– SEPTEMBER 04-07, 2015
Before we get into the cruise details, some information is needed for anyone following our blog. The work it takes to sort through hundreds of pictures, photoshop them down in size to 72 dpi, post them to our blog, then write what happened is an enormous amount of time. As such, this blog routinely falls 5-10 days behind in posting where we are and what we are doing. We have received some questions about our well being in Egypt, especially with the recent news of the Egyptian army killing tourists in the Black desert. Rest assured, we are fine and we always keep our guard up. We decided about a month ago to skip any areas outside of the Nile River path (aka Abu Simbel to Cairo is safe). We certainly have stories about the security here and the economic harm this has caused to the tourism industry in Egypt…but know we are safe and well.
Since we decided to start at the south of Egypt and travel north towards Cairo, we chose to take the best way to see everything between Aswan and Luxor…a Nile River Cruise! This cruise, along with Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel stay, will be one of only a couple of luxury expenses we enjoy on this adventure. Travelling the world for a year is very expensive, so we don’t stay in 5 star hotels or eat at celebrity restaurants. Instead we are trying to get down to the level of the common people and see what life is like in their land. This Nile River Cruise is certainly not something the typical Egyptian person can enjoy.
The tour company picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the boat docked in the center of Aswan. This post will only cover the boat itself, the sights we see each day will receive their own posts to better cover the stuff at each location. This boat can hold a capacity of 170 guests (plus staff), but our cruise only had 14 guests on board…yes, 14 guests. It felt at times like being in the hotel from the Shining…nobody to be seen. But the staff were all very professional and it was a great experience.
4 days and 3 nights along the Nile River from Aswan to Luxor.
The food was 5-star all of the way through. Each meal was either a buffet spread or we had a few choices from a set menu. Everything was melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness.
The experience on the Nile River Cruise was something you must experience if you come to Egypt. It is a great way to stop each day and see the sights with the same tour guide all of the way through (without a guide you won’t know why each temple is important and what the hieroglyphics and cartouches all mean. You need a guide in Egypt.
Now then…this isn’t in reference to the cruise itself, but rather on a day trip we took to see some temples. There are multiple road blocks where the police and army check each vehicle to ensure nothing sinister is inside (people or explosives). This lends some reassurance to tourists, as you can’t get more than 20 minutes at most down the road before you have to stop. One day, as we returned from seeing some beautiful temples, one road block looked at Jill and I, then made our driver accept a “road police escort” which consisted of us being followed by a truck containing two men with black ski masks and AK-47 assault rifles. Yes, these were apparently the police. Jill and I were the only ones looking over our shoulders and asking the question “What the hell is this?” Our driver and guide didn’t seem worried in the least. This is Egypt…and this is how they live each day. As you can imagine, this wasn’t the most reassuring sight for us.
Since the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the Egyptian tourism industry has taken a huge hit (some estimate in the 85%-90% drop range). Many of these towns/cities rely entirely on the tourism industry to provide income to the people. Luxor for example, produces virtually nothing and without tourists the people cannot earn a living. This means a tourist can get some amazing deals (we would not have done the Nile Cruise without the discounts), but it also means some people only look to the current day and try to scam the few tourists they see for as much as they can.
As a tourist in Egypt, you need to be very cautious and always be aware of your surroundings. Also don’t be afraid to be anti-Canadian and just ignore certain people or just end a conversation by walking away from them. However, the majority of people we have met in Egypt have been very nice people who want you to enjoy your time and then to tell your friends to come visit. Its a magical place that has its problems, but the common person isn’t the problem.
More to come.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.