The Muezzin’s rhythmic call to prayer split the still morning air. It was still dark as I left the hotel, but the first rays of light were breaking to the east. The scent of apple tea was beginning to waft from homes and cafes. Almost like ghosts, the white clad faithful shuffled down the street towards the local mosque as the city started to awaken.
Before I knew it I was sitting in the back of a rusty, old, once white Lada zig-zagging through loud, choking traffic. My weathered, toothless taxi driver constantly pounded his horn, berating pedestrians for not moving fast enough. This was quickly followed by a wink and a gummy smile in my direction!
A city like Cairo never really sleeps.
The journey felt like forever. In the eternal race with the approaching dawn, today we were losing. Excitedly my driver began to point and shout. I didn’t need to speak Arabic to know what he was saying, I had glimpsed it seconds before. Looming off in the distance the sun was beginning to illuminate the tips of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
I will never forget my first visit to Egypt. Even today the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when I see the pyramids. For me Egypt has always entertained dreams of untamed adventure. The glory days of 1800’s exploration, Pharoahs’ curses or Indiana Jones style fantasies of riding into wind swept Sahara sand dunes. I have returned a number of times but always with that same sense of amazement and adventure.
So it was with great sadness I watched the incidents associated with the Arab Spring, the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and the struggles of the people in its wake. However turbulent times Egypt is now welcoming back visitors.
Have you ever imagined strolling around the hieroglyph engraved walls of Luxor, learning about the history, traditions and practices of Ancient Egypt? Perhaps you have always dreamt of cruising the River Nile as part of your own Agatha Christie inspired getaway? Or maybe it is simply shopping for a bargain in the souks, whether it be papyrus, cotton or perfume and sealing the deal with a handshake and glass of apple tea?
2015 is the perfect time to visit Egypt. Tourist numbers are low so sites like Abu Simbel, the Temple of Karnak or the Valley of the Kings are not as crowded as they once were. The hard sell in the markets has decreased (a little) and the Nile, Egypt’s lifeblood is not as congested with boats. Most important of all by visiting now you are helping a country heal and put its recent history behind them. Through tourism people are returning to normal life and a country’s pride and confidence is being restored. If you ask me, that is why now is the best time to visit…
|This post is written by Trafalgar Travel Director Dean Smart. Read more of his travel adventures on his personal blog The Smart Way Round which he writes with his wife Natalie.|