Not long after I got back from my trip to Egypt, the Egypt Tourism Authority asked me to write about my top five reasons to visit the country. That wasn’t easy as, during my time there, I discovered, many reasons why Egypt is an awesome place. Here are five of them:
1. The people are friendly
On my first day in Luxor, I met a local who took my travel buddy and me under his wing. For the next week, he and his friend took us around the town and helped us out with transport and visiting the local tourist sites. We didn’t even have to ask, he just wanted us to enjoy our time in Egypt so that we would go back home and encourage others to visit. Mission accomplished- I’ve been raving about my holiday ever since. When we visited villages and tourist sites, we also had children running alongside us and waving. They even asked for pictures. It was probably the closest I will ever feel to being a celebrity!
2. The food is delicious
Generally, I love Middle Eastern cuisine but I didn’t know how Egyptian food would compare to what I had previously sampled. I need not have worried. Going back to the point of friendly locals, I was invited to a couple of local family dinners which meant that I was able to try some properly authentic food. This was easily the best food I had on my holiday, with dishes ranging from rice, potatoes, chicken and fish to tagine, soup and salad. I’ve been craving it ever since. Also, as a self-designated tea expert, I can honestly say that a glass of sugary Egyptian tea is the perfect way to start a morning.
3. It’s affordable and not full of tourists
I expected Egypt to be crawling with tourists but, in light of the political turbulence the country has experienced over the last few years, levels of tourism have declined (obviously if you are thinking of going to Egypt, check the Foreign Office’s advice about travelling to the region at that time). This meant that my friend and I were the only visitors in the whole of the Valley of the Queens (although a tour bus did turn up as we were on our way out) and we were alone in the Tomb of Tutankhamen- coming face-to-face with the young Pharaoh’s mummy without crowds of people surrounding us.
We also found that Egypt is affordable. We had managed to get a really great deal on a hotel in Luxor which I would have assumed was out of my price range. It was on the Nile, it had two swimming pools and the staff were very attentive. We never wanted to leave. Finally, the decline in tourism has really affected the locals, according to some of the people I spoke to, meaning that they need holidaymakers to return.
4. It is the perfect balance between going on holiday and travelling
If you are searching for sun, then you can’t really beat an Egyptian summer. It was so sunny that even I got a tan- which never happens. However, a consequence of this is that, whatever your intentions are, you do need to spend some time doing absolutely nothing, somewhere cool. I often spent my days visiting the ruins for a few hours and then jumping into the swimming pool the moment I got back and barely moving for the next 24 hours. This was the perfect balance between relaxing and getting out and experiencing the country. I came back to England feeling completely refreshed and also like I’d had a productive time away.
5. Last but not least- because it’s Egypt!
Egypt is an amazing country: you’ll just be driving along and suddenly pass by the ruins of an ancient temple by the side of the road. There is so much to see and so much history to discover, including one of the wonders of the world: the Pyramids of Giza. In fact, you can even go inside the Great Pyramid, which is truly an once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have also never seen a museum like the Egyptian Museum in Cairo – there are just so many artefacts to see – you really need to dedicate some time to exploring it fully. All in all, I can’t wait to go back.