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Ten notes on how Egypt is worth visiting (oh, Great Egypt!)

This is the English version of my blog GDAMAS (Portuguese language, online since 2010). I'm still working on it. English is not my native language. Please, feel free to correct me.


NOTE — I thank the Embassy of Egypt in Brazil and in Portugal for sharing the original Portuguese version of this post on social networks. 

Months ago, I wrote a post to emphasize eight notable points about tourism in Lisbon (I live in Portugal). This time, the blog shows a slightly longer list: ten items. Ten notes on how Egypt is worth visiting. The fabulous Egypt. The amazing Egypt. The unforgettable Egypt.

Awesome, Damas. That’s exactly what I need. I’m still studying the idea of going to Egypt.

I am always here to help.

Embody the spirit of Indiana Jones, or Lara Croft, and come with me. You are going to make your decision in just a few minutes.

Notes about why you should visit Egypt

Entrance of Tutankhamun's tomb
At the entrance of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

1 – Visiting Egypt: The trip of my life 

Egypt is the trip of my life. I often repeat that in this blog and on social networks.

I have been to many countries, especially here in Europe. None of them pleases me as deeply as Egypt.

Many tourists tell me that they cried (yes, cried) at Cairo airport, before leaving the country. They hugged their tour guide who was there to wave a farewell. Their mind was full of incredible memories that they already wanted to live again.

How many times did you feel like that upon leaving a country? How about you living all those profound emotions in the land of the pharaohs?

Glauco Damas in Egypt
Deep, pleasant, heart-touching memories in Egypt.

2 – Extremely rich, incomparable, unsurpassed History 

Do you have a special passion for History? So, there is no better paradise for you. 

Egypt is an effervescence in History. You can livefeeltouch, and — why not? — even smell everything you read about in books and everything you saw in documentaries. Feeling connected to all of that is an experience that never leaves the tourist’s mind. 

To better understand what we see and feel in Egypt, let us think about Greece. It is also a cradle of human history. But Egypt’s historical grandeur is so profound that may tourists feel “less impressed” in Greece. 

Less impressed, Damas? In Greece? With all those wonders we see in Greece? 

Attention, please: I love Greece and have been there several times. 

Here is what happens. After being deeply dazzled by Egypt’s historical richness, tourists who then go directly from there to Greece end up making comparisons. Although overly impressed in Greece, they miss the impact felt in Egypt. 

Shadow on the floor of the Valley of the Kings
My shadow in the enigmatic Valley of the Kings, near the tomb of Ramses VI.

3 – Oooh! Aaah! Wooowww!…

We are accustomed to seeing Egypt in books, documentaries, films. It is obvious that, historically, everything is grand, fabulous, fantastic, impressive, amazing, astonishing. However, when seeing all of that in person in Egypt, tourists lose their breath. Eyes and mouth wide open. A whirlwind of thoughts dominating the mind. 

Everybody knows that History in Egypt is amazing. But only there we realize that everything is MUCH more than expected. Images do not show the real historical grandeur

I know many impressive places in several countries. For example, the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon; the Cathedral of Seville; the millenary constructions in Athens. During the visits, we are impressed by the wisdom, the skill of ancient people. Today, although surrounded by all kinds of technology, we struggle to build things that are not even comparable to those. So, during our visits, we usually express reactions like: “Wow! It’s amazing that people did this so long time ago!”, “Wow! This is too much for that time!”, “Wow! The wisdom here is impressive!” 

The difference in Egypt is that our reactions are much more intense. We discover things that are near to the impossible — especially when we consider when they were created. Thousands of years ago. 

Our reactions in Egypt tend to an exaggeration

What?!

But… how did they build this?

HOW?

< breathing out of rhythm >

I can’t believe it!

No! Impossible!

Oh, God, did they receive help from aliens?

Oooooooh! Aaaaaah!…

< mouth open; breath out of rhythm >

No other country surprises us to this point!

Abu Simbel temple
Temple in Abu Simbel.

4 – Excellent local guides 

To better appreciate all the wonders in Egypt, you need… an Egyptian tour guide, of course. No one should visit Egypt without the constant company of a professional guide. 

Egyptian tour guides are among the best guides in the world. They have a solid archaeological background. And they are polite, patient, always willing to show everything with profound pride. Even better: Probably, your guide will be your friend — even after the trip. It is common for me to see tourists who keep in touch with the guide, especially through social networks or chat services like Telegram and WhatsApp. 

I’m glad to know that, Damas! Can you recommend me a guide? 

Sure. 

I am one of the founders and directors of Meu Egito, which in Portuguese means “My Egypt.” The other two founders and directors are the Egyptian archaeologists and tour guides Ihab Hamdy and Abdelhadi Salah. We deal solely with customized travel plans. Every single sale happens after we discuss with the client what is best for her or him. Sincerely, our work is a tremendous success in Portuguese language (there are several testimonies of clients, including videos). 

Meu Egito is arriving with services offered also in English, Spanish, German, Chinese. The new version of the web site is not ready, but you can send me an email or Telegram message.

The Great Pyramid
Observe the people in the background. Compare their size with the size of the pyramid!
The Great Pyramids
We see here Abdelhadi Salah, at right, dressed in blue.

No other country can surprise me as much as Egypt

5 – Exchange, expenses, purchases 

Overall, prices in Egypt are low. To make life easier for tourists, the exchange rate of the Egyptian pound is unfavorable against euro and US dollar. On average, 1 euro is exchanged for 19 Egyptian pounds; 1 US dollar, 15 Egyptian pounds. 

Consequentially, essential expenses are not a nightmare — as we see in many other countries, like France. And tourists feel more comfortable to spend their money in non-essential products. And oh, good Egyptian gods, the number of shops and markets to visit is astonishing. We find all kind of products: from simple, cheap souvenirs to luxury items. I visit the famous markets and shops and always want to buy everything, everything, EVERYTHING.

Street market in Egypt
A market in Aswan.
Papyrus shop
Papyrus shop in Cairo.
Carpet shop in Egypt
Carpet shop in Giza.
Clothing shop in Cairo
Cotton products in Cairo.

6 – The touching kindness of people

Overall, Egyptians are a good, friendly, warm people. They love tourists. 

Some countries offer natural beauties, History, unique gastronomy… but the people are not warm. In Egypt, we find a complete package: all the local wonders and human warmth, a real interest in visitors. 

But Damas… how about women in Egypt? I read and hear some worrying comments. 

Sensationalism within the media. I say that countless times. Women live wonderful days in the country, and many appear on the Internet to voice their opinions. I know hundreds of women who travelled to Egypt alone or in pairs (two women), with a tour guide, and came home very satisfied. Also, large groups of women. No problem at all.

Glauco Damas with a camel in front of the Great Pyramid

7 – The magic of the Nile River

Since childhood we have seen references to the enigmatic, majestic Nile River. And there it is, ready for us, inviting us for days of adventures and emotions. 

The felucca (traditional, rustic vessel) ride on the Nile is almost an obligation. You must enjoy the experience. We see stunning landscapes and discover curiosities along the way, such as the Hotel Old Cataract (in Aswan), linked to the writer Agatha Christie. The climax, however, is the Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan (or the opposite). The best part of tourism in Egypt!

Nile cruise
Cruising on the enigmatic Nile River.

8 – Live exotic experiences

For most tourists, Egypt is an exotic destination. Tourism in a country like this always teaches us a lot. Travel is culture. It opens our mind and improves the way we see things. 

Be receptive to what is new for you. Observe their religious, behavioral, family traditions, meditate about each one, and keep all that can enrich your mind. 

Contact with camels and crocodiles and visits to Nubian villages are part of the exotic experiences. Pay attention to all the rest. For instance, papyrus (how about visiting a papyrus shop in Cairo?), lotus flower, and hibiscus (used for teas and juices). And the date palms are an extra touch of joy (Egyptian dates — the fruit — are my favorite in the world).

Papyrus shop in Cairo
An attendant in a papyrus shop shows my beautiful sister how the ancient Egyptians made papyrus.
Papyrus and lotus flower in front of the Cairo Museum
In front of Cairo Museum: papyrus (top) and lotus flower.

9 – Contact with the Arabic language

Arabic is one of the most beautiful and rich languages on the planet. How nice it is to hear the Egyptians speak! 

Tourists can learn considerably in just a few days. I observe and ask the guides for tips. Keep a list of Arabic expressions. The locals love when a foreigner tries to speak in their language. Egyptians love Egypt. Egyptians are proud of Egypt. That is beautiful to see. 

أنا أحب مصر. احب الشعب المصري. 

Arabic class in Egypt
Brief Arabic class for tourists, during a visit to a Nubian village. It was so fun!

10 – Safety

Are there any risks in visiting Egypt? Yes… just as in any other country. Simply, we must always be watchful. 

But Damas… maybe Egypt needs a little more caution? 

No. No

You are influenced by the media. Again, the media. It is easy to notice the sensationalism when they talk about Egypt and all the Arab world. 

Egypt is taking a diligent care of tourists. In general, better than the most popular countries here in Europe (I live in Europe and make comparisons). For instance, while Europe usually sleeps when the topic is terrorism, Egypt acts against threats. 

I authored an article about how I feel comfortable in Egypt. It is in Portuguese language but will soon be translated to English.

Mosque in Cairo
The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, or Alabaster Mosque, in Cairo.

I hope you visit Egypt. And I think you will echo what I often say: “Egypt is the trip of my life.”


G. DAMAS
I live in the Algarve (South of Portugal). My first fiction book, for young adults, was published in 2001 in Portuguese language — a time travel adventure that won thousands of readers. I also wrote some travel and tech books and manuals.
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