EG - How to plan a trip to Egypt

My next big travel destination is Egypt. I have set up a 2 week itinerary, or rather my friend and I have.  She planned Luxor, Cairo and the first week. I planned Dahab in the second week. So this will be about Dahab. In the end you will have different time frames and budget restraints so you'll want to adjust accordingly if you are planning on borrowing our itinerary idea. 

My goal was for us both to advance our diving license to 30m depth. Due to this I looked for dive schools in Dahab with advanced open water (AOW) classes that had an accommodation package. We also wanted some fun dives, to catch a bit of local culture, and to hit up an area with historical significance.

This brings us to phase one of my research. 

 I knew the most important and centering part of the Dahab trip is the diving. What I've done before is found package deals-these are typically cheaper than trying to book diving and accommodation separately. The first step was to go to google maps and center on Dahab and look up "diving". I tried several different key words on diving, scuba, etc. Each place that popped up I went through their individual websites hunting packages or prices to compare. I am never against booking my accommodation separately if it's cheaper than the offered packages. I researched for approximately 2 days during my normal work schedule, so I could estimate 4-6 hours of researching due to me entering each website for each dive company to hunt.

There were obviously a lot of options but I settled on one due to the package I found which was as follows:

427$ USD - 
All diving equipment included in price, and certifications for diving.
AOW course, excluding PADI manual (can be bought on site) (2-3 days)
7 nights accommodation at their hotel
4 Guided "Fun dives" over two days (2/day)
Breakfast included (we were the last ones to receive this special, breakfast is no longer included in their package)

That's a really good price for class, fun dives, equipment, breakfast and hotel. So that ended up being my choice. It also is the cheapest option among all the dive schools I could find.

Phase two: Historical local sites to visit

In researching places in Dahab I found that Mount Sinai was a beautiful journey and you can get a guide to take you up as well as down and then go to St. Catherine's Monastery after. Basically I found this out by googling things to do in Dahab. Once I decided on Mt. Sinai, I googled up the trip availability and found some options. The cheapest option is 27$ USD and leaves at 2300hrs. They pick you up and drive you there. Your guide will hike up with you at 0200hrs, and you will get to watch the sun rise before descending to the St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of the mountain. St. Catherine's is arguably the oldest operating monastery in the world. It also has a library with some of the oldest texts. There was even an article recently on one of those texts causing the discovery of a language that scientists were unaware of. You can book this trip online. (Ensure that you have time for this, as the scheduling did not end up working for us when we had to recover from being sick!)

I began to look for recommendations on food. During this I found 2 different things (again via Google search). I discovered that attending a Bedouin Dinner is the thing to do in Dahab. I looked at several options and eventually settled on one that picks you up at 1730. They take you out to the mountains to enjoy the dinner and the stars, you return at 2200. They do not have electricity so you enjoy your meal by candlelight, however they do have bathrooms with running water. You aren't too far from comfort. This entire experience with pick up included is between 6-14$ USD depending on your choice of meats. The lowest cost is vegetarian and the highest cost is goat. Your options are vegetarian, beef, chicken, or goat. Their website answers all questions and even talks about the preparation for the meals. It's a fascinating read.

(Update: We did not attend a Bedouin Dinner, the place we originally booked never answered us- but we did not feel cheated from this experience as many beach front Dahab restaurants offer Bedouin style food. You can also reach out to your hotel/hostel and most will contact and book for you and ensure you get this experience.)

I was also seeing many references to an obscure tea shop with the claimed "best tea" in Dahab. I never did find them on Google maps but they are supposedly across from a place called The Fighting Kangaroo, which was also mentioned as a yummy place to enjoy food. All of which when I checked Google maps, is about 7 minutes walk from the hotel. These got added quickly to the "must see" list. You can eat your heart out in Dahab for 3$ USD or less at most places. We planned on consuming all the falafel and hummus available.

(Update: There is a store across from The Fighting Kangaroo restaurant that sells loose leaf teas to take with you, they are highly recommended!)

Phase four: Setting up an order for it

This is where we bring it all together. Our plan went like this; (I have updated this list to what actually happened. We got sick in Cairo!)

Day 7: Flight to Dahab, rest day
Day 8: Rest day, hunting various good food places
Day 9: 2 Fun dives
Day 10: 2 Fun dives
Day 11: AOW
Day 12: AOW
Day 13: Shopping, exploring Dahab
Day 14: Return Flights 

Phase five: Plan for illness, be prepared

I add this later, because I did not research what is known as Mummy Tummy in Egypt. We still aren't sure what caused it. Was it the water that we drank after our steripen failed? Was it the fresh vegetables from the Nile River Cruise in Cairo? We won't ever be able to pin it on anything in particular. What I can say I've learned is that before going to any country, researching the most common travel sicknesses are paramount. When we arrived in Dahab our dive center host was kind enough to go get us a drug known as Streptoquin (labeled as internal antiseptic). I suggest having it and Ciproflexin (antibiotic) on hand before ever getting sick. Both of these are available at any Egyptian pharmacy without a prescription. We were told to have it before we got sick and we didn't. Please, error on the side of caution! We learned the hard way trying to catch a flight with horrible sickness.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I am only speaking of my experiences in Egypt and the medications I was offered by pharmacists there. This is not medical advice. Do not avoid seeking medical treatment should you become ill in a foreign country.

This was my initial itinerary and I have since come back and edited to show a more realistic version of what we ended up doing. Now you have an idea on how I go about doing my research and planning. Happy travels!


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