The Everlasting Allure of Egypt!

by Mar 18, 20242024 Egypt, Travel

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Fond remembrances, a February 2024 Pyramids Temples Alive Egypt Tour Recap – and a Few of My Favourite Things!

by Laura Ranieri Roy

Call me obsessed, addicted, stark raving mad – I have travelled to Egypt 16 times – or is it 17 now? I can’t stop. Though ancient, Egypt never gets old!

Every time I touch down in vibrant Cairo with its seething traffic, towering minarets, blaring horns, soot, smoke, slums and scintillating energy my heart comes alive. I dream regularly of the arrival in Cairo -it is in my soul.

Fond memories of my first trip in 1993!

My first trip to Egypt was when I was just out of school and a young marketing assistant working for Nordic Tours (a luxury African travel company). Suddenly – with less than a week’s notice – I was asked to co-escort a Marlin travel agent reward trip. It was 1993! Through high school, I had been obsessed with Ancient Greece and Rome – I was a grade-A Latin geek who won a classics scholarship to university. I knew nothing about the far more ancient civilization that had predated, inspired, and (in many ways) sowed the seeds for the era of Agamemnon and Caesar.

On that first trip, I stayed at the lovable, homey Ramses Hilton near Tahrir (getting a much-needed makeover these days). There were belly dancer shows in a rooftop performance hall… which I have never seen since. The Giza plateau was a scene out of the Wild West – Unscrupulous guards who took your ticket to enter the Khafre pyramid – then blocked the exit until you forked out backsheesh. But I rode a camel freely, climbed atop the ruins of Khafre’s mortuary temple and was mobbed by local schoolgirls wanting my sura (picture). Some things don’t change.

me during my 2006 trip – walking across the workers path from Kings Valley to Deir el Medina

Museum amazement

The Egyptian museum, too, was both intoxicating and intense – crowds so thick our guide had to deftly squeeze us from display to display in this antiquities warehouse, the likes of which I had never seen. Reach out and touch a 4000 year old masterpiece – no rules and as chaotic as the Cairo traffic. An old window was carelessly open near the barely protected mask of Tutankhamun. On that first visit, I especially adored the Meidum Geese – and the weird, elongated, and alluring Akhenaten.

Falling under the spell of Isis at Philae

It was when I arrived in Aswan that I truly fell in love.  I got off the boat at Philae to witness the stunningly decorated pylons – Isis in all her glory shining on her magical island – and was fully astounded, amazed – and enraptured. It is such a rich and vibrant contrast to the bare-blanched pillars of the Acropolis in Athens. I was transported again in trip during 2006 – when we rode donkeys to the Valley of the Kings and actually hiked the worker’s path across the mountain to Deir el Medina – you cant do that anymore

Little did I know that it would take me two more trips and more than fifteen more years to change my life and become an Egyptologist!

More than a decade of creating and leading tours

Since 2012, I have been creating and leading small group tours to Egypt. My first vision was to take people on an archaeology journey that would include Amarna…site of the city of Akhenaten (my first Pharaoh crush). Horrible timing—launched in January 2011—on the eve of the Arab Spring. Nevertheless, the vision was realized in tours that went to Amarna in 2012, 2016, and 2022, raising close to $10,000 for the Amarna Project.

So – what of my most recent tour in 2024? It was really quite lovely – special in a unique way as every tour is, less because of the sites or weather – but more because of the wonderful people aboard!

lounging at 9 Pyramids View February 2024

lounging at 9 Pyramids View February 2024

Pyramids Temples Alive February 2024 Tour: A Brief Review of our “Lucky Tour”

This winter our previously full tour of 20 whittled down to 11 fine intrepid travellers. With scary (often misleading) stories of conflict in Gaza pervading the global news, we lost almost half of our travellers. And yet, anyone who’s been to Egypt recently knows how very safe it is; safer than my own hometown, Toronto, these days, I’d warrant! Not to mention Paris, London, NYC!

Anyone who actually picks up an atlas can see that Cairo, Aswan, and Luxor are a long, long way from the Gaza Strip! Security is excellent, and we feel no impact of the conflict except for lower tourist numbers.

Less crowded sites to enjoy!

So this February/March 2024, we had what I will call the lucky tour. Lucky to be at sites a little quieter than usual. I was lucky to be in a small, tight group – with Nabil, the wonderful Egyptian guide, bringing the stories alive. Lucky to be in Egypt – before the throngs rush in from four corners of the earth — as they will when the GEM finally opens!

We got close to 15 minutes nearly alone in Khufu’s burial chamber at the Great Pyramid!




We enjoyed Saqqara and Djoser’s Step pyramid free of previous scaffolding and few groups in the tombs. The Ben Ezra synagogue in Fustat and Imhotep museum in Saqqara are now reopened to be enjoyed crowd-free.

And we were able to thoroughly immerse ourselves in the treasures at both the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and the old classical Egyptian Museum – where Tut’s mask and many treasures are still enshrined, at least for a few more weeks or months – who can tell?









Khafre Enthroned – a true Old Kingdom Masterwork

Narmer Palette – Unification of Egypt

Beautiful Old Kingdom wooden statues

Calcite canopic boxes of Tutankhamun

Tut's treasures as of March 2024 - still at the Old Egyptian Museum Cairo in Tahrir

Tut’s treasures as of March 2024 – still at the Old Egyptian Museum Cairo in Tahrir


Soaking in beautiful experiences Aswan to Luxor

In upper Egypt, we enjoyed sailing the Nile on a Felucca and riding camels to the monastery. The weather was beautiful during our short Nile cruise to Luxor. It is breathtaking now to walk along the restored Avenue of the Sphinxes—especially at sunset!

sunset sailing on the Nile

Tombs of Qebbet el Hawa

Hiking on Elephantine

A hidden gem visit on our tour is Medinet Habu, the last great temple of Egypt – so few tours make time to see this stupendous monument on the West bank at Luxor with its dazzling colours, deeply etched hieroglyphs – and great war scenes marking the end of the great years of Egyptian civilization.

Abu Simbel – a special overland experience

I particularly love taking people to Abu Simbel by coach from Aswan – and arriving late morning when relatively few tourists are there.  It’s 3 plus hours each way – but we learn some hieroglyphs along the way and play videos on the Abu Simbel project to pass the time.

When we arrive, we have the astounding temples almost to ourselves—and a good amount of time to explore. Everyone is always in awe of how they were actually moved in their entirety after the building of the Aswan High Dam in the 1970s. After our visit, a beautiful lunch in Nubia awaits before making the drive back to Aswan!

The ladies at Nefertari Temple Abu Simbel

Great Temples of Abu Simbel

Linda, Jim and Francois in Ramses Temple, Abu Simbel

The best local operators & guides

Of course, the secret sauce of our small group Egypt tours is the team and local operators we use. Everyone raves about them. The knowledgeable and caring guide Nabil – an Egyptologist and former architect; the extremely obliging and affable Anass, our airport and transfer rep who makes everyone welcome; and Amgad, the manager in Upper Egypt and a wonderful man who can get anything done right!


me and Annas – our Cairo rep

Amgad – our invaluable fixer in Upper Egypt




Nabil - our wonderful Egyptian guide

Nabil- our wonderful Egyptian guide         









Three history experts and tour managers!

Another thing that makes our tours special is that there are usually not one, not two, but usually three friendly and knowledgeable Egyptologists and history experts on board. In addition to myself and the Egyptian guide, my husband, Francois Roy, with his warm, chatty style and encyclopedic knowledge of Ancient and modern history, brings the sites and stories alive in an irresistible way.

Francois Roy, Egyptologist & history expert

Uniquely wonderful travelers – a big part of what makes Egypt eternally special for me.

For me, what really makes each trip uniquely wonderful are the travellers. Always inquiring, cosmopolitan, cultured and generally on the mature side – and always with their unique charms and eccentricities. This time we had glamorous Josephine, the fashionista (we had to get her from designer shoes to runners), gentle Rosemarie, who loved her camel, smiling Jim, who was up for everything – and adventurous Joanna and Tony who always took the long way around, up the mountain, into the pyramids – and even into the crypt in Dendera in total darkness! Kudos to our wonderful fearless Jewish couple who started the tour with a week in Jordan and a few days in Alexandria! One of our most engaged travelers, Nancy, needed a little assistance getting around, but she was always keen to see every site fully. Another lovely West Coast lady was completely in tune with the energy and spirit in every location.

I have now been on so many trips with so many groups, but no two tours are alike! It’s the people who make it so special for me every time.

Also, I suppose, it’s the special way the morning sunlight hits the Bent Pyramid. Or shines its rays down over the mountain on the Hathor columns at Deir el Bahri. Or illuminates the pink hills of the West Bank as we cross on boats is always magical. Egypt is never quite the same.

I love seeing my travellers’ eyes light up when they first see the pyramids of Giza, hearing them gasp in amazement at the beauty and colour in the Valley of the Kings, and seeing them stand in utter amazement before Abu Simbel. Those inspired discussions on politics, history, and the meaning of life as we cruise along the eternal Nile—or over drinks at the Winter Palace library bar—and, of course, those new friendships made along the way.

These are just a few of my favourite things… which keep me going back to Egypt again and again and again!

Love to come on a tour with us? We have a deluxe small group tour in November 2024 with a few more seats open – and new tours coming of October 2025! Also email me if you are interested in getting an individual tour designed for you or your small group! Few know Egypt like I do.

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