Almost four years in Egypt
"Living and working somewhere in Western Desert"
I have been working somewhere North of Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border for almost 4 years.
I was a bit "wedged" in that fenced camp but I have tried as much as possible to interfere with the locals, their stories, traditions, religion and I have escaped as often as possible in some "exotic" places, as far as I remember them :)
I will just try here to put on paper some of my thoughts from that period, as my memory is bringing them back many times.
As a conclusion- I would like to go back some time, being sure that everything should be the same, dusty, hot, noisy and exotic, as it has always been.
"If they change, it will not be Egypt anymore"
One Month in Egypt
Epic tour of Egypt starting in Cairo for four days acclimatisation before the adventure began...
We decided to go with an adventure tour group called Imaginative Traveller
Highlights included: (From Website)
Day 1, CAIRO Meet tour leader and the other members of the tour. (No meals.)
Day 2, CAIRO A guided visit to the Great Pyramids & Sphinx at Giza. Overnight train to Aswan. (B) Approx. 14 hrs train journey
Day 3, ASWAN Transfer to hotel upon arrival. The rest of the day is free to explore the beautiful city of Aswan.(B)
Day 4, ASWAN Early morning trip to Abu Simbel and free day to explore the vibrant Nubian city of Aswan. (B)
Day 5 - 7, FELUCCA CRUISE Free morning. In the afternoon, board our feluccas for a 3-day cruise to Edfu. Stop en route at Kom Ombo. All meals provided on board. (BLD)
Day 8, LUXOR Disembark in Edfu and transfer to our hotel in Luxor. In the afternoon we ride horse drawn carriages to Karnak Temple for a guided tour. (B) Approx. 2 hrs driving
Day 9, LUXOR- HURGHADA Ride to the Valley of the Kings on sturdy donkeys. Our route back takes us past the Colossi of Memnon. The afternoon is free. This afternoon we travel by convoy from Luxor to Hurghada. (B) Approx 5 hrs driving
Day 10, HURGHADA - ST CATHERINE Early start for a long drive from Hurghada across the Suez canal and into the Sinai. Overnight in St Catherine. (B) Approx 12 hrs drive
Day 11, MT SINAI - SINAI TREK Rise early to climb Mt. Sinai (optional) then return and prepare for our trek with local Bedouin. The trek starts with a tough walk across the sand with wonderful views of the Gouna Mountains. We then enter the secluded White Canyon through narrow openings in the mountains. There's time to stop for photos and to enjoy the tranquillity of the Canyon
Day 12, SINAI TREK This morning we start by walking along Wadi Rum, and into Sugar Canyon through a series of narrow passageways. There's time to explore here before heading to Naqb Mountain. Our trek today involves walking on soft sand, with some ascents. Later in the day, we trek along rocky mountain passes. All this can be tough on the legs, but you will be rewarded with some stunning views! Overnight in the beautiful Wadi Ghazela. (BLD) Approx. 6 hrs walking
Day 13, TREK - DAHAB We take a short walk to meet our bus. After bidding farewell to our Bedouin guides, we transfer by road to Dahab where we will stay in beach campsite. You may choose to relax, swim, or snorkelling amongst some of the Red Sea's beautiful marine life. (B) Approx. 2 hrs driving
Day 14, DAHAB A whole day to relax on the beach, swim, snorkel or perhaps enjoy some diving (B)
Day 15, DAHAB - CAIRO Drive back to Cairo. Overnight in Cairo.(B) Approx. 8 hrs drive.
Day 16, WADI NATRUN - MARSA MATROUH We drive via the desert road to the Coptic monasteries at Wadi Natrun, where monks have lived since the 4th century. We follow the Mediterranean coast past El Alamein to Marsa Matrouh where we spend the night. (BD) Approx. 5 hrs driving
Day 17, SIWA We journey deep into the Western Desert to the isolated oasis of Siwa. In the afternoon we take bicycles for a tour of the old city and the many hot springs. (B) Approx. 4 hrs driving
Day 18, SIWA A day to explore this fascinating oasis. There is also the opportunity to take a jeep safari into the desert. (B)
Day 19, SIWA - ALEXANDRIA Drive through the Western Desert back to Alexandria. The afternoon is free to explore the beautiful Mediterranean city of Alexandria. (B) Approx. 7 hrs driving
Day 20, ALEXANDRIA Free day to explore the beautiful Mediterranean city.(B)
Day 21, CAIRO Return to our Cairo hotel with the opportunity for some last minute shopping or a horse ride by the Pyramids. (B) Approx. 3 hrs driving
Christmas was spent on the Nile, and New Year's was spent at Dahab!
"Quick Tips and Suggestions"
Avoid getting sick and respect the local customs... ;-)
Taxis, Trains, Metro, Feluccas, Buses, Camels, Donkeys, Horse and Carriage, Jeeps, Bicycles - Walking. You name it, we did it!
Land of the Pharoahs
Our adventure in Egypt started with my work assignment to Cairo to help Egypt prepare for Y2K. My colleages and I stayed at the Mena House hotel for three months. While there I accepted an assignment in Alexandria for 2-3 years. My wife and daughter were able to join me in Egypt for the holidays and we attended the millenium celebration at the great pyramids.
It would be easy to describe Egypt as disorganized, frustrating and dirty. After living there for a while, many resort to that description. To carry only those memories, though, would discount the incredible history and wonderful opportunities to experience the exotic Egypt offers.
Cairo is a city like no other. Centuries blend in city streets clogged with vehicles and animal traffic. The countryside displays fields cultivated and irrigated just as they were two thousand years ago. And the indescribable view of the pyramids from nearly every corner of the city dominates. Highlights include the pyramids and Egyptian Museum, a falukka ride on the Nile in the city at night, seeing and being seen in the Marriott Hotel in Zemalek, a Guinness in the Belgian bar in the Nile Hilton, the Khan el Khalili bazaar, the City of the Dead. For homesick ex-pats, get breakfast at Lucille's in Maadi. Lot's of shopping for cheap souvenirs in Maadi, too. Cortigiano in Mohandiseen has excellent pizza. And if you want to know, try the street food. Foul and falafel for breakfast, shawerma for lunch.
Right after the millenium, we moved to Alexandria. We lived in a large villa in Roushdie, kind of an ex-pat friendly area. For those who know, you come out the gate at Carlos' (formerly the Portuguese Club) turn left and you run right into our place on Ahmed Abdel Aziz.
Alex is much smaller, calmer, cooler in the summer with far less excitement than Cairo. The "scene" is in private homes, some chain restaurants and a number of smaller, European-feeling restaurant/bars. There are some great beaches out west of the city at Marsa Matrouh and Aida Beach. Just be careful where you strip down to a suit, or you'll have an audience.
There are some one-of-a-kind opportunities for divers. The locals aren't terribly interested in underwater landmarks, so in addition to the famous sites in and just outside of the inner harbor, you can also dive on one of several almost-virgin wrecks, if you plug into the local diving community.
Egypt: Marsa matrouh
My familiy and I want to spend our holidays (August/September) in Marsa Matrouh. Is there anybody who knwos a villa or appartment for 10 persons in this area for rent?
Thanks for help!
Life in Marsa Alam?
Hi, I'm going to Marsa Alam next week for some diving & I would be interested to know people's comments about the quality of the dive sites in the area & good places to visit.
I'm also interested to know a bit more about the town of Marsa Alam as I don't really fancy being "cocooned" in my hotel and would like to explore a bit of the local culture. I've been to Sharm & Dahab before but I expect that Marsa will be quite different!
Re: Life in Marsa Alam?
yes Marsa Al Alam is a bit diffirent than sharm or Hurgada,it`s more for surfing and swimming,u can not believe how beautiful the beaches are,
as for the rest of the city,,i didnt see much of it really,,actually the whole north coast is not taken care of like the red sea resorts (by the egyptian government that is)by buliding nice resorts,night spots and restaurants.
but b/coz of it`s natural beauty i highly recommand it for swimming,i dunno about snorkling and diving,but the sea is really blue and clear,with huge waves,unlike the red sea where it`s filled with coral.
hope u enjoy it.
Re: Re: Life in Marsa Alam?
I think marimar means Marsa Matrouh, which is on the Far West of the Mediterranean Sea. Marsa Alam on the other side is on the south of the Red Sea it is considered a diving paradise and also a very good wind surfing spot. The town is very small and doesn’t offer much to do. But u might perceive differently.
Enjoy ur trip.