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Photo: Dandara Temple
"Dandara Temple"

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Past Tours

Vietnam and Cambodia 2011
Kenya and Tanzania 2010
Egypt and Jordan 2010
UK and Northern France 2010
Turkey and Greece 2010
Italy and Sicily 2010
Egypt 09
Canada 09
Egypt 08
Italy 08
Vietnam 08
Egypt 07














Egypt and Jordan 2010

Egypt wasn’t initially on the 2010 calendar however due to popular demand was added and anyone who knows me knows I don’t need much coercing to return to this mystical place. There were several itinerary changes to this trip compared to previous trips. We slowed the pace down a little by adding an extra day in Alexandria and an extra 2 days in Luxor as well as adding 7 nights in Jordan for the first time. Other additions to this trip included a visit to the battlefields of El Alamein and the temples at Abydos and Dendera outside of Luxor. On our arrival in Cairo we were met by Samir our local Goldenbird assistant and as usual everything ran smoothly.

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We were delighted to have our 2009 guide Hossam again who was also at the airport to meet us along with our driver Hamdy who we have now had for all 4 of our Girls On Tour trips to Egypt. Since our last trip Hamdy has acquired another wife and 5 children! To us this may seem strange but when his brother died, Hamdy married his sister-in-law to provide for her and her children so that she didn’t have to marry outside of the family. When I got into the car at the airport and said hello to him in Arabic, he said “welcome back” in English which was really lovely as he doesn’t speak a lot of English so for him to say that to me was quite special. The temperature in Egypt on this trip was the mildest I have ever experienced in any of the 5 times I have been there so it was very pleasant for the ladies who were there for the first time not to be drained by the heat which can and has been debilitating in the past. Hossam was very happy to be our guide and presented each of us with a gift of a pink hat on our first day of touring which we all wore religiously throughout the whole trip but this was not the only gift that he would give us. During the next 13 days he would share with us the gift of his knowledge and love for his country along with the simple things in life like having an ice cream at Fort Quaitby in Alexandria, falafel sandwiches near the Pyramids in Giza, a local feast at Mohamad Ahmed’s, smoking the water pipe in Luxor, the night carriage ride through the back streets in Luxor and the most wonderful experience of visiting his old primary school on the way to Abydos. These are the little things that make for a memorable journey.

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In Cairo we visited Al Azhar Park, a beautiful parkland area in old historic Cairo that has been developed over 74 acres which overlooks the City of the Dead and has wonderful views of Cairo and the Citadel. It has been beautifully landscaped and has water features, lakes, restaurants and cafés and the local people, especially young adults seem to flock here to meet their friends in this beautiful environment. It was opened about 4 years ago. It was just lovely to see young ones playing such simple games as blind mans bluff and sitting around singing together etc. This is a real oasis in a concrete jungle for these people and we all loved it. Certainly not what you expect to see in the middle of such a huge city of 22 million people.

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We had an amazing day when we set off early to drive to Abydos and Dendera, two places not previously on the Girls On Tour itinerary. I added these places to the tour after speaking with Hossam last year and because I had come across their names in many of the various novels I have read about Egypt. They were both absolutely amazing! In the past you had to obtain a special permit and have a police escort to go to Abydos and Dendera but that isn’t the case now. Abydos is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt and is noted as the memorial temple of Seti I and contains “The Kings List” a chronological list of cartouches for most pharaohs of Egypt. It is also reputed to be the site of the grave of Osiris, the God of the Underworld. The colours inside the temple are beautiful and it is one of the few remaining temples with colour that you are allowed to take photos inside as long as you don’t use a flash. On our way to Abydos we needed to find a “Temple of Comfort” so we stopped into Hossam’s home village and went to the school that he attended as a young boy. When we arrived we certainly caused a commotion. People who live in Luxor or any of the other towns that see tourists all the time will have seen foreigners like us, but many of the children and adults in this village have never seen visitors so we certainly got the royal treatment.

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The school principal and the administrators took great pride in giving us a tiki tour of the school and needless to say, not a lot of school work got done while we were there. All of the children either in the classrooms or on the parade ground were very excited to see us and wanted to talk and say hello and the group of children on the parade ground lined up and sang their national anthem for us which was very special. We were taken into a couple of classrooms and shown the computer room and other facilities and it was a real privilege to be allowed to have this experience and one we all enjoyed. One of the little fellas there was Hossam’s cousin and got permission from the teacher to come over and say hello to him which was cute. He had the biggest grin on face. All of the children and the people in general of Egypt are so very friendly and so happy to have you visit their country. Our next stop was the beautiful temple of Dendera. This is another temple with amazing colours still visible and also is the site where the astrological calendar was discovered. There is a replica on the roof but the original is now in the Louvre in Paris. The Temple of Dendera is the only site where you are allowed to climb up on the top of the temple through the ancient tunnels and stairways. On each side of the stairway there are beautiful carvings and reliefs. These two sites will definitely be on future itineraries for GOT.

As we cruised along the Nile on our 4 night cruise we visited Edfu, Esna and Kom Ombo before finishing in Aswan. For the last couple of years that we have visited Kom Ombo there has been a little old lady selling one product just outside the site and I asked Hossam if he knew of her. He said her name is Umm Saad which means “mother of Saad” and that when he met her 10 years ago she was 100 years old!! I had told the ladies about her and we all went to say hello to her and it was a really lovely experience. Hossam told her that we had come to see her and buy some of her goods from her and she was very excited and kissed us and hugged us all. It was very special. In Aswan we visited the Temple of Philae, the Aswan High Dam and Abu Simbel before flying to Amman in Jordan.

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In 2012 Girls On Tour is planning a “Return to Egypt” tour as several of the ladies who have travelled to Egypt with me are keen to revisit Egypt. We will do many new and different things to what we have done on previous trips as well as the “must do’s” for first time travellers and I already have had a lot of interest expressed with 11 ladies keen to join this tour. Numbers will be strictly limited as we hope to use a private Nile cruiser that only sleeps 16 persons however I am considering capping it at 12 pax to maintain the small group experience. Details will be released mid 2011.

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Our week in Jordan took us to some amazing sites including the Roman Theatre and the Citadel in Amman, the Dead Sea, Jerash, Um Qais and through the Jordan Valley. Jerash is amongst the best preserved Roman city that is much bigger than first thought as you enter through Hadrian’s gate with its theatres, temples, churches and colonnaded streets. We visited the 12th century Saracen Castle at Ajloun which was built by one of Saladin’s lieutenants during the campaign against the Crusaders. We drove along the King’s Way to Petra visiting the church in Madaba that houses the oldest map of the Holy Land enroute. At Mt Nebo we looked over the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. We stayed in a wonderful hotel in Petra overlooking the valley for 2 nights and enjoyed the most beautiful sunsets each night. We spent a full day exploring the magnificent ancient site of Petra with its Treasury, Roman Theatre and much more. We were lucky enough to meet Marguerite van Geldermalsen, the author of “Married to a Bedouin” who has a stall at the site. Marguerite met Mohammad in 1978 and fell in love and lived the Bedouin lifestyle in a cave at Petra until after her husband’s death in 2002.

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Four of the girls did the 4 hour trek up to the Monastery high up in the hills for spectacular views of the area that was carved into the Sharah Mountains by the Nabateans and lost to civilization until it was re-discovered in 1812. Jordan has a lot to offer and is a fascinating country that combines ancient history and modern hospitality and in my opinion is well worth a visit.




Photo: Commonwealth War Cemetary

"Commonwealth War Cemetary"


Photo: Abu Simbel

"Abu Simbel"

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