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Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and health and safety advice.

From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.

Day Three

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four

The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and  buffets morning, noon and night.

Day Five

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight

The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!

Day Nine

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten

With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.

The Negatives

The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
  • More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives:

As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.

All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. tunimaal

    January 9, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    You seems to have had a lot of fun in Egypt. I always wanted to go there and I will definitly to do some scuba diving as the place is one of the best spot in the world

    • Cole

      January 9, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      When do you plan to go? We are going to head back to go diving again in May.

  2. Ed Rex

    January 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Nice pun there with the ‘shit happens’

    • Cole

      January 11, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Haha I thought it might amuse someone.

  3. Paul

    January 11, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    That was really informative and interesting guys, cheers!

    • Cole

      January 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      No problem Paul. Hope to travel with you again soon!

  4. DTravelsRound

    January 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    I would LOVE to boat on the Nile. How cool!!

    • Cole

      January 13, 2012 at 7:21 AM

      It was a pretty neat experience. We will have a more detailed post about it in the near future 🙂

  5. Laura

    January 13, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    This sounds like a really great way to cover a lot of ground in Egypt. I don’t usually like group tours like this but Eqypt is definitely a place where it’s much smoother to travel with a guide and a group. I’m dying to snorkel in the Red Sea!

    • Cole

      January 13, 2012 at 7:22 AM

      We never do group tours (although in saying that we are booked on another one haha) but they definitely have there plus sides like covering a LOT of ground. The Red Sea was amazing. Going back diving in a few months. Will get my video up soon of my dive in Hurghada too.

  6. Laurence

    January 13, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I not usually a fan of guided group tours, but there is clearly a benefit to taking them in some cases. I do prefer to travel to my own pace though, and dislike the feeling of being herded. Looks like you had a great time though 🙂

    • Cole

      January 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Yea we never take group tours for the same reason. I think it was so well organised was the reason it was a success for sure.

  7. Konseng Raj

    January 13, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Ur review was truly a good 1..Cant believe u have been on road for such a long time..
    I hope u have many more to go..
    I am planning of doing my First ever international trip to Egypt with a side trip to Jordan via Isreal(if time permits) this year..
    But i am going solo..Do you think its possible..cos i am still a few months away from being 20..and have no experience travelling abroad.Though,i did quite a large number of Solo trips in my Nation-India..But still i want to try this out..
    Right from the passport and visa thing and all those immigration procedures in the airport gets me confused..
    Dont wana fall in the hands of tour operators also..did a lot of research on these nations,but my Pre departure checklist is still half full..
    Help.. ;p ;p

    • Cole

      January 16, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      Thanks for the comment 🙂 It is definitely possible to do it solo. We just organised it with the group because it does make it a LOT easier in places like Egypt. So much to see and do so having a bit of a schedule is okay. If I was travelling anywhere else then we always do solo trips. Feel free to email us if you want any tips or have specific questions! Cheers

  8. cheryl

    January 16, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    What a really lovely trip you two had! Really have enjoyed all your posts on Egypt.

    • Cole

      January 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      Thanks Cheryl that means a lot. Hope you shared them with others 🙂

  9. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    January 17, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    This tour sounds like great value! I spent 6 weeks in Egypt, so I know all about “Egyptian time”… 🙂

    • Cole

      January 17, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Wow 6 weeks would be an awesome amount of time! Where did you go Raymond?

  10. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    January 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    I think when I do Egypt, I will prefer to do it with a big tour like this.

    • Cole

      January 17, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      Good call Stephanie. I think it is a lot easier in a country like this with so much to see and do!

  11. AlexBerger

    January 21, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Food while on the go is always an interesting element of an arranged tour. Especially if it’s active, you’re hiking a bunch, and on the go. In my experience it also tends to be one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of a tour. Good food for thought!

    • Cole

      January 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Nice pun Alex 🙂 For us we often travel purely for the food so it is always something we like to focus on.

  12. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    April 6, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Wow, it seems like a a world wind tour of Egypt. Thanks for including the positives and negatives at the end. We’ve learned the hard way to always travel with snacks and powdered drink mix. It’s the little things that can make all the difference. If we’re hungry then we’re cranky and like it or not it affects our experience.

    • Cole

      April 8, 2012 at 5:54 PM

      We quickly learned to have food with us but those first few times without were a struggle. Nothing like being grumpy because you are hungry which can quickly ruin a great day!

  13. Emelie

    May 15, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    great stuff! I am booked on the tour leaving 2nd June but haven’t received any pre tour info so budgeting is a bit hard now with only two weeks to go. I have emailed Expat but no response. Anything you would recommend doing as an extra?

    thanks for sharing your experiences!

  14. Shanna Schultz

    May 16, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    We have been considering taking a tour with them. Do you remember how much you spent on “extras”? Their price seems very good, but I was concerned with how much we would be spending out of pocket once we got there?

    • Cole Burmester

      May 16, 2012 at 8:57 PM

      No sorry Shanna. I think most of the extras such as entry fees and things like that were about $10 – $20 though. Not really breaking the back but they do add up quickly. Most tour operators work the same way so these guys are very good value. Some of the accommodation is on the cheap side so you get what you pay for really 🙂

  15. Rodney

    October 15, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Hey Cole,

    Your review is excellent and very helpful since my son and I have been looking at the Expat Explore 15 day tour for the same time period at the end of this year. His past tour experiences have been Contiki and mine have been Cosmos to this will be something very different for me!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 15, 2012 at 8:50 PM

      Thanks for dropping by Rodney. If you have any other questions feel free to ask. We have had a couple of friends go since we recommended them, and they all enjoyed it as well. Hope you have a good time if you book 🙂

  16. Sid

    November 14, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Hi,

    I want to go on Expat Explore’s Ultimate Europe Tour. But am a bit concerned as I have never heard of this Tour Company before. Have you gone on any European tours with them? Please let me know.

    Thanks!

    • Cole Burmester

      November 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      Hi Sid,

      Unfortunately we have only done the Egypt tour with them but do recommend them on that trip! They were organised, cheaper than most tours, and we felt incredibly safe the entire time.

      We have travelled a lot with Busabout though who you might want to check out here. They are an awesome company and we highly recommend them around Europe. We have had lots of great trips and also solo female travellers go on their tours! Let us know if you want any more information about them 🙂

      Cheers
      Cole

      • Sid

        November 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

        Thanks!Will check it out 🙂

  17. Sid

    November 14, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Also,I am a female who will be travelling alone. So I’m doubly concerned 🙂

  18. Claire

    January 21, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Hey I’m doing this tour in a couple of weeks – any packing tips? Also wondering if jandals are going to be okay or whether I really need some more sturdy footwear!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 21, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Hey Claire,
      We took our jandals and they were perfect for most things. However, you will need covered shoes at some stages so take a comfortable pair for wandering around ruins etc. It can be quite chilly at night too so take a nice warm jersey that you can wear in the evenings.
      Hope you enjoy it!

  19. Shade

    January 31, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Great story, Cole! I had decided with Expat awhile ago and am now confirmed.

    Questions:
    1. You have some photos at the pyramids and such. How many places are they not allowed?
    2. Did you ever hear of any theft among your co-tourists with broken locks and leaving cameras on buses?
    3. Any recommended foods to bring for stomach-filling?
    4. I tend to eat a banana, oatmeal, whole graint toast, and an apple for breakfast and a snack. Are those readily available? And places to boil water?
    5. And is bottled water available as you travel? If you’re on a bus for six hours are there opportunities to stop and get some bottled water?

    Thanks again for braving Expat and posting your adventure!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 31, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      Hey Shade,

      Thanks for your extra questions! Always happy to help.

      1) The only places we couldn’t take photos were inside the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The flash destroys the beautiful paintings. So also make sure you tell other tourists off if you see them in there taking photos!
      2) Our co-tourists were all awesome and had no problems at all. The bus is locked and secured every time you hop off. We still always just carried the minimal things anyway and took them with us.
      3) The local food is brilliant so you will be fine. However, I do recommend buying some fruit from the local markets so you can snack on the bus.
      4) All the hotels we stayed in provided a “European breakfast” so tourists are well catered for. Don’t be afraid to try the local foods though as they are the best 🙂
      5) Lots of bottled water available and they had a fridge on the bus for us to buy during the day. More expensive than buying it in a local shop though, which there are plenty of.

      Enjoy your travel adventures in Egypt!

      • Shade

        February 1, 2013 at 8:30 AM

        Wow, that’s all super to know. So pyramids and other tombs and locations are cool, just not Valley of the Kings, fine.

        Are there any sites you wish you had time to see but felt a little constrained by the tour? I think for the first time the Expat tour you took will be just fine though. I’m planning on getting into Cairo two days before their tour starts and staying three days after, just to really get a good feel for Cairo. I’m sure to learn a lot about coming back again another day. I was thinking of doing their longer tour though I’m not a ‘hang out’ guy so much and five days on a beach in Dahab just to check out Jordan seems excessive. Have you guys ever taken a side trip to Jordan? I’ve heard it’s also possible to visit Israel and go down from there. So happy you’re out there! You settled some important points with your post and answers. Cheers!

        • Cole Burmester

          February 1, 2013 at 8:50 AM

          Your guide will let you know where and when you cannot take photos anyway. They were awesome at providing all that extra information and will definitely help you out.
          To be honest, we are not huge fans of tours as we like to be independent, but this one was great. We never felt too rushed or felt that we stayed too long at any place either. Very relaxed trip and you just have to go with the flow. Egypt is one of those countries that you really need a tour group to be able to do it well in my opinion.
          We were meant to go to Jordan on a side tip but unfortunately it fell through. We still plan to visit one day! And not sure about Israel sorry.
          Hope you enjoy it 😀 And please come back and tell us how it all went.

      • Shade

        February 1, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Super! Thanks! As far as Expat I’m sure your readers would like to know how to arrange some of the ‘extras’ you mention like hot air balloon ventures and such. Did you participate on any other of their extras? I’m also a little confused as it seems visits to the pyramids are included, though it also seems like there are additional charges. Can you go over these ‘extras’ on Expat’s list and explain how many of them should be factored in to visit some of these monuments and attractions?

        I also read this line and am unsure what ‘local payments’ may refer to. Thanks!

        • Cole Burmester

          February 1, 2013 at 4:39 PM

          All your entrance fees will be paid each day in cash. The guides will tell you how much is needed and things like that. It does add up but still not as expensive as most countries.
          For hot air ballooning etc, they will again explain or that once you arrive 🙂
          I can’t remember the prices off the top of my head sorry!

          • Shade

            February 3, 2013 at 3:02 AM

            I’m sorry, Cole, it wouldn’t allow the URL to be put in there. I will budget for all the extras I see at Expat’s link. I have my plane ticket and am about to purchase my tour. Before I do I see that they offer additional nights before or after the tour. I am arriving two days before the tour and staying four nights after. I have read a couple reviews on Expat’s site saying they felt both Cairo and Aswan hotels were further from the downtown areas than they expected. Would you suggest if a traveler would like to be in the ‘thick of it’ that they choose a separate hotel for staying in Cairo to be closer to it all? A couple reviews also mention that some of the restaurants on the tour are more expensive than local restaurants though I think that’s out of a traveler’s control. Once again, twice again, thrice again, thank you kindly for sharing all of your information!

          • Cole Burmester

            February 4, 2013 at 9:33 AM

            We stayed at the hotel that they recommend and honestly it wasn’t that nice. But still was good enough. Was also cheap to catch taxis around town which we did very easily. Felt very safe too when we wandered the streets.
            Enjoy your time there! 😀 So jealous we want to go back.

  20. Shade

    February 4, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Hey Cole, for your readers I added up all the entrance fees and it’s just over $100 so people should just budget an extra Franklin for all the cool temples and the museum. The hot air balloon will set folks back $130 each but I bet it’s an amazing journey! I found a wonderful hotel with great reviews that is right there in front of the Sphinx so I’m arriving two days before the tour begins to catch up on jetlag and see a little of the city. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all of your work here as it’s helped make my final decisions much easier. I’m doing the same tour you did, and will come back another time for Jordan. The extra five days I have in Cairo will be spent visiting Alexandria and just relaxing and investigating Cairo. All best, my virtual tour guide and internet pal. Cheers!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 4, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Sounds like you found a fantastic hotel Shade! I am sure it will be perfect. Just remember that on your first day you will be visiting the Sphinx so no need to go there beforehand 🙂
      I am sure Alexandria will be amazing too and make sure you stop back here to tell us how it all goes for you 😀 Enjoy and relax!
      Safe travels,
      Cole and Adela

  21. Shade

    February 4, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Okay, one more question: I don’t see Abu Simbel mentioned as part of any Expat Tours, yet there is a photo of Abu Simbel at the top of the 15-day tour, and they offer a half-day excursion there for $90. I do not see Abu Simbel mentioned at all during your journey. Was this offered to you? It seems odd that something so massive would not be a part of an itinerary. Cheers!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 4, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      I think the Abu Simbel day trip happens during one of the days in Aswan as an additional extra like the hot air ballooning. It isn’t included in the itinerary because it is basically a full day trip leaving before sunrise so it does mean you might miss out on other activities. Again your guide should explain all that once you arrive and they are really helpful with organising it all! 😀

  22. Cherrylene

    April 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Wonderful pictures you got there. Egypt is one of the best places to explore! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      Easy to take great photographs when it is gorgeous 😉

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Adventure Travel

WHY WE LOVE TRAVELLING IN ANTIPOLO (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)

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Antipolo is one of the seven most popular cities in Philippines which is located in the province of Rizal. The city of Antipolo is famous for being a pilgrimage site and is popularly known as the “pilgrimage site of Philippines”. Being the heritage city of the country Antipolo holds many beautiful and amazing places where you can explore your travel buds. The main and the enshrined attraction of the place is the marine image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage present in the Antipolo museum which was brought from Mexico during the year 1626.

There are many beautiful and extravagant places present in the beautiful city of the Antipolo where one can easily find peace and can explore the beauty of Philippines, the Antipolo style.  The city consists of many historic and natural sites which will blow your mind off and are worth visiting. We have some tourist attractions in Antipolo where you can go exploring with your friends or family or even alone.

Antipolo Cathedral: – Being the most historic and antique church present in the city the Antipolo church is widely famous for its renowned icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The church is located in the proper town and every year on the month of May Antipolo becomes the centre of attraction for many of the visitors and tourists who travel from faraway lands and locals in order to pay homage to the Our Lady.

Boso Boso church: – This church is mostly a remnant of a centuries old church which was destroyed during the Second World War. This beautiful remnant of the church belongs to the Spanish era that dominated the country of Philippines that for more than 300 years. It was constructed in the year 1700 under the Jesuits. After getting destroyed by earthquake in 1800, the church was abandoned in the 1930 and got into a fire scandal in the year 1945; it got restored back by the government in the year 1995. If you are a great lover of history and past things this place might fascinate you.

Hinulugang Taktak: – The name of the place means “where the bell was dropped”, is a waterfall that was designated by the government of Philippines as a national park. The mesmerizing waterfall got its interesting name due to a turn of event down the history. The priest of the nearby church on the demand of the town people had thrown the church bell into the river as it was causing unwanted sound in the town every time it rang during the Angelus.

Mystical Cave: – The cave is named as mystical because one can see the several religious images that appear inside the cave. Mostly the images are in stalactite and stalagmite formations that mainly resembles religious Gods. The cave consists of two floors but the visitors are allowed to explore the first one without permission.

Pinto Art Museum: – If you adore art and paintings and want to connect with the Antipolo’s culture then this art museum is an amazing chance you to get connected with the locals. The museum mainly displays the art, sculptures and paintings of the local artist bringing out the cultural background of the place.

Not only have these amazing historic places given you a clear image of the Antipolo’s beauty and history but there is a little more than just places that you will find fascinating. As the city of Antipolo is situated in a higher elevation than the Metro Manila, it gives you a breathtaking view of the metropolis at night, which is a sight to behold in the ancient city. In order to stay in the city you can easily find vacation home in Antipolo Philippines where you can stay and enjoy of your own.

Not only just places the city of Antipolo provides you exquisite food choices to make your taste buds go bananas or you can have fresh locally grown mangoes and cashews. The most famous dish in the city is the Suman, which is normally a local delicacy that is made from glutinous rice.

Antipolo is a breathtaking place hidden in the depth of Philippines with a mesmerizing history and culture. It will not only make you fall in love with itself but also will make your eyes reach with beauty.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Top of Cappadocia day trek with Middle Earth Travel

Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

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Tibet appeals to travellers in many ways. The first and most important thing is the beautiful natural scenery. However, Tibet is a bit different from the other scenic spots. There is a charm to this place, which is not found anywhere. Travellers have a mind which wanders and loves to explore new things. They can get this experience for their Tibet travel as the various associated activities can completely thrill them. From photography to trekking and cycling, the options never seem to end.

Almost everyone is well acquainted with the various joys of cycling in Tibet, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Tourists can pass through several spots and they can enjoy every bit of this beautiful natural land. Cycling happens on various routes and these routes have to be understood thoroughly. In this article, we will discuss about the cycling tour to Ganden Monastery from Lhasa and provide you every detail that you need.

Why travel to Ganden Monastery?

Tibetan Buddhism has a unique appeal which calms the soul of all wanderers. They are struck by wanderlust and the monasteries in Tibet, offer them something to cherish about forever. For those who love religious places, Tibet has plenty of offerings. The monasteries, the temples and the rituals, Tibet’s heritage have always echoed through the ages.  This brings us to Ganden Monastery, which is truly a magical place. It is an absolute wonder in front of the eyes and the viewers are left completely captivated. This was the very first monastery, which laid the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism. The vast expanse of land on Tibet’s western site is absolutely heavenly. Emperor Yongzheng who was from Qing Dynasty gave a very special name to this monastery and called it “Yong Tai”. Situated at a height of 3,800m from the sea’s level, the elevation is majestic. Lagyi Hall, Angyiukang, Yangbagyain Hall are the major construction in this monastery.

Located 47Km away from the capital city of Lhasa, this monastery witnesses a huge influx of people every year. This is an important structure as far as Tibet’s cultural heritage is conserved and it is preserved for this reason. The cultural and artistic significance is terrific and Ganden will always be the centre of Tibet’s attraction. It joins the famous Sera Monastery in a unique list, which also features Drepung Monastery. These three temples are considered “great” and the visitors value them greatly. Tibetan Buddhism features many activities and some of them are grand and marvellous. Once in a year, a giant picture of Buddha is unfolded and it easily attracts disciples from all parts of the country. Cycling to this monastery can provide a great experience, but you must follow the basic guidelines. Once these points are followed, your trip will not only be great, it will be perfect.

Highlights of the amazing cycling tour from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery

Cyclists are of different types and they begin their journey, by having different trips in their minds. We have introduced trips of various lengths and they are tailor-made for each type of traveller. Some people can opt for the short and customized tour, while, others can choose the longer version. The distance from Tibet’s Lhasa to this amazing monastery can vary slightly, depending on the route taken. Cyclists have to travel 60Km to reach their destination and not much difficulty is faced in the process.  Don’t forget to be in a relaxed mood, as you take this trip. Lhasa is a great spot to be in the right frame of mind and two days can be easily spent here.  The famous trip begins from Lhasa River and cyclists go upstream.  Picturesque villages and some amazing farmlands fall between that and they are just perfect. Reaching Ganden is easy and once you reach here, your soul will be touched by a positive vibe. The environment is filled with peacefulness and everything seems perfect here. One night can be spent here to soak in the feeling. The return journey can start next day and Chubuxi village falls in the route. Tibet is all about the unique lifestyle of the locals and this is something you can’t afford to miss.  From Chubuxi, the trekking trip to Samye commences.

The most classic 6 days Lhasa and Ganden Monastery Bike tour, you will enjoy the cycling joy and Tibet wonderful natural landscape and Tibetan monasteries architecture. Most tourists can complete this short ride after relaxing yourself in Lhasa for two days. The ride route begains upstream along the Lhasa River, and you will pass some farmlands and small villages. Then arrive in Gandan monastery, one of six Gelug sect monasteries, and worship this famous monastery. Then you are expected to spend a night at Gandan monastery to experience the peaceful environment. Next day, you will head back to Lhasa, and visit Chubuxi village at the foot of Gandan monastery. On the way you can experience the daily life of local people. Moreover, Chubuxi village is the starting point of Ganden to Samye trek. Finally we move back to Lhasa and the ride ends.

Tackling the changing altitude on the way to Ganden Monastery

The altitude in Lhasa is about 3600m, and that of Ganden Monastery is 3800m. There is no strict change of altitude, so it’s relatively easy for travellers who want to try short cycling in Tibet.  Cycling is a strenuous activity and it can take a toll on your health. That being said, cycling in the rough terrains of Tibet is even more challenging. Ganden is situated high above the normal sea level and this steep rise can often weaken cyclists. The high altitude woes will continue, if proper precaution is not taken. Carrying additional oxygen cylinders is a must and this should be done in advance. The temperature changes greatly and travellers should also be aware of this. However, if you choose us for this trip, everything becomes easier. The freezing months can pose a far bigger threat and that should be avoided at all costs.

The perfect time to take Lhasa – Ganden Monastery cycle tour

Tibet embraces every season fabulously, though the conditions are not favourable every time. Travellers and especially cyclists must understand the timing absolutely well. If the activity is done in a pleasant month instead of the harsh winter, the fun can increase manifold. The best time for cycling is from May to October because good weather and temparature. The other months can be targeted as well, but the safety issues become important in the hilly roads.

Getting the Tibet Travel Permit – How can we help?

Exploring Tibet is a fun activity, but Tibet travel permits matter greatly. Foreign travellers must fulfil the necessary travel guidelines to get in this region and we can help you from all sides. We make the process easier, by getting you the right documents at the right time.

What to pack for this cycle tour? – Bicycle Rent and Other Tips

Taking the most essential things can do the job here. The all-important ID card and travel permit is absolutely essential and it gets the first priority. Take a medium-sized backpack to put in your things and pack it with the right kind of warm clothes. Waist packs also come in handy, as they store many important things. This is a place where you will see high elevation, so oxygen should be there in abundance. Avoid getting sunburn by taking a good sun-screen cream or lotion and lastly don’t miss out on the medicines. Helmets and other cycling wear can be taken, as it is very essential. The bicycle can be rented easily and it is supplied by the tour operator itself. An important trip in this aspect would be to prepare for the changing weather. It can stay sunny or it can rain, so plan accordingly.

The challenges in Tibet are quite tough, but it will gift you an experience, which you will not forget in a long time. Cycling here is precious and it is an important aspect that strengthens Tibet’s tourism.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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