Bucket List Of Things You Must Do In Egypt

May 11, 2019

by Malini Agarwala

Egypt is one of the countries which is mentioned on everybody’s must-visit list. I was fortunate enough to check off most of the items on my Egyptian Bucket list, and I really hope I can go back to the land of pyramids to finish with the rest.

 

Camels

Posing with the camels in Giza

Pose dramatically in front of the Pyramids of Giza

Traveller Fact: Did you know there are seven pyramids at Giza, not just three? One up your friends with this fact, and call yourself a traveller instead of a tourist. Don’t forget to try cliched poses in front of the pyramids and the Sphinx. I tried the classic Bollywood “flowing saree” in the sun look, earning a lot of compliments from the locals, who are, surprisingly huge fans of SRK and Amitabh Bachchan!

 

Sunset at the camp

Watching the sunset from the middle of a desert

Sleep under the stars in Sahara el Beyda

A two day/one night trip to the Black and White desert guarantees sleeping under the stars in Farafra, or the White Desert. And I mean, directly under the stars; we were given only sleeping bags and we slept under the open sky. I’d like to highlight three points here: (1) Don’t try to count shooting stars; you’ll get bored after counting to twenty in under five minutes. (2) Yes, there actually are this many stars in the sky, your eyes are not going crazy. The Milky Way really looks like a river of milk spilt in the sky (3)Yes, believe your travel companions when they say its a desert fox running towards you. They are also very friendly, so don’t be scared.

 

Salt Lake

Forming a floating ring in a salt lake

Float in a Salt Lake in Siwa

You can read a book in the water, just like the Dead Sea. It was like floating without any life jackets, and the salt water was great for my skin. We even tried formations like synchronized swimmers. Make sure not to get any of the water on the face though, especially the eyes.

 

Faluka party

In this photo, taken in a Faluka, it looks like we are in a night club

Dance in a Faluka in Cairo

I know it looks like we’re in an expensive night club at the edge of the Nile, but believe me when I say that this party was very budget friendly. Locals love to party on medium sized boats, or Falukas, that leave from the banks of Zamalek, on the river Nile. Twinkling lights, good music, and bottles of booze that you snuck under your shirt- the party goes on all night. And the best part? The images come out great, with Cairo sparkling in the background.

 

Giant book bench in Alexandria Library

Spoiler alert: It was Shakespeare

Cry about the beautiful books in the Library of Alexandria

You don’t have to actually cry as I did, but you can definitely get lost in the vast number of beautiful books in the once-largest library of the world. it was a bibliophile’s heaven. I admit I was indeed jealous of the locals who had a subscription and could spend an entire day there without their friends getting embarrassed about the girl crying over book covers in the fiction section. Tch, whatever.

 

Snacks at Muqattam

Which one is more beautiful- the food or the lights?

Try Egyptian food all day

As a vegetarian, I was a little worried about finding proper food in an Arab country. But Lebanese food is surprisingly popular in Egypt, and cheese is one of their favourite foods. No, scratch that, people definitely worship cheese here.

I recommend the Egyptian breakfast, which contains foul (pronounced as “fool”; a paste of red beans), falafel, eggs (boiled or fried), fries and white cheese (of course) with tomatoes. For lunch, try the local version of crepes. I liked the savoury ones with all kinds of cheeses. One is enough to satisfy a hungry hippo. Finally, for dinner, try a fatir. Think pizza, except the toppings are inside the bread, not just on top. There is a sweet version too, fatir sokkar, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it. All the mentioned dishes come in vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian versions, so everyone is satisfied.

Also, do not come back from Egypt without having Koshary. Must. Try. Koshary.

 

Kite in Siwa

I became the best kite-flying noob in the world

Sandboard, fly a kite and swim in a cold lake in the middle of a desert

I admit I am terrible at sandboarding, but flying a kite is surprisingly easy in the middle of a desert. Also, I know you’re going to a desert dominated country, but don’t forget to pack your swimming gear. There is nothing better than cooling off in a cold-water lake and getting the sand out of every corner of your body.  Most of the tour groups also offer hibiscus tea, which is simply a must-try. Siwa oasis also offers a number of hot springs, and soaking in the hot water is definitely recommended for senior citizens in their twenties, like me.

 

Hair Braiding

Getting my hair braided by a local woman

Snorkel/Scuba dive and get your hair braided in Dahab

Dahab is, without any doubts, my favourite place in Egypt. The sea winds, the mixed cuisine and the water sports give you a tropical, Caribbean vibe. You can snorkel, scuba dive, or simply swim in the Red Sea. I also got my hair braided (three times, because I couldn’t just choose one set of colours). It is also a great way to support the locals.

 

Mortuary of Hatshepsut

These statues depict Queen Hatshepsut in her Kingly get up

Pay homage to Ancient Egyptian gods and kings at Luxor, Aswan and Philae

We took a three nights cruise to Luxor and Aswan, and covered almost all Ancient Egyptian sites, including the temple of Hatshepsut, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, the temple of Philae and Medinet Habu. You can also try hot air ballooning early in the morning to get the best bird-eye views.

One thing which saddens me is how little about this massive civilization has been protected from Time. In many of the sites, the colours from the original period are still visible. You will definitely feel like royalty when the wind plays with your hair at a few prominent viewpoints.

 

Bellydancer

One of my favourite bellydancers in Egypt

Watch belly dancing and Tanoura

Are you really in Egypt if you haven’t seen (and tried) Egyptian belly dancing? I don’t need to write anything about it; your body will automatically start moving with the music. The dancers are gorgeous, by the way, and you will definitely fall in love with them.

Tanoura is a form of local folk dance, where the dancers spin continuously, with colourful lights, disks, and weighted skirts. The music and the movements put you in a trance, and even though the dancers don’t, you will feel like the world is still spinning when the dance ends.

Other Mentions

My list is never-ending and there are a lot of things I couldn’t mention. Some of the most recommended are:

  • Petting a crocodile at the Nubian Islands
  • Buying trinkets at Khan El Khalili
  • Trekking at St Katrin
  • Sipping tea with a view of nighttime Cairo at the Mokattam Hills

If you have been postponing Egypt in your travel list, this is a sign to promote it to the top. If you do follow this list, don’t forget to tell us all about it in the comments!

Safe Travels!

Malini Agarwala

By Malini Agarwala

Three things that define me are books, superheroes and travelling! The travelling bug I got from my father pokes me every few months, making regular life claustrophobic unless I pack my bags and leave for a few days. Hopefully one day I get to see the whole world, and take my father to my favorite places too.

Read more at girlwithstarsinhereyes.com

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