I just got back from Egypt, Jordan and Petra! It is hard to narrow down which part was my exact favorite because the whole trip was so cool. Between seeing and touching the pyramids, glamping in a bubble or floating in the dead sea – I just don’t know what was cooler. When I book my travel I am very last minute. I always keep a list that I start in the beginning of the year with countries on it that I want to visit that year. So I know the best times to travel to those places throughout the year. Right now is low season in Egypt so it was a perfect time to visit. I asked my family if they wanted to go, gave a round about date range and once we narrowed down the dates we booked on October 30th (The trip departed 11/20/19. See what I mean about last minute lol). I knew what places we wanted to visit, so I made a list of each place and wrote down the attractions at each. This is what helps me plan an itinerary. I will break down our itinerary by day, tips that I learned a long the way and answer some of you alls FAQs.
We stayed at the Marriott Mena House Hotel. Whenever we would come back to the hotel from being out, I noticed there was always a lot of soldiers at the gates and the security dogs would have to sniff inside the trunk of everyones car as we drove to the gate. When I asked why this was like this, we were told that the Marriott Mena House is the oldest hotel there and that it used to be a palace for a king. There is a lot of security at the entrance gates there because of its history and its proximity to the pyramids. When you are in the hotel, they have a lot of photos around that show a lot of its history. I loved this hotel and the pyramid views! FYI, you are able to walk to the pyramids from this hotel.
Before we got there, I looked up the best modes for airport transportation and I found Cairo Airport Travel. They offer other services, but we just used them for transportation to and from the airport. A one way trip from the airport to our hotel in Giza cost 485 EGP (about $30 USD). I like them because all I did was email them to schedule and they get back to you within minutes. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email you must include amount of passengers, flight number, time you land, amount of bags, time you wish to be picked up and your destination. If you include it all in an email it will save you the time of emailing back and forth. Once we landed in Cairo, they were waiting for us with a sign. You can take taxis, but I liked having the rides set up already so you don’t have to worry about trying to ask people for prices and not understand their accent.
Note: You do not need to get a visa before you arrive. You can get it at the airport and it costs $25. It is only good for one entry. For example, if you try to do a day trip somewhere else and you leave Egypt it will cost another $25 when you comeback.
DAY 1: CAIRO
Egypt has countless attractions, ranging from nature, to temples, to mummies, to vast pyramids. There is an incredibly rich history dating back to the beginning of civilization and as such, Ancient Egyptian society left behind so many amazing sights, all somehow incredibly well preserved. We flew into Cairo, but our hotel was in Giza. We chose our hotel based on the closeness to the pyramids. My favorite in Cairo was Khan el- Khalili, which is a famous Egyptian bazaar and souq (or souk) in the historic center of Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians. It is home to many Egyptian artisans and workshops.
We walked around, danced and drank tea! I enjoyed my time here!
Other sites to visit in Cairo are:
Nile River Tour
Mosque of Mohammed
There are more than these listed of course, but these are what I had on my list.
Wear comfortable shoes
Make sure you have Egyptian money on you. They seem to prefer it.
We had the stroller with us and was not the best idea at the market. The walkways are very uneven and cobblestone. Also, there is high foot, car and scooter traffic. They drive crazy so you always have to make sure you are out of the way. Might get a pinky toe ran over in you’re not careful. lol
It is best to stay covered up. I had on pants over my romper to cover my legs while walking through the town. Oh, and if you wear long braids there, prepare for the stares. I don’t know whattttt it was, but they loved me there lol. They would stare and wave and we assumed it was my long braids. Kids were making noise to get my attention and when I would look, they would start cheesing lol The strangest thing. One guy came up to me and said “welcome home”. I was like what in the hell. A few of them called me Shakira and then I was like ok y’all must be confused and must mean Beyonce lmao!
DAY 2: GIZA
On the second day we wanted to visit The Sphinx, the pyramids and Saqqara. There are plenty of tours listed on Trip Advisor, which include full and half day tours. We decided to ride camels rather than walking (it is a lot of walking in sand). There is a horse and camel stable where we went to get our camels before the journey began. We also had the baby with us, so it made sense to be comfortable. Also, the camels make you feel real authentic lol. Once on the camels we walked through the sand and across the plateau. We stopped to take some awesome photos then went on to the pyramids. We spent about 2 hours at the pyramid site exploring, taking pics and climbing.
I suggest you go early in the morning to avoid a lot of tourists and the sun. We went around 10am and I felt there were a lot of people there and that was considered somewhat early.
Don’t book a tour with a random person offering. They will upcharge you. Book through Viator or Trip Advisor. That way you pay in advance and it is taken care of.
Don’t purchase anything off of anyone.
If someone asks to take a selfie with you or to take your photo, say no.
Make sure your bag has a good closure and you keep all of your belongings inside. If something drops in the sand, it’s a wrap and you aren’t finding it.
If you have a guide, they will want a tip. They love tips there and have no problem letting you know you need to tip them.
If you ride on a camel, everything you wear will smell like hot camel butt. Also, your feet are going to be dusty. I wore sandals, so these toes were blackity black lol.
DAY 3 & 4: AMMAN, JORDAN AND PETRA
JORDAN & THE DEAD SEA:
Since we were coming all the way to Egypt, we wanted to hit up some other close areas. We chose Jordan and Petra. Since we wanted to see both, we knew a day trip wouldn’t be enough time so we decided to stay the night and go back to Egypt the next day. We flew from Cairo to Amman on 11/23 at 7am and then from Amman to Cairo on 11/24 at 7pm. That way we had two full days in those locations. We chose to stay at the Petra Bubble Luxotel. When I emailed them about hotel transportation, they gave me their driver’s info so I arranged the rides. I had him pick us up from the Dead Sea and take us to our hotel in Petra. The ride from Jordan to Petra is about 2 1/2 hours by car. It was fine because you get to see the sites a long the way and SLEEP (which we needed because between the time difference and all of the moving around, you will be beat). The cost of the ride from the Dead Sea to Petra was 100 JOD ($140 USD). The ride from Petra to the airport is 110JOD ($155USD).
The driver was so nice, very responsive and knew english well. Here is his information and you can contact him via WhatsApp +962 (0) 7 7638 3917. His name is Raad.
While in Jordan, The Dead Sea is a MUST. We flew from Cairo to Amman, which was about an hour flight. Once you land, you will need to purchase a visa which is about $56 USD. We changed into our swimsuits at the airport, so once we got to the sea all we had to do was take our clothes off. We caught a cab from the airport to the Dead Sea which was 35 JOD ($49). The taxi ride was about 35 minutes. Once you arrive to the Dead Sea, it will cost 10JOD (about $14/$15 USD) to enter the water. I am still amazed at how awesome it was. The Dead sea is the lowest point on Earth!! I made a joke in my Instagram post saying it is the lowest point on earth and also the lowest I will let you see me LOL. It is 430 meters below sea level and the water is 9x saltier than the ocean and very dense. So dense that everyone and I mean everyone will float in it. While there, you can rub some of the mineral rich mud on you. The minerals and the salt from the dead sea are good for your skin exfoliation. The process includes being covered in the mud for 10-15 minutes then rinse in the Dead Sea and scrub with the salt then rinse with fresh water. You will feel like a baby’s bottom after! (Note: they charge you $5 to get the mud rubbed on you). The water is a nice warm temp. In the summer, it can go up to 100 degrees.
The water is so rich in salts and minerals that it’s impossible for any living thing to survive. There are no microorganisms, plants, fish, etc. in the water at all. It can be uninviting for humans as well, if you don’t know how to experience it. So don’t think of it as a beach vacation but more of a spa experience.
This is not the kind of place where you bring your kids to play in the water while you relax on the sand with a book in hand and take a dip or two when you get too hot. After reading the tips below you’ll understand why.
FYI: There are a massive amount of flies here. Like a shit ton! They were all over our bags and stuff.
PETRA BUBBLE HOTEL & THE TREASURY
Let’s talk about the Petra Bubble Hotel. I was so HYPE to stay there. It is like “glamping” in the mountains. You get your own bubble that includes a deck, jacuzzi, living room, bedroom and bathroom. The living area is a full open bubble, while the bedroom is only open on the top. At night it is amazing because you get to look up to see the stars!! They cover the open bubbles with a canvas cover from 9am-4pm because the sun gets hot and they don’t want the plastic to burn.
When you arrive to the hotel, they greet you with wine and check you in. A golf cart takes you and your bags to your room. When I got in the room, my mouth was dropped the entire time. It was too cool for me. The bubble is operated by suction and when you enter in the bubble there are two doors. You can only open and enter in one door at a time other wise your bubble will collapse (they can inflate it back though, so don’t worry). There is no tv, so you must enjoy the views, company and just relax. The price you pay to stay at the hotel includes breakfast and dinner which is great. It kind of offset the price of the long car rides from Jordan to Petra because the bill for all of us to eat would’ve been a lot. I can’t forget to add that the food is delish!!! There was a nice gathering/party there that night. We went into a room with a lot of carpets and pillows. There was a campire, tea, someone playing the guitar and singing Jordanian songs. Great time.
Since the hotel is in the mountains, it gets very cold at night. The hotel gives us all warm coats to wear outside at night when the temperature drops. NOTE: that is the coat AnnDrew was wearing at the Treasury in Petra, so unfortunately I do not have deets on where to buy. I did see them being sold when we arrived at the Treasury.
When we woke up, we went to breakfast and then the Treasury. The hotel provides free shuttles to the Treasury at 7am, 8am and 9am and then coming back to the hotel at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. We went over at 9am. Once there, you must purchase a ticket (kids up to a certain age are free). Your ticket includes a horse ride for half of the walk, but the horse guides just expect a tip. A lot of people don’t know that they come with it, so they don’t get a horse. It is a long walk from the entrance, so we got horses. AnnDrew loved it. The horse guides explain the sites to you and take pictures for you as well. Once we got to the spot where horses can’t walk anymore, we had to walk. Horse and carriages are able to go past the point where regular horses can’t. They are more so for elderly people or people that can’t make the walk. It is about a 15 minute walk (if you don’t stop to take photos). You will be walking around curves for what seems to be forever until you finally see the opening to the Treasury. Fun Fact: Petra is where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed. It is immensely beautiful. There are a lot of things to see while in there, but we didn’t have the time since we had a 7pm flight.
PETRA PICTURE TAKING TIPS:
There are a lot of picture worthy spots. There are also a lot of locals that will tell you they can take you to the spots for a price. We paid one, but then realized we could’ve done it ourselves. Here is how you do it- If you are standing with your back to the treasury, look to your left. You will see people climbing up where a fence is. When you want to climb begin on the left, you will reach all of the spots to take photos. You will see other people up there, so you will know where you are going. You will need to be able to climb in order to do this. I did it in a flow dress and open toe sandals.
DEAD SEA TIPS:
Floating. You literally just lay back slowly and you float. No matter your size, you will float. It is the coolest thing everrrrrrr!
Arrive with swimsuit on. The bathrooms aren’t the Ritz Carlton bathrooms lol so its best to come prepared.
Move slowly in the water and don’t splash. You definitely don’t want to get that water in your eyes. Dead Sea water is almost 10 times saltier than that of a typical sea. So if you think getting some sea water in your eyes is unpleasant, imagine what 10 times more unpleasant feels like!! It hurts. A lot. Any bit of water that gets in you eyes or mouth will not be fun for you. AnnDrew thought she was at a regular beach and started splashing. She got the water in her eyes and lawwwddddd it was not good. Drew didn’t realize this either and he went head first in the water. Once we all say him going in head first, everyone started screaming NO NO NO NO… it was too late lol. You can see the salt on the ground or on the gate that touches the water.
Take your jewelry off. Silver jewelry will turn black; the same goes for gold jewelry that is less than 24 carats. It can be cleaned but you’re better off avoiding going in with it in the first place. My 14K gold necklace was affected a little bit.
Don’t drink water. This is a no brainer lol that salt will do bad things to you that you don’t want to experience.
Best Time To Visit The Dead Sea is in the spring or fall – either March/April or October/November. The summers in that part of Israel are extremely hot – temperatures are routinely around 40 degrees Celsius. So it is really not advisable to go between May – September. On the other hand, in the winter (December through January) the water can be too cold to swim in.
Best Time To Get In The Water is early in the morning or late afternoon. Don’t plan to be outside between noon to 4-5pm when the sun is too strong. We landed at 8;45am and was at the Dead Sea around 10:30am.
Protect Your Feet. Due to the layer of crystals covering the entire shore and bottom of the sea, walking in and out of the water can be challenging if you’re barefoot. It might be a good idea to bring water shoes or hiking sandals to protect your feet from sharp edges. A pair of rubber flip flops would work too. Just don’t bring your nice sandals. We were barefoot and it wasn’t bad but it may be a good idea to bring swim shoes.
Don’t Swim Face Down And Definitely Don’t Dive. The only safe way to swim here is on your back for the same reasons we described above. Splashing some water in your eyes can be so painful that you’ll panic and have a hard time getting out of the water. Don’t get your face wet at all.
Be Generous With The Sunscreen. The white crystalized salt that covers the bottom and shores of the sea reflects sunlight strongly so it can be very harsh on your skin if it’s not protected. Use a good sunscreen with a high SPF and bring a hat! If you get in the water and get out, your skin is immediately white from the salt.
Don’t Shave. The water is so rich in minerals that they can cause you a lot of pain if you have any cuts or open wounds. Try not to shave a day or two before bathing in the Dead Sea. Think of it as putting A LOT of salt into the tiny cuts shaving can cause on your skin. Even a small cut can make you cry here.
How Long Can You Swim In The Dead Sea? Don’t stay in the water longer than 10-15 minutes. Because of the salts and minerals, your skin will get very soft and you can get cut on the crystals easily. It can also be an overwhelming experience for your body as a whole. You can get out and go back in but each time should not be longer than 10-15 minutes. Rinse off with regular water as soon as you get out.
Do A Dead Sea Mud Bath! You can buy a pack of Dead Sea mud anywhere along the shore. Apply the mud to your body, let it set in for a while, then rinse it off in the water. The minerals absorb through your skin and will do wonders for it! It also had an amazing effect on our hair – it felt nice and soft for a couple weeks after that. Just make sure you wear an old or dark colored bikini set for this as the mud stains.
Be Careful With Your Equipment. Leave your phone and expensive equipment home. Even your waterproof camera or GoPro are not safe in the extremely salty water. So be sure to keep any electronics away from the water.
DEAD SEA PICS:
DAY 5: NILE RIVER
This day, we decided to sleep in since we just got back to Egypt the night before. When we woke up, we chilled at the hotel pool and just walked around the see what the hotel had to offer. I booked a Nile River dinner cruise for that night. You can either book on Viator or Trip Advisor, although I believe they are the same company. my credit card statement said “Viatour/TripAdvisor”. It came to $25 a person and AnnDrew was free. It is definitely worth it and a good time. They pick you up from your hotel and bring you to the dock. Once on the boat, they bring you to your table and the performances begin. There is a belly dancer, a singer and other performances to enjoy. When the ship is sailing, you get to see Cairo lit up at night from the window. There is also a top deck you can walk up to, when you want to go take photos. The dinner is buffet style, however the drinks aren’t included.
I saw someone say you should never pre book a dinner cruise because you can get on them at the dock if you just walk up. I prefer to pre book because they pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and that is included in your $25 price.
Our guides name was Salah. He is young, fun and knows all of the American movies lol. He taught himself english by watching movies and is now teaching himself chinese and french. If you want to us him as a guide, here is his information +20 127 988 5863 and you can contact him via whats app.
What Camera did you use to take your pics?
Believe it or not, all of my pics were taken with an iPhone.
Who was taking your pics?
My mom or my baby favah lol
How long did it take to plan?
We booked on October 30, 2019. I wrote down all of the things to see at each place and we narrowed down what we wanted to see then chose based on the amount of time we had.
What hotels did you stay at?
We stayed at the Marriott Mena House in Giza and the Petra Bubble Hotel in Petra. I included the links above.
How is traveling with a toddler to Egypt and how did she adjust to the time difference?
It is tough for anyone to adjust to a time difference but we always have an itinerary and stick to it. If AnnDrew gets tired, we let her take a nap whenever she wants. She has FOMO and never wants to miss anything so she usually tries to stay up with us. On the plane, I bring her JetKids box which extends to make a bed for her. I fill it with snacks and activities and blankets. I take the blanket from the plane and make her a makeshift tent by tucking the blankets in the grooves of the seat in front of her and the back of her seat. Its always fun for her. It also keeps her in her own bubble and blocks off germs when people cough and sneeze lol. When she watches movies, its like a mini movie theater.
75% of ppl smoke there so it’s very smoky and dusty everyday!
People always trying to get a tip or increase the price. Just beware of the hagglers.
Our guide Salah, told us this fun fact: It make seem that houses are finished. They have a custom where if you’re expecting a son, you have to build a flat for someone. When the son gets older and married, he will finish the flat. So they stay unfinished, until the son finishes them.
Majority of my outfits were earth tone colors. Below are the links:
Print Maxi Dress (worn to the pyramids)
Zebra Print Romper (worn to the Khan Khalili market)