Egypt is quite unlike any other country or holiday destination in the world and should be on every traveller’s “must-do” list. With settlements estimated to go back to 10,000 BC, and the preserved remains of a highly organised religious infrastructure, the wealth and scale of Egypt’s archaeological sites are unrivalled anywhere else in the world. From the Giza Necropolis, with pyramids reaching over 146m (482 feet) in height, to the extensive tombs of the Valley of the Kings, any visit to Ancient Egypt is a humbling experience.
The best time to visit Egypt and the Nile are between February and April and from October through November. The Red Sea resorts are pleasantly warm and dry almost year round. The summer months around Cairo and the Valley of the Kings can be unbearably hot while the winter months are cloudy and can make monuments appear gloomy and lacklustre. There is little rainfall at any time of year, apart from on the Mediterranean coast.
Cairo offers some of the oldest and best known historic attractions in the world. From here you can visit the Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx. These are the iconic landmarks of Egypt and are overwhelming in their size and as a feat of manual engineering. Try to imagine the massivetask of manually cutting over two million blocks of stone and carrying them into place to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu! The Sphinx head represents the Sun-god Re-Horakhty and it’s worth taking a guided tour to learn more. The nearby Solar Barque Museum completes this amazing complex of antiquities.
Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast, is where many Egyptians come to escape the summer heat further inland. It has Roman and Greek attractions along with the El Montaza Palace and Qa’edbay’s Castle.
Luxor is a major stop on any Nile cruise. From here you can visit the temples of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel.
Aswan, home of the huge dam which now controls the flow of the Nile, has many temples, gardens and monuments nearby. Philae Island and the Temple of Philae, Kitchener’s Island with its botanical gardens, Elephantine Island and the Nubian Village all make this an excellent place to spend time exploring.
In total contrast to Egypt’s ancient history, the Red Sea offers modern resorts and a great beach resort lifestyle. Tourists can enjoy snorkelling, diving, glass bottom boat trips and sunbathing along with visiting nearby oases and Mount Sinai. Sharm El-Sheikh is renowned for its excellent diving and snorkelling on the coral reef and the resorts all offer plenty of watersports.
Apart from touring the amazing sites, temples and antiquities that Egypt has to offer, there are plenty more activities worth experiencing. Camel rides along the banks of the River Nile to a Nubian home or taking a cruise in a single-sailed dhow are both very cultural experiences. The desert landscape, ruins and Berber villages can best be explored by 4WD vehicle on a guided tour. Golfers can play on one of the courses within sight of the pyramids. However, for the very best views of the Nile and surrounding landscape, a trip in a hot air balloon is a must!