Christmas Vacation in Egypt

By Mike Moad
When I was in High School, a classmate of mine returned from a family vacation to Egypt they took over the Winter break. I recall her bragging continuously about how amazing the trip was and she even carried a specially made picture album with her during our first week back to school that documented each point in the tour – this was pre-digital photo and cell phone era, so she physically dragged around the massive photo album between each class.

Anyhow, this started my infatuation with Ancient Egypt, the pyramids, hieroglyphics, and Pharaohs. During the years to follow, I remember spending time watching the history channel and reading about the secret treasures uncovered in Egypt over the last 100 years. This was certainly short of an obsession, but I was really intrigued about the ancient civilization and how it came into existence.

Years later, while attending college I was faced with a difficult decision about choosing a modern language as a part of my academic curriculum. I jumped at the opportunity to study Arabic – the modern day language of Egypt – as a continuation of plans to eventually visit the grand monuments of the Ancient world. It turns out, my opportunity to immediately visit the Great Pyramids was delayed for another decade and a half. Instead of tackling the adventure on my own, the right opportunity to finally visit Egypt with my wife and kids presented itself this month.

Here is a brief summary of how we spent our 2020 Christmas Vacation in Egypt. Our travels began with an uncharacteristically late-night, international flight from our home through Athens and into Cairo, arriving at the wee hours of the morning. We jumped right to it with a domestic flight down to Luxor where our River Nile cruise awaited us. We were pleasantly surprised to find the well-apportioned rooms fit our family perfectly. The staff was extremely friendly and eager to make us happy throughout the 5 days aboard. When we were not floating down the Nile, from Luxor to Aswan, we made several stopovers at Ancient Temples dedicated to Ancient Gods and Goddesses, the main burial site of 65 past Pharaohs of Egypt (to include the famed King Tut), and many other captivating ancient sites.

The private tour guide was an accredited Egyptologist, who filled in the mysteries of the Ancient World with clever riddles and stories. He even managed to keep the kids engaged for a good portion of the tours. Temple after Temple, my appetite for more information about how and why the Ancient Egyptians build these grand structures grew. It was a dream come true to walk amongst the monuments that I had once only dreamed of exploring – and the best part was having my family in tow (I say that jokingly, but after several days of visiting sites it all began to blend together and I sensed burn out). We were able to reclaim our kids’ attention with special outings, such as a hot air balloon ride, passing through the Nile River locks, finding funny hieroglyphics within a sea of shapes and symbols, purchasing local made crafts, or just playing hide-and-seek with the only other kids on our otherwise empty cruise.

The second part of the Egyptian Christmas Vacation took place back in the Capital – Cairo. This is the part that I was most eager to experience with the kids – we would see the Great Pyramids up and close but not before taking the grand structures in from afar during a desert ATV ride. The next morning we were nearly the first tourists at the Great Pyramid entrance. In normal times, that is, when COVID-19 hasn’t crippled the Egyptian Tourism industry, it would be nearly impossible to have any time alone at any momentums. We were told that the line to King Tut’s burial chamber in the Valley of Kings sometimes takes an hour or two to get inside – we walked right in and spent as much time as we pleased. “Strange times,” as we kept saying throughout the trip. The kids and I took a special tour inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops and then later enjoyed a guided camel ride around the other two Great Pyramids. We closed out the Pyramid tour with an up and close visit with the Great Sphinx. The last part of the day in Cairo was dedicated to the Egyptian Museum where we saw the famous golden mask, discovered in King Tut’s tomb nearly 100 years ago.

So the wait all these years was so worth it. The 4000 or more years of Ancient Egyptian History is impossible to fully discover or appreciate in just a week, but we certainly covered the highlights enough to really enjoy the trip as a family. This unquestionably answered my longing to visit the Ancient Wonder of the World. It was a vacation unlike any other we’ve experienced alone or as a family. I can’t say we plan on visiting again anytime soon, since there are so many other really amazing places yet to see as a family first, but if you’re planning on visiting Egypt one of these days, I highly recommend booking a guided River Nile cruise so that you don’t spend half of your vacation staring out the windshield driving. It was time well spent to relax and take in the beautiful countryside between each impressive site. Oh, and if you are curious, speaking Arabic is not necessary to fully enjoy the trip – it just helped boost my ego and impress my kids. Happy New Year!

Mike Moad is the son-in-law of Tom & Georgia Osten.
The Moad Family is currently living in Israel.

A camel ride through the desert in the land of the pharaohs


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