I’ve just returned from my most epic travel adventure ever. My top bucket list items combined with history, religion, and culture. Awe inspiring. Truly the best trip I have taken.
This trip is going to inspire several separate reviews including hotel reviews but I decided to write a sort of mini pocket guide of my trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
This was a 10 day tour which was organized by Odynovo tours. I used them on my Thailand tour a few years ago when they were known as Odyssey. As two females, safety was a priority and we weren’t sure what to expect. We decided to use a tour company. We submitted what we wanted to do and they sent us an itinerary. We changed what we didn’t like and switched a couple of hotels but it was all easy with the company.
Day 1 & 2.
Flight to Milan on my airline using my free flight benefits. First class. Can’t beat that. Then purchased a ticket to Cairo on AirItaly for $100. I arrived into Cairo at 5pm. Be prepared for long lines in customs. You also need to buy a Visa before you go stand in line at customs. It’s a separate line for the visa. Bring $25 cash.
There’s also tons of traffic in Cairo, so expect at least an hour drive to central Cairo. We had a guide in Egypt, Spring Hill Tours. It was roughly 2 1/2 hours between customs and traffic. I stayed at the Ritz Carlton Nile River. See my review. Dinner and bed.
Early start over to pyramids. It’s an additional ticket to enter the great pyramid. If you are claustrophobic, it’s very small and very warm in there. Then we traveled to the back of the pyramid complex to find a more empty space for photos. Quick camel ride for 20 minutes. Visited the solar boat museum. Took about 10 minutes. Headed over to the Sphinx. By this time, it’s much more crowded and very hot.
After we headed over to a jewelry store for cartouches with our name and then saw some papyrus replicas for purchase. Then we had a tour of the highlights in the Egyptian Museum. You can spend days in here, we just visited the highlights. Spent about two hours inside. Back to hotel for dinner.
Early morning flight to Luxor. Went on a half day tour to Karnak and Luxor Temple and headed to the hotel. Stayed at the Hilton Luxor Resort and Spa. Relaxation and massages and dinner.
Early start at the Valley of the Kings. The afternoon consisted of the Valley of the Queens. Each ticket gets you into your choice of three tombs but the “famous” ones are more money. Also if you want to take photos, there’s a charge for that. We paid a supplement of $60 each to enter into Seti’s tomb and Nefertari’s tombs, which are considered the best. They were spectacular.
Worst thing here? There are Egyptian scammers inside the tombs who just guide you and ask for money. Even if you don’t want them. And if they see your phone, they confiscate it and demand money. It was really unpleasant. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do.
Also men were much more aggressive here than any other part of the world I have visited. A lot of staring and cat calls. We had a guide with us the whole time (we are two females) so I felt safe but not sure I would feel quite so comfortable alone.
We spent the late afternoon on a private felucca boat ride on the Nile River for one hour. The we got a private tour of the Winter Palace Hotel which was once a summer home of the king. Also where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile.
Early flight to Cairo. Then a connecting flight to Amman. Met our second tour guide here. It was roughly a half hour drive from the airport to the citadel. There our guide gave us a tour of the citadel for a couple hours. Really spectacular views of Amman up here. Then we proceeded to our hotel, the Four Seasons Amman. Dinner at the hotel.
Drive down to the Wadi Rum Desert. Drive is roughly 4 hours. Two hour Jeep tour of the Wadi Rum Desert with a local Bedouin. This was probably the most boring thing I did. The views were pretty but I would have skipped this. Two hours isn’t enough to see the rock formations you see in photographs. You need a full day to see those. Then drive down to Petra. Stayed at the Movenpick Petra. Drinks at the Cave Bar and dinner at the hotel.
This day was the only thing I would have changed about this trip. I would have skipped the Wadi Rum Desert and headed straight to Petra. I would have done the evening tour of Petra at night where they light it up with beautiful candles. And hiked all day the second day. Petra is much larger than you think.
Early start in Petra, 6am. Spent about 7 hours viewing the various sites and hiking to the Monastery. Really amazing site.
Then a two hour drive to the Dead Sea. Stayed at the Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea. Fabulous hotel. Would have liked to spend longer at this resort for a little relaxation. Stay tuned for my review. Dinner and drinks in a beautiful setting.
I wanted to mention, I almost did a day trip to Petra from Amman. It would have been cheaper but all you get to see is the Treasury. Petra is a huge complex with a variety of structures and great hiking. You can spend days here. There is also Little Petra nearby. I would have liked to visit that as well.
After a morning dip in the Dead Sea and a delightful buffet breakfast with champagne, we drove over to Israel via the King Hossein/Allenby crossing point. Roughly a half hour drive. You have to have all your visa information and pay for entry. They take your passport and hand them back to you on the bus. You then pay for bus ticket. The process took about an hour before the bus was full and ready to depart. Then it’s about 20 minutes to cross where you go through security and customs again. Met our third tour guide for a full day tour of Jerusalem. Our company hired Holy Land Steps, run by Tariq Hawari. Amazing tour guide. Skip the middle man and contact this man!
What a powerful experience. Headed to Ben Gurion TLV airport for flight home. Standby travel direct to JFK on my airline.
Day 10. Land in the USA.
What a trip! It was the most profound trip I have ever experienced. Between seeing my lifelong dream of visiting Egypt, and learning about Jerusalem and the impact that city has on so many cultures and religions around the world, I am enriched by the experience. It was beyond all my expectations and will remain part of me forever. I highly recommend going to these amazing destinations.