In the last blog post winter warming events, I mentioned that I was enjoying a month-long working vacation, exploring Egypt and spending time with my nearest and dearest.
After over three weeks away, I’m back on board at End2End Events – but not without some amazing stories to share! I hadn’t been on a holiday to Egypt for almost two years, or explored the country for many more, and I had forgotten how incredible it really is!
I landed in Cairo in early July. Coming from single digit temperatures and below in Canberra, the 35 and higher degree days were a very welcome change! Egypt is lucky to enjoy mild winters, warm springs and hot summers which, for event planning (always on my mind!), makes it the perfect place because you’re almost guaranteed dream weather all year round.
Spending time in Cairo
I started the trip with a few days in Cairo, spending time with my immediate family, visiting social clubs, perusing shops, cafes and markets, and eating authentic Egyptian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt, and feels very much like Sydney or Melbourne CBDs. It’s similar to New York in the essence that it never sleeps because it’s very highly populated and there’s always something happening, day or night.
The Nile (the longest river in the world) runs through Cairo, with many of Cairo’s best hotels overlooking the river, which really adds to the ambience of staying in the region.
As a unique destination for events, with all the amenities you could hope to find in a capital city, Egypt offers a memorable experience full of opportunities to broaden your mind and perspective on life.
Travelling to Sahl Hasheesh – Hurghada
After my initial stay in Cairo, I headed to Hurghada. Hurghada is one of Egypt’s main tourist cities, known for its beautiful and serene outlook across the Red Sea.
The hotels in the area are breathtaking, with amazing views, beaches, pools, food, facilities and more. I visited Baron Palace – Sahl Hasheesh a Grand Luxury Hotel situated in a secluded area of The Red Sea’s coastline, which is known for its grandeur and location right on the water and is also where many corporate and international visitors choose to hold conferences and events.
There is so much to see and do in the area, including a safari out in the desert. You head out as a group (great for team building!), driving in a dune buggy as you take a tour of the area then head to a little village where you get to explore Bedouin village life, get face to face with a 250 year old turtle, enjoy authentic camel rides, drink Bedouin tea, break bread and eat with the locals, watch a bellying dancing and Tanura show, then stargaze through a telescope before you head back to your hotel.
Seeing how the Bedouins lived there was such a humbling experience. That it reminded me of my trip to Fiji where I made time to discover how the locals lived. Which brought me back again to the importance of ‘Going Back to Basics’, to remind ourselves to take a break from all the civilised gadgets we are surrounded with in western cultures which we could probably live without for a little while.
With no Wi-Fi, plenty of desert livestock, a lot of sand and no furniture other than floor cushions and rugs, this safari was definitely a great way to ‘ Switch off ‘ and I would highly recommend incorporating it as part of your next corporate incentive or retreat.
After recovering from the desert safari, I decided to join a tour and travel back inland and back towards The Nile to the famous city of Luxor. It was a scenic trip that took well over three hours, and where we passed through some rural areas in Egypt to get there – which again highlighted the nature of how people live in rural areas without all of the “extras” we often take for granted.
Once we arrived to Luxor I was blown away. Luxor is the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, and home to the world’s greatest open-air museum – Karnak Temple where you get to learn all about ancient Egypt, the pharaohs, ideologies, and so much more.
My most memorable moment at The Karnak Temple was when I took a detour and with help from one of the friendly guides discovered one of the pharaohs prayer chambers. A dark room was lit with one beam of strong sunlight that came through an intentional crack in the ceiling and shone in on me. It was so fascinating to see how the pharaohs had thought about the positioning of this gap in the architecture to bring in natural light to allow for prayers to Ra – The Sun God , and to know that after thousands of years these chambers are still standing the test of time despite lacking all the construction materials we enjoy these days.
I was also absolutely amazed to visit King Tut’s mummy in the Valley of the Kings. He was one of the youngest kings to rule Egypt and the only king found entombed with all his treasures intact.
In ancient times thieves used to steal from the burials, because they knew about all the gold that was buried with the kings. But to the worlds good fortune they did not discover King Tut’s Tomb nor his belongings, which are all now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo
It is definitely a life-changing experience, being in close proximity to such historical marvel, and one you would have to make time to experience at least once in your lifetime.
Back to Australia via Cairo
Before heading back to Australia and back to work and reality, I travelled back to Cairo for a little more exploring and time with family.
There, I visited the Egyptian Museum and then later on the Three main Pyramids of Giza. It was the first time for me to go back into a pyramid after almost 30 years. Even though I’m claustrophobic, I kept the mantra “feel the fear and do it anyway” to ensure my trip was memorable. I ended up enjoying my time inside the pyramid so much as it was so much cooler inside the pyramids than outside in the desert sun (as the pyramids are built from limestone to shield against the heat) I definitely didn’t want to leave!
After spending a few hours strutting around the pyramids, we then decided to visit Old Cairo and visit some of Egypt’s oldest churches including ‘The Abu Serga Church’ where baby Jesus is said to have lived in hiding for 3 months.
Egypt is a very diverse and inclusive country, and I remember standing in ‘The Hanging Church’ in old Cairo being less than a hundred metres away from a synagogue, hearing the call to prayer from a mosque nearby. This is how people have always lived in Egypt: Muslims, Jews and Christians living together in harmony – no matter what, sharing the same suburb and even the same alleyway! This is what civilisation is all about, diverse humans from diverse backgrounds and beliefs sharing the world kindly together.
It was a phenomenal visit to my homeland, and one I will never forget. And after spending some more time with close family, it was time to board the plane back to Australia.
Although I lived in Cairo as a teen and young adult, it was very fascinating for me to go back and learn more about my heritage.
Whilst I initially went to Egypt with the intention of visiting family, I ended up visiting my family, ancestors and much more! And I can’t wait to share these amazing experiences with All my Australian mates and take them back to visit Egypt, where they too can experience this amazing land of pharaohs.
If you are thinking of visiting Egypt for your next holiday or next destination event, I would highly recommend you ensure your itinerary includes visits to Hurghada, Sharm – el- Sheikh, Dahab, Luxor and Aswan. Or, depending on what you’re looking for, Cairo could be the central theme of your visit, with trips out to a couple of regions as I did. But beware Egypt is a quiet big country with various regions presenting their different flavour, so you might want to book in that extra time to Explore Egypt !
If you would like guidance facilitating a corporate trip to Egypt or would like to bring Egypt’s unique flavour to Australia with an engaging cultural event, be sure to call End2End Events on 0415 523 159 or complete the contact form by clicking here.