Sorry for the delay of this post – uni started again and has had me busy for the last two weeks! So let’s get cracking on the last post detailing my adventures in the Land of Sand (I will write another post about the trip after this one, but it’ll be a little different).
After our brief stay in Luxor, we got back into the Topdeck mobile at 7.30am on the 22nd of August for 4-5 hour drive. We’d finished all of our sightseeing and were to spend two nights in Hurghada – a very popular city among tourists, situated right on the coast of the Red Sea.
We arrived at our hotel around noon. As that was before check-in, we walked around the premises, taking in the pool, the beach and the several bars and restaurants within the hotel complex, before we had lunch at the buffet.
Following lunch, we got to check into our rooms – which thankfully had great air-conditioning – and went for a dip in the pool. There was a massive amount of chlorine in the pool, which I unfortunately discovered by accidentally swallowing some water, but other than that it was great to lounge in the cool water and swim around. We only had an hour to spend in the pool, for we’d booked to go quad biking in the desert!
During our drive to Hurghada we’d stopped along the way to buy scarves for the quad biking (so we wouldn’t accidentally breathe in the entire desert), which were tied around our heads before we put on our helmets and got on the bikes. Remember how I thought camel-riding was a little scary? This was scarier – or at least, I thought so (the others seemed to be doing alright). I know how to drive a car, but driving a quad made me feel a lot more vulnerable: you need to have some upper-arm strength to keep steering straight and it took me half the trip to get used to the speed that our guide went. We stopped in the middle of the desert to take a few photos after a while, after which we returned to the place we’d started. In total, I think we spent about an hour, maybe a bit longer, on the quads. I enjoyed the second half more as I got more used to operating the vehicle, but I don’t think I’ll be driving quads anytime soon again. It’s a fun experience, but not really for me…
Unfortunately, by the time we got back to our hotel both the pool and the beach had already closed by the time we got back (we asked about this – apparently they close them at 5pm because it gets dark early and many Egyptians can’t swim that well. I’m not sure how true this is, but it was annoying nonetheless!). We had dinner at the buffet (which, to be honest, was really disappointing) and spent the night lounging on the sunbeds ( = I read a lot).
The next day we received our wake-up call at 7.30am (the latest we’d gotten up so far), met in the lobby an hour later and were driven to the beach, where we got on a boat with a bunch of other tourists, diving and snorkelling instructors and the boat’s crew. We sailed for about 45 minutes before we reached a large coral reef and anchored. The original intention was to spend a while here and then move closer to the Giftun Island, however, snorkelling/diving conditions around the reef were so good that the ship’s crew decided to stay at the reef. This was one of the moments I had looked forward to the most – I had never snorkelled before this and internet had promised the Red Sea was a great place to do just that.
The Red Sea was a breathtakingly bright blue and so clear. In the pictures you might see a few darker areas – those are where the coral reef is. We were given goggles, flippers and jumped into the salty sea with an instructor, who took us closer to the reef, showed us fish, dived to the bottom to show us shells and even took us to see some clownfish (Nemo, I found you!).
After our first snorkel-session we returned to the boat for a lunch and listened to everyone’s stories about their dive or snorkelling – it turned out Luke, who’d been diving, and several others had swam near dolphins! With this knowledge, we didn’t waste any time after lunch and Meg, our instructor and I went snorkelling again – this time to find the dolphins.
And we found them. It was really, truly magical to be so close to these creatures. One of them was particularly cheeky and came really close, while about six other dolphins stayed a bit deeper. Our instructor got even closer to the cheeky one and tried to touch it a few times – I didn’t get that close, but it was closer than I’d expected to (hell, I hadn’t even expected to swim with dolphins during this trip at all!).
I could have swam with those dolphins for ages (if you look close in the pictures above you can see them!), but alas, we had to return to the boat eventually. After the dolphin adventure, we spent some time jumping off different heights of the boat and just casually swimming around, before we had to board again and were sailed back to shore.
We spent our last night in Hurghada the same way we had the previous night (and were again disappointed at the pool and beach closing shortly after we returned to the hotel). The day before we had decided that weren’t that bothered with the extra day trip in Cairo we’d signed up for, after all, and would prefer a good night’s sleep instead (had we gone on the trip, we’d have had to leave Hurghada at 1am to make it back to Cairo in time). So instead, we went to around 11.30pm and didn’t have to wake up until 8am.
We gathered our belongings, had breakfast and set off at 10am for a 5.5-6 hour drive back to Cairo, where we arrived at 4.45pm at the hotel we’d stayed in before. Meg, Luke, Arnold and I had food in the hotel’s restaurant before we were taken to the Sound & Light show near the Giza Plateau.
The Sound & Light show basically shows its visitors the history of the pyramids and the sphinx, by using (can you guess?) sound and light. It was quite interesting to see, but I do think it was a bit long – a fun experience nonetheless.
And thus, we ended our last night together in Egypt. The next day, Meg and the boys were going to visit Alexandria as a day trip (Meg had already booked it, the guys’ flights weren’t until late that evening), so I said my goodbyes to them before going for some breakfast, packing up all my stuff and being taken to the airport by a taxi.
Other than me being really early at the airport (I couldn’t even check in yet), travelling back to the Netherlands was pretty uneventful (though I did manage to buy some brezeln (pretzels) in Frankfurt Airport in German), and I was back at home around 11.30pm.
Thanks so much for reading about my adventures in Egypt. I plan on writing one more post about the trip, reflecting more on some aspects of visiting Egypt and my experience with Topdeck. In the mean time, if you’re interested in going on a Topdeck trip yourself and would like to save some money when booking it, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and quote my name (Christa!) to get a great deal!