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Camel ride in Egypt

A trip to Egypt is incomplete without a camel ride in the desert. Camel rides are available at almost all tourist destinations in Egypt: whether its near the famed Pyramids in Giza, in Luxor, in Aswan, near the beach in Hurghada or in Bedouin villages. Most camels are well maintained, well treated and kept clean by their owners as this is their main source of income. Camels are an integral part of the desert landscape and an excellent albeit uncomfortable way to explore the terrain for longer durations. its best advised to opt for shorter camel rides, so that you are not too tired at the end of it.

In my personal experience the best camel ride is not at any tourist location but in the desert. If you happen to go on a desert safari, then your package will include a short camel ride. There are also camel rides that last up to a few hours or even days.

Normally if you are on a day package and depending on the size of the group, you may get an hour's camel ride in the Bedouin village followed by a traditional Bedouin lunch. Camels are gentle and intelligent creatures; a little odorous at times ;-) But overall they are quite docile and its totally safe to ride them provided you follow the instructions of the camel handlers. Just don't get too close to the camel or try to pet it, as you may end up with camel phlegm on your face. :-)


Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Egypt

There are numerous diving and snorkelling sites in Egypt. Some of the well known ones are Dahab, Sharm el Shiekh, Hurghada, El Gouna and Nuweiba. Sharm el Shiekh and Hurghada have lots of resorts and hotels and more tourist based than the other places. Dahab is more relaxed, traditional and laid back, while Nuweiba will get you in touch with the local culture and feeling. Whichever place you choose, snorkelling and scuba diving are great in all places.

There are innumerable diving schools in all these places. You can opt for a beginner diving course or an advanced PADI certification. Almost all diving schools have well trained friendly staff. You can opt for a one off open water dive package or an advanced package where you will get multiple diving opportunities. For beginners, there is a guided dive where a professional diver accompanies you and takes you around the underwater world. Its awesome. Watching the fishes and other sea life glide by past you is such an incredible feeling.

The package operator will transfer you from the hotel to the diving centre, where you will be provided with the equipment(diving costume, weights, tanks, flippers etc.). You are then transported to the dive site where you can do snorkelling and normally two underwater dives per day. Lunch and drinks are provided on the boat.

The crew will take you to different diving sites so that you can view a range of corals and wild life. If you are lucky you can spot dolphins, sea turtles, rays and big fishes. Some sites even have wrecks which you can explore. The views and sights that you see underwater are nothing like what you see on land. Its just amazing and out of the world. Especially for a first time diver, its an unforgettable experience. So, if you are visiting Egypt, do include snorkelling and diving in your itinerary.

Quad biking in the desert in Egypt

Egypt is not just about the Pyramids, the Sphinx or the numerous temples. There is a lot on offer for the adrenalin junkies and for those who love adventure. You can go hot air ballooning or give diving and snorkelling a go. Or you choose to go on a desert jeep safari or  enjoy quad biking in the desert.

On our trip to Egypt  we went diving, snorkelling, on the jeep safari and did quad biking as well. Quad biking is normally arranged as a part of the day excursion if you are on a package tour. There are lots of day excursion operators in Egypt who can arrange quad biking trip for you if its not included in your package. These trips are usually done early morning or late afternoon so that you can catch either the sunrise or the sunset.

The tour operator will transfer you to the Quad biking centre which is usually somewhere in the middle of the desert. We were a group of around 20 people. When we got there, we were briefed on how to handle the bike. We were provided helmets and our faces were covered with a scarf in such a way that only the eyes were visible. Everyone of course had their sunglasses on. This is a must because so much sand and dust flies around when you go quad biking. This is the best way to protect your eyes and face.

Everyone gets a quad bike of their own. If you are not sure if you can handle the bike, you can pillion ride with a friend or one of the quad bike handlers will ride with you and assist in handling the bike. Once everyone was ready, the quad biking leader led us all out into the desert. We set off into the desert. It was amazing to see such vast expanses of sand. Our group was following the leader in a single line and it looked like a serpent whizzing through the sand. We had a few stops to relax, take some photographs and to have some refreshments.

The quad bike safaris can range from half an hour to an entire day depending on what you choose. Even if you are a novice at driving, you will enjoy this experience.  You will love going up and down the dunes and valleys. You will also be given plenty of time to stop and take memorable pictures. Do give it a try when you are in Egypt. Just make sure that  you have applied enough sunscreen and are covered well. Long sleeves and trousers with a good scarf and sunglasses and you are ready to go.

The Pyramids of Giza (The Giza Necropolis )

The Pyramids of Giza require no introduction. They are one of the most well known and recognizable Wonders of the World. Majority of tourists visiting Egypt come here to see the magnificent Pyramids.

The Giza Necropolis includes 3 pyramids and the Great Sphinx. The 3 pyramids are:
- The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu)
- The Pyramid of Khafre
- The Pyramid of Menkaure

The Pyramid of Khufu is the largest of the 3 and the oldest as well. Standing tall at 481 feet, this pyramid was the tallest man-made structure for a good 3800 years. The Pyramid of Khufu was constructed as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu by his Vazir Hemon. If you look at the Pyramid you will marvel as to how the huge limestone blocks would have been transported in those days from the quarries onto the site of construction.

The best time to visit the Pyramids is between October and April. But whenever you decide to go, do carry enough water, a good hat and sunscreen. The Khufu Pyramid is open to visitors at certain times and costs around 60 Egyptian pounds. The number of tickets is limited so you need to go early and take them.

There is a lot of hassling that goes on in the Necropolis area. Vendors trying to seel jewellery, pottery, souvenirs, maps, scarves, dresses etc. Then there are the horse and camel rides. You could go for the rides if you are keen, but fix on the price before you climb the animal. We did not opt for these as it was easier and more comfortable walking around and taking in the sights peacefully alone.
If you are fit, you can walk around the whole Necropolis on your own without getting too tired. A guide with you will be an advantage, because they can fill you in on the history and provide a better experience.

Overall, the Pyramids are spectacular. Its really an amazing feeling to see them up close in person. It goes without saying that they are a must visit if you are travelling to Egypt.


Belly dancing in Egypt

A visit to Egypt is incomplete without a belly dance show, isn't it? There are number of places where you can watch belly dancing - nightclubs, while on a Nile cruise or in a Bedouin village.

We had a dancer perform on our Nile Cruise. And we got a chance to view the dance once again when we went for the Desert safari and spent the evening at a Bedouin village. There was also a performance by the Tannoura dancer. Here are some videos and a few pcitures.


Felucca ride in Egypt

Felucca is a traditional wooden boat of Egypt and a visit to Egypt is incomplete without enjoying a relaxing ride on one. The best time to go for a Feluccs ride is is just before sunset as it is pleasant at time and you get some beautiful captures on your camera. You could opt for a few hours ride or choose to stay overnight on the Felucca.

Most tour operators include a sail on the Felucca as a part of the Nile cruise. When the cruise ship is docked in Aswan, they will take you to for an hour long Felucca ride. You can ofcourse book your own Felucca ride for as long as you wish. There are numerous locals with Feluccas moored near the ships who will offer to take you sailing.  Look around the Feluccas and choose the one that you think will be comfortable and you have a good feeling about. Also, decide on the price before you make the ride.

If there is no wind, the Feluccas are a bit slow. So, before you start check that there is some good wind :) With a gentle steady breeze, the Felucca glides along the Nile beautifully. The views are beautiful and you can see birds flying by. The sunset looks gorgeous when viewed from the Felucca.

There are no fixed prices for the Felucca ride. They keep changing from season to season and city to city. Always ask for the price/duration of the ride before you travel. And yes - haggling is a part of life there, so bargain for a good deal.

Tip: Carry a mosquito repellant with you when you go for the Felucca ride. Sure to come in handy.