Prior to planning our trip to Egypt, I hardly knew anything about Abu Simbel. Yes, I had heard of it and I *kind of* knew what it looked like, but nothing more. At all. But, as soon as I dug into Abu Simbel, a visit was absolutely non-negotiable. Planning this “must do” activity turned out to be more work than anticipated, as its a flight from Cairo or Luxor or 6-hour round trip drive from Aswan! In any case, we worked it out and it was one of both Dan and my favorite activities in Egypt, rivaling even the pyramids!
Dan and I were very interested in trying Egyptian food, so in planning our trip to Cairo, we booked a food tour shortly after we booked our flights! For any foodies planning a trip to Cairo, this is a GREAT idea (especially if you are not Egyptian and/or don’t speak Arabic) because it allows you to try really local food from vendors who may not speak English and see the heart of old Cairo (which can be quite overwhelming!). Its also a good idea if you are taking a Nile River cruise, because the food on those cruises is usually not Egyptian!
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Dan and I checked off a big bucket list item earlier this year – visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt!! It was truly a 10-year in the making trip (due to safety concerns), and we loved every minute of our holiday! So much, in fact, that we are planning to go back in a couple years when the Great Egyptian Museum finally opens! While everything was fantastic, I was shocked at how difficult it is to find information about visiting the Pyramids, and Egypt generally, online; it was really tough! I put together this guide to help future travelers cut down on the planning stress! Note, this information is as of 2019. Definitely check for updates and more recent information in the future, as Egypt’s tourism industry is only moving forward!
As part of our Egypt itinerary in April 2019, Dan and I took a Nile River cruise with Emo Tours Egypt. While we are not cruisers at all (having only cruised once previously), we choose a Nile River cruise because it seemed like the easiest and quickest way to get between Luxor and Aswan, while seeing the sites in between. We very, very much enjoyed our cruise and cruising the Nile is SO GORGEOUS. But, there were certainly some things that surprised us about the cruise, probably because there is not a lot of information online about these cruises except “rah rah, you have to do it!” So, here is my complete review and guide of our cruise down the Nile River!
PROS: Easy way to get from Luxor to Aswan while seeing some sites in between, cruising down the Nile is amazing, generally safe and comfortable, Emo Tours Egypt tour guide was fantastic!
CONS: The food, limited activities on the ship, limited interaction with Egyptian culture.
Ah, Egypt! Dan and I spent 10 days in Egypt in April 2019, and we had the best time! By way of background, we have been wanting to go to Egypt for a long time, since 2008 to be exact, and we almost went in 2010, but opted for Turkey instead. Big mistake. The Egyptian Revolution happened in early 2011, and we have viewed Egypt as a bit too unsafe for Western tourists (or at least us) since. Last year, though, we started reading travel and news articles indicating that Egypt was once again safe. Soooo, we decided to go for it and booked tickets!
Spoiler alert, we had a FABULOUS time and already want to go back (but will wait until the new museum opens in Giza!). The ancient Egyptian monuments are more amazing than imaginable, and we really enjoyed the culture, food, and hospitality! If you have been thinking of booking a trip to Egypt, now is a great time to go and here is information for your booking based on our time there!
If you follow me or Dan on Instagram, you know that we FINALLY made it to Egypt earlier this year, visiting Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, via a Nile River cruise between Luxor and Cairo. I will be posting about our trip and my tips and tricks shortly but, for now, here are some of my favorite pictures of this beautiful country (which you should ALL visit!)!
Unexpectedly, one of my favorite memories of Victoria Falls is my stop at the Lookout Cafe to see the Botoka Gorge! The Botoka Gorge is a sizeable gorge just beyond Victoria Falls, and it is absolutely stunning! We were so lucky to have stumbled across the Lookout Café!
The Lookout Cafe is a small outpost/bar right of the walking path between the Victoria Falls Hotel and Victoria Falls. This walkway is open to the public and there are signs for the Lookout Cafe halfway down the path. Dan and I decided to stop on a whim, thinking that it would just be a fun place to grab a drink! Wrong! But it was a fun place to grab a drink!
Livingstone, Zambia is a walkable town with a number of restaurants that seem tourist-friendly. On our first night, we ended up walking just down the street from our hotel to Cafe Zambezi, an Africa/Caribbean restaurant located in a strip mall! Odd mix!
While its in a strip mall, the restaurant is quite large. The front is all enclosed like a normal pub, but the back opens up to include outdoor seating! The crowd was a mix of locals and tourists, both international and African, and one could certainly meet fellow travelers here. All of the staff spoke English and were quite accommodating!
On our final afternoon visiting Victoria Falls, Dan and I decided to go all out and take a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls! As this was right after our Livingstone Island/Angel’s Armchair tour, this day was reallllly crazy!
Helicopter tours are offered from both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides of the Falls. We signed up at our hotel the morning of the tour. The helicopter tours are quite expensive, running approximately $160 a person for a 12-15 minute ride! While expensive, the views were stunning and we really enjoyed our 15 minutes!
The tour started with a transfer to the take-off site, followed by a short safety lesson. After that, it was off to the chopper (as Dan said!). Here is our trusty ride:
Note – the helicopter seats four guests, one in the front and three in the back. On our trip, it was only Dan and I and one other person, so we all got a window seat! However, if there are four people, someone will have to sit in the middle. Here is Dan in the front and me in the back!
The tour started with a fly over Victoria Falls. The pilot pointed out the relevant sites, such as Livingstone Island, and gave a bit of history. Everyone wore a headset, so questions were welcomed! Again, the views were absolutely stunning!!
After staying in the upscale and traditional Victoria Falls Hotel, Dan and I crossed the border to Livingstone, Zambia and spent two nights there! Why did we change? Well, I really wanted to see both sides of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe and Zambia!), and I really couldn’t resist the chance to see another country…Plus I had to try their local beer…Mosi Lager. Not great, not great. Zambezi from Zimbabwe was much better!
Livingstone was a much different experience than Victoria Falls. Livingstone is an actual town, where people work, shop and live. It’s not just a tourist destination. The town is located about 10 minutes from Victoria Falls, and you will need to take a cab there. The walk is not safe, due to wild animals and some shady individuals looking to rob tourists. There are a number of hostels and low-mid range hotels right in Livingstone, and quite a few very upscale hotels closer to Victoria Falls, including some with on-site animals (Royal Livingstone pictured)!