Egypt or Jordan? Or both
How, what and where in Egypt
Egypt is a fascinating country with incredibly rich history, you probably already knew that. But do you know whether it is safe, or how to get around, or which landmarks are especially worth seeing? If the answer is no then read on.
We flew into Egypt at 02:00am, we were tired but excited and not really sure what to expect. We had a friend pick us up from the airport who we coincidentally met in the Philippines back in 2017. Our account of Cairo may well be different to others as we were lucky enough to have a friend as a local guide.
We went straight to a local restaurant that was still open at 03:00am and proceeded to eat one of the best plant based local meals we have ever had. This is was just the start of an epic 3 week Egypt adventure.
How to Get Around?
After doing a fair bit of research we decided that travelling around Egypt and making the most of our time there was best done on an organised tour. We found a company called Travel Talk that did 15 day Egypt and Jordan tours for a great price so we booked for the last two weeks of our time in Egypt. In our honest opinion looking back at our trip we feel like this was the best option! Alot of the main attractions in Egypt are spread out over hundreds of kilometres with alot of nothingness in between. Having an organised tour meant that we could relax on the bus and take it easy in between the rush of visiting each attraction. Egypt can be quite hectic at times albeit incredible so taking some of the stress out of your trip is definitely a good thing. Along with this comes the added piece of mind that you are safer being with a group. We dont necessarily think Egypt is unsafe but especially for girls it can be uncomfortable as the locals dont have the same manners we do.
Being on a tour also meant that we had a guide. This was really great, we learnt so much about the fascinating history of Egypt while on our tour and it really gave the whole experience a deeper meaning for us. It also meant that we could skip the lines at places like King Tut’s Tomb, Karnak Temple, Abu Simbel etc.
There are many local buses also that you can use to get around which we actually used to get to Marsa Alam. Along the 12 hour trip we passed around 6-7 checkpoints where we had to show our passports, this would have been ok if it wasnt in the middle of the night. This is a precautionary safety measure which is obviously a good thing in general to have.
Plant based food in Egypt
We were actually really surprised by the food in Egypt. It can be especially hard for us to find good food when we travel considering the fact we are plant based, although in Egypt this was not the case.
Fruit for our morning breakfasts was hard to come by at times and there is an abundance of unhealthy packaged food, but for the most part there are really good options for all us Vegans/Plant based people!!
Food to try in egypt
Koshari (good for carb loading and especially good if you are hungry after a long day of exploring) made of rice, macaroni, and lentils mixed together, topped with a spiced tomato sauce and garlic vinegar, and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. Sprinklings of garlic juice, garlic vinegar, and hot sauce are optional
Mulukhiyah (a braised greens dish made with jute leaf, that's delicious and good for you)
Falafel (a deep-fried ball, or a flat or doughnut-shaped patty, made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Herbs, spices, and onion relatives are commonly added to the dough)
Places to eat
We only have one suggestion for you on where to eat, we ate at so many different restaurants and they were for the most part all good. But this cafe was the perfect touch we needed to finish our time in Cairo!
Sea Salt Bakery and Cafe in Cairo
Marsa Alam 2-3 days
First we wanted to do a little bit of exploring ourselves, we had heard of a place on the Red Sea called Marsa Alam that had great diving and dolphins!! This was a must for us, so we jumped on a local bus from Cairo to Marsa Alam and 12 hours later we arrived.
Swimming with the Dolphins in Marsa Alam was an experience we did not expect when we planned out our trip to Egypt and was definitely the highlight of our trip. The tented beach side village we stayed at called Marsa Shagra was definitely our favourite accomodation of the entire trip. Although we didnt venture much into the actual town of Marsa Alam we spent some time exploring the picturesque deserted coastline. We absolutely loved it and took some great photos.
We only stayed and ate at one place, It was awesome!
Stay, eat and organise dolphin tour + Diving
Travel Talk Tour, Egypt Leg (11 days)
For the rest of our trip throughout Egypt we booked an organised tour. We highly recommend the organised tour experience, we found Travel Talk Tours to be the best value for money and their tours were also tailored to younger travellers (18-35 range)
Without further ado lets get into what we covered over the tour followed up with some of our favourite photos.
Day 1: Cairo
Meet and greet with our group, get to know everybody, go through the tour schedule
Day 2: Cairo City Tour, Luxor
First sighting of the great pyramids of Giza (it was absolutely mind blowing seeing these for the first time. Definitely childhood dreams)
Day 3: Luxor, Aswan
Visiting Karnak temple, one of the most important religious centres of ancient Egypt. (We took some incredible photos here at sunrise, we asked our guide if we could leave early and catch our own taxi to get the right light and beat the crowds)
Day 4-5: Aswan, Felucca Cruise, abu simbel
Huge day of sight seeing starting out with a 4am wake up to drive to Abu Simbel (Definitely worth the early wake up and the 2.5 hour bus ride) Followed by a visit to Philae temple which is located on a small island in the middle of the Nile. In the afternoon the groups jump onboard the traditional Felucca’s and sail off into the sunset down the Nile where they will spend the night.
day 6: Edfu, Komombo, Luxor
The temples dont end there, day 6 is full of more extremely impressive temples built over centuries to honour the gods.
day 7: Valley of the Kings
On this morning we rose again early to take a hot air balloon over Luxor for sunrise (THIS WAS EPIC) The next discovery is the magnificent “city of the Dead” where tombs were carved into the desert rocks, decorated richly, and filled with treasures for the Pharaoh afterlife.
Day 8: Cairo
After arriving back in Cairo we did a tour of the famous Cairo museum.
day 9-11: Dahab
To finish off the Egypt adventure we headed for the coastal town of Dahab which was a great way to finish the tour. By this time you will most likely be ‘templed out’ so some time spent at the beach swimming in the crystal clear water is perfectly refreshing.
Our Egypt Highlights
We really enjoyed visiting every temple and attraction in Egypt on our tour but there were definitely spots that left a bigger impression on us than others.
Our must sees and do’s in Egypt are:
Pyramids of Giza
Hot air balloon over Luxor
Snorkelling in Dahab
Diving in Marsa Alam
On to Jordan (4 days)
Although we didnt have much time left to explore the surrounding countries of Egypt we definitely wanted to get a taste of Jordan before flying back to Germany for a family gathering. Thankfully Travel Talk offered an extra 4 day leg which would extend our tour through Jordan.
We are soo grateful we decided to visit Jordan even though we would have loved to stayed longer. Here is an overview of how we spent our short time in Jordan and our highlights of the trip.
Day 1: Wadi rum
Spending our first night under the stars in Jordan was magnificent. We actually arrived by very at night and took a bus into our camp also at night. We had no idea of the landscape that surrounded us until we woke up the next morning. What we witnessed that morning was something we will always remember and one of the best shoots weve ever had (Wadi Rum desert is a must see)
day 2: wadi rum jeep tour + afternoon in petra
Following our amazing sunrise shoot we made our way to the Wadi Rum visitors centre to start our Jeep Safari. This experience was also awesome! It honestly felt like we were in a movie like star wars, or Indiana Jones. We didnt ride any camels as dont like to use animals in any way including entertainment. However we like taking photos with camels which you can see below :)
Arriving to Petra in the afternoon we made our way straight to the famous Red Rose City. We will never forget that feeling of walking through the gorge as it opens up to reveal the treasury, this was most definitely a once in a lifetime experience and something we recommend for everyone.
Day 3: Early morning in petra + dead sea
The day before we made our plans, we looked at all the places we wanted to shoot and now it was time to get the shots. We were the first ones in line at 6.45am to make the walk down the gorge to the treasury. We were the first ones there and although the lighting wasnt perfect it was great that we could shoot before the crowds arrived. We highly recommened going early if you want to take photos without alot of people in the way.
Maybe the biggest disappopint for us was the location we got dropped off at to see the Dead Sea. We were hoping for white salt beds with shades of pink and a calm lake but we didnt get any of that. It wasnt necessarily anyones fault it was just that the weather conditions didnt allow for us to visit a nicer part of the lake due to risk of flooding. Swimming in the Dead Sea was definitely a surreal experience and something we think you should definitely try.
Day 4: Amman
Our last day in Jordan was spent in the capital city of Amman. We visited the citadel which was quite nice and a good spot for photos at sunset!
Our Last Thoughts
Our time in and Egypt and Jordan was definitely a fascinating experience, it was crazy and it was full on. In our opinion we would do it the same way over again if we could turn back time. These two countries are not easy to travel, especially Egypt. We usually advocate a more do it yourself approach when it comes to travel as thats the way we like to travel and generally the best way to get a raw and real experience of a country. But for this trip we really believe a tour is your best bet to make the most out of your time.
In summary we wish we could have spent a few more days in Jordan to really capture its beauty, but it is a small country and you can cover it pretty quickly. This is a trip for those people seeking real adventure, it was not the most comfortable trip but in terms of amazement, this trip is up there with the most amazing trips weve been on. Our memories of this trip will be of the history, the incredible rugged landscapes, the crystal clear Red Sea, camels, pharoahs, pyramids and Indiana Jones.
Have you been to Egypt or Jordan? We would love to know about your experience in the comments below.