Click on images to see a selection of images from my August 2004 trip
This was totally awesome and bar far the best bit of the holiday. To be able to relax and begin to wake and sleep with the rising sun and moon is wonderful. You get to the stage where you have no concept of the day or date. Truly wonderful!
You wake each day and tidy the boat whilst breakfast is being prepared. You then 'tidy' yourself and dabbed on some Givenchy - hence the name of our felucca - "The Givenchy Cruiser" After breakfast you set sail and see where the wind takes you. One morning we were becalmed and just drifted with the current. After a while you find somewhere and have lunch along with a swim in the Nile. Yes, you can swim in the Nile, but only south of Edfu. It is a brilliant way of cooling off after a strenuous morning lounging on the cushions on deck.
We would then moor for the evening and eat whilst the stars came out. Usually the evening would involve singing, the crews of the feluccas were locals so were always up for a song (I don't know how traditional "She 'll be coming round the mountain" or "In the Nubian village" are but it's the thought that counts!) or just chatting. Some of the things discussed were when you first went to the latrine or when you grabbed your tissues and ran for it.
I have been here on many occasions and there is always something new to discover. This year it was Medinat Habu - second only in size to Karnak and with some excellent reliefs. Also it is not on the tourist trail it is not full of groups. It is easy to get to. Get the local ferry over and negotiate a price with a taxi driver to take you there and bring you back. An hour or so should be adequate on your first visit.
The more you visit this part of Egypt the more you will find yourself on the West Bank away from the hotels and crowds of the traditional sites. Whilst here, this time, I went trekking on Donkeys over the Nubian Hills and into the Valley of the Kings. This was done in the morning and the views are stunning. Especially looking down onto the Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.
Cairo is, to me, one of the most exciting cities in the world. I always find new things to see and do. This time it was using the metro, visiting downtown and also going to the Abdeen Palace. The Abdeen Palace is somewhat disappointing. However, the metro is really efficient and once you get used to it, a really god way of getting around the city.
On this trip I also went to see the mummies at the Cairo Museum. I did feel somewhat of a voyeur whilst looking at them, however to seeing the hair and nails was weird as they were over 3000 years old and some looked as though they were new. I also took time to look at some of the smaller rooms that are often overlooked on the usual route around the museum.
This part of the holiday was split into 3 distinct parts; Bahariya, Farafra & Dakhla. Each night we slept in the desert under the stars. Of the three the White Desert was the most dramatic. The shapes that have been formed from the wind on the stones make it a very eerie place with its stark desolate beauty. The desert outside of Bahariya was the most traditional with dunes and the desert outside Dakhla the dustiest.
This Oasis contains natural springs that I found mostly disappointing. However there was one about 10kms outside of town that you can swim in and it was here that we swam in the natural sulphur waters; shaded by the palm trees and the blistering sun. We also took lunch here. It is great to relax and get away form everything and the usual tourist trail.
At this Oasis we also visited the black mountain and a far-flung outpost of a Great War look soldier who could see into the Libyan Desert for Tribesman and report their position. Whilst there was very little left of the actual house the views were excellent.
That evening we left camp and drove into the desert. We ate under the stars and after retiring to bed you just lay there watching the stars come out. On the nights that I was in the desert I saw the Milky Way and Venus rose early morning along with the moon which was in its waning phase. It is amazing how many stars there are and how much we miss due to light pollution. We also looked out and saw shooting stars on all the nights in the desert.
This was to me one of the highlights of the trip as it allowed me to ride a camel into the desert then camp overnight. We set off so that as we went further into the desert the sun would set. Our camp would be set up and we would collect our things from the jeep when we got there. It was great fun, riding a camel and before long most of the people were being really brave and riding one handed! The best part of it was looking toward the west and watching the sunset. It was also our last night in the desert and it really is special watching the moon rise and the stars come out in the middle of Egypt.
Out of the three types of desert we slept in this one was the most barren. There was not the dunes of the first night or the stunning beauty of the White Desert however this did not detract from the barren beauty of the scenery.
A word of advice, When you are in a desert make sure you do not sleep near any still water as you will be plagued by mosquitoes; it was the only night of the whole holiday that I was bothered by them.
We were also lucky enough to get to see the edge of the great sand sea. This was awesome. It was flat as far as the eye could see and it has yet to be mapped as it changes constantly.
Unless you are diving or going snorkelling in the Red Sea avoid this place at all costs. It is horrible! It has no soul and is just one large building site. Having said that if you are prepared to look around you can find local places where they sit and drink tea.
Another problem with this place is the sheer volume of people who abuse the sea. Whilst I was there I saw numerous people walking on the coral; this has been banned and it just shows how little regard some people have for their environment.
However coming here was worth it when you put on your snorkelling equipment and take to the sea. The marine life is fabulous. Whilst I was there I saw luminescent fish of all colours of the rainbow. I also saw sea urchins, sea slugs and jellyfish.
To summarise, whilst I was there I saw a postcard with "Abo Simple". It was not ironic. It just summed up how far detached Hurghada is from the rest of Egypt.
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Click on images 2004 to see a selection of images from my August 2004 trip
Click on images 2006 to see a selection of images from my August 2006 trip
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