Egypt is one of the world’s classic tourist destinations, featuring the only remaining specimens from Herodotus’ original Seven Wonders of the World – the Great Pyramids of Giza. The sheer size of these incredible monuments, the precision of their construction, their history, and the stories of those buried within them are enough to make Egypt worth visiting. Incredibly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Egypt.
Along with the pyramids and the Sphinx, there are numerous temples lining the Nile all the way to Abu Simbel in the South. Then of course there’s the Valley of the Kings, the final resting place of the boy-king Tutankhamen, whose tomb was uncovered as recently as 1922. Incredibly, there are even more discoveries being made all the time, with recent scientific research using satellite infra-red technology uncovering more ancient pyramids, monuments and evidence of settlements buried beneath the Egyptian desert sand. New sites are opening all the time, making it a totally fascinating attraction that develops all the time.
Built by King Ramses II, the temple of Abu Simbel was carved out of a mountain in honour of the great pharaoh. Incredibly, it was carved in such a way that the sun illuminated the most holy part of the temple on the days of his birthday and his coronation respectively. To think that such a feat of architectural genius could have been accomplished at all, let alone 3500 years ago without the aid of modern technology, makes this a highlight of Egypt to rival even the great pyramids.
Lost to humanity for centuries, the temple was rediscovered by chance in 1813, and was famously moved piece by piece and relocated upon the construction of Lake Nasser in 1972. Although they managed to move the temple and retain its splendour, the fact that modern scientists misaligned the temple slightly, (causing the sun to illuminate the temple the day after King Ramses’ birthday and coronation) reminds us of the incredible accomplishments of the ancient Egyptians.
Luxor and the Valley of the Kings
Home of the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the legendary Temple of Karnak and the temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor is ancient Egypt at its best. Why not survey this ancient region from the skies, as you float along the morning breeze in a hot air balloon? It’s an incredible way to see Egypt, and an experience you aren’t likely to forget.
The town on Aswan on the banks of the Nile is the starting point for felucca journeys and the Abu Simbel excursions. Take a boat ride to the Philae temple on the island of Agelika, which belongs to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The highlight, the temple of Isis, covers almost a quarter of the island and features scenes of Ptolemaic and Roman ceremonies, along with markings from the days of the first Christians.
Beyond the archaeological wonders, Egypt has a wealth of other attractions. The Nile River has been a lifeline to the Egyptian people for millennia, and remains Egypt’s main water source and the focus of life for many people. Sail the Nile river in a felucca (or take a cruise if that’s more your style), and watch the world drift by.
Famous amongst the diving fraternity, the Red Sea features some of the best diving spots on the planet. Dahab means ‘gold’ in Arabic, and is a small, unspoiled coastal resort around 90km from Cairo. A simple town without the glitz of some other Red Sea resorts, Dahab is well regarded by the scuba diving community for its simplicity and great diving opportunities. Take a PADI dive course and see for yourself!
For more information on Egypt’s fascinating archaeological sites, natural attractions and Egypt group tours, take a look at our section on Egypt’s top spots And keep an eye on the news – if recent events are anything to go by, there could be more pyramids popping up any day now!