EGYPT Nile Valley Historical cities: Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan...
Felucca on the Nile River
WELCOME TO THE NILE VALLEY
P.10-11 P.12-13 P.14-15 P.16-17 P.18-19
ROMANCE...SAILING THE NILE RIVER URBAN LIFE NATURE GASTRONOMY PHARAONIC EGYPT
P.20-21 THE COAST: FROM Marsa MatruH to Damietta and Port SaId P.22-23 ALEXANDRIA P.24-27 CAIRO AND GIZA P.28-29 EL FAYOUM TO HERMOPOLIS P.30-31 ASYUT TO DANDARA P.32-35 LUXOR AND THE EAST BANK P.36-37 VALLEY OF THE KINGS AND THE WEST BANK P.38-39 ASWAN P.40-41 ABU SIMBEL
PLANNING THE TRIP
DO’S & DON’TS
EGYPT GENERAL MAP 5
Nile Valley E G Y P T
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Welcome To The The land of pharaohs, intriguing legends, ancient civilizations and amazing temples, Egypt is one of the world’s greatest and most captivating countries. GEOGRAPHY Egypt enjoys a strategic location in North Africa close to the Middle East. Officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, it borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and Israel and the Gaza Strip to the east via the Sinai Peninsula and a land bridge that crosses the Suez Canal. It is, however, far from landlocked. Its north coast is lapped by the Mediterranean, while its lower east coast and south Sinai lie alongside the Red Sea. The country has long played an important role in connecting Africa with Asia, and the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean, and as such has been at the centre of the world’s political and economical arena for centuries. It is a vast country, totalling well over million square kilometres. That’s four times the size of the United Kingdom and twice the size of France, and yet most of its cities like Cairo, Aswan, Asyut and Luxor hug the shores of the Nile Valley. Even Alexandria, the country’s second largest city after Cairo, is in the Nile Delta. Egypt has four distinct areas. The Nile Delta, itself, is a stretch of land that fans out north from a point close to Cairo where the Nile splits into smaller flows of water, reaching a stretch of coastline that runs from Alexandria to Port Said. At the coast the waters of
the Nile flow into the Mediterranean. Along the coastline are the towns and cities of El Alamein, famed for its Second World War battles and museums, along with Marsa Matruh and Sallum to the west of Alexandria, while to its east is the historic Rosetta, where the Rosetta Stone, an important artefact that was key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, was discovered. Further along the coast is Damietta and Port Said. The Nile Valley stretches from the delta to Egypt’s southernmost border with Sudan, and along with its great cities is home to some of the world’s most iconic symbols of ancient civilizations. It is here visitors can see the three Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx that ‘guards’ them, the fabulous Luxor Temple and the Karnak Temples in Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and, of course, the Nile River itself. The Sahara Desert, the world’s second largest, makes up much of Egypt’s distinct desert and oasis areas, which are fascinating if sparsely inhabited, while the Sinai Pe ninsula and the Red Sea coastline and resorts are the country’s top spots for family fun and water sport themed holidays.
ENVIRONMENT A fabulously rich history and achievements sit comfortably with the Egypt of today. Deserts that stretch for kilometres into the distance and holiday resorts with top notch hotels offering family fun such as swimming and diving in the Red Sea contrast well with the Nile Delta and the
Nile Valley that leave you breathless at their bustling cities and ancient temples. Visitors arrive in their thousands, are totally captivated and return time after time. Whether it’s a view of the sun going down behind the centuries-old pyramids, turning the sky to a magical bright orange,
Nile Valley Add to this experiences of seeing one of Egypt’s most trusted residents, the camel, make its way casually across the sands, perhaps dressed in brightly coloured rugs and tassels for a festival, street vendors selling their goods in the bustling souks, children playing in the streets, craftspeople weaving carpets or locals mingling in an animated fashion around the streets, all of which sit well with innovative new commercial buildings, and you have a country that will become part of your soul.
Muslim, although over 12 million are Christians. The atmosphere is one of friendship. Egyptians like to work hard and live life to the full, and tend to work in the heart of the cities which have seen many changes in recent years and are now at the forefront of world politics, or working the agricultural lands of the Nile Valley or in tourism. Everyone can enjoy lively cultural experiences too - everything from the latest art sensations to music, theatre and dance. Egypt is a warm country for most of the year. Some days in summer the temperatures can reach 25-35C (95F) in Cairo, and so the way Egyptians live tends to reflect this as it has done for centuries. The pace of life is generally slow, and although city centres often appear bustling it isn’t long before everyone gives in and finds a cool place to rest awhile.
Egypt is a religious country. Islam is the official religion and most Egyptians are
WELCOME TO THE NILE VALLEY
or seeing the mesmerising sun-scorched Sphinx, the priceless treasures contained tantalisingly behind glass in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum or standing in awe of the fabulous temples the sights of the world’s most entrancing country stay with visitors for a lifetime.
HISTORY The history of Egypt stretches back to unimaginable times. It is a country probably best known to the world over for its pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun, and its ancient civilizations that largely existed along the banks of the Nile River and created so many of its iconic structures.
a series of dynasties that ruled the country, began in around 3100 BC. The first pharaoh is generally believed to have been Menes, who was instrumental in joining a then divided Egypt into one. The country was known as tawy, meaning ‘two lands’.
The earliest signs of civilization have been dated to prehistoric times, although the towns and cities of today can probably trace their roots back to around 8000 BC when the Sahara was formed and settlers started moving closer to the fertile land of the Nile River banks and eventually created communities. These ancient civilisations developed and grew almost entirely because of the Nile during a period known as the predynastic, a time before the pharaohs ruled the country.
A total of 30 dynasties ruled over the next three millennia until around the year 30 BC. Many, if not all of the pharaohs, wanted to put their own mark on Egypt and had supremely beautiful palaces, temples, tombs and structures built. It was during this time that most of the astonishing sights that can still be seen today were constructed, among them the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx of the Old Kingdom, and the Temples of Luxor in the New Kingdom.
The dynastic period, widely regarded as one of the oldest ever cultural periods in the world and so called because it was
Egypt has seen many periods of history since the ancient dynastic era and has reminders of how it flourished under different civilizations. 7
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Welcome To The HISTORY It has been occupied by the Persians, Romans, the Greeks, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, British and the French, but it is probably the pharaohs that have left the most mesmerising legacy on the country and one which makes tourism one of the countryâ€™s leading industry sectors today. Who cannot be captivated by the story of Tutankhamen, the young boy who be-
came king in 1333 BC, becoming the Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, and whose solid gold death mask is probably the most famous artefact ever found in Egypt. Or the beautiful Nefertiti, the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton, who might have ruled in her own right before Tutankhamun became king. Both-from many-make Egypt legendary.
SOCIOECONOMIC Today, Egypt is one of the key political and cultural leaders in the Middle East. It has a buoyant economy as a result of economic reforms and foreign investment and a rapidly evolving high technology communications sector. Its government continues to pledge investment into its infrastructure of highways, railways and waterways that stretch from the north coast and the Nile Delta to the southern points of the Nile Valley at Aswan and Abu Simbel, into the Western Desert and across to the Red Sea coast and into Sinai. Egypt also has one of the highest populations of all the countries in this part of the world with around 75.5 million people. Many live in the densely populated cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, where they are engaged in commerce, politics, retailing and tourism, while others live in rural areas near the banks of the Nile River and are engaged in agriculture. The rich soil of the banks provides the most arable agricultural land in Egypt today as it has done for around 10,000 years. It is on this land that man has relied on since ancient times. Without the river the country would likely only ever have been desert. Much of Egyptâ€™s national income relies on agriculture, along with tourism, petroleum exports and capital generated by traffic using the Suez Canal.
Far fewer people live in areas like the Sahara Desert, which although massive is unsympathetic to human needs, while Sinai and the Red Sea coastal areas have strong population figures, especially in the major towns which have good general infrastructures and amenities. There are healthcare facilities, shops, restaurants, many sports centres, especially those for water sports, and top hotels. The population in these areas is bolstered by the many visitors who arrive during the summer months on leisure, sea & land adventures, spa and wellness holidays, golf lovers, and short breaks. Egyptian society is geared very much around the family, and it is not uncommon to see all generations dining together or on an outing. Religion is important, with Muslims and Christians living and working together in harmony. As a visitor, you will always be made to feel welcome and protected.
Nile Valley to see the Colossus of Ramses II, the Serapeum and the ancient cemetery too. Spend time in Old Cairo. It’s rather like a living museum of historic and religious buildings, plus traditional markets to snap up some souvenirs to take home. And, of course, no visit to Cairo would be complete without a visit to the Egyptian Museum. It is one of the world’s most famous museums with an astonishing collection of ancient artefacts. Its most famous displays are treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb.
The second longest river in the world, the Nile follows a path along the length of Egypt from its southernmost boundary to the north Mediterranean coast, Damietta, and on to its sources, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, in the depths of Africa. Alexandria, the country’s second largest city and founded by Alexander the Great, hugs the Mediterranean coastline to the north and forms part of the Nile Delta along with two branches Damietta and Rosetta which embrace the highly fertile agricultural lands of the Delta Visitors to Egypt should always schedule into their agenda a stay in Cairo. One of the last remaining seven wonders of the ancient world, the Pyramids at Giza are ‘must sees’. The Great Pyramid was built by King Cheops of the 5th dynasty around 2600 BC and stands some 137 metres high. It’s well worth stepping inside to see the fabulous chambers. There are two other large pyramids to see, plus lots of smaller ones dedicated to family members of the kings. A few steps away is the huge Sphinx with its body of a lion and a human head. Make a point of visiting Memphis and Saqqara
Heading south, the Nile River flows through Al-Fayoum, Biba, Beni Mazar and on to the delightful El Minya. It has beautiful villas reminiscent of those found in old Tuscany which were built by the cotton merchants who made the town wealthy. The trading centre of Asyut and famou Dandara are reached, and then it’s on to the wondrous Luxor and Thebes with their fabulous temples, museums and tombs. Here the world famous iconic Karnak Temples and the Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, the Temple of Hatshepsut, the colossi of Memnon and the Ramesseum are just some of the sights that simply cannot be missed. Every visit to Egypt should include time spent in Luxor.
WELCOME TO THE NILE VALLEY
THE NILE VALLEY
Finally, the Nile Valley reaches Esna and Kom Ombo, both historic sites, Aswan which has a large Nubian community, temples and the feat of engineering the Aswan Dam to see, and finally to Abu Simbel where the notable Great Temple of Abu Simbel and the Temple of Hathor make a remarkable sight carved into sheer rock faces. The Nile Valley is a mix of the old and the new, the classic and the innovative. It is cultural Egypt at its best.
Sailing the Nile...
There’s nothing quite like a touch of romance under the stars with that special person, and if you happen to be on the Nile drifting slowly along past temples and sand dunes watching the sun set together then it doesn’t get much more memorable than that. It will be a highlight of a holiday in Egypt.
Cruising on the Nile has been a popular pastime for countless visitors since the 19th century. Florence Nightingale was so captivated by the river and wrote about it in glowing terms, and Thomas Cook, the entrepreneur behind the leading travel company, was so smitten he began offering cruises to his clientele, one of the first to do so.
To enjoy your ultimate romantic adventure make sure you book your cruise between Luxor & Aswan around the time of El Sadda El Shitwia ( the time of closing the Nile, lock of Esna two weeks each December & June otherwise you will use land transportation to reach Luxor from Esna
The Nile has held a fascination for centuries and even today conjures up images of whimsical days and romantic nights on board elegant steamers, but then perhaps that’s all down to English novelist Agatha Christie and her famous work “Death on the Nile”. The book was later made into a film starring Peter Ustinov as the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and much of the filming was done in the Nile Valley.
There are a number of ways to sail on the Nile. You can take a short hop of a few hours on a cruise boat or a felucca, a small wooden sailing boat, and while this doesn’t give you the full experience of a romantic journey elegantly drifting down the Nile it does give you a taste. It’s especially good way to sail if you have a limited amount of time. Another way is to take a journey of several days on board one of the cruise ships or restored ornate steamers that are a familiar sight along the Nile. Many are to a luxurious 5-star standard, complete with wood-cladded walls, top notch linens and gourmet cuisine. They have become as much a part of the Egypt scene as the Pyramids. Typically, a cruise will see you boarding the ship at Aswan, setting sail and seeing great sights. You can take a luxury cruise to Abu Simbel passing by Kalabsha, Bait el-Walli, Wadi el-Subua and Amada Temple
or head north towards Luxor. Your cruise might then see you sailing to Kom Ombo to see the Temple of Sobek and Hareoeris, a captivating sight from the river. Then it’s onwards to Edfu and maybe stopping awhile to visit the Temple of Horus and Esna to see the Temple of Khunum. Finally, your cruise might end in Luxor where you can visit the fabulous Karnak Temples, the Luxor Temple and the museum, or take a trip to the extraordinary Valley of the Kings. Some ships may start at Luxor and so your journey will be in reverse, or you may choose to travel beyond Luxor and see Dandara or Abydos, but all will sail at a slow pace, giving you time to see the sights, relax and take in the atmosphere. You will be able to wave to children on the riverbank and see fishing boats go by. It’s a great way to combine a trip on the river with seeing the ancient sites along the way too. Be sure to share the memorable experience with loved ones. 11
Urban life... While Egypt will be forever famous for its ancient civilizations and pharaohs, it is also home to around 75.5 million people who live and work here today. Egypt has a strong political, religious and cultural identity. In addition, you can experience both the feel of ancient life when you visit the historical places as well as modern life through technology found throughout the country.
Much of daily urban life revolves around the cities’ souks and markets. Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili, for instance, is an astonishing labyrinth of shops teeming with locals and tourists alike. Almost every neighbourhood will have a market selling fruit and vegetables, and it is from these that most Egyptians will buy their fresh products.
The country’s people work mainly in agriculture, the petroleum industry, commerce, government and tourism, although real estate linked to tourist hotspots is starting to become a buoyant sector too. The vast majority of Egyptians live and work in the cities of the Nile Valley. Here you can find trendy cafes and restaurants serving Egyptian and International cuisine, bustling souks, leisure opportunities, sports and venues full of cultural experiences from art to theatre and dance.
Egypt’s economy is booming through tourism, oil and gas exports, revenue from the Suez Canal and foreign investment. City Stars Mall
URBAN LIFE Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Egypt is changing though and now more shopping malls complete with glass lifts, shiny decors, swish shops and even cinemas are emerging. A casual stroll around one of the malls will reveal names like Nike and Adidas, with music from the likes of Justin Timberlake emerging from stores selling CDs. The malls tend to be located in modern Cairo, or cities such as Alexandria.
Art galleries and cultural centres, conference venues, theatres and cinemas are all growing in number. The El Sawy Culture Wheel art centre in Zamalek, which hosts contemporary art collections, and the fabulous Cairo Opera House where the Cairo Symphony Orchestra perform. There are venues in Luxor, Aswan and the Sinai and Red Sea resorts.
The trendy set is leading the way when it comes to nightlife and culture, especially in Cairo and Alexandria. Where once entertainment consisted solely of traditional music and dancing the choice is expanding as Egyptians become more accustomed to western styles too. Concerts by worldwide rock stars and westernised classical music, musical theatre, opera and ballet can all be found. Even the historic sights have adopted new technology by offering sound and light shows (at
Darwish Theatre has concerts and
In Alexandria, Opera House and Sayed dance events, while the cityâ€™s Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a futuristic build-
ing containing a library of millions of books and multimedia, three museums, a planetarium, four art galleries and numerous exhibition centres. It is a fabulous facility for the people of Egypt.
the Pyramids of Giza, the Karnak Temples in Luxor, Philae temple in Aswan, and in Abu Simbel)
Nature Much of the Nile Valley lies in what is known as the Upper Egypt, a stretch of fertile land that runs from the southernmost boundaries of Cairo due south to Aswan. To the north it is bordered by the Nile Delta. To the east thereâ€™s the Eastern Desert and the Western Desert to the west. Upper Egypt has by far the richest soil and it is here that most of the crops is grown. Almost all of the 75.5 million population relies on the region for food. It is also here, that most of the plants and wildlife species of Egypt thrive. Look out for the Lotus Flower. Its bright petals provide a carpet of colour over the Nile riverbanks in summer months. Also the bright yellow pom-poms of the Acacia tree can be spotted. Middle Egypt and the northern areas of Upper Egypt enjoy a warm climate, with dry summers and very little rainfall. July and August are the hottest months.
The climate provides the perfect environment for many species of animals, reptiles and amphibians. This area is home to turtles and tortoises, frogs, mongooses and the Nile Monitor, a fabulous if somewhat menacing prehistoric-like lizard that can grow up to two metres long.
The Nile Valley is also a birdwatchers paradise. Ornithologists come to see the incredible number of birds that live or winter in the region, including Little Gulls, Whiskered Terns and the small wader, the Kentish Plover. The Grey Heron makes a dramatic sight in the marshy areas too, as does similar species of egret. Birds have always played an important role in both day-to-day life and the sacred culture of Egypt. There are over 150 indigenous species of birds that live here all year round, with a further 280 or more species migrating in the summer months. As you travel further south along the Nile the temperature rises. Summer temperatures in Aswan are dry and warm, although if planning an excursion into the desert go in the morning before the sun is high. The desert makes up well over 90 per cent of the land mass of Egypt, leaving only around
3.5 per cent of the total million or more square kilometres being cultivated. The Nile Valley becomes more desert-like the closer you get to Aswan and beyond to Kom Ombo and Abu Simbel. The desert environment is ideal for Fennec foxes, the Desert Lynx, snakes such as the Spitting Cobra, the iconic symbol of Pharaonic Egypt, and scorpions, all of which should be treated with respect. The Nile Valley, the delta and the surrounding desert is a fabulous mix of contrasts with vastly different natural environments and habitats.
Some of the worldâ€™s most delicious and healthiest cuisine can be found in Egypt. With influences from the Mediterranean and Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the dishes of modern day Egypt combine fresh often brightly coloured vegetables and fruit straight off the trees with fish, seafood, meats and an abundance of pulses, aromatic herbs and strong spices.
such as melokiyah made from green leafy vegetables. There are many soup recipes that use tomatoes, watercress, pulses or beans, with herbs such as fennel giving them a real kick. Garlic is used lavishly, as is onion. Spices too.
While many cooking practices are much the same as they were in Pharaonic times, the periods of history that saw, among others, the Ottomans and the French live alongside the Egyptians, bringing with them their very distinct style of cooking, has left an indelible mark. Typically, a meal will start with soup,
When the Great Pyramids of Giza were excavated it was found that workers in Ancient Egypt were paid with onions and a type of bread that would have been coarse and filling. The two remain staple foods of the Egyptian diet today. It was discovered that many workers also received beer made from cereals
Egyptian restaurants will have rows of dishes full of brightly coloured spices that are a key ingredient. Soups are served with flatbreads like aish or pitta. Fresh fish (samak), seafood or fish stew accompanied by rice may follow. Meat is prepared to perfection. Chicken, lamb and veal are the most popular, and usually slow roasted, grilled with lots of herbs, or minced and added to dishes like stuffed vine leaves. Pigeon, hamaam, is considered a delicacy, and you will find it’s always delicious as it is cooked with much care. Koshari is a national dish and can be found delicately prepared on gourmet menus, as well as in ‘fast food’ outlets or on street carts. Made from macaroni or spaghetti, rice, lentils and chickpeas, all served with a thick garlic and tomato sauce, topped with fried onions and herbs, it may sound a rare combination but is truly delicious. Other traditional dishes include Foul Medames, a dish of
beans served with boiled eggs, and the popular falafel, a dish of spicy beans mashed together with herbs into patties and fried. Almost all meals will be served with a fresh salad, and probably some dips like hummus or tahini, or the local babaganoush, a dip made from pureed eggplant. Foul is a flavoursome dip made from beans, mashed with olive oil, lemon and herbs. Egyptian desserts usually take the form of a rice pudding made with rosewater and sprinkled with spice, or yoghurt or pastries filled with figs, nuts or dates. Honey is often drenched over desserts in much the same way as is done in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean countries. Fresh fruit, especially figs and dates, as well as oranges will almost certainly be served at the end of a meal.
Pharaonic Egypt The history of Egypt can be traced back to prehistoric times and when the Sahara Desert wasformed in around 8000 BC, prompting early civilizations to move closer towards the Nile in order to catch fish and grow crops, but it is Pharaonic Egypt that began some 5,000 years ago that truly captures the imagination of people the world over. Great people from 30 different dynasties, their lives, cultures and phenomenal knowledge of mummification, mathematics and astronomy have created iconic images of an ancient Egypt. Who cannot be intrigued by the lives of ancient kings like Tutankhamun, the young boy who came to the throne in around 1333 BC. He ruled for just ten years and his golden death mask unearthed when his tomb was discovered the Valley of the Kings near Luxor in 1922 is one of the most fabulous treasures in the world today. Or the great female pharaoh Hatshepsut who was the longest ruling Egyptian king (indeed people considered her as a king and not a queen) the mighty Ramses II who changed the face of ancient Egypt and defended it against invad-
ers, or Nefertiti, the wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, who might have ruled in her own right. Her life, as well as the location of her tomb, remains a tantalising mystery. The start of Pharaonic Egypt saw more than 3000 years of remarkable achievements and prosperity, with the pharaohs being the most important people in the land. They created strong government, military and religious structures, held court and ruled the land unquestioned. They were worshipped as if gods and had phenomenal wealth, which they lavished on building temples and other monuments. Abu Simbel Temple
PHARAONIC EGYPT Tutankhamunâ€™s mask
The Pharaonic period, known as the Dynastic era because Egypt was ruled by a series of dynasties, in fact 30 in total, began around 3150 BC under the first Pharaoh who united the then divided Upper and Lower Egypt. The first pharaoh is widely believed to have been Menes, although there is belief that he was in fact the pharaoh Narmer or Aha depicted in many archaeological records. He established a capital called Memphis, which became the heart of the country. There is little known about the kings of the 1st and 2nd dynasties, but it is the kings from the 3rd dynasty onwards in a period that became known as the Old Kingdom who made Egypt one of the wealthiest in the ancient world. Massive and elaborate buildings were erected, the culmination of which was the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza. The Pyramids are an extraordinary example of the pharaohâ€™s advanced
understanding of the science of mathematics and still perplex experts today. The next period of pharaonic rule was known as the First Intermediate Period starting in around 2150 BC, followed by the Middle Kingdom from around 2000 BC when the capital became Thebes, the next period, the New Kingdom, began around 1539 BC and gave us some of the greatest pharaohs of all time, including Ahmose, Hatshepsut, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. In around 1279 BC the heroic Ramses II came to the throne where he stayed for over 67 years. Pharaonic Egypt, meaning a land ruled by Pharaohs, ended in around 30 BC, although a form of monarchy continued for several thousand years until the country was conquered by the Romans. Leading figures include Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. 19
Marsa Matruh Beach
The Coast: from Marsa Matruh to Damietta, Rosetta and Port Said With its jugged coastline, bays and long sweeps of golden sands, the north coast of Egypt is quiet, supremely beautiful and attracts a steady stream of visitors. It stretches from Sallum to the west, the last Egyptian town before hitting the Libyan border which perches high on the cliff looking out to sea, along the coast road to Marsa Matruh, El-Alamein, the huge colonial city of Alexandria to Abu Quir in the Nile Delta, the famous Rosetta and to Damietta and Port Said at the mouth of the Suez Canal. Along the way you will see historic monuments and wonderful beaches. Marsa Matrouh
some 290 kilometres from Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh is a gem. It is hugely popular with Egyptians looking for
their own escape from the busy cities, and families can often be seen enjoying the seven or so kilometres of soft white sand that are protected by a necklace of natural rocky breakwaters. Calm turquoise seas lap the shores of the bay. There are several beaches, including the Cleopatra Beach that lies just to the west of the town, the quiet and relaxing Ra-as Al-Hakma Beach, Al-Abyad Beach and Agiba Beach. Marsa Matruth town, itself, is said to have been founded by Alexander the Great on his way to Siwa where he was to pay homage to the god Amun. Other attractions for visitors are the remains of a navel fleet anchorage built by the Ptolemies, a Coptic chapel and the Rommel Museum created within a cave where Erwin Rommel, a German Commander, is said to have finalised his military plans during the Second World War. The museum displays arms and tools from the period.
Marsa Matruh, Agiba Beach
El-Alamein is 200 kilometres or so further along the coast road from Marsa Matruh. A
small village that is developing into a popular tourist spot, it is best known for the
important role it played in the Second World War. Visitors can visit a war museum
that tells of the battles that changed the campaign in the Allies’ favour, as well as the Commonwealth War Cemetery with monuments dedicated to the Greek, South African, Australian and New Zealand troops who fought on the British side, and cemeteries commemorating the bravery of the Italian and German soldiers.
DON’T MISS Agiba Beach, meaning wonder, which lives up to its name with natural caves and coves to explore.
There were two battles fought in El Alamein, the first inJuly 1942, when Axis troops tried unsuccessfully to advanceon Alexandria, and the second when British General Montgomery’s 8th Army fought a bitter battle withRommel’s troops who were forced to retreat to Tunisia. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the battles, “Before Alamein we had no victory and after it we had no defeats.”
Damietta Rosetta Port Said Alexandria Nil eD elta Porto Marina Cairo
Sidi Abd El Rahman
EASY TRAVEL Alexandria and Marsa Matruth have airports with regular flights most of the year, and the coast is well served by train and bus services from Alexandria and Cairo. Port Said Tourist Office : Phone : 066 3235289 - Fax : 066 3235289 Marsa Matruh Tourist Office : Phone : 046 4931841 - Fax : 046 4931841
Rosetta, Muallaq Mosque
THE COAST : FROM MARSA MATRUH TO DAMIETTA, ROSETTA and PORT SAID
The resort of Agami has been top of the list Legende for holidaying professionals from Cairo and Alexandria since the 1950s. It is the last town along the coast before you enter the environs of the elegant Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city and known as the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’.
Continuing along the coast road, you pass the road to Abu Mina and its beautiful Coptic Monastery of Abu Mina, Deir Mari Mina, which honours the saint Mina or Mena as it is sometimes spelt. He is one of the best known Egyptian saints and, as the story goes, many miracles have been attributed to him. It is believed he was tortured and killed for his religious beliefs by Asia Minor rulers in the 3rd century and today pilgrims regularly visit the site, especially on November 11, St Mina’s Day. The monastery, which is relatively new and stands on the site of an ancient basilica, is known throughout Egypt. The village, itself, is a World Heritage Site and well worth a visit.
Rosetta, or Rashid as it is historically known, lies 60 or so kilometres east of Alexandria.
A bustling port town, Rosetta can trace its history way back to 800 AD when it was founded by the Muslim governor of Egypt, Ibn Tulun. Known for its beautiful Ottoman mansions from the time of the Ottoman conquest when, as a port, it was immensely prosperous, its citrus groves and its elegant feel, Rosetta has long been a popular holiday spot. What really puts it on the map however is the fact that it was here that the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799.
An Egyptian stone slab from the Ptolemaic era, the Rosetta Stone has proved key to deciphering the ancient hieroglyphic style of writing discovered in places like the tombs of the Valley of the Kings. Hieroglyphic was the form of writing used in Egypt 3,000 years ago, but it took until the discovery of the stone and the work of a 19th century scientist and professor to understand it. Finally, the coastal journey ends at Damietta and
Port Said, both busy ports, and the famous Suez Canal.
DID YOU KNOW?
The north coast was Cleopatra’s a favourite spot and, according to legend, she would bathe in the clear waters. Cleopatra was the monarch of Egypt during the time of Caesar as the country entered its Roman era.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Alexandria Pearl of the Mediterranean
A 20 kilometre-long palm tree-lined esplanade and boulevards, swish hotels, long stretches of fine sandy beach and gardens characterise Alexandria, widely considered to be one of the finest summer resorts in this part of the world. Unlike many other areas of Egypt, its cultural heritage, climate of warm summers, mild winters and pleasingly warm spring and autumn months and its cosmopolitan atmosphere give it a Mediterranean feel. Alexandria is known as the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’. Egypt’s second largest city with a population of around four million, Alexandria is the country’s largest seaport and the centre of much of its maritime activity. It is also one of the oldest cities in Egypt and lies around 225 kilometres northwest of Cairo. As records suggest, Alexandria was established by Alexander the Great in around 332 BC on the site of a small village called Rhakotis. He wanted to create one of the finest capital cities in the world, and one for which his reign would go down in history. Alexandria remained the capital of Egypt for nearly a thousand years and was immensely prosperous because of its strategic trading location between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It also became the centre of learning for the ancient world, and retains its academic importance to this day.
Among the sights for visitors to see is the beautiful Montazah Palace, which is perched on a hill overlooking the sea. It was once the summer home of the Egyptian royal family and now houses a museum in their honour. Built to a Turkish and Italian architectural design, it stands in some of the prettiest gardens in Alexandria. They are open to the public and well worth a visit. Holidaying visitors flock to Alexandria for its good diving sites, and its beaches which are among the best in Egypt if not the Mediterranean. Its most famous are the beaches of Al-Ma’moura, Mandara, Al-Assafrah, Mami, Sidi Bishr and Montazah, as well as Sidi Gaber, Rushdi, Stanley, Gleem and Cleopatra. All are dotted along the corniche, the DON’T seafront boulevard.
The Shallalat Gardens in the Al Shatby district is a massive expanse of lawns, trees and shrubs with lakes designed so that the water tumbles in waterfalls. It is a calm space in a busy city. Also the Mediterraneanstyle street cafes.
Qaitbay Citadel, a turreted fortress that was built in the 15th century on the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is a ‘must see’. It is said that stones from the original lighthouse built in the 3rd century BC on an island in the harbour were used in its construction. Excavations in the harbour continue to this day, and recently there have been more ancient stone found which in all likelihood once formed part of the lighthouse’s structure. The city has many mosques too, the most notable being the Al-Mursi Abul Abbas with a towering minaret and domes that dominate the city’s skyline, and the 14th century Al-Attareen Mosque.
INFO POINT Se a
To Abu Quir and Rosetta Montazah Palace
ea an err t i San Stefano Med n
Qaitbay Citadel Al-Mursi Bibliotheca Alexandrina Abul Abbas National Museum of Alexandrina Mosque Graeco-Roman Museum Roman Amphitheatre e Pompey’s Pillar Th Catacombs at Kom el Shoqafa Desert Highway, To Wadi El Natroun To El Alamein and Cairo
The Graeco-Roman Museum, located in the heart of modern Alexandria, houses an impressive collection of 40,000 or more artefacts found in and around the city, some dating as far back to 332 BC. The museum was founded in the 19th century, quickly became an important exhibitor of ancient artefacts and remains a key amenity in Alexandria today, along with the National Museum of Alexandria.
Alexandria also has lots of archaeological sites too, including a Roman amphitheatre at Kom Al-Dekka, a Serapium pillar dating from the 3rd century known as Pompey’s Pillar, the ancient catacombs at Kom el Shoqafa that show a mix of Pharaonic and Greco Roman art, the Al-Shatby Necropolis site and a series of tombs. The city, however, while celebrating its glorious past also has a thoroughly modern approach to providing facilities for its residents and visitors. This is supremely evident in the opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an important library and cultural centre designed to put Alexandria back on the academic map. It stands near the site of the ancient Library of Alexandria dating from the 3rd century, which was considered to be the largest library in the ancient world. Among the famous scholars who studied here are mathematicians Euclid in 300 BC and Heron in 62 AD, and philosopher and astronomer Eratosthenes in around 200 BC.
You can live different experiences by exploring the under-water treasures in Alexandria. Don’t miss also the Wadi El Natroun Monasteries.
EASY TRAVEL Alexandria has its own international airport, as well as being a seaport for cruise ships. It is served by the express service buses and rail network that link it to Cairo and other major towns and cities.
Along the Mediterrean coast luxurious resorts open their endless possibilities for memorable vacations (one of them is Porto Marina).
Alexandria Tourist Office : Phone : 034843380/51556 Fax : 034843380
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002 following a competition organised by UNESCO to find the best architectural design for the commemorative building. A futuristic design was chosen, complete with a glass roof angled so that it faces the sea. There are specialised libraries for children, those who are blind or visually impaired and the young, along with sections dedicated to the arts, multimedia, audiovisual, microforms and rare books. This extraordinary facility also has four art galleries for temporary exhibitions and a further nine for permanent displays, three museums dedicated to antiquities, manuscripts and science, a planetarium, internet archive, a manuscript restoration laboratory and seven academic research centres. Its cultural centre has nine screens for projection presentations, and an interactive environment. It is a fabulous facility for the people of Alexandria, an award-winner and considered one of the leading such centres in the world.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina has a library capable of holding eight million books, and is one of the largest libraries in the world.
Giza, Sphinx and the Pyramids
Cairo and Giza To say Cairo is a city of contrasts is perhaps an understatement. It is an astonishing mix of reminders from an ancient world that sit, surprisingly comfortably, with modern day life. You can see historic buildings and market squares in Old Cairo, fabulous Mamluk and Ottoman mosques, Christian churches, swish hotels and contemporary commercial offices in Greater Cairo, lush parks, residential areas and the amazing area where the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx in Giza dominate the skyline and the city meets the desert. Add to this the chance of visiting the Egyptian Museum where exhibits are too ancient and too fabulous to comprehend, the streets of Khan el-Khalili, the old-
est bazaar in the world, and the huge museum and cultural centre complex of the Opera House and you have a city that captivates. To visit Cairo, one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world with a population said to be almost 8 million in the metropolitan area alone, will be a thoroughly memorable, if hectic, and at times bewildering, experience.
DON’T MISS The Sound and Light show at the Pyramids of Giza – the narrator of Egypt’s ancient history is the Sphinx itself. Languages include French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Italian and Japanese. Also don’t miss the chance of lunch or dinner on a floating restaurant – the often luxurious boats can be seen moored along the riverside.
Millions of Egyptian live and work in the city, with the total number of people bolstered by tourists from every corner of the world at most times of the years. Spring and autumn tend to be the busiest times as the sun is not so hot, although winter and summer see many visitors too. Expect to hear Japanese and Chinese, American voices, Canadians, French, Italian and English among the throngs of people who gather to see the sights of this glorious city. Cairo lies on the banks of the Nile River, at the point where it splits in a fan-like manner for its onward route north through the low-lying Nile Delta to the Mediterranean. It is a warm city, although has a raising humidly level due to the
DID YOU KNOW?
The best way to avoid having to queue to get into the Cairo Museum is to book in advance or join a group visit. Mid-morning tends to be especially busy, so try visiting early in the day or in the afternoon when it is quieter.
Nile. July to August are the hottest months when temperatures tend to be 30-40°C (107.6oF), while in winter it is cooler at around 24-30°C (86oF). It has little rainfall.
The Corniche el-Nil runs along the length of the Nile on the east side and offers bridges across the water to the island of Gezira in the Zamalek district, and in turn to the west bank. The Cairo Tower, a tall television tower with a lattice-like exterior, is a famous land-
CAIRO and GIZA
Cairo is divided into several main areas, each with their own character and many attractions that should be a ‘must’ on every visitors’ itinerary. Central Cairo, or Greater Cairo, is where the administrative heart of the city, and indeed the country, is located. It lies to the north of the city and takes in part of Giza on the western side of the river and a large expanse of area to the east. The area feels contemporary and modern with a network of wide 19th century boulevards resembling the layout of cities such as Paris, shiny futuristic buildings, parklands, swish restaurants and hotels. It is quite different to almost all other areas of the city.
mark of the island and can be seen for some distance. You can go to the top for a great panoramic view of the city. Central Cairo contains some fabulous sights, such as the 19th century Midan Opera and Midan Ataba, the Mausoleum of former Prime Minister Saad Zaghloul, Manial Palace which was once a royal home and the new sprawling Opera House complex where residents and visitors can hear classical music and opera, and see dance performances, theatre and ballet. Midan Tahrir is the busy heart of Central Cairo, and it is here where there are numerous shops, cafes and restaurants in streets such as Qasr el-Nil. There’s also the American University housed in a grand neo-Islamic building, plus the city’s absolute ‘must do’ attraction, the Egyptian Museum. You can reach it via the Sadat subway station.
Housed in a neo-classical building colour washed in pink, it is the home of the largest collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. In fact, it is said there are around 120,000 pieces on display, including mummies, numerous sarcophagi and, of course, the world famous Tut Ankh Amum (Tutankhamun) collection of gold and alabaster treasures found when the boy pharaoh’s tomb was discovered in 1922. You can also see a replica of the Rosetta Stone in the foyer as you enter the museum. The original was discovered in Rosetta, Rashid, on the north coast and was
The Egyptian Museum
instrumental in deciphering hieroglyphics, the ancient Egyptian form of handwriting that dates from before Pharaonic Egypt times. If visiting the museum you can book a guided tour or purchase a book and wander around at your own pace. Allow several hours or, if a dedicated Egyptologist, many days. East of Central Cairo is the Islamic part of the city, while to the south is the oldest. Full of atmosphere and charm, they both are characterised by narrow streets and labyrinths of tiny alleyways and lanes, ancient architecture seen on mosques and churches, and residential streets that stretch for several kilometres into the distance. Khan el-Khalili, the famous network of streets that make up the largest bazaar in the Middle East, and one of the oldest markets in the world, is in the Islamic part of Cairo. It was built by Emir Djaharks elKhalili who created a khan, a caravanserai for traders. From as far back as 1382 traders have plied their goods of gems, gold and silver, copper and highly scented spices. Today, similar items can be found although they are joined by trinkets more suited to Al-Azhar Mosque holidaying visitors looking for a souvenir to take home. To wander around the bazaar is fascinating, and good fun. Nearby, is the great Mosque of Sayyidna al-Hussein, considered the holiest site in Cairo, which is well worth seeing, along with the fabulously old Mosque of al-Azhar, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the 12th century citadel built by Salah El Din to protect the city from invaders, the Mosque of Mohamed Ali on the Citadel and the Wikalat al-Ghouri, a medieval former caravanserai that now houses an arts and crafts centre. The Islamic part of the city is generally bustling, but is a key area for visitors new to Cairo to experience. To the west of Central Cairo are the Pyramids of Giza on the Giza plateau, not far from the site of the ancient city of Memphis and Saqqara. The last remaining Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the pyramids are the iconic image of Egypt. You can visit the Great Pyramid built for King Khufu of the 4th dynasty, the slightly smaller Pyramid of Khafre dated from around 2500 BC and the Pyramid of Menkaure. Dotted around are several smaller pyramids where members of the kingsâ€™ families would have been entombed. To one side stands the much-photographed Sphinx with its body of a lion and the head of a human, while a short walk away is the Solar Boat Museum that houses a full-size ancient Egyptian boat that was discovered in pieces but put together again with much care. It is fascinating to see. Saqqara complex of pyramids and monuments, the centrepieces of which are the Step
ing much of the Pharaonic Egypt period was the capital city.
Pyramid of Djoser and the Pyramid of Sekhmket, along with the city of Memphis that dur-
le Ni The
Egyptian Museum Islamic Cairo / Cairo Tower Khan el-Khalili bazaar Sultan Hasan Mosque / Citadel El Rifai’ Mosque Coptic Monuments Giza Old Cairo Coptic Museum Pyramids
Coptic Cairo, St Georges’ Church
While the Pyramids of Giza and the beautiful Sphinx that ‘guards’ them date from Pharaonic times and are one of the oldest monuments in the city today, Old Cairo, or Coptic Cairo as it is known, is where the city actually began. In fact, the area, along with Memphis, Saqqara and Dahshur, predates the city as we know it today. Old Cairo was founded in around the 6th century AD, at a time when Alexandria was the capital of Egypt and the Pyramids and Sphinx lay way beyond the small community’s boundary. Then the site that was to become Cairo was little more than a few dwellings on the banks of the Nile and a Roman fortress that guarded the route between the ancient cities of Memphis and Heliopolis. As the stories go, an Arab general, Amr Ibn al-Aas, decided the area was a good spot for establishing a much larger community and began to construct homes and places of worship. The community grew and grew at a time when the country was predominately Christian. Today, some of the most historic and important Christian buildings and churches in the city can be found in the narrow little alleyways and streets of Coptic Cairo. Be sure to visit the Church of St Barbara, one of the largest in Egypt, is still used regularly for worship.
Pyramids Tourist Office : Phone : 33838823 - Fax : 33853526
CAIRO and GIZA
EASY TRAVEL Shuttle buses run regularly from Cairo International Airport into the city centre, plus there’s limousine and car hire facilities available. In town, there are taxis galore. Look out for the black and white cars, which can be hailed, or book a bright yellow air-conditioned City Cab. Taxis also wait outside hotels. Cairo has a good metro and railway system and a bus network too.
Dowtown Cairo Tourist Office : Phone : 23913454 - Fax : 23913454 Railway Station Ramses Tourist Office : Phone : 25790767 - Fax : 25790767
Cairo. Look out for the delicately carved mashrabiya windows. Inside, the museum offers a surprise at every turn. With one of the finest collections of Coptic art in the world, it covers the periods from Pharaonic times through to Graeco-Roman and Islamic. On display are pulpits, ancient textiles and embroidered silks, icons, manuscripts and ceramics.
Cairo’s history is wondrous. It has seen pharaohs, Christians and Islam followers, and has also been the seat of the ruling Royal dynasty, the Fatimid Caliphate, the capital during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, and the centre of Napoleon’s empire when France occupied Egypt in the 18th century. It retained its capital city status under British rule until Other buildings to look out for in this area Egypt became independent in 1922. are the Church of St George, the Church of St Today, it is the administrative capital and Sergius, which is the oldest church in Coptic heart of the country. Cairo and lies a few feet below street level, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Amr Ibn al-Aas Mosque and the beautiful Hanging Church, so called because it is built high on top of the old Roman fortress structure, the Babylon Fort. A splendid building, it has a distinctive front façade with twin bell towers and inside a vaulted roof and a series of columns. The Coptic Museum tucked away down one
of the alleyways not far away is well worth a visit too. It hides a lovely courtyard garden behind its walls, which is a quiet place to visit amongst the hustle and bustle of Khan el-Khalili Bazaar
El Fayoum Oasis
El Fayoum to Hermopolis The stretch of Nile Valley from El Fayoum to Hermopolis, taking in the towns and areas of Biba, Beni Suef, Beni Mazar, El Minya with its famous Beni Hassan Tombs, Mallawi and Tel El Amarna is as popular with visitors as it is with residents of Cairo looking for a break away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The landscape is one of beautiful scenery and tall date palms combined with great expanses of land dedicated to agriculture, and yet has a desert-like ambience. El Fayoum
El Fayoum lies just to the west of the Nile, a few kilometres south of Abusir, one of the most ancient archaeological sites in Egypt. Its monuments include the Pyramid of Sahure, the Pyramid of Nyuserre, the Pyramid of Neferirkare and the Pyramid of Neferefere. El Fayoum is a wondrous site. An exceptionally lush and green area that comes into view as you head out through the sand dunes of the Western Desert to the west of the Nile, it is Egypt’s largest oasis. Surrounded by high plateaux, the city revolves around the great and ancient Lake Qarun, which is fed by water from the Nile via the Bahr Youssef. A series of canals were constructed by the Pharaoh Amenemhat III of the 12th dynasty, around the time when it was part of the ancient Moeris Lake, which lies 43 metres below sea level. Enjoying a temperate climate, the area is noted for its significant leisure, cultural and historical importance. Said to have been a favourite holiday spot of the pharaohs, the oasis saw many buildings constructed during the dynastic reigns and, indeed, in later years meaning there are many reminders of ancient Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic times.
Of the Pharaonic monuments to see there is the Hawara Pyramid built by Amenemhat III, the Al-Lahoun Pyramid and the remains of the Amenemhat III pyramid, plus the fascinating Senousert I Obelisk that stands at the entrance to El Fayoum. Look out also for the Medinet Madi Temple dating from the 12th dynasty, the small temple of Qasr Al Sagha that lies just to the north of the lake and Kiman Fares where the remains of the original ancient city can be seen.
DON’T MISS The cemetery at Mallawi, famous for its displays of beautiful ancient Pharaonic and Greek art seen on murals.
To see monuments from later periods head off north to the ruins of the Karanis Town. Here there are temples, a Roman bath, winery and the remains of Coptic, early Arab and the ancient Ptolemaic communities. Closer to the oasis are the remains of the ancient city of Um Al-Atal to see, the ruins of Demiet al-Sebaa complete with ancient Greek monuments and the astonishing Qasr Qarum Temple where much of its original decorative carvings and inscriptions can still be seen. Be sure to see the Pyramid of Meidum, a beautiful step structure that is believed to have been built for the last pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty, Huni, and the nearby UNESCO sites of Wadi Rayyan and Wadi El Hitan in the Valley of the Whales.
Eastern Desert and the Red Sea Bani Mazar
Wadi El Rayyan
Pyramid of To Cairo Meidum Qasr Qarun Lake Qarun Temple Pyramid of El Fayoum Hawara Valley of Whales
El Minya Hermopolis To Luxor and the Valley of the Kings
Bani Hassan Tombs Mallawi Tel El Amarna
EASY TRAVEL El Fayoum is reached by train and coach from Cairo and the major towns and cities of the Nile Valley. Organised guided tours can be provided by the tourist office for exploring the area around El Minya.
El Fayoum to Hermopolis
Travelling south along the Nile from El Fayoum you pass through the small town of Biba, Beni Suef which is famous for its cotton, and the traditional village of Beni Mazar. You then arrive in the beautiful town of El Minya.
El Fayoum has been both an ancient Christian and Islamic settlement during its history, and there are beautiful churches and mosques to see too. The finest examples are the Al-Azab Monastery in Al-Azab village, which is easy to find just a few kilometres south of the city, and contains a fascinating Coptic museum. There is also the Al-Malak Monastery and the Islamic monuments of Qaitbay Mosque that dates from the Mameluke period and has the most delighted rostrum inlaid with ivory, plus the Suspended Mosque to Prince Sulaiman, so called because it is built on the side of a hill. It dates from the Ottoman period.
El Fayoum Oasis
El Minya is in North Upper Egypt and the capital of Minya Governorate . It is a rural area on the west bank of the Nile that has prospered over the years since the early 20th century through its cotton industry. Merchants built Italian styled houses that can still been seen today. With the town’s pretty tree-lined corniche and squares, and its monuments from Pharaonic, Greco Roman, Byzantine, Coptic and Islamic eras, El Minya is an attractive and lively town with a great cultural heritage. It is best known for Beni Hassan, a collection of paintings that date from the Pharaonic Egypt’s Middle Kingdom. They display astonishing engravings that are considered important for they show a change of style from the Old to the Middle Kingdom. Amenemhat’s tomb, which shows hunting scenes, and those of the 12th Dynasty governor Khunum Hotep, and Baket and Khety from the 11th Dynasty are the most important.
DID YOU KNOW?
Lake Qarun is a protected area and, along with the nearby springs of Ein Silleen and waterways of Wadi Al Rayan, are famous for water sports, fishing and bird watching.
Nearby are temples built by the female pharaoh Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III, along with Pharaonic tombs at Deir El Barsha and remains of a city and tombs from the period at Tell Al-Amarna. It is said to be the home of the pharaoh Akhenaton and his wife, the famous Nefertiti. At Mallawi, just along the Nile riverbank, is the remains of the Graeco-Roman capital Ashmounein where the ruins of a acropolis-style basilica can still be seen. Finally, you will arrive at the important site of Hermopolis, or Tuna El Gebel as it is known locally, and although it offers only a few remains to see today such as the archaeological sites of the Tomb of Petosiris, the catacombs where mummified birds and animals were found and Isadora, it was one of the most prosperous cities in ancient Egyptian times.
Felucca riding the Nile
Asyut to Dandara With a combination of fabulously ancient temples, some of the holiest places in Egypt, great expanses of agricultural lands and a wealth of modern amenities, the stretch of the Nile Valley from Asyut to Dandera has one step in the past and the other very much in the future. Asyut
Characterised by its Coptic Christian population which grew as a result of an apparition of the Virgin Mary that was said to have appeared in the city, an event acknowledged in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Asyut is one of the holiest places in Egypt. It is also one of the largest, in fact the largest in Upper Egypt. With a population of around 400,000, many of its residents are students studying at one of the country’s foremost universities, the University of Asyut. Asyut has a modern feel and yet can trace its history back centuries. The first communities are said to have settled during the Pharaonic period and named it Syut. Later it became known as Lycopolis, prompting a distinct local dialect in Graeco-Roman times to be called Lycopolitan. For a spell it was a capital city, although lost out to Thebes which took the crown during the New Kingdom period. Today, though, Asyut does have many reminders of its ancient past. One of its most valuable treasures is the major archaeological site of the Tombs of Assiut, located to the west of the city. The tombs are carved into the limestone rock of
the mountain, and are said to include those of pharaohs from the 9th, 10th and 12th dynasties such as Kheti I and II. Other ancient sites around the city include the Meir Rocky Tombs that contain the Princes of Qusseia, the Deir El Gabrawy in Abnub where tombs can be found in the monastery, and the Deir el-Bersha necropolis which was an important cemetery in the Middle Kingdom and where leading nobles and governors were entombed. Nearby, is the Deir Al Adra, otherwise known as the Virgin’s Monastery, where it is said the holy family crossed on their way back from the holy land, and in Shatub village, just to the south of Asyut, is the Al Muharraq Monastery where a church bears the Virgin Mary’s name. It was here the family is said to have stayed during their journey to Egypt. Its alter stone is believed to have been the exact same one that blocked the entrance to a cave where the holy family lived. Every summer, festivals are held at both venues when pilgrims from the world over gather.
Don’t miss The astronomical ceiling inside the Temple of Hathor at Dendera – its detailing is exquisite.
In more recent times, Asyut became known for being at the end of the camel caravan route from Darfur in the Sudan and, as a result, was home to the largest slave market in Egypt. Today, it has thriving cotton, grain and carpet industries, and a prosperous feel. One of the relatively modern sights of the city, if compared to its ancient monuments, is the Asyut Barrage. It was built in the late 1800s to regulate the water flow from the Nile into the main canal, the Ibrahimiyya Canal, which is a key resource for irrigating the agricultural land upon which the population relies.
INFO POINT To Cairo
Eastern Desert and the Red Sea
ile eN Th
Asyut Tombs of Asyut
The White Monastery Western Desert
Sohag Qena Abydos Tombs
Dandara Temple Complex (Temple of Hathor)
Fauna of the Nile
Valley of the Kings
EASY TRAVEL You can get to Asyut by train and the Upper Egypt Coach company serves most of the towns in the area. Tours by road or river run to Dendara from Luxor.
From Asyut, heading south, you pass through the town of Suhag, where the Abydos tombs were discovered in the 19th century and are said to have been those of kings from the 1st and 2nd dynasties. You can also see the Temple of Seti I, a commemorative monument to the great King Seti I, along with the Temple of Ramses II where scenes of battle that have lost little of their original coloured decoration. There are numerous churches and monasteries to see too. Perhaps the most notable is the Pope Shenouda monastery, sometimes known as the Deir El Abyad or the White Monastery, which has a beautiful 5th century church. From here it’s onward to Dandera.
asyut to dandara
Another significant building in Asyut is the Lillian Trasher Orphanage, the first orphanage in Egypt. It was founded by Lillian Trasher, a Christian missionary who left her homeland of Florida in the US to travel to Africa and seek her life’s work. Today it is one of the world’s largest orphanages and a source of much local pride.
Dandara is the jewel in the crown of this stretch of the Nile. It sits on the edge of the desert, and offers visitors the chance to see one of the best, if not the best, preserved temples in Egypt. The huge Dandera Temple complex, which includes the great Temple of Hathor which is almost intact, was buried under the sand until the 19th century. When it was discovered there was much excitement. The present building dates from Ptolemaic times, although takes the form of Graeco-Roman architectural styling. It stands on the site of buildings dating from around 2500 BC. Visitors can see a Coptic church, chapel and a modern centre that tells the fascinating story of the temples.
Sunset on the Nile
DID YOU KNOW?
It is believed that in the Biblical story of when Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus fled from King Herod’s men who were killing all the baby boys in Bethlehem they took refuge in a cave near Asyut. Shores of the Nile
Luxor and the East Bank To say Luxor is one of the world’s greatest cities is nothing less than an understatement. It is, in fact, one of its most astonishing, if not singularly the best, outdoor museum anywhere on the planet and offers visitors the chance of seeing almost a third of all the ancient antiquities known to man in just a few kilometres. The temples and structures that have stood for thousands of years are beautifully preserved. Home to the city of Thebes, the ancient capital of Egypt during the Pharaonic New Kingdom period, along with the fabulous Karnak Temples, Luxor Temple and the necropolis of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, Luxor can trace its history back to unimaginable times. It actually has three distinct areas, the city centre on the East Bank of the Nile, Karnak which is a town in its own right and lies just to the north and Thebes, location of the Valley of the Kings. Luxor, Karnak Temple
The city is said to have gained importance as early as around 2000 BC under the rule of the 11th dynasty. In ancient times it was known as Waset, a name that indicated its power, and later Thebes under the Greeks. Homer is said to have described Luxor as the ‘City of the Hundred Gates’. It was, for a great many years, one of the most important cities in the world, and certainly at the centre of political, economic, religious and military life of Ancient Egypt. Luxor Temple and the Nile corniche
DON’T MISS The Sound and Light show at the Karnak Temples. A narration in several languages, including English, French, Arabic and Japanese, tells the story of the temples to light and music. Also a day cruise from Luxor to Dandera or Abydos with sight-seeing and lunch.
The Luxor of today is a compact city, running lengthways along the banks of the Nile and bordered by the desert. Its population stands at around 380,000 with a regular stream of international visitors increasing this figure during the spring and autumn months when the temperature is at a pleasing level
for sightseeing. Temperatures of 31-40°C (107.6°F) in June to August are not uncommon. Luxor’s size makes it easy to navigate. It’s a short hop of 20 minutes or so from the Luxor International Airport into the city centre, which largely only comprises three main roads. The corniche, a pretty tree-lined boulevard that runs along the banks of the Nile in an esplanade fashion, is central for all the city’s attractions. It is home to the Winter Palace Hotel, now run by the hotel group Sofitel, that was where Agatha Christie is said to have penned her classic work ‘Death on the Nile’. The two other main roads are the street al-Mahatta in which lies the train station, and the street al-Karnak that runs from the Karnak Temple into town past the Luxor Temple. For visitors the size and layout of Luxor means that all the sites are within a short distance of each other and easy to find.
Luxor and the East Bank
Getting across from the East Bank or city centre to the West Bank to visit the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens is now straightforward by road with the opening of a bridge ten years ago. It’s just a few kilometres upstream. Before the bridge opened it was very much a case of hopping on one of the frequent and inexpensive ferries or motorboats that ran, and still do run, across the Nile. There’s a landing just opposite the Luxor Temple.
Ramasseum, Ramses II Temple
It’s a great way to cross the river. Visitors have a wealth of opportunities to sightsee in Luxor. There are the two big attractions of the Luxor Temple and the Karnak Temples, of course, plus the fabulous Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum. The Luxor Temple is an astonishing sight from the corniche. It is particularly attractive when subtlety lit in the evening. Dating from the time of Amenhotep II and Ramses II, it is dedicated to the god Amon Ra and his wife Mut. You enter it from an entrance facing north, at the point where at one time it would have been connected to the Karnak Temples via a causeway. The causeway, which is currently being restored and is set to be a highlight of Luxor, would have been lined with sphinx statues. A later addition was a long road, a dromos, built by Nectanebo I in the 30th dynasty. Sadly, most of the sphinxes have disappeared over the years, but a few exceptionally good examples still exist close to the temple today.
Built during the New Kingdom, the temple is entered past a huge pylon built by Ramses II, with two of the original six statues representing the king on either side. There is also the remaining one of two matching 25-metre high granite obelisks. The other is erected in the
DID YOU KNOW?
The Arabs once dubbed Luxor the ‘City of Palaces’ because of the astonishing number of great buildings that were beautifully preserved.
Place de la Concorde in Paris, and a much loved and photographed landmark. Inside, there are courtyards, columns and fabulous colonnades, one a hundred metres in length and built by Amenhotep III. Its columns are topped with carvings of the papyrus plant. Along the way there are inscriptions, scenes from ancient Egypt and even Roman stuccoes that can be seen partially covering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. On the outer wall of the pylon are inscriptions that tell of the battle between Ramses II and Hittites. The temple is a glorious celebration of the power of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom and a ‘must see’ sight. Heading out of the Luxor Temple towards the next ‘must see’ sight, the Karnak Temples, you will reach the Luxor Museum on the corniche. Be sure to go inside. Quite modern in appearance, it was founded in 1975 to house antiquities dating from the ancient civilizations of the area found in more recent times, including some of the Tutankhamun treasures. While the Egyptian Museum in Cairo displays ancient artefacts to perfection, it is quite moving to see such extraordinary items exhibited in Luxor, the city where they were found. The Karnak Temples barely need an introduction, they are so famous. The largest ancient religious site in the world, the complex takes its name from the village of Al-Karnak and, in fact, comprises three distinct temples. The largest, the Precinct of Amun-Re, is ancient and dedicated to the god Amon. It is the only area open to the public. There is also the Precinct of Montu, the Precinct of Mut and a now dismantled building, the Temple of Amenhotep IV. The triad of Luxor is Amun, Mut and Khonsu.
Medinet Habu, Ramses III Temple
The site dates from as far back as 2000 BC and although building would have been low key in the beginning it is said that around 30 pharaohs added buildings, temples, chapels and architectural wonders to it over a period of about 2,000 years from the Middle Kingdom right through to Ptolemaic times. The result is a fabulous treasure trove of ancient buildings and structures, columns, courtyards, pylons and obelisks, even a sacred lake, the scale of which is unparalleled anywhere in the world. At the entrance you pass over what is believed to have been a canal connected to the Nile, complete with an ancient dock. Sadly, there is little remaining of the dock today. The entrance road, dromos, is lined with a row of statues either side and is known as the Avenue of Rams. The statues represent Amon and are beautifully preserved. Once inside the building be sure to see the huge statue of Ramses II, one of the iconic images of the Karnak Temples.
On the West Bank, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Nobles, plus many other fabulous temples and structures can be seen. Look out for the Madinet Habu Temple, which includes temples to Amenhotep I and Ramses III, the two huge statues known as the Colossi of Memnon, the funerary temple of Ramesseum and the landmark temple to the great female pharaoh Hatshepsut, the elegant building known as the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahari. Carved into the sheer limestone rock face, the beautiful temple has three floors and a long sweep of steps and a walkway as its en-
Valley of the Nobles
Valley of the Queens
Eastern Desert and the Red Sea Karnak Temples
Luxor Museum Mummification Museum
Khnoum Temple Esna
EASY TRAVEL Luxor is served by its international airport, and has a good bus network which is mainly used by locals, lots of taxis and horse-drawn carriages known as caleches for getting around the city centre. Access from the East Bank to the West Bank can be done by road using a modern bridge a few kilometres upstream or by ferry or motorboat across the river. A landing is located opposite the Luxor Temple. There are regular trains and sleeping luxurious one that run from Cairo to Aswan via Luxor. Wi-Fi service is now available in Luxor.
Luxor and the EAST Bank
Look out also for the oldest mosque in Luxor, the El-Mekashkesh Mosque, where it is said to contain the remains of a 10th century Islamic saint, several churches and the great Coptic basilica next to Luxor Temple. For a leisurely way to see Luxor from the river, take a felucca, which is a wooden sailing boat, or one of the motorboats that can be seen making their way up or downstream at most times of the day. The landing stages along the East Bank are the starting point for many of the cruise ships that run to and from Aswan too.
In the museum you can also see examples of the tools used to remove bodies’ vital organs and drain fluids, and to replace voids with salt, plus artefacts like embalming fluid, canopic jars and coffins. Like the Cairo Mummification Museum inside the Egyptian Museum, this is fascinating place but not one for the faint hearted.
Necropolis of Valley of the Kings
Other major sights to see on the East Bank of Luxor include the Mummification Museum, which is located right on the corniche. It has a huge sign outside and is really easy to find. Inside, there’s a graphic display of how the ancient Egyptians would mummify not only humans, but also crocodiles, of which there were plenty in the Nile, household pets and even fish. All are exhibited in mummified form, including the body of Masaharta, a High Priest of Amun in Thebes around 1050 BC.
To travel between Luxor and Aswan by land, you will have to follow one of the Police Convoys. Tourist Office : Louxor (Head Office) : Phone : 0952373294 - Fax : 0952373294
Luxor, the West Bank
trance. It is said to have been designed by the pharaoh’s own architect Senenmut during the time of the 18th dynasty. It makes an astonishing, almost haunting, sight from the East Bank. To one side of Hatshepsut’s temple are the ruins of the Temple of Montuhotep II, while to the other is the Shrine to Amun and the Sanctuary of the Sun. A row of statues are said to depict the queen, although appear in a male form. You can also visit the Chapel of Anubis where the paintings and reliefs on the walls and columns are fascinating and retain much of their original colour. They tell the story of Hatshepsut, one of only three females to have ruled Egypt.
Medinet Habu and Ramses III Temple, Luxor West Bank
Valley of the Kings and the West Bank Valley of the Kings
The astonishing landscape of the Valley of the Kings with its sand dunes that stretch almost to the waters-edge of the Nile opposite Luxor to the high mountains is matched only by the treasures the area has hidden for centuries, and may still even hide. Many tombs have been discovered, such as those of Tut Ankh Amon (Tutankhamun), Ramses I, Ramses II, Ramses III and Ramses VI, Amenhotep II, Seti I, Sipteh, Thutmose III and Horemheb, and their treasures displayed in museums such as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or in the Luxor Museum, but you canâ€™t help but wonder what other fascinating riches are hidden underground just waiting to be discovered. Over 60 tombs and chambers are known to be in the valley, but as excavations continue and more tombs are found it is believed there could be many more.
Deir el Medina Tomb, West Bank, Luxor
Of course, the pharaohs who chose the site as their graveyard and had astonishing tombs built way underground thought the strategy would stop robbers from removing the priceless treasures that were buried with them when they died. They believed in the afterlife and by burying their possessions with them they would everything they needed, materially, when they entered their new life. Sadly, most of the tombs were robbed over time, with only a few having been discovered intact. The most notable of these is the tomb of Tutankhamun. The Valley of the Kings dates back to around the 16th to the 11th centuries BC as a necropolis of the Pharaonic Egyptâ€™s New Kingdom dynasties. It is believed to have been used for around 500 years, and is the resting place of the kings and other nobles of the 18th through to the 21st dynasties. In 1979 it was made a World Heritage Site and remains one of the most important and famous archaeological sites in the world.
DONâ€™T MISS The chance to see alabaster delicately carved into vases and ornaments in Qurna, on your way to the Valley of the Kings.
If visiting the Valley of the Kings from Luxor you will cross the bridge over the Nile and pass by the villages of New and Old Gurna (Qurna), which gives a fascinating glimpse into how local residents have lived and farmed their land for centuries. Old Gurna, particularly, has a collection of brightly painted mud houses that have stood for years. Some are today used as alabaster factories. The Valley of the Kings, itself, though is intriguing. Following the remote road through the valley (wadi) to the entrance you will past barren sand dunes and hills. You then reach an interesting information centre from where you can hop on a small train provided for visitors that eases the sun-scorched
The tomb, itself, is quite small and undecorated, but the tombs of other pharaohs, like Ramses I and Ramses III, for example, are highly decorated and colourful. These lie to the left of Tutankhamun’s tomb. You enter by stairways that lead down past extraordinary wall paintings and hieroglyphics. The colours yellow, orange and red feature strongly, and are so bright it is hard to imagine that they were drawn so many centuries ago. The Tomb of Ramses I (KV16), the second pharaoh of the 19th dynasty, is particularly enchanting, as is the Tomb of Ramses III (KV11), which was discovered in the 18th century. It is known as The Harper’s Tomb after drawings depicting musicians were found inside. It is sometimes known as Bruce’s Tomb too, after the man, James Bruce, who discovered it.
Valley of the Nobles
Valley of the Queens
Eastern Desert and the Red Sea Karnak Temples
Luxor Museum Mummification Museum
Khnoum Temple Esna
EASY TRAVEL The Valley of the Kings is easily reached from Luxor by car or guided tour bus. A little train takes you from the entrance gate and information centre to the heart of the valley.
Another tomb, that of the Pharaoh Akhenre Setepenre Siptah (KV47) of the 19th dynasty, is one of the longest in the Valley of the Kings, however his mummy was oddly discovered in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) in 1898.
Valley of the Kings AND THE WEST BANK
When Carter found steps leading to the tomb and then an antechamber full of gold and ivory treasures it caused worldwide excitement. He then went on to find a sealed door which, when opened, contained the outer sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. He was buried in coffins one inside the other. Some were solid gold, others wood with gold. The treasures are now contained in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and include the sarcophaguses, jewellery, smaller sarcophaguses for his organs that would have been removed during the mummification process and the iconic gold death mask that is the image of ancient Egypt.
Necropolis of Valley of the Kings
To the right is the tomb of Tutankhamun, numbered KV62, and almost everyone who visits the valley will wish to enter the boy pharaoh’s last resting place. The tomb was discovered in November 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter, who spent days, months, years in his search for the tomb. Carter’s small domed house where he lived during this time can still be seen as you journey to the valley.
walk to the first of the tombs enormously, and then you are at the heart of the valley. It is here that most of the more significant tombs are located.
A visit to the Valley of the Kings is an absolute must on any agenda, and the fact that it is so easily accessible from Luxor city centre where there is a good choice of hotel accommodation makes a family excursion straightforward. Tickets include visits to many tombs, although King Tutankhamun’s is extra. Many guided tours include a visit to the nearby Valley of the Queens too, and perhaps even the Valley of the Nobles, which lies just to the south of the Valley of the Kings and contains hundreds of tombs of high officials of the day. Nearby, too, is Deir El-Madina, where there are the tombs of artisans and workmen who worked on the kings’ tombs. It dates from the Ptolemic era.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Curse of the Pharaohs, a phenomenon said to be bestowed on anyone who disturbs an ancient Egyptian mummy, originated after many of Howard Carter’s archaeological team were said to have contracted lethal diseases and viruses when opening Tutankhamen’s tomb. Hatshepsut Temple
Aswan, Felucca and the Aga Khan Mausoleum on the West Bank
Aswan Aswan is Egypt’s southernmost city and lies, like Luxor and Cairo, on the shores of the Nile River, at its first cataract. To its north lies some 750 miles of the Nile until it reaches the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean Sea. What sets this beautiful city apart from Cairo and Luxor, however, is that its buildings occupy only the East Bank and two islands in the river, with its barren West Bank’s sand dunes, literally, on the watersedge. The West Bank has only a handful, albeit supremely notable, structures including the Monastery of St Simeon, the Aga Khan Mausoleum and the Tombs of the Nobles. Aswan is located roughly where the Western Desert and the Eastern Desert meet, and just north of the great expanse of water created by the Aswan Dam known as Lake Nasser. Aswan has a gorgeous winter climate and is a popular sun resort from November through to March with Egyptians as well as international holidaymakers. Temperatures tend to be around 22-32°C (89.6°F). Hugely attractive, Aswan is the busy market centre of the region. In fact, its ancient name of Swenet, if translated literally from symbols of the time, means ‘trade’. It can trace its history back to ancient times when it is believed to have been the site of the very first Egyptian community. Its people had moved from the desert dunes to the fertile banks of the Nile in search of a supply of water, fish and land on which to grow produce. They would then trade their goods and so its reputation as a trading centre developed.
As Swenet, the city had the important role of protecting Egypt from invaders at its southernmost boundary. In Pharaonic Egypt times, during it is believed every dynasty, the city was a military town. Its stone quarries are said to have provided the granite rock known as Syenite for most of the fabulous temples, columns and obelisks built by the pharaohs, including the Pyramids of Giza. Today, Aswan is characterised by its abundance of palm trees and tropical gardens, standing beside one of the widest parts of the Nile River. As such, it has many islands dotted off its shores. Two of the largest are Kitchener’s Island, known for being covered with exotic plants, and the much larger Elephantine Island.
DON’T MISS The Unfinished Obelisk, an important relic from the New Kingdom because it clearly shows how the ancient Egyptians created such structures.
Kitchener’s Island lies mid-stream and is so called because it was given to Lord Kitchener in recognition of his services to the Egyptian army during the Sudan Campaign of the late 1800s. A keen horticulturist, Lord Kitchener created an island of fantastic trees and plants. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to call it a botanical exhibition. Many of the species were imported from around the world, and include huge palms where birds nest. Today, it is one
There are the remains of the temple dedicated to Khnum, the ram-headed god of the cataracts, which dates from the Old Kingdom. You can also visit the Aswan Museum where there is a fascinating collection of artifacts from the Graeco-Roman period on display, and see the Roman Nilometer, the device used to establish the level of the Nile. This one in particular was also used to assess the circumference of the earth in around 200 BC. The great Philae Temple (dedicated to the goddess Isis), was dismantled and reconstructed on Agilika Island after Aswan dam was constructed. The Nubians, renowned for their love of festivals and colourful dress, lived on the shores of the Nile as they had done for centuries until quite recently. In fact, the area is widely believed to be where the first Nubian civilization lived as far back as 2000 BC. The Nubian Musuem in well worth a visit to have a better idea about this rich culture.
To Kitchenerâ€™s Tombs of the Nobles Luxor Island Monastery of Elephantine Island St Simeon ASWAN Aga Khan Mausoleum Aswan Museum Nubian Museum
Eastern Desert and the Red Sea
To High Dam and Abu Simbel
EASY TRAVEL The local carrier EgyptAir operates regular flights to Aswan, express trains, and luxurious sleeping ones link the city with Cairo and Luxor. Aswan is a popular starting and disembarkation point of the Nile cruise ships that are as much a part of Egypt as the pyramids. Luxury cruises go from Aswan to Abu Simbel too. Aswan has a plentiful number of taxis and cars available for hire.
The much larger Elephantine Island can trace its history back to ancient times when, as a fort, its role was to defend the city. It marked the southern border with Nubia. Dotted around the island are reminders that it once was home to many people, in fact it is believed to have been one of the oldest inhabited areas of the city.
The Nile Rive r
of the loveliest places along the Nile and a great place to relax. You can hop across on a boat and go ashore to take advantage of the shade.
Tourist Office : Aswan (Head Office) : Phone: 0972312811 - Fax: 0972312811
Modern day Egyptian Nubians moved to Aswan, along with Cairo and Luxor, when the Aswan Dam was built and huge areas of the desert became Lake Nasser.
Elephantine Island, Khnum Temple
DID YOU KNOW?
Aswan offers a sightseeing programmes that takes in the High Dam, the Unfinished Obelisk and the Philae Temple, plus sailing with a FelucĂŹa. Also see the great bazaar in Aswan, the Sound and Light Show in Philae and the Museum of Nubian Civilization. Nubian village, West Bank
Abu Simbel, Ramses II Temple
Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
The stretch of the Nile Valley that runs from Aswan, past the great Philae Temple dedicated to the goddess Isis, which was dismantled and reconstructed on Agilikia Island before its former site, Philae Island, was flooded when the old dam was constructed, onwards past the Aswan Dam and the huge manmade lake, Lake Nasser, comes to a halt at Abu Simbel. The town is around 280 kilometres from Aswan and some 100 kilometres from the Sudan border. Abu Simbel is best known for its two magnificent temples that were originally carved out of solid rock on a mountainside way back in the 13th century BC. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, they are known as the Nubian Monuments and dedicated to the great deities of the day Ra-Horakhty or Horus, Ptah and Amun. They were built to honour the great pharaoh Ramses II and his wife Nefertari. Such was their historical importance and the glimpse they gave the world of an ancient civilization that when the new dam was built to regulate the waters of the Nile, and create the massive Lake Nasser, the temples were the subject of much discussion. A subsequent rise in water levels threatened to submerge them. A mammoth project to save the temples was conceived and work began in the early 1960s.
UNESCO stepped in with expert knowledge of ancient buildings, as well as funds created largely from international donations, and managed the project to relocate them to a hill high above the water level of the new lake. The project was a lengthy, but highly successful, one. Massive blocks of rock were cut, dismantled and reassembled over a period of several years.
DONâ€™T MISS The Sound and Light show at the Abu Simbel temples. Through narration, lights and sounds the wondrous story of Abu Simbel is told. Also the fabulous sights that can be seen on a cruise between Aswan and Abu Simbel: Kalabsha, Wadi El-Subua, Amada, Qasr Ibram.
The temples were, literally, cut from the mountainside and moved to higher ground. They were positioned against manmade semi domes so that the statues on the front facades looked out over the waters as they have done for centuries. The temples, known as the Great Temple of Abu Simbel for Ramses II, and the Small Temple of Abu Simbel for Nefertari, date back to Pharaonic Egypt and the reign of Ramses II. As the story goes, he wanted to create a lasting monument to his reign, and that of his queen Nefertari. A victory at the Battle of Kadesh proved the perfect opportunity to build the complex. It is believed that work started on the great temple in
At the entrance to the largest temple there are four mighty statues of Ramses II in which he can clearly be seen wearing the double crown of the Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt regions. They are some 20 metres high and, astonishingly, were delicately carved from the rock of the mountainside where they originally stood. Sadly, one is badly damaged, but it does not distract from their magnificence. The temple’s frieze is way above their heads. There are various scenes of battle, including one of Qadesh that show Ramses II’s victories. There are many statues within the complex, including those depicting his wife Nefertari, his sons and daughters, and the deities to which the temple is dedicated. The temple was, in fact, built on an east-west axis so that the early morning sun reached the inside of the temple and shone on some of the statues it contained. This is particularly evident on February 22 and October 22 every year. The smaller temple to Nefertari, sometimes referred to as the Temple of Hathor, stands 50 or so metres from the great temple. It is beautifully decorated with scenes of Ramses II and his wife making sacrifices to the gods, as well as statues showing the pharaoh and Nefertari.
INFO POINT To Aswan, Luxor
Eastern Desert and the Red Sea
Lake Nasser Wadi El Subua
Qasr Ibram Amada
ABU SIMBEL Great Temple for Ramses II Great Temple for Nefertari
EASY TRAVEL EgyptAir flies to Abu Simbel’s small airfield daily from Cairo and Aswan. Guarded convoys of buses and cars depart twice a day from Aswan. Abu Simbel
the mid-1200s BC and took around 20 years to complete. The smaller temple’s construction started a little later.
Interestingly, unlike other statues from ancient Egypt where a pharaoh is depicted with his queen, the statues are the same size. Traditionally, the queen was always at knee height to the pharaoh. At the time they would have been important monuments, but as subsequent dynasties took the reign, and invaders from around the world made their mark on Egypt, the temples of Abu Simbel became all but forgotten. Over many centuries the winds of the desert whipped up the sand until eventually the temples were covered. In 1813, the temples were discovered lying under a massive layer of sand by the famous Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. He spotted the top frieze of the largest temple and so began the work to unearth them.
Temple of Ramses II
Today, they are one of the top tourist attractions in Egypt, and widely considered the greatest temples ever built to honour Ramses II. Escorted buses and coaches full or visitors arrive daily from Aswan.
DID YOU KNOW?
As legend has it, Abu Simbel was a young boy who, having had glimpses of the buried temples when the sands moved, had guided travellers to the site. Temple of Hator
The Nile River
Planning the trip Egypt, and especially the Nile Valley, has so many wonderful sights to see it would be impossible to do everything on one short trip. A first visit to Cairo will almost inevitably mean you will wish to see the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum, while a visit to Luxor would not be complete without going to the Karnak Temples, the Luxor Temple and of course, the fabulous Valley of the Kings. Many people will choose a holiday featuring several destinations. For example, you may stay a day or two in Cairo, take the short 45-minute flight to Luxor for a few more days and then, maybe, board a cruise boat for a trip up the Nile to Aswan. There are flights from Aswan directly back to Cairo. Alternatively, a trip to the Nile Valley may be extended with a visit to an oasis in the Western Desert, to the Red Sea coast or to Sinai. We offer suggestions for the ‘must see’ sights and excursions : Alexandria and the North Coast
Alexandria is a great summer holiday destination. Be sure to visit Montazah Palace, once the summer home of the Egyptian royal family. It houses a museum and has a great view of the coastline and sea (Allow 2 hour). Visit the GraecoRoman Museum, located in the heart of the city (Allow 2 hour) and the Qaitbay Citadel, built on the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Allow 1 to 2 hours to appreciate the atmosphere of the waterside and maybe have some lunch). You can then head out to one of Alexandria’s archaeological sites, such as the Roman amphitheatre at Kom Al-Dekka, Pompey’s Pillar, the ancient catacombs at Kom el Shoqafa or the AlShatby Necropolis site. All are within easy reach and make great detours. Choose the ones you prefer, look them up on the map, and then allow good time to appreciate their ancient history (Allow 3 to 4 hours). Finally, no visit to Alexandria would be complete without a visit to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It may be something you would wish to do on a first visit or a second, but you should allow plenty of time in your schedule to see the massive libraries, the art galleries, museums dedicated to antiquities, manuscripts and science, and its planetarium (Allow 1 day or 3 hours for a quick visit).
A pleasant excursion from Alexandria would be a visit to El-Alamein to visit the war museum that tells of the area’s Legende role in the Second World War, and the Commonwealth War Cemetery or the Italian and German cemeteries (Allow 1 day). Rosetta, or Rashid, is another great excursion. Located around 60 kilometres east of Alexandria, it was where the Rosetta stone was discovered in 1799. The stone was instrumental in deciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic style of writing. (Allow a half day).
Take time to explore Central Cairo. It has the Corniche el-Nil that runs alongside the Nile, which makes a pleasant morning walk. You can cross to Gezira Island and go up the Cairo Tower for a panoramic view of the city, or visit the 19th century Opera Square and Ataba square, or the Manial Palace (Allow 1 day). In the evening head for the new Opera House for a spot of classical music, opera, theatre or ballet. The Egyptian Museum is home to one of the largest collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. You could spend a few hours here and see only a fraction of the 250,000 or so antique pieces on display, including the famous Tut Ankh Amum (Tutankhamun) collection of treasures. There are mummies and tombs, ancient architectural pieces, an embalming table and a replica of the Rosetta Stone in the foyer (Allow 2 hours to several days).
The Pyramids of Giza
Cairo is a city where you would get a glimpse of its wonders in just a day or so. Conversely, you could spend days in the Egyptian Museum alone. You may even wish to spend several weeks in the city to really explore its fabulous streets and sights. Top of the list will almost inevitably the Pyramids. The Pyramids of Giza stands to the west of Central Cairo, as they have for centuries. The site is not far from those of the ancient cities of Memphis and Saqqara. The Pyramids, including the Great Pyramid built for pharaoh Cheops of the 4th dynasty, the slightly smaller Pyramid of Chrephren dated from around 2500 BC and the Pyramid of Mykerinos, plus several smaller ones for the kings’ families, are the last remaining Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You can go inside the Great Pyramid and Chephren’s Pyramid. From here it’s a short hop by vehicle to the Sphinx (Allow 3 hours in total). If you plan to visit the Solar Boat Museum that houses a full-size ancient Egyptian boat allow a bit extra time, say around a further half hour. Don’t miss Saqqara and The Step Pyramid of Zoser.
East of Central Cairo is the Islamic part of the city, where you will find the famous network of streets of the Khan el-Khalili. It is the largest bazaar in the Middle East and one of the oldest markets in the world. You can buy everything from spices to gold, copper and silver pieces, fashions, leatherwear and traditional Egyptian musical instruments (Allow 1 to
Planning the Trip
Cairo and Giza
The Egyptian Museum
Old Cairo has some of the most historic and important Christian buildings and churches in the city, including the Church of St Barbara, one of the largest in Egypt, the Church of St George and the oldest the Church of St Sergius. There’s also the enchanting Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Amr Ibn al-As Mosque and the beautiful Hanging Church, so called because it is built high on top of the old Roman fortress structure, the Babylon Fort. The Coptic Museum has one of the finest collections of Coptic art in the world dating from Pharaonic times to Graeco-Roman and Islamic. The little alleyways of Coptic Cairo are a delight to explore (Allow 2 hours). Don’t miss the El Fayoum oasis in the Western Desert, including Lake Qarun and some fine monuments, the remains of the Hawara Pyramid built by Amenemhat III.
Islamic Cairo, Sultan Hassan Mosque
Luxor is, arguably, the finest outdoor museum in the world. Depending on your depth of fascination with ancient Egypt, you could spend hours, days or even weeks exploring its fabulous temples, visiting the Luxor Museum full of ancient antiquities and seeing the tombs of the Valley of the Kings. The Karnak Temples is the largest ancient religious site in the world. Visitors can see the Precinct of Amun-Re, the only area open to the public. There are three other areas, the Precinct of Montu, the Precinct of Mut and the now dismantled building, the Temple of Amenhotep IV. It is a fabulous collection of ancient buildings and structures, columns, courtyards, statues including one of Ramses II with his wife Nefertari, pylons and obelisks, even a sacred lake. The entrance dromos is lined with a row of statues both sides, and is known as the Avenue of Rams. It is a ‘must’ (Allow 2 hours). The Luxor Temple, located right on the corniche, and wonderful lit up at night, can be easily combined with a visit to the Karnak Temples. They lie along the same road within a short distance of each other. Dating from the time of Amenhotep II and Ramses II, the temple has pylons, statues, columns and fabulous colonnades, one a hundred metres in length and built by Amenhotep III himself, courtyards and an obelisk. It is a twin. The other is erected in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. There are also some good examples of Roman stuccoes (Allow 2 hours). Allow some time to visit the Mummification Museum on the corniche. On display are a mummified human,
crocodile and fish, plus tools used to remove bodies’ vital organs and drain fluids, embalming fluid, canopic jars and coffins (Allow 2 hour). Take time to explore the East Bank of Luxor too. See the Winter Palace Hotel where Agatha Christie is said to have penned her classic work ‘Death on the Nile’, the El-Mekashkesh Mosque and the great Coptic basilica next to Luxor Temple (Allow 2 hours).
Ramasseum, Temple of Ramses II
The Valley of the Kings on the West Bank of Luxor at Thebes is easy to reach by a bridge a little way upstream. Allow about 30 minutes or so for the journey by vehicle and schedule in more time if you wish to take an excursion to the bank’s other main sights, the Madinet Habu Temple, the two huge statues known as the Colossi of Memnon, the funerary temple of Ramesseum and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahari.
CRUSING ON THE NILE AND LAKE NASSER
A great way to relax and see the sights is to take a cruise along the Nile or a sail around Lake Nasser. From the decks of a felucca, a traditional wooden sailing boat, or a luxury boat you can see many temples along the way. On the shores of Lake Nasser, for example, there’s the wonderful sight of the Great Temples of Abu Simbel for Ramses II and the Small Temple of Abu Simbel for Nefertari, which date back to Pharaonic Egypt and the reign of Ramses II. They were moved in an UNESCO project to their present site when the Aswan Dam caused water levels to rise and they were in danger of being submerged under the water. They were, literally, carved out of the mountainside (Allow 2 to 3 hours). Motorboats take visitors on shorter trips too. Luxor’s East Bank is the spot where most of the cruise ships leave for their trip to Aswan. The sight of the cruise ships or ornate steamers, many affording top notch luxury facilities, making their way upstream is a familiar sight. They have comfy air-conditioned guest suites, often complete with King-size beds, and gourmet restaurants and bars on board. From Luxor you will pass by the Valley of the Kings to Esna, on through Edfu and Kom Ombo where you will see the Temple of Sobek and Hareoeris, and on to Aswan. Cruise ships also start at Aswan and so the journey will be in reverse. At Aswan you will see Elephantine Island, which once marked the southernmost border with Nubia, and the beautiful Kitchener’s Island full of exotic plants. They lie in the centre of the river. Cruising is a wonderful way to see the stretch of the Nile between Luxor and Aswan (Allow from 3 to 4 days). If you wish to continue your cruise experience, take a boat from Aswan to Abu Simbel. You will see some wondrous sights like the Temple of Wadi El-Subua and the Temple of Amada along the way.
Planning the Trip
CRUSING ON THE NILE AND LAKE NASSER
You may also like to stop awhile at the villages of New and Old Gurna (Allow 3 hours). Once at the Valley of the Kings you could spend hours. The Valley of the Kings dates back to around the 16th to the 11th centuries BC as a necropolis of the Pharaonic Egypt’s New Kingdom dynasties. It is approached through a barren landscape of sand dunes and hills until you reach the centre of the valley. Here you will be able to visit several tombs, including that of Ramses I and Ramses III, plus probably the most famous of all the tomb of Tut Ankh Amon (Tutankhamen) discovered in 1922 (Allow 3 hours).
Practical Info Entry and Departure
Visitors will need a single-visit visa to enter Egypt. The visa is valid for 90 days. If the planned trip involves travel in and out of Egypt over the same period, then the best option is a multiple-visit visa. Obtaining a visa is pretty straightforward. It can simply be arranged in advance through one of the Egyptian consulates dotted around the world or purchased on entry at Cairo or Luxor airports. All visitors will need to have a passport which must have at least six months remaining of its validity on the date of entry. Egypt, like all other countries, apply strict customs rules about bringing items such as alcohol and cigarettes into the country, so to avoid any misunderstandings it is probably advisable to buy at an airport shop. Under no circumstances should you attempt to leave the country with antiquities.
There are no vaccinations needed to visit Egypt. Sunburn and dehydration can be avoided by using plenty of sun cream, wearing light cotton clothing and a hat, and drinking lots of water. The health care facilities in Egypt are generally good and it is advisable to have health insurance.
The Nile Valley region stretches nearly 1532 kilometres and as such the weather can differ quite considerably from Alexandria on the coast in the north, along the river to Luxor, Aswan or Abu Simbel further south. Generally, though, the climate in the Nile Valley is moderate with lots of sunshine and very few rainy days, unlike the desert areas that have much hotter temperatures. The best times to go are from mid-April onwards and May or September and October, November when the temperatures are lower, therefore making it easier to sightsee and explore. Between the months of July and August the sun is at its hottest. Average temperatures in Cairo are around 25-35°C (95°F), while in Luxor they are 30-40°C (107.6°F) and in Aswan hotter still at 31-42°C (107.6°F).
Information and Booking
Flying to Egypt, and in particular the Nile Valley, is relatively straightforward. The main airline, EgyptAir (www.egyptair. com), runs a regular and efficient service to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan from airports around the world. It also provides inexpensive domestic flights. Some visitors can arrive by road or by sea. Cruise ships often make Egypt a key stop on their itineraries. Booking holidays or short trips to Egypt is easily done via links from the Egyptian Tourist Authority’s website (www.egypt.travel) online direct with local agents or by visiting your nearest travel agent.
Egypt has embraced internet services and now it is easy to go online at hotels, offices and internet cafes. Egypt has Wifi – Wimax wireless internet that enables you to access the internet in most of the popular places in the country, particularly around Luxor. The telephone system is efficient and visitors should have no problem in finding public phones that take cards. You can buy visitor mobile cards that enable you to use your mobile. The bright yellow and green half booths favoured by one of the leading telecom providers, Menatel, are usually easy to spot. Cards are available from most newspaper stalls and shops showing the Menatel sign and come in 10 and 30 denominations for local and international use. You can buy stamps and post your letter at post offices or from your hotel. Post offices are closed on Fridays.
Egypt’s electricity works on 220v with sockets being of the two-pin European mainland variety. It’s a good idea to pack an adaptor if planning to use personal items like mobile phone chargers. Language
The official language of Egypt is Arabic and other languages are widely spoken too, especially in tourist areas.
air. There are long distance buses and trains available which are cheaper, but of course take much longer to reach their destination. Travel within cities is probably best done by taxi or minibus, although car hire is an option. Hire a car with a guide by the day, which is a good idea if you have a tight schedule and want to see all the sights. If planning to go into the desert it is a must to take a guide to avoid becoming disorientated. Cairo also has an underground rail system, which is a good way to travel around the city. Public Holidays
Money and Credit Cards
The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound, which is divided into 100 piasters. Cash is generally easily obtained from ATMs, which can be found in larger towns and cities. Most of the major hotels and stores accept credit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard, along with travellers’ cheques and certain foreign currencies like euro, sterling and dollars. If venturing off the beaten track you will find that generally only the Egyptian pound in cash will be accepted. Sports
While other areas of Egypt are synonymous with scuba diving and snorkelling, such as the Red Sea resorts of Hurghada, El Gouna, Marsa Alam, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai, the Nile Valley is known for its balloon trips over the Valley of the Kings, its excellent golf courses, particularly in and around Cairo and Luxor, and its felucca sailing opportunities. For the energetic there’s horse and camel riding, organised hikes and safaris, while for those who like to take it really slow there’s some superb spas just waiting to be enjoyed.
Cruising the Nile
Holidays include the Coptic Christmas in January 7, Labour Day in May 1, Revolution Day in July 23, Armed Forces Day in October 6. The Islamic New Year, the Birth of the Prophet and Ramadan, the major religious period of fasting that precedes the Bairam Feast, change every year. Business Hours
Government, administrative offices and Banks are generally open from 9am to 2pm each day, except for Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays. Most shops are open from 10am to 10pm every day except Sunday. Please note that all these times may vary in shopping centres and during Ramadan. Most historic sites and museums are open from 9am to 5pm daily, and often until 6pm in the summer. Practical Numbers
- Tourist Police 126 - Fire 180 - Ambulance 123 - Telephone guide 140 - Cairo Airport Shuttle Bus service 19970 - Flying hospital service 37766393/2
Egypt is two hours ahead of GMT, except at the start of May and the end of September when it is three hours ahead until the beginning or end of British Summer Time. Transport
As Egypt is such a vast country the best way for holidaying visitors who may have a limited amount of time to explore is to travel from one city to another by
- Information tourist offices : * Cairo * Pyramids * Alexandria * Marsa Matrouh * Luxor * Aswan
391 3454 383 8823 485 1556 493 1841 237 2306 231 2811
Accommodation Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa
With its history dating back to ancient civilisations, its world-class archaeological sites, landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings, its deserts, diving waters and vibrant resorts along its coastline, Egypt attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. Whether visitors opt for a top class luxury hotel in Alexandria or along the Mediterranean Coast, the Nile Valley’s Cairo, Luxor or Aswan, at one of the fabulous resorts in the Red Sea and Sinai regions or choose a specialist venue like a spa centre, a boutique or historical hotel, an ecolodge, golf resort or a desert camp, the hotels in Egypt cater for all tastes and budgets, making visitors’ stays a memory that will last a lifetime.
Whether you plan a stay in a fabulous five-star or four-star hotel, a floating hotel on the River Nile or you are set to enjoy a backpacking experience with overnight stops along the way you can expect an increasingly high standard of facilities in Egypt. The country enjoys a high level of amenities and comfort at exceptional value-for-money.
Marriott, Italian Restaurant, Taba Heights
Visitors to Egypt have lots of choice when deciding where and in what type of accommodation to stay. In the luxury and historical sector of the market there’s the former hunting lodge the Mena House Oberoi overlooking the Pyramids, or the 19th century Cairo Marriott that opened at the same time as the Suez Canal, the five-star Sofitel Old Cataract, one of ‘Death on the Nile’ writer Agatha Christie’s favourite hotels and one of Egypt’s most famous. It is located on the banks of the Nile at Aswan. In Luxor, the Sofitel Winter Palace is a landmark five-star hotel next to the Nile. You get a great view of the Valley of the Kings on the opposite of the river. Or, El Salamlek in Alexandria, which used to be the residence of the Royal family. Many visitors to Egypt do so to enjoy a spa and wellbeing break or the chance to enjoy several rounds of golf. The lavish Intercontinental Citystars in Cairo, the Four Seasons Health Club and Spa in Alexandria, the Charm Life El Alamein, Luxor’s Hilton Resort and Spa, and Sofitel Karnak, or the Mena Ville resort at Safaga, the Stella Di Mare Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea coast or the Savoy and 49
Grand Rotana at Sharm el-Sheikh are all among the hotels specialising in spa breaks. The JW Marriott in Cairo, the Porto Marina in El Alamein, the Steigenberger Al Dau in Hurghada and the Cascades in Soma Bay are just four of Egypt’s top hotels with golf courses.
Al Tarfa Lodge & Luxury Spa
If you are planning to go ‘off the beaten track’ with a tour you may have the en viable opportunity to stay in one of the country’s ecolodge hotels. At the amazingly beautiful Bahariya Oasis you can stay at the Qasr El-Bawity ecolodge hotel, while at Dakhla the Al Tarfa Desert Sanctuary Luxury Lodge and Spa. Both are located in the Western Desert. In the town of Siwa, one of the western desert’s largest communities, the Adrere Amellal is an ecolodge hotel that has amenities such as its own swimming pool and guestrooms full of character. A similar experience can be enjoyed in the Sinai region at Basata ecolodge in Nuweiba. Whatever type of hotel you choose you can have the peace of mind in knowing that we are passionate that you should have a wonderful stay in Egypt. • The hotels mentioned in this section are just a small selection from a great many establishments available in Egypt. For a full list please visit the Egyptian Hotel Association website at www.eha.org.eg
Accommodation Accommodation Marsa Alam, Kharamana Hotel
The White Desert
Alternatives The Western Desert and the Oases
Bahariya Oasis, located around 365 kilometres west of Giza in Cairo is one of the most popular oases in the Western Desert. The Siwa Oasis further into the desert is another. Date palms grow in abundance and are key to the success of making an oasis productive as they form a cover and therefore shade for other smaller trees and plants to thrive. Fig trees, olives trees and some fruit trees can grow in these conditions, as well as vegetables. Bahariya Oasis is famous for its natural ancient Roman hot and cold springs that are said to have therapeutic benefits. Visitors come from far and wide to experience the waters. Culturally, it has a number of ruins from the Graeco-Roman period to see.
DONâ€™T MISS The chance to take a ferry boat from Sharm el-Sheikh to Hurghada. Boats leave for the 90 minute crossing. If you are lucky you will see dolphins. You can also join an overland excursion for a trip from Luxor to Hurghada in about 4.30 hours.
Similarly, visit the Siwa Oasis where ancient Egypt enthusiasts can visit the Gabal Al Mawta which houses ancient mummies, the Amun temple with some good examples of paintings and engravings, and the Amun Prophecy Temple dating from the 26th dynasty. Thereâ€™s a fabulous citadel in old Siwa City too, which is striking and well worth visiting. Other Western Desert oases include the Kharga Oasis, the Dakhla Oasis and the Farafra Oasis, all of which have great ancient sights to see.
The Desert near Bahariya
INFO POINT EASY TRAVEL
The Red Sea Rivera coastline offers an Flights arrive into Hurghada and Marsa entirely different experience of Egypt. Alam airports on the Red Sea coast and Although featuring many kilometres square Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba in south Sinai of desert, it also has some bustling holiday regularly. Taxis and car hire available in resorts. Hurghada is one. Home to around most areas, with a few exceptions in the 40,000 people, a figure boosted during Western Desert. the late spring and summer months with holidaymakers who adore the fact that, like many places in Egypt, it manages to north Sinai head for the cities of Al Arish. combine a modern approach to life with a The National Parks of Al Zaraneek and Al Bardaweel are famous for their migrating long and fascinating history. birds and are often full with bird watching As a former fishing village and home to enthusiasts. fishermens’ families for centuries, it is a living history museum in its own right. Hurghada, From the Nile to the Red Sea, you will which is a town of two halves, Ad-Dahar to find a immense mountain range along the north and Sigala to the south, changed the coast where the monasteries of St. little until the 1990s when it began to Anthony and St. Paul, the Roman Ruins of grow into the holiday hotspot it is today. Mons Porphyrites and Mons Claudianus Stretching some 20 kilometres along the are located in Eastern Desert. shorelines, it is famous for its great beaches and watersports. 20km from Hurghada, El Gouna family and luxury resorts : you will find to suit each your family needs. The much smaller Marsa Alam is further south along the coast. It is quieter compared to Hurghada and tourism is only just starting to make an impact. Several five-star resorts have opened in the past few years. It is a pretty unspoilt village, set right on the coast from where the most strenuous activity is taking a boat out to see the fish, turtles and dolphins or dining in one of its waterside restaurants. The more active can take Red Sea desert adventures on quad bikes, camels or horses, combining day activities with dining under the stars in a traditional Bedouin village. Near Marsa Alam, you will find, Port Ghalib luxury resort with all facilities and services to awaken your sense . Sinai is an important area too. Sharm el-Sheikh lies just north of Ras Mohammed National Park on the southernmost tip of Sinai. It is a lively resort, with two distinct areas. The tourist area of Naama Bay, which was created in the late 1980s and continues to flourish as a tourist hotspot, and the town and port to the south, along with Sinai Taba, Taba Heights, Nuweiba and Dahab are popular spots too. The area around Sharm el-Sheikh has a good choice of hotel accommodation and restaurants, plus lots of excursions to places like St Catherine’s Monastery, believed to be the oldest such structure in the world, and standing serenely at the foot of the Moses’s Mountain. You can take trips to the national park and boats for snorkelling and diving in the Red Sea. If venturing to
The Red Sea & Sinai
Diving spot in the Red Sea
DID YOU KNOW?
Egypt makes an ideal place to visit for a long weekend. Base your stay in a city such as Cairo or Luxor and see the sights, or opt for a spa and wellbeing resort for a relaxing few days.
Do’s & Don’ts
do’s & don’ts
Do respect the monuments archaeological sites are human heritage don’t touch scratch or sit on it. Do dress correctly whilst there is no specific dress code in the cities, women will feel more comfortable if they do not wear shorts or have their shoulders uncovered. This is particularly relevant when visiting churches and mosques. Do drink lots of water be sure to drink lots of water and apply sun cream.
Do have Egyptian money with you Hotels and the main shops in tourist areas are likely to accept credit cards and foreign currencies, but smaller restaurants and stores are unlikely to, especially the further you go out into the desert and away from the tourist areas. Souk traders will expect cash. Do buy souvenirs one of the joys of holidaying in a country as fascinating as Egypt is the variety of souvenirs you can buy to take home as a reminder of your stay. Beautiful souks and numerous Egyptian handcrafts reflect the culture of different destinations along the Nile such as blown glass rugs, perfumes, alabaster, basketware, textile and jewellery. However, do not attempt to take any antiquity. This is strictly forbidden. Don’t miss your camera otherwise you‘ll miss enjoyable memories with your loved ones.
Don’t go for desert excursions without experienced guide and good driver. Don’t forget to check the time of Esna Lock during booking your Nile cruise Don’t miss to attend one of the sound and light shows along the archaeological hot spots through the Nile. Above all, do have a lovely time and don’t take long to return to Egypt!