If you’ve read this far, I would suggest that you are meant to be with me in Egypt. Here I will explain a little more about Egypt and what to expect, so you’re fully across what it is like to tour there. That said, nothing can describe it – it is something that has to be experienced first hand.
The Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is it Safe to Travel there?
To this, I answer a resounding yes. Egypt is a Muslim Country with a strong Coptic Christian faith which is tolerant of all nationalities and beliefs, and always has been. As a woman who has travelled twice now on her own, I feel incredibly safe, and cared for there. That in itself should speak buckets to you. Sadly the media has portrayed this wonderful country as a wild frontier painting Muslims to be some kind of gun-crazed madmen running around on some fairy tale Jihad. Having spent time there in both 2012 and in 2014, where I lived there for six weeks, I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth. For myself, and many others I have met along the way the Egyptian people are overwhelmingly kind, caring, considerate and genteel. Both the men and the women are totally open hearted and abundant with their generosity of time, attention and concern and they have incredibly HUGE hearts! The Media has had a field day exploiting the vulnerable aspects of political Egypt and the world has effectively placed an economic embargo on this country, making it very hard for Egyptians with Tourism numbers having dropped 97%. As a result, millions of Egyptians are experiencing extreme poverty, with no social security network. Bringing people back to Egypt is my life purpose, and helps me help them help themselves – which they are very good at.
2. Is it Hot?
Yes it is but it is not totally uncomfortable. We avoid the Summer heat of Egypt where it can get as high as 45deg during the day, travelling instead in their Spring and Autumn when the weather is cooler. I come from a sub tropical climate, so for me, it is the same as home: beautiful balmy breezes, hot days and warm nights. We ensure that we are out of the heat as much as possible, and air conditioned comfort is available in our coaches and our accommodation all of which have wonderful pools to cool off in at the end of the day. Personally I find living in air-conditioning constantly makes it harder to cope with the heat, but it is a personal choice. If you really hate the heat, you may struggle, but we provide you with bottled water throughout the tour, and try very hard to ensure that you are at least in a shaded spot, if not indoors through the worst heat of the day.
3. Will I get harassed if I decide to come on my own?
That is not my experience at all. In the time I have travelled in Egypt, I have only ever experienced warm greetings, caring and concern, big friendly smiles and genuine eye contact as the norm, rather than the exception. That said, there are a few pointers to take into consideration. Firstly, you will not be travelling alone, you will be travelling as part of a group with the same level of interest and intrigue in Egypt, escorted by Abdou or one of our representatives, which is a condition of travel with us. At no point would you be left to make your own way anywhere, you will always be escorted – not because of safety but because of our high levels of care and concern for each member of our Tour. Secondly, as a country with a strong secular focus, it is important to dress appropriately and with consideration to our hosts if attention is something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Tourists visit Egypt from many countries, and some have a blatant disregard for dress standards, which is unfortunate. Even so, Egyptians are not rude and do not judge people’s choice of clothing as far as I could ascertain. I have rarely heard an Egyptian speak poorly of anyone’s choices.
4. What is the political situation like?
For me, there was a vast difference between Egypt post Revolution V1.0 and Egypt post-revolution v2.0. My observations are that it was cleaner, more calm, and everyone felt as though they were finally rowing in the right direction. They have experienced something like a ‘silent war’ … no bombs or artillery but the effect of no business has had a similar impact. The majority of Egyptians are behind their elected leader El Sisi, and the majority want to work together to help lift the country up to what it was. I won’t go into my own political views here, but there is plenty of new construction, lots of development and a positive vibe throughout the country from Egyptian people. The most common phrase I heard in my last trip to Egypt where I spent six weeks was “wait til you see what happens in two years” … in all honesty, there was a vast improvement from 2012, as it was, so I believe them when they say this. The upside of no tourists though, is that we get to enjoy the sites that once upon a time were swarming with tourists… so is now a good time to go? YOU BET!
4. What is the food like? And what if I don’t eat meat.
I love Egyptian food. The food is fresh and beautiful and always displayed with care. There are lots of salads, lots of magnificent fruit, abundant cheeses, eggs, olives, and specific Egyptian dishes on offer for every meal. A typical Egyptian breakfast always involves salad, some pickles, some falafel, some hummus and flat breads. An Egyptian lunch might involve similar, but with some different salad, tahini and rice and a mixed grill. There are lots and lots of salads and choices in the buffet for both vegetarians and vegans. Sometimes, due to the schedule, we will have breakfast boxes on order and will do what we can to satisfy Vegetarian and Vegan requirements en route based on what is available at the time. An Egyptian dinner at a hotel will involve dishes that are very similar to our own. They will have Indian nights; Italian nights; Asian nights. Many hotels serve “Western” menus which I find totally disappointing. There is nothing more disconcerting than being in Egypt and reading a menu that looks like it is from my local café, but this is an example of how far they go to accommodate Westerners. Personally, I like to feel like I am in a foreign country and eat the food that the locals eat. And I try to give you an opportunity to experience authentic cuisine along the way, which is just beautiful: lots of pepper, lemon, cumin, and kidney beans as well chilli and tomatoes. The food is typically Mediterranean – not unlike Lebanese or Turkish food. All of the meat in Egypt is served halal – in accordance with Muslim custom. You will not find a slice of bacon, nor a piece of ham, as it is not permitted. Wine is not good in Egypt having tasted many and deciding it was probably better to use to start my car with. Alcohol is available if need be, but juices and mocktails are the preferred beverage for the majority of Egyptians. I personally don’t see the need for alcohol on my tour as this alters our vibration, lowering it and interfering with the work that is being done by the Temples and the sacred art and geometry everywhere. And who wants a hangover along with everything else that is going on?
6. Will I get sick and what shots do I need to have?
I took the recommended shots for Egypt which were Hepatitis and Tetanus but I recommend speaking to your travel doctor for your needs, and of course this is only a precaution. Many people I know travel to Egypt and don’t bother with the shots. Some, including myself, have become incredibly ill. Having contracted a very serious form of Hepatitis A, and nearly losing my life in the process after my first visit to Egypt, I take precautions. The illnesses can come from anywhere. Best to be safe than sorry.
“Pharoah’s Revenge” is an awkward, slightly uncomfortable experience that can take 2-3 days to pass. It doesn’t render you totally useless, but it does create a great deal of inconvenience needing to be nearby to a reliable toilet (tricky sometimes) in Egypt. If this occurs, we can pick up some mild medication for you to help you overcome the symptoms. I noticed it occurred whenever I ate food that was prepared outside the hotels (all of whom used filtered water). That didn’t stop me eating outside of the hotel, I just knew I’d have to deal with the consequences for about 24 hours later. I provided bottled water for a village meal I went to one night in advance, and it didn’t occur. I have been informed that there are high levels of sulphur and chlorine in the water obtained from the local wells. Perhaps that’s what causes it. All I know is, our stomachs can’t tolerate what theirs can.
Some people experience Jet Lag. For this reason I ask that you give yourself about two days minimum prior to the tour to arrive, unwind and adjust to Egypt in preparation for the tour (even if Jet Lag is not an issue). Egypt is energetic chaos on your body and the time spent processing in the days beforehand are invaluable to ensure you gain the most from the time we are touring.
Motion sickness and fluid retention. Sometimes this can be problematic. Bring ginger tablets for the motion sickness. Fluid is a huge issue for me, and something I am working on to try and reduce (I blow up like a fish overseas). Cutting out salt, elevating the feet, and rest is the only cure. Fennel tea apparently works a treat.
6. What do I take with me?
Less is more!! I can’t emphasise this enough! Wear light, cotton clothing that is cool and comfortable and strong. We get very dirty, walking around in the dirt, the sand, and down in the tombs. Women need to bring a sarong or scarf to cover the head in the Temples (or there are plenty to purchase there for a few dollars). The more rural and out of the way places we go to, the more conservative we dress. No singlets, shorts or thongs unless by the pool in a resort. Evening wear is unnecessary – but it is fun to buy a Galabeya to dress up in of an evening if need be. Kaftans are lovely to have for dinner pool side. Outside of the Hotels, it is important to dress conservatively and cover shoulders, arms and for the women, sometimes the hair. Sunglasses and sunscreen come in handy, and although I am fair I have never burned in Egypt. The sun is far more gentle than here in Australia, though the reflection from the sand is intense. Bring your medication if required.
Egypt is a magical place – an energetic epicentre that turns you inside out. I have often said she sits you down on your ass, quite hard. Everything you thought you were, falls away so that you are left simply as the authentic being you are. I could write and write all day on this. There is no real way to prepare for Egypt. Though we stay in some beautiful accommodation (the standard does vary and this outside of our control, unfortunately), the trip itself is a lot more arduous and strenuous than people might anticipate. We are often up early, some mornings as early as 3am and we spend a great deal of time moving and/or waiting around because of the way in which the travel system works in Egypt and the distances required to travel to see everything. Again this is out of our control. There is a great deal of bus travel, particularly if we travel to Abu Simbel or for my September Tour the White Desert. There is no other way to get there. While toilets are provided on the bus for convenience, the standard of cleanliness can vary (as is the case for all facilities in Egypt). So its important to be prepared and baby wipes have become a welcome addition to my travel kit! In addition, you will be doing a great deal of walking, climbing and the impact of so much sacred art day after day creates an activation on our systems (at a higher level) and this can takes its toll. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15, or 115 it is an assault on your inner resources and is nowhere near a ‘relaxing’ holiday. You can start to see why a couple of days before the tour to adjust is a good idea. If at any time you feel as though you need some downtime, this can be taken through the tour. It is not compulsory to be present at every single outing, particularly if you feel you could do with a down day which even we take during the tour as the Guides. Check with me before choosing to opt out though, as some of the monuments should definitely not be missed if it can be avoided.
Culturally, things are done very differently in Egypt to the way they are done in the Western world. You will be introduced to the concept of “Egyptian Time” which is this sometimes frustrating phenomenon where time slips into this portal or vortex of nothingness. It can be incredibly frustrating, and at times quite distressing – but I have found that becoming emotional and pushing things only makes the situation worse. Being demanding, rude and telling them how it is done in your own country only serves to alienate and offend these beautiful people who just want to ensure you are happy. So it is a matter of trusting that things will be fine – and they are. The fact is that there is no ‘being on time’ in Egypt and in that regard, the most punctual and rigid of our tour guests will become triggered if punctuality is an issue for you. This can be due to a number of factors: environmental, circumstantial, cultural … there is a great deal of time spent travelling because of the distances between the sites (and roads that are created from original dirt tracks) and traffic is chaotic because there are no road rules. No one in Egypt commits to a ‘time’, even in the commercial world because there’s no real way to judge how long it will take to get anywhere. Therefore, punctuality is almost impossible. I myself experienced a situation where in Alexandria it took more than 1.5 hours to travel what normally takes 15 minutes – due to a holiday celebration that we were unaware of. We went the short cut – unaware that everyone else was doing the same thing. We got there, albeit quite late in the day. As a result, plans changed. But we got in some really cool sight seeing and some incredible photos of life in Alexandria – so there was the gift.
We do what we can to stick to the schedule and we try very hard not to attach a timeframe to it. Sometimes, what is scheduled cannot occur due to circumstances outside our control and sometimes we offer additional surprises. We may become aware of a new site, or a new opportunity that opens up for us during the tour, and rather than wait for our next tour, we will offer this to you – these are things that are not included in the original cost, but usually worth the outlay of a few extra dollars from everyone for us to have that experience (and its optional of course). Plan for these unexpected offers in your budget, as they are definitely worth the outlay.
My tour is a total experience: emotional, physical, spiritual and mental. That is what it is to be in Egypt. The entire tour leaves you changed from who you were before – living in the moment and allowing the ego to fall away as we move to a higher level of understanding of ourselves and our role in the Universe. There’s nothing you need to know, or to do, or to be, to have this experience. It is simply aligning to your own authenticity and embracing that and learning to be in heart regardless.
My intention for the tour is to avoid imposing on you “My Egypt” as Egypt has a relationship with everyone she encounters that is a unique relationship. My intention is to simply work to facilitate the connection for you to experience it authentically and with an open heart. I will do what I can to share and teach what I know as it is called upon, sharing the experiences, knowledge and research that I have done which hinges on the work of Stephen Mehler, Dr Carmen Boulter, John Anthony West and Jeremy Naydler and R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, to name a few.
If you have any questions or would like to chat some more about the tour, feel free to be in touch either by email: email@example.com or via Facebook: Petah-Jane Hall or Zoom and I’d be delighted to talk to you further.
See you in Egypt!