Welcome back, Dan and Ashley! Was this your first adventure in Egypt?
Dan: Yes, this is the first time I have been to Egypt and it has always been on my bucket list!
Ashley: Actually, I was in Egypt about 18 months ago, also working on travel planning.
Take me and our readers there with sensory immersion. What does it smell like? What sounds were you hearing? How does it feel being there?
Ashley: The second you step out of the airport, you are met with a distinct aroma of burning spices. It's like nothing I've ever smelled. It's not overwhelming, but it's noticeable. Five times per day, there is a call to prayer that can be heard from the nearby mosques. It's a special experience that sounds like chanting and song. The feeling that comes to mind when I think about being in Egypt is peace.
Dan: I agree with the olfactory experience. Throughout most of the trip, you could smell aromatic incense. There was such a richness to the air—full of smells of fresh cooking, birds chirping, the sound of locals laughing and playing along the banks of the Nile River. Seeing and experiencing the culture alongside local residents has been enriching, eye opening, and inspiring.
What were some of your favorite highlights from our itinerary? With temples thousands of years old, pyramids, mummies, and the longest river in the world, it would seem to be an explorer's dream—exotic, mysterious, and utterly fascinating. These images from the Valley of Kings are just mesmerizing.
Dan: Egypt is awesome, and in so many ways. It is an incredible, compelling civilization. History comes to life. You aren't just learning it; you are experiencing it. I enjoyed that a lot. Take as one example the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor. This is a mix of decayed temples and buildings that dozens of pharaohs added construction to and each section has a different name. You could spend all day here in awe and wonder. It has to be seen in person to be appreciated, but imagine these enormous pillars and obelisks and structures—some with intricate carvings of hieroglyphics—and to be dwarfed by their presence and contemplate HOW did they build this so long ago... it is mind-blowing. This site and all of the temples, tombs, and ruins are such amazing feats.
Speaking of accommodations, what are the hotels like on this program?
Ashley: All of the properties are luxurious and have the comforts of a modern resort.
Dan: The days have been long, and the mornings are early, but the sleep has been restful and sound. The hotels are top-notch historic properties that are not only incredibly comfortable, but also rich with history and charm. Even with the historic nature of each hotel, the service, attention to detail, and comfort has been unparalleled to any other trip I have experienced. Guests will be in for a real treat on this program! In fact, I'll let our guests in on something special they can anticipate. One of my “wow moments” was getting to our final hotel, the Sofitel Legend Cataract in Aswan. This hotel is nothing short of opulent, but not at all stuffy. Perched along side the Nile River with rooms nine stories above, the panoramic views providing an opportunity to end on such a defining note is something I’ll never forget.
Describe for us what the people of Egypt were like that you encountered. What impressions did you get?
Ashley: The guides and staff were very hospitable. There is a feeling of deep Egyptian pride that can be felt when they speak about anything from cuisine to religion. Tourism is a huge industry for Egypt and their level of service reflects that.
Dan: Yes, the people that we met were very warm and welcoming. Tourism is so important in Egypt, so locals have been happy and excited to have us visit their country. An example of this is when we were at Gebel el-Silsila and a local resident helped one of our travelers up a steep staircase as we were looking at a sphinx in the distance. It was a poignant and special touch that made all of us in the group feel welcomed.
Created with images by Dan Stypa, Ashley Perkins, Cnippato78 - "egypt pharaoh egyptian" • Cezzare - "egypt pyramids egyptian"