Egypt: A Trip Back in Time

The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid, Egypt

The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu) in Giza outside Cairo. Photo by Ian Sewell

Egypt is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia, via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Most of its territory lies within the Nile Valley of North Africa and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

Egypt is perhaps best known as the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, and pyramids. Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations world-wide.

Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Egypt are:

Cairo. The capital of Egypt is home to one of the premier attractions of Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza which represent the archetypal pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilisation and – together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau – the iconic image of Egypt Gizeh in the minds of people worldwide

Alexandria. Egypt’s second largest city and the country’s window on the Mediterranean Sea, is a faded shade of its former glorious cosmopolitan self, but still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and memories of a glorious past. Here was located the former Lighthouse (Pharos in Greek), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Alexandria, Egypt

Antiquity and modernity stand side-by-side in Egypt’s chief Mediterranean seaport of Alexandria. Photo by Chmouel Boudjnah

Port Said – Egypt’s third city, has a cosmopolitan heritage, bordering the Mediterranean, home to the Lighthouse of Port Said. Rudyard Kipling described the vitality of Port Said’s community by saying “If you truly wish to find someone you have known and who travels, there are two points on the globe you have but to sit and wait, sooner or later your man will come there: the docks of London and Port Said”.

Hurghada was once a fairly small and unimposing fishing village, located next to the Red Sea and boasting a number of superb beaches. Today, the resort of Hurghada is almost unrecognizable from its past life and has grown to become the most visited tourist destination in the whole of Egypt, with more than 100 different hotels, many of which line the shoreline. Famous for its superb diving opportunities, Hurghada is especially appealing to those with little experience of scuba diving, who come to marvel at the underwater reefs and awesome marine life. Tourism is now a huge part of Hurghada and each year, many tourists choose to combine their holiday here with visits to other prominent locations along the Nile Valley, including the relatively nearby city of Luxor.

Luxor is the premier travel destination in Upper Egypt and the Nile Valley. The dynastic and religious capital of Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Egypt, Luxor has much to offer the traveller, from vast temples, to ancient royal tombs, via spectacular desert and river scenery and a bustling modern life
Definite highlights, not-to-be-missed, include: the Valley of the Kings, the temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak, Medinet Habu, and the Tombs of the Nobles. The Valley of the Kings is one of the most remarkable archaeological destinations in the world – the burial place of most of the pharaohs of Egypt of the New Kingdom period Luxor is a good base for day trips to Dendera, the site of a fantastically well-preserved Ptolemaic temple of Hathor, amongst other destinations For those with more time on their hands you can add a visit to the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, featuring some of the best relief work in Egypt

Luxor Temple, Egypt

Luxor Temple, from the east bank of the Nile. Photo by Hajor

Upper Egypt is a region of the Nile Valley in Egypt, between Luxor and Aswan, characterised by a number of ancient settlements and temple towns that draw thousands of travellers every year

– Located in the south of Egypt, some 680 km (425 miles) south of Cairo, just below the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, Aswan is the smallest of the three major tourist cities based on the Nile. Being the closest of the three to Africa, it has a large population of Nubian people, mostly resettled from their homeland in the area flooded by Lake Nasser. Aswan is the home of many Granite Quarries from which most of the Obelisks seen in Luxor were sourced from. Aswan was the gateway to Africa, and many raiding parties began their travel south from Aswan.

Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Arab world. But there are also some very good reasons to visit it if you are not the common tourist, who likes to lie on the beach all day. It is one of the finest diving spots in the world and a trip into the desert is an unforgettable adventure.
The Sinai Peninsula is a remote desert mountain range. The rocky mountains are parted from the deep-blue sea by a flat desert strip. This combination of desert and sea is an incredible sight and makes you believe you are on a different planet.

Abu Simbel was saved from the rising waters of Lake Nasser growing behind the Aswan Dam in a massive archaeological rescue plan sponsored by UNESCO in the 1960s. The complex of temples dedicated to the Pharaoh Ramesses II “the Great” remain an evocative and unforgettable destination

St. Katherine home to the oldest continually inhabited monastery, Mount Sinai and Mount Katherine (highest mountain in Egypt) and truly Bedouin culture.

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Mount Sinai

Siwa – a stunning remote oasis near the Libyan border. This oasis is not a stereotypical palm grove with a watering hole for animals, Siwa Oasis is a vast region of date palms and olive trees extending over the horizon, with villages and a central lake. Extending some 80 km in length and 20 km in width, the oasis is one of the most isolated settlements in the country. Siwa nonetheless holds a special appeal for many travelers on account of its isolation and unique character, its natural beauty and its historical associations.

Egypt stimulates the imagination of western tourists like few other countries and is probably one of the most popular destinations world-wide.

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