Most people have the dream to visit Egypt at some point in their life and for Sarah LaFontaine this was no different. Not only did she fulfill a personal goal, but she shares with us how the people she met and the places she travelled to, all contributed to her life-changing trip through Egypt with On the Go Tours:
I have just returned from the most amazing trip of my life. I sat in the Vancouver airport not sure how this trip would change me. Egypt has always fascinated me. From the time I was a kid, I would dream of what it would be like to stand in front of a pyramid but I never thought I would get there.
Backtrack to Christmas 2009: My mom gets a box of photo albums from my uncle. In these albums are photos over 60 years old, dating back to World War 2. My Grandad was 18 years old, and enlisted in the British Army, and stationed in Cairo. Here are all these cracked, black & whites of a young man standing in front of the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and with a camel. I knew that my Grandad was in the war, but I had no idea he had been to Egypt! It was then that I knew I needed to do this trip. My Grandad had been so important to me as a kid, and knowing he had been there, it quickly became a personal goal, and one that I would quickly achieve.
Flash forward and there I was sitting in the airport waiting for that flight. I won’t bore you with details about the flight, because it’s not always about how you get there, it’s that you get there, and step foot in a new country. We were greeted at the airport by our local guide Shady, who was there to transport us to our hotel the Oasis. Seeing the hotel in the daylight was beautiful. Palm trees every where, immaculate gardens, and the feeling of the sun shining on me.
The next day our guide Sam took us out to Saqqara where we saw the Step Pyramid. We walked around the complex looking out across the haze to the Bent Pyramid and beyond. Going with a group tour like On-The-Go made me feel so prepared for the characters you meet along the way. You will get asked to ride a camel, but don’t do it unless your guide says to. You will get asked to take a photo, or have your photo taken, but again don’t do it unless you have change to give them. If you ever go to Egypt, understand that so much of the country is poor and the main way that they make a living is through tourists. We went on to the Giza Pyramids, and rode a camel to the Sphinx. I can’t tell you how crazy it feels to stand in front of these huge structures, look at how huge each block is, and wonder how normal people like you and I, put them together piece by piece. There is a magic to Egypt that can’t be described, but knowing that my Grandad stepped foot in the same places was something I can take with me my entire life.
We took an overnight train to Luxor and thank goodness for 1st class sleeper cabins! If you have the opportunity to upgrade, do it. It’s a fairly long trip, but if you have the comfort of a bed, it is so much better than trying to sleep in a chair.
When we finally arrived into Luxor, we were put up in an amazing hotel, right on the Nile. The Nile Palace was so comfortable, and the pool was incredible in that 42 degree heat! We got plenty of free time to enjoy the sun, but there was enough to do that we were never bored. While in Luxor, I had the opportunity to take a hot air balloon during a sunrise over the Nile and the Valley of the Kings, dance with locals after a safe landing, take a felucca down the Nile to Luxor Temple, visit King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, purchase custom jewellery from a wonderful jeweller, and decline many marriage proposals.
A long bus trip will take you from Luxor to Dahab, where you get to spend a number of glorious days on the Red Sea. One word: Incredible! This small coastal town looks across the Red Sea at the mountains of Saudi Arabia. Here, you have the joy of eating at so many delicious restaurants that are lined up along the waters edge. The people are so welcoming and friendly, and you will find most of the cuisine is Bedouin inspired. For Vegetarians like me, food in Egypt is wonderful, and you will never find it hard to eat. I don’t recommend eating too many fresh fruits and vegetables unless you can rinse them with bottled water, but anything cooked is wonderful. If you love seafood, you will love Egypt. Everything is fresh, and made to order.
In Dahab, some of the highlights were snorkelling the Blue Hole (wow!), having dinner in a Bedouin Village and dancing with a Bedouin, climbing Mt. Sinai and watching the sun rise from the top, and the day we chartered a boat. Explaining this all in words, does not even close begin to describe the actual experience. It is different for everyone, whether or not it is spiritual.
To be honest, a huge part of the trip was about who I got to spend it with. I made friends from places all over the world. These people all changed my life, and we got to share a life-changing trip together. I learned new music, new phrases (Mahabesh el gibna), new things about what I can actually achieve (8km of uphill and stairs, and then 8km back down in one trip), and so much more.
If you want to change your life, enhance your life, or just have the experience of a lifetime, Egypt is where you get to see that begin.