Egypt is one of those countries that's on everybody's bucket list... or at least it really should be. I yearned to see the sights for myself ever since learning, wide-eyed and fascinated, about the ancient Egyptian civilization as a child. Despite shaky political stability (though much better than a few years ago) corresponding negative perceptions in the media, and concerned reactions from my friends and family, I took the plunge and visited Cairo for 2 incredible days. It turned out to be beyond anything I could have imagined. And I felt perfectly safe, too! Let me explain.
My boyfriend Javi has also always longed to visit Egypt and made the trip from Madrid, his hometown where he was visiting family for the summer, to meet me in Cairo. It was our 8th country visited together! Exhausted from red-eye flights, we chilled out in the room for the rest of the day, soaking up the atmosphere and catching up on two months apart. We stayed at the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel for those interested. Beautiful hotel grounds with views of the pyramids, extremely helpful staff, and good food - definitely recommend this place!
To get the full experience we hired a guide through our hotel who would take us through the Pyramids and also the Egyptian Museum so we could get a more in-depth, educational experience in our short time. If you're thinking about coming to Egypt, I really recommend hiring a guide, there's tons of valuable information that you would miss out on without it. Our guide, and apparently most official, legit guides in Egypt, have to be certified "Egyptologists" as they are called, meaning that they went to university just to study every aspect of Egyptian history. Javi is a little obsessed with Egyptian history and chimed in to finish the tour guide's sentences whenever he was trying to explain which Pyramid belonged to which Pharaoh, what time period they ruled, etc... it was geeky and amusing. Overall, our guide was so knowledgable and the experience was absolutely worth the rather hefty price tag - $100 per person for a full day's tour. I like to splurge on travel when I know it'll be a meaningful and memorable experience in the long run. I'm sure you could find a cheaper deal than this with a little online research, but I gladly would do it over again. Money well spent!
Our guide showed us all 9 of the pyramids at the complex (uh, had no idea there were NINE before I went) and explained in detail the history behind each of them. We also got to visit the inside one of the smaller ones to see a tomb!
If you ever make it to the Pyramids, make sure you opt for the extra fee for the camel ride. Your guide can haggle with the camel owners to get a decent price. For an extra $25 each, we rode a camel for 1 hour to a farther away view of all of the pyramids. This was the highlight of the whole trip to Egypt for me - we were virtually by ourselves at an incredible vantage point, chillin' with camels, bonding with our camel owner/tour guide. After taking some obligatory, fun perspective photos at the pyramids, we rode our camels back towards the grounds of the Sphinx, hopped off, and continued the tour.
After we left the Pyramids complex, we visited the Egyptian museum where you can see REAL MUMMIES! They were so well-preserved that you can still clearly see their teeth, hair, toe nails, fingers... it. was. so. freaking. COOL! No cameras allowed though :(.
A full day later, we got back to our hotel, full of memories to last us a lifetime. I want to speak about the overall safety of Egypt. Besides a crazy Uber driver who was texting and driving on the way back to the airport, our experiences in Egypt were nothing but markedly positive. The people were warm, welcoming, and appeared so happy to have visitors to their country. There's a lot of hype about street harassment or theft or other crime happening to tourists, but truly we felt nothing but safe and secure the whole time. All of the negative reactions I got when I told people I'd be visiting Egypt were from people who had never visited before. Take it from someone who's been there that those negative perceptions are vastly blown out of proportion. I felt no more/less safe in Egypt than I did walking around Western Europe. Go and find out for yourself!