A confused face and a "Why Egypt?" was the usual response I would receive after sharing my next travel destination. In their defense, It was understandable knowing that there was political unrest in 2013. But in my mind my response was always "Dude, where do you want me to start ?!" This was the place where Pharaohs reigned and huge monuments stood in their name. The country where Alexander the Great and Napoleon came marching through. This is where Jesus and his family hid and found refuge when he was a baby. For crying out loud, This is the place where Moses yelled “Let my people Go!” The list goes on and on! So much culture, history, and achievements have come out of the land of Egypt. These were the reasons why I had to make this trip a top priority on my bucket list in 2016. Trust me, I do understand the hesitation to hop on a plane to Egypt, but have no fear this is the best time to visit. Even though my journey started off with a couple close calls, it was worth it. ( Read about my almost fiasco here)
From Cairo all the way to Luxor, there wasn't a historical site that didn't make your jaw drop. In Cairo, the Cairo Museum was a place you could spend four days in and still have more to see. Taking pictures of the mummies, paintings, and statues I've read about in middle school history class had me at a loss for words. I only wish we could've stayed longer to learn more about the history of all the artifacts we got to witness.
After the museum our next stop was Giza. Finally getting to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx was a dream come true. As a boy I never thought I would have the chance to see these famous wonders in person and I'm so gratefully I had the opportunity to. I admit, The Sphinx did look less massive in scale than I expected, but nonetheless it was still an amazing sight. One fact that hit me was the amount of effort put towards building a burial for a dead King they believed was a god. They poured out their blood, sweat, and tears to make sure their Pharaoh was ready for the afterlife. It was thought provoking that they were so willing to put their lives at risk for a "dying god". It made me wonder how much more I should be doing for my God I believe is alive. Even if you don't share the same beliefs as I do, you have to admit your life would be different if you had the same work ethic as the Ancient Egyptians. Seeing the pyramids motivated me to give 100% to whatever project or assignment coming my way. If they were willing to put all this effort for their beliefs, how much more should I give to mine?
After a 12 hour ride on a Egyptian sleeper train, we arrived in Aswan to drop our bags at our next hotel. From Aswan we flew to the breathtaking Abu Simble Temples. It was something you would see on the History Channel or National Geographic! The artwork carved inside the temples of Ramses II and his wife Nefertari were amazing as it depicted stories of great Egyptian myths and traditions.
I forgot to mention that our hotel in Aswan was actually a boat cruise down the Nile! During our cruise we were able to make stops on land to see the awesome temples of Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Horus. After a couple of nights on the Nile, we finally arrived to Luxor to see my personal favorite sites of the entire trip. The Temple of Luxor, Valley of Kings, Temple of Hatshepsut, and Karnak Temple were once in a life time experiences. These were the monuments that caused me to stand in awe as I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. The architecture and design was mind blowing as I had to keep reminding myself these structures were built over 4,000 years ago! Seeing the pyramids were exciting to me but to be honest these set of temples blew them away. I encourage everyone to make Luxor a must see when they travel to Egypt. Cairo and Aswan are great but you will do yourself a huge disservice by not passing through Luxor.
A 5 hour bus ride later and we arrived to our last destination of Hurghada. We were able to get our feet wet in the Red Sea and go ATV riding through sand dunes in the desert. We met some locals and tried "traditionally" cooked bread as we visited a Bedouin village. It was a humbling experience to see first hand the living conditions of some communities. After a full day we headed back to Cairo to say our final goodbyes and get got ready to go back home.
This was a trip I will never forget. This post doesn't do justice how inspiring it was to finally visit Egypt. From riding donkeys through the local town to negotiating prices with market owners, no experience was quite the same in Egypt. It's a country I'm thankful I was able to explore and I urge everyone to put Egypt on their bucket list now. I promise its a decision you would not regret and when people ask you "Why Egypt?" you would have an amazing story to tell.
Nicholas Bowden (@nickworldtour) is Co-Founder and leader of The LIFT Project. He Graduated from Seton Hall University and is a teacher in Central New Jersey. He enjoys playing competitive sports, traveling, trying new food, and catching up on comic books in his free time.