The Unfinished Obelisk

Obelisks, like pyramids, are an important part of ancient Egyptian building and theology with the idea that the top of it brings them closer to the god Amun-Ra. The unfinished Obelisk in Aswan is an important stop for a couple reasons.

  1. It’s the largest known Obelisk in the world and is at least 1/3x the size of any other constructed obelisks in the world. If it had been finished, it would have measured 138 feet (42 meters) and weighed nearly 1200 tons (equal to about 200 African elephants). It was abandoned due to cracks forming in the granite but then other unknown builders started to carve a smaller obelisk into it avoiding those cracks but it too was abandoned.
  2. It was started under the reign of Hatshepsut sometime between 1508-1458 BC possibly to complement the Lateran Obelisk at Karnak (although that obelisk was later brought to Rome)  
  3. It gives incredible insight into ancient Egyptian stone masonry technique and is actually located in the same granite quarry as many of the other obelisks found in Luxor and surround sites. Some interesting facts about the stone masonry techniques seen here are:
    1. The obelisks created by ancient Egyptians are all carved from one single piece of stone. (Questions such as how did they transport one solid piece of stone weighing 1000 tons hundreds of miles and then raise it once it got there are still a mystery)
    2. The obelisks were first outlined with a harder stone by chipping away at the sides. Then stone masons would chip away underneath the obelisk along the bedrock until they got deep enough to actually insert logs to light on fire. They did this in increments up and down the obelisk as a way to weaken the stone against the bedrock. You can see many of these increment spots and even the strikes from the stone being hit multiple times to chip it away.

The High Dam of Aswan

Since we hail from Utah, a land of many important dams (Hoover, Glen Canyon, etc) and having seen all of these impressive industrial constructions myself- I found the high dam to be a very interesting visit. It makes sense when you learn about the flood cycles of the Nile, which have been recorded for thousands of year, why Egypt would seek to control the flooding for improved farming along the Nile. The additional hydroelectric benefits were also instrumental in Egypt’s industrialization. The high damn alone provides 65% of the entire country’s electricity. It was completed in 1970 and has remained the largest embankment dam in the world (the 3rd largest dam in the world).

It’s generally a short stop (maybe 15 minutes) but gives impressive views downstream of the city Aswan and upstream of Lake Nasser which is, no surprise here, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Lake Nasser itself is at least 8x the size of Lake Mead in the US and also unlike Lake Mead, home to thousands of Nile River crocodiles. All in all, it’s an interesting stop and will you give a peak at the industrialization age in Egypt and cold war politics of the middle east in the 1960s.

The Philae Temple

In one day (maybe a 4 hour tour) we visited The unfinished Obelisk, the high dam, and finished with the piece de resistance of any trip to Aswan- the Philae Temple. I have a post dedicated to it you can read HERE, but for a short glimpse, the Philae Temple was easily one of my favorite spots in all of our Egypt trip. It’s very close to town in Aswan but with a catch, it’s only accessible by boat.

There’s a small visitor center area where you can book a boat over to the island the temple is now located on and let me tell you it is MAGICAL seeing this island from 360 views all around the island. On a Thursday afternoon we also had this temple largely to ourselves (so I maybe biased). Visit my post here to see more picture and information about this incredible spot.

Abu Simbel Temples

Abu Simbel is two incredible rock-cut temples with beautiful inscriptions, multiple rooms, and iconic sitting statues of the pharaoh who “built” them guarding the entrance. While it maybe a bit of a trek to get to, it was pretty unlike anything else we saw on our trip to Egypt. It’s definitely worth the day extra on your trip to visit these iconic temples. (even if that day has to start obscenely early.) Read more about our trip here.

A Nubian Village

If you book a total organized tour package like we did, this maybe no considered a “must do” or even part of your itinerary but may likely be included as an optional add on once you get there. The jury is out on how “worth it” this add on actually is but if you have the free time and are interested in learning about yet another culture that’s been around thousands of years and still struggling to persist in today’s world, then go for it!

The tour only takes around 2 hours and we had the additional incentives of getting to see Nile river crocodiles (in an exhibit in the village) AND get to swim in the crocodile free portion of the Nile. Read more about our experience here.

Where we stayed in Aswan

Movenpick is the reigning supreme hotel in Egypt and there is one on Elephentine Island that looks pretty amazing. However for a luxurious stay that doesn’t break the budget, the Tolip Hotel was wonderful.

Everything from the lobby, to the pool, and to our Nile view rooms was pretty near perfect. We got a hibiscus drink free at checkin, the room was very comfortable, and the best part was our incredible view from our room. We ended up eating dinner in our room via room service because it was air conditioned (not many places are in Egypt) and our view was just as good as any.

Exploring the temple of Edfu

If there’s a must see temple in Egypt, I’d say Edfu is it. (Though I do think Philae is up there with the boat views.) It’s famous for being the best preserved cult temple in all of Egypt and was built sometime between 237-57 BC.

How is it the best preserved you might wonder? For starters, it still. Has. A roof. As far as wandering a 2000+ year old building, that’s pretty dang impressive. Edfu also brings the wanderlust in terms of grand scale and its layout. Out of all the temples, this was my favorite to explore.

The location of Edfu

Edfu is located along the Nile closer to Luxor than Aswan and further back from the water’s edge than other temples. From a cruise ship, you need a mode of transportation. Unfortunately there was a time when horse drawn carriages were all the rage and that’s still the principal way of getting to the archeological site.

A note on the horse-drawn carriages

Our tour had already arranged this so we didn’t have much option besides to go in the carriage but had I known before hand I probably would have requested a taxi or something else. The horses that pulled us along were in decent shape but all around us were other carriages pulled by skeleton horses that really, really crushed me to see. It was maybe a 5-10 minute carriage ride to the site and our horseman would be the same one to take us back to the ship.

I’ll also point out that I was concerned for the horses and also our safety. The carriages are not all in great shape and the whole thing was pretty lopsided as our horse pulled us at pretty quick pace through city streets (speed bumps, cobblestones, etc). I spent most of the ride anxious and uncomfortable, and sad. So be up front with your tour company if you’d like to avoid this experience.

*No matter what though plan to tip your carriage driver at least 30-50 EGP for 2 people.

About the Temple of Edfu

This temple is the largest temple dedicated to the god Horus, and his wife Hathor. Horus if you remember from my previous posts, is the son of Isis and Osiris and a large part of the décor in the temple is related to the creation of the world, of good and evil, light and dark.

About the decorations

It is referred to as the temple of revenge with depictions of Horus defeating the evil god Set for killing his father. One of the best depictions of this is Set represented as a hippo being dragged along by boats on the Nile containing Horus and the other gods.

Set represented as a hippo.

Hathor is less represented here except for in some depictions of her travelling from her dedicated temple of Dendera to Edfu to be with Horus once a year in celebration of their marriage. There’s lots of other important reliefs that preserve the language, myth, and religion of the Hellenistic period in Egypt. There’s information about the construction of the temple and a mythical interpretation of this and all other temples seen as the island of creation.

About the structure

There are 2 large pylons (gates) and a massive forecourt before entering the inner (roofed) temple. The inner temple consists of the large columned vestibule with 2 hallways on the side that service the many side rooms dedicated to various gods.

In the back is the sanctuary and shrine dedicated to Horus with a recreated Cedar ship on the altar. There’s also stairs that lead to a view of what would have been the second floor and massive passageways off the side of the inner temple that are interesting to explore.

About our experience

Besides the carriage ride and one very pushy sales man at the entrance to the site, we actually had a pretty positive experience at this temple with very few guys trying to get in our photos or ask for tips. We had a quick 45 minute tour or so where our guide walked us through most of the site pointing out the most significant wall depictions and overall structures within the temple.

Then we had an even quicker 20 minutes to explore on our own (we needed to get to Luxor early enough to see things before they closed) There were so many small rooms used by the priests recording things like recipes for salves and ointments, or rituals related to the gods.

We poked our heads in all the rooms again but my favorite part by far was a staircase that used to lead to a second floor of the temple. After that, the hypostyle room of towering columns and side rooms were very interesting to wander around.

One room has bats living in it that you could see clinging to the ceiling and flying about above your head and with little light from lamps and filtering in from the outside, this temple has adventure written all over it. It is a MUST SEE.

And last but not least, photos from the hypostyle hall. Truly breathtaking and a marvel of a site to explore and uncover for yourself.

Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo is a very unique temple in that it deviates from the standard triangle shape and is symmetrical along the center axis in order to serve as a temple for 2 sets of gods. While we may not have had the best experience getting to and from this temple, once we were there it was one of the most fascinating temples to learn about due to the detailed depictions of the gods and references to early surgery and medical work. It’s one of the newer temples built sometime between 180-47 BC but still incredibly impressive in height and scale.

The location of Kom Ombo

The temple is located RIGHT on the water next to the Nile river almost halfway between Aswan and Luxor. (closer to Aswan) The city surrounding it would have been predominantly a trade city as its portion of river travels between narrow sandstone canyons leaving little flooding planes for farming and agriculture.

*You literally walk from your cruise ship right up to the entrance to the temple in 5 minutes.

The view of the temple we had from our room on the cruise ship. We fell asleep on the way for a nap and woke up this view.

About Kom Ombo

The first and more interesting god the temple is dedicated to is Sobek, the god of fertility and creator of the world (local belief). Sobek is depicted as a crocodile and was a more localized religion. He was worshipped greatly by the surrounding area and over 300 crocodile mummies have so far been found in nearby tombs.

The art depictions within the temples court yard depict Sobek with the other prevalent gods of the time which leads to the other half of the temple which is dedicated to Horus to tie into the universal beliefs of the time.  

Interesting Temple advancements

Some cool things in the temple included a voice amplifier that a priest could speak into and be heard throughout the large temple complex. This was thought to be included here as at the time of this temple being built, religions and beliefs had begun to wane so priests spoke into the amplifier to make it seem as though the gods themselves were speaking to those in the temple.

There are several small rooms along the back section of the temple and a hallway which is thought to depict early medicine and surgery with many medical instruments like forceps, scalpels, scissors, and dilators. There’s also a section on child birth involving the numerous gods of fertility. This gives a light to the temple that not only did people come to worship gods but some came to be cured of ailments and viewed the temple as sacred for healing.

The Crocodile Museum

The crocodile museum is a cool little museum included with your ticket and within the Kom Ombo temple complex. It’s home to several mummified Nile river crocodiles that were discovered in the region. The museum is small and will only take a few minutes to check out on your way back. Don’t miss it.

Our experience at Kom Ombo

While overall we were very impressed and had a great time taking photos within Kom Ombo we were simply overwhelmed by the shop sellers outside of this temple. (It was the worst we visited) The temple itself is magnificent and we had probably 1.5 hours of guided tour and wandering within its walls just before sunset. Despite the overzealous hawkers, I’d still consider it a must see and the truth is in the photos. (Apologies in advance for the extreme photo dump)

Beware the shopkeepers

From the second we stepped off the cruise ship for the 5 minute walk to the temple entrance we each had 4 different people in our face trying to sell us stuff like jewelry and scarves. Even once we were in the temple complex they were calling after us until we were out of sight.

Then as we were leaving, we had the same people hounding us to buy stuff for the longer walk back to the ship. I had sellers grabbing my arms and pull me into see their shop stands no matter how many times I said no I didn’t want anything. Eventually I pressure bought a dress and they still hounded us all the way back to the ship- draping scarves and necklaces on us that we just had to let drop to the ground or they’d not take it back.

Needless to say we heaved a huge sigh of relief once we were back on the boat.

Nothing is free

Within the temple walls we also had the usual guys trying to get tips for being in photos but otherwise we avoided them and they took the hint we didn’t want to deal with them quicker than the shop guys did. All in all, it was an incredible temple and I loved being there close to sunset but we left with a rather sour taste of the overall experience.

Sailing away from Kom Ombo

The view of Kom Ombo as we left port. Those other 2 ships would leave shortly after us.

*This was all made up for by a very peaceful sunset sailing on from Kom Ombo to our morning destination of Edfu. The sun set around 6:30 PM and dinner was at 7:30 so we had plenty of time to enjoy the bird song, evening prayers sounding off in cities along the river, and people watching as locals finished their working day fishing or swimming in the river as we floated by. I STRONGLY recommend going to the top deck of your boat when sailing out of Kom Ombo to marvel at its position on the river and enjoy the scenery.

Nubian Village tour

I will preface this post with a note that this tour is *a bit* of a tourist trap. I had read a similar review of that before hand so I had my expectations aligned BUT I also have a few reasons for why you should consider this tour add on as well.

Why you might consider this tour add-on:

When given the option of a 2 hour tour where you

  1. Swim in the Nile River from a beautiful beach
  2. Take a scenic motor boat ride along the Nile
  3. See crocodiles that were caught from Lake Nasser (not the  part of the river you just swam in)
  4. Get to learn even a little bit more about the Nubian culture, a culture that’s been around as long as the ancient Egyptians.

OR getting to spend a couple more hours in a cruise ship room because the cruise doesn’t depart until 1 in the afternoon… which would you choose?

About our tour experience

Our tour started from our cruise ship (where we spent the previous night just docked in Aswan) at around 8:30 AM.

We took a very leisurely 30ish minute motor boat ride alongside Elephentine Island and up a few smaller sections of river where the world was quiet apart from the rushing of the river, the birds in the trees, the rustling of the grass on the river bank, and the quiet motor of the boat.

It felt a bit like being on the river cruise at Disney minus the dad jokes. Some of my favorite views were the sandy hills home to Nubian royal tombs, lush plant life along the banks of the river, and as we got closer to the Nubian village- the camel riders moving to and from the village.

Swimming in the Nile

After exploring the river we stopped at a pristine sandy beach for a swim and considering the day was already heating up, I was happy to hop in.

*We were assured that the crocodiles which are found a plenty south of the High Dam in Lake Nasser, are never found down river (north) of the dam where we were swimming. The water was clear and felt amazing to swim around in. We stopped there for around 20-30 minutes to enjoy it but it would have been even more enjoyable if we weren’t hounded with sales people the whole time. (I was ok since I just swam out away from them and stayed in the water but Braden didn’t wear a swimsuit and was held somewhat captive)

Even after buying one thing from each of them, they still didn’t leave us alone the whole time we were there making this the perfect example of why you won’t get to relax on a vacation to Egypt. Haha

Visiting a Nubian home/ museum

Following the beach, it was another short boat ride to what I can only call a welcome house within the village. It was sort of a cross over between a museum, a restaurant, and someone’s actual house. As we walked in we passed a couple rooms with traditional woven bowls, clothing, and other home wares on display. We learned about why the concrete roofs were domed and that they would store things needing refrigeration in bowls hung from the ceiling since under the dome was actually the coolest part.

Our guide then took us to the top of the home for a view of of the low dam and rest of the village in both directions along the river.

One of the most interesting things about these villages is that they were given by the Egypt government to the Nubian people who were displaced as a result of the high dam (and lake Nasser). The Nubian people are primarily fisherman (when they aren’t in the tourist trade) and camel traders. I’d hoped to see more camels in the village itself but we really only saw them outside the village and “evidence” of them on the streets inside the village.

The crocodiles

The blue guest house also was home to the afore mentioned crocodiles which were held in a concrete container in a corner of the room. There was one larger croc (estimated to be about 1/3 of full size and couple years old) and then a bunch of babies which our guide said are constantly getting caught up in the fishing nets by the villagers fishing on the lake. (evidently they trade them out sort of catch, show off, and then release is what we were told)

Exploring the village

We spent some time in the guest house having some hibiscus drink and I got a henna tattoo before voyaging out into the town.

It was all in a all a pretty quiet walk with most people probably hiding from the heat of the day but we did get to see some spice/ tea shops. Then we hopped on the boat and took the short way back to our cruise ship in preparation of setting sail to Luxor.

On the boat ride back we took a more direct route to the cruise ship but passed the famous cataract hotel and remnants of other ancient buildings on the Nile, now flooded and lost to time.

Overall, I can’t say it was the most educational of experience but it beat hanging out in a cruise ship room all morning and how many other people can say they’ve swam in the Nile.

Abu Simbel Temples

Abu Simbel is two incredible rock-cut temples with beautiful inscriptions, multiple rooms, and iconic sitting statues of the pharaoh who “built” them guarding the entrance. While it maybe a bit of a trek to get to, it was pretty unlike anything else we saw on our trip to Egypt.

Instead of columns in the vestibule of the temple, there are giant carved statues and long short roofed rooms branching off the sides. The small amount of light let in is reminiscent of adventure movies like the Mummy and the closest comparison to walking into the hillside of a mountain is the Valley of the Kings. (which is usually just one single hallway and not as grand- albeit very beautiful)

Where is Abu Simbel?

Located a lengthy 3.5 hour drive from Aswan, Egypt- Abu Simbel sits just a few miles north of the border with Sudan and right next to Lake Nasser.* Like Philae temple, Abu Simbel would have been lost completely with the construction of the High Dam and filling of Lake Nasser. It now rests near the lake shore about 200 feet (65 m) higher and 650 feet (200m)back from its original position. It is carved into an artificial hillside made just for the temples.

*Abu Simbel does have a small airfield and layovers are possible when flying from Cairo to Aswan or back. This is a pretty costly way of seeing the temples though.

Moving the temples

The salvage of the temples began in 1964 by a skilled team of archeologists, engineers, and very skilled heavy equipment operators. The entire site was carefully cut into large blocks of up to 30 tons (averaging 20 tons), dismantled, lifted, and reassembled in the new location. The hillside that the temple is now built into is a steel dome and the shape/ rooms/ and artwork in the rooms were all placed exactly as they had been before.

We didn’t try as hard to notice seams in the Philae Temple but I will admit we were looking for them at Abu Simbel and didn’t find a single one. They pieced it back together so perfectly, it is really incredible to see and witness in person for the engineering feat alone. There’s even a small visitor center dedicated to what was accomplished in moving the temples and it’s a great spot to check out on your way back to meet your guide.

About Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel has some interesting politics associated with it. The construction was ordered by King Ramesses II (or the great) in 1264 BC in order to cement his reign with the Nubians that lived in southern Egypt. It depicts him as a god, specifically in line with the gods the Nubians worshipped at the time and further sought to unify the northern and southern kingdoms of Egypt. The smaller of the 2 temples is designated for his chief queen- the famous Nefertari who was a chief diplomatic figure at the time in addition to being the chief wife.

Photo taken in the hypostyle hall of the small temple

The Great Temple

The four colossal 65 foot (20m) statues are depictions of Ramesses II seated on a throne and wearing the double crown of upper and lower Egypt. The temple is dedicated to the highest gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and the deified Ramesses himself.  

The layout of the temple is triangular and similar to other temples with the largest room at the front which gradually gets smaller as you get to the inner sanctuary. The first room has 8 impressive statues of… you guessed it, King Ramesses II again.

I loved this incredible room called the hypostyle hall – the statues are of the king linking him to the god Osiris (the husband of Isis who we learned about at Philae temple)- he is the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, and resurrection. The reliefs around this room depict the many successful military campaigns that Ramesses waged against the Hittites (modern day Syria) and the Nubians.  

The second pillared hall is smaller and has four pillars decorated with scenes of offerings to the gods- this room includes more depictions of the beautiful queen Nefetari.

The sanctuary

Following this room is one of the most interesting parts of these temple and that is the inner sanctuary. Most other temples had a single altar that would support a cedar wood boat used for offerings to the gods of the temple. This sanctuary however has 4 statues depicting the 4 gods the temple is dedicated to.

The 4 statues are also in alignment with solar activity and on only a couple dates a year, the sunrise will penetrate from the front of the temple to the back to illuminate the 3 statues on the right- King Ramesses II, Amun, and Ra-Horakhty. The god on the far left, Ptah, who is the god of darkness and connected with the realm of the dead, remains in the dark during these solar events.

Apart from the impressive central rooms, there are many rooms branching off the side with incredible reliefs and hieroglyphics depicting information that would be used by the priests of the temple such as rituals, recipes for various balms and salves, and the like.

The smaller temple

The small temple is dedicated to Queen Nefetari and the goddess Hathor. The entrance is flanked by 6 statues (33fet or 10 m high) and depict the king and then the queen by his side. Interestingly this was only the 2nd temple ever built in honor of a queen in Egypt’s history, and the queen was made to be the same height at the king instead of only knee height which was the norm. This definitely puts some perspective on how important Queen Nefetari was in Egypt’s history.

Once inside the temple, there is a hall supported by 6 pillars which are decorated with scenes of the queen playing the sistrum instrument with the gods Horus, Hathor, Isis, and others. The top of the pillars have the face of Hathor (the easiest goddess to recognize as she is usually represented with a human face and cow ears) who is the goddess of music, dance, joy, beauty and love, motherhood, and also the sky consort (wife) for both Horus (son of Isis and Osiris if you remember) and the sun god Ra.

The majority of this temple is decorated with depictions of sacred offerings from the king and queen to the various gods and the inner sanctum/ sanctuary is the more standard altar like other temples.

It’s an impressive temple, but not really as mind blowing as the greater temple.

Our experience at Abu Simbel and why it should be on your list

Both facades are incredibly iconic and combined with the towering statues and art work within the tombs, these temples should definitely be on your list to visit. We had a very early morning start for our trip, leaving our hotel in Aswan at 4:30 AM to make the 3.5 hour drive out there. The drive really doesn’t showcase anything but desert in all directions so we mostly just relaxed and picked at our breakfast boxes we got from the hotel.

Once we arrived, our guide told us about what we would see inside and walked to the front of the great temple with us but then left us to explore both temples on our own for an hour or so. (Guides aren’t allowed in the temples) We wandered around trying to identify the art depictions that our guide told us about and the general significance. It was REALLY hot and this is maybe one of the longer walks around so once we finished looking at the temples, we didn’t waste much time in walking back to meet our guide.

These temples are immensely popular and can get really crowded during peak tourist season but one of the perks of going in summer is the lack of crowds and it really wasn’t that busy. We took a couple minutes to view the small museum on how they moved the temples and use the bathroom on our way back to the van and were on the road heading to Aswan by 10AM.

Exploring Philae Temple

One of my favorite archeological sites in Egypt both for its beauty and its relative peace was Philae Temple. It also made for an amazing introductory temple before visiting the others down river as it introduced us to the key gods we’d be coming to know through their worship sites. Before I get into that though let’s go over the basics.

How to visit Philae Temple

This temple is located on an island… That’s right completely surrounded by water and only accessible by boat. (magic right?) Although it’s one of the key sites to see in Aswan, on a hot summer day we shared it with only one other group. Following our tour of the unfinished Obelisk and the Aswan high dam, we hopped in a boat from the visitor center and had magnificent views of the temple on the approach. The boat man waits for you while you visit the temple and you return with the same boat. (Don’t forget to tip your boatman!)

About Philae Temple:

Religious importance

First stop on your tour will be in the forecourt of the temple with 2 sets of columns on either side and the second pylon (or entryway) appearing magnificently in front of you. Here is where we stopped to discuss the story of Isis, to whom this temple was originally built and dedicated too. Isis was considered the “divine mother” of the pharaoh and major player in helping guide souls to the afterlife as she helped guide her husband Osiris. Our guide told a long story of how Osiris (the husband of Isis) was brothers with the evil god, Set, who was jealous and slayed Osiris 2 times. Each time Isis recovered the body of Osiris and resurrected him and the 2 of them eventually begat their son god- Horus (who is one of the more recognizable gods as he is usually represented with a hawk head).

Isis was around for a long time as she transformed just from the wife of Osiris and absorbed traits of other goddesses to become one of the major goddesses worshipped not just by Egyptians but by Nubians and Greeks. Under Greek influence she encompassed all feminine divine powers in the world. In total she was a worshipped goddess from at least 2686 BCE when she is first mentioned in the old kingdom, up until the rise of Christianity in Egypt in the fourth-sixth centuries AD.

Buildings and structures

There’s 2 impressive, main gates or pylons when entering the temple. The second is the more photo-worthy of the 2 as it leads from the main courtyard into the vestibule of the inner temple. On it are depictions of the king presenting garland to the gods Horus and Nephthys on the right and incense to Osiris, Isis, and Horus on the left.

The left side of the pylon. Notice the bodies are all etched out- this damage was done during the Coptic (Christian) ruling of Egypt during the Byzantine Empire.

Once in inside the inner temple, you enter the vestibule which is supported by 8, impressively tall columns. This rooms was actually unfinished in its reliefs but there are still some interesting depictions of the god of the Nile and the soul of Osiris.

Continuing straight into the temple, there’s a number of antechambers flanked by dark side chambers that you pass through before reaching the Holy of Holies: the sanctuary of Isis.

Outside of the inner temple there’s a few structures completed during the Roman timeline of ruling Greece that include a gateway for Hadrian (Emperor Hadrian seemed to enjoy having his own special gateways if you’ve been to other Roman sites), a small temple to the goddess Hathor (or Aphrodite is the Greek goddess equivalent), and another small temple (referred to as Trajan’s kiosk) that would’ve served as the main entrance to the Philae Temple complex when it was an active religious site.

About the location of Philae Temple

One of my absolute favorite things about this temple was that it sits on an island completely surrounded by the beautiful clear water of the Nile river. Interestingly, the entire temple complex used to reside on a different island. The original island was covered and half submerged the temple most of the year once the first low dam of Aswan was built turn of the 1900s. When the high dam was built, the entire structure was threatened to be submerged completely. Since the temple became a UNESCO heritage site, each stone was painstakingly moved block by block and rebuilt as it was on a neighboring island.

About our experience

We were there around 3 PM on a Thursday and enjoyed the site mostly to ourselves and consequently had the most peaceful experience we’d have on our whole trip.

After walking through all of the buildings with our guide, he set us loose for about 30 minutes to wander and take it in ourselves. We loved experiencing the empty dark antechambers around the inner sanctum and wandering amidst the towering columns in the vestibule. Since it was so hot, even the inside of the temple in the shade was toasty. After wandering the temple, it felt amazing sitting in the shade of the palm trees with the cool breeze coming off the Nile while we absorbed the ancient spirit of this place.

Our Covid Travel Nightmare

Why we chose to travel to Egypt in 2021

I’ll start with a little background on why we chose to visit Egypt this year first. Last year I had 2 Europe trips scheduled and both got cancelled. I considered rescheduling one of those for 2021 however come March 2021, Europe was still entering stages of lock down and there was still no word on if or when the EU countries would open to vaccinated Americans.

Meanwhile I had seen a few friends that visited Egypt in 2020 and early 2021 so it seemed like a pretty safe bet. This trip would also coincide with Braden’s and my 5 year wedding anniversary so I figured we’d go all out with what I consider a “more expensive” destination due to longer, more expensive flights AND needing to book an organized tour for everything.

Preparing for travel restrictions

Well here we were a couple weeks before departing on our trip when I re-looked up the entry requirements for Egypt, Jordan, and the USA to know what to expect. By this point, both Braden and I were fully vaccinated so I wanted to see what tests we would need. I couldn’t find an actual government site for Egypt however multiple airlines and an online visa for Egypt website all stated that fully vaccinated Americans could enter Egypt without needing a negative test as long as they had their vaccination card on them.

A few days before departure I again checked these websites and found the same information. The US Embassy site was a little more vague calling out that the vaccination card needed to have a QR code but also stating that there are testing facilities in the Cairo airport. OK…. So this did put a seed of doubt in our minds on whether we would need to get tested or not but we were unable to find a testing center open when we would need it (on a Sunday) and after calling and talking to someone with United Airlines, they assured us our vaccination card was sufficient for entry. We then thought worst case scenario… We’d just get tested on arrival at the airport.

Boy were we wrong.

Let’s look at the timeline of events.

  • 7/12 12:21 PM Departure and first flight to Chicago. – 3 hour flight
  • 7/12- 6:10 PM Departure Chicago to Munich, Germany – 8.5 hour flight
  • 7/13 – 9:45 AM Arrival in Munich, Germany.
    • 8.5 hour layover and on my birthday, so we venture out easy as pie to grab lunch with a local friend at the central square in Munich.
  • 7/13- 4:55 PM Departure from Munich to Cairo, Egypt. – 4 hour flight delayed once we were on the plane so more like a 4.5 hour flight
    • Once again our next airline Lufthansa reassured us we would be fine to enter Egypt with the vaccination card.
    • I will also call out this was a TERRIBLE flight. At this point we are exhausted with next to no sleep and there were SO. Many. Screaming children on this flight it was ridiculous. The meal served was also pretty terrible so we barely picked at it and Lufthansa only handed out 6 oz cups for a beverage once the entire time. This is important for later as we went HOURS without food or water in Cairo.
  • 7/13 – 9:45 PM Arrival in Cairo

This my friends is where it all went south.

Immediately out of the gate and before passport control was a checkpoint where they wanted to see negative PCR tests taken no more than 96 hours before arrival (no other airport has had this checkpoint by the way). We showed them our vaccination card with our passport and they flagged us as not having the right documentation. They confiscate our passports along with another older couple, and a solo girl who had the same issue as us.

We wait until they check everyone else in from the flight and then follow the guy in the lab coat who has our passports to the immigration hall where they were supposedly talking with the airline whose fault it is for allowing us on the flight. Our tour manager who came to pick us up from the airport meets us here and tries to interpret what is happening for us but they don’t communicate with him well either. A couple hours pass by while we wait for them to make a decision on how to proceed. We are sitting right outside the testing facility in the immigration hall.

There’s also no vending machines, no food, and no water in this hall where they are holding us. We also have no idea how long we will be there.

  • 7/14 – 12:30 AM Our tour manager says it isn’t sounding good, that he has requested we just get tested but they are insisting that we cannot enter the country and will have to leave.

There’s loads of arguing between the older couple who were with us but they had dual citizenship and so they got tested. The airport police say the onsite testing there is for “Egyptian citizens only.”   The solo girl traveler had more of a headache but was travelling there on a work visa for the largest company in Egypt so as I understood later that eventually got her through. At this point, we start working out a game plan with our tour manager on how we will proceed if we have to leave.

  • 7/14 – 1:30 AM Our tour manager confirms they are making us leave instead of allowing us to just get tested there.

We come up with a plan on if we go back to Germany and get tested there- how we will resume our tour and fly back later this same day. I also requested some sort of water at this point because I feel like I’m dying from exhaustion and thirst. Our lovely tour manager leaves us for a few moments and returned with a bottle of water, croissant, and small Orange juice for both of us from the café just pass immigration and customs. We find out when our flight will leave and our tour manager takes his leave of us.

  • 7/14 – 5:00 AM, 30 min before departure. A police guy finally comes to get us, escorts us to the ticketing counters to check our bag (which we find out is getting checked ALL the way back home and that they didn’t just reticket us to Germany but to home) then escorts us to the gate which is boarding and puts us on the plane.
  • 7/14 – 5:30 AM, our flight departs back to Munich, Germany.

The meal is inedible on this flight also so I’m still starving having been awake and travelling 36 hours and having nothing of substance to eat (and very little water) since lunch in Munich over 17 hours ago. We’ve also discovered that they changed our initial return flight tickets to this day (so this flight home is on our own dime by the way) and that we only have a 2 hour layover in Munich before our flight back to the US. I’m way too stressed out to rest on this flight unfortunately so I spend the whole time anxious instead.

The cost of returning to Egypt

  • 7/14 – 9 AM, our flight lands in Munich. We race to a customer support counter for Lufthansa and ask them to hold our checked bag as there is no humanly possible way I am going to get on a 9.5 hour flight back to the USA at this point. They rebook the rest of our return journey of Germany to SLC for July 27th (1 day after our original return date but we will take it) free of charge.

HOWEVER, we have to now pay for a flight back to Cairo, Egypt. The only direct option that would get us back to pick up our tour in time to fly to Aswan and board our Nile cruise is the same one at 4:55 PM that day. Great there’s seats but it costs $1300/ person because they are the last seats.

The other flight options involved 1 or more long connections and would make us miss 2 days of sight seeing on our tour and still cost us at least $700/ person so we pony up the money and book to return to Cairo at 4:55 PM. (mostly just to be done with it at this point because we are EXHAUSTED)

  • 7/14 – 10:30 AM, we pay more money to have rapid PCR tests done in the Munich airport that cost us $220 each. We grab some brunch from Mcdonalds, and find somewhere to FINALLY rest a bit.
Waiting for our flight back to Cairo.
  • 7/14- 4:55 PM Depart for Cairo, Egypt. Again the flight is a little delayed leaving. We have the same terrible meal but otherwise it’s quiet enough we can sleep a little.
  • 7/14 – 9 PM Arrive in Cairo – easy pass through customs and immigration with our fancy negative PCR test. Drive 1 hour to our hotel in Giza ( we  were supposed to have toured the pyramids this day so that’s just the hotel we had on our schedule.)
  • 7/14 – 11 PM Finally get to our hotel and pass out for 4.5 hours before we have to get up and drive 1 hour back to Cairo for an early morning flight to Aswan.

Wrap up

We ended up in Egypt a full 24 hours later than we were supposed to but thankfully only missed 1 day of sightseeing which we could mostly squeeze into our day in Cairo on the back end of our trip… so not too bad. Total travel time ended up being 5 flights and 53 hours with very little sleep.

However the cost for this avoidable screw up was:

  • $2600 flights Munich to Cairo and back on the 26th.
  • $440 Rapid PCR tests.
  • 1 missed day of sightseeing in Cairo. (We did not have time to see the Saqqara Pyramid complex, the Souks in Cairo, or the old town in Cairo)
  • Seriously messed up return flights home that resulted in needing 2 hotel stays and another full day of work PTO needed for me.  

So moral of the story, if you’re planning on travelling to Egypt this year or any year during a pandemic, don’t listen to the airlines- just get the freakin test.