One of the freed hostages, Mirella De Guilli, is 70-years-old
A group of European tourists who spent 10 days as hostages in the Sahara have been describing the terrifying ordeal.
"At a certain point we thought it was all over," Walter Barotto, an Italian among a group of 19 people kidnapped in Egypt, told La Stampa newspaper.
Four other Italians, five Germans, a Romanian and eight Egyptian guides had been seized in a remote border area.
All the hostages have returned home after being freed on Monday, but there are conflicting accounts of the rescue.
They say they were suddenly released by their kidnappers, not rescued in a raid that involved a gunfight, as Egyptian officials earlier claimed.
"Shots? We didn't hear any," 70-year-old Italian tourist Mirella De Guili told reporters upon arriving at Turin's airport on Tuesday.
The tourists and their guides said they were allowed by the kidnappers to leave in a single vehicle.
All in one car
"We put our trust in God and drove in the desert for five or six hours, with no spare tyre and very little water. If we made a mistake, we would die," Ms De Guili said.
The group were seized in the remote Gilf al-Kebir area
"There were 19 of us packed into one car, some on the roof," Hassan Abdel Hakim, one of the kidnapped Egyptians, told the Associated Press news agency.
Mr Hakim revealed that moments before they were allowed to leave in the car he thought he and the other Egyptian guides were about to be killed.
"They told all the Egyptians to stand in one line and they cocked their weapons, and at that moment we thought we were dead," he said.
But they were then told they could take one car and leave.
The tourists said they later spotted two armed men who "luckily" turned out to be Egyptian soldiers.
The tourists also revealed dramatic details of their seizure at gunpoint by unidentified attackers on 19 September, which was followed by a dash through remote areas of the Sahara Desert.
Giovanna Quaglia, another Italian tourist, told La Stampa: "The water and food was rationed, we were scared."
"They never hit us but with us - women - they were very strict. We had to keep our faces covered."
"The worst moments were Saturday and Sunday, there was no news and we understood that the negotiations had stalled. It's an experience that I would not wish on anyone," Ms De Giuli said.
The tourists were freed by Egyptian troops in a pre-dawn operation on Monday, Egyptian security sources said.
Egyptian Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi said "half of the kidnappers were eliminated" in the raid, the official MENA news agency reported.
However, this was later disputed by other officials who said there had been little or no violence.
Some reports say Sudanese troops were also involved in the operation.
The breakthrough came a day after Sudanese troops reportedly clashed with the kidnappers in northern Sudan, killing six gunmen. Another two were taken into custody.
The two suspects - whose identity was not revealed - claimed the tourists were in Chad but their exact whereabouts at the time of rescue remains unclear. Chad denied the group was within its borders.
After the rescue, the Western tourists and their guides were flown to Cairo.
German officials had been negotiating via satellite phone with the kidnappers, who were demanding a ransom of $8.8m (£4.9m).
Egyptian officials said no money exchanged hands.