In spite of political, financial and social turmoil, Egyptians remain proud and defiant and are as welcoming as ever to visitors to their land.
The old saying that Egypt is the gift of the Nile still rings true: without the river there would be no fertile land, no food, no electricity. And although people's lives are increasingly physically detached from the water, the Nile still exerts a uniquely powerful role. Luckily for visitors, the river is also the perfect place from which to see many of the most spectacular ancient monuments, which is one reason why a Nile cruise remains such a popular way to travel.
Whether you’re watching the sun rise from the lofty heights of Mt Sinai (Gebel Musa) or the shimmering horizon from the comfort of a hot spring in Siwa Oasis, Egypt’s desert landscapes are endlessly fascinating – good thing, because they make up 95% of the country. In a land where time is measured by dynasties, and distance by the setting sun, there are plenty of opportunities to relax into the infinite expanse of sand and sea.
Why I Love Egypt
By Anthony Sattin, Author
Is it the way the glorious past casts long shadows over the present? Is it the way the lush Nile Valley gives way, from one footstep to another, to the harshness of the desert? Is it the light in the eye of the person telling me a story in a cafe, who has just burst into laughter? Here are three reasons: the intensity of light, the love of life, the sense of family are three of many, many more.
Pyramids & More
With sand-covered tombs, austere pyramids and towering Pharaonic temples, Egypt brings out the explorer in all of us. Visit the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, where Tutankhamun’s tomb was unearthed, and see the glittering finds in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Hop off a Nile boat to visit Dendara, Edfu or one of the other waterside temples, cross Lake Nasser to see Ramses II’s masterpiece at Abu Simbel, or trek into the desert to find the traces of Roman trading outposts. You never know – your donkey might stumble across yet another find, for that is the way many previous discoveries were made.
Egypt once ruled an empire from Al-Qahira – Cairo, the City Victorious. The metropolis is packed with soaring minarets and medieval schools and mosques, some of the greatest architecture of medieval Islam. At the same time, Egypt’s native Christians, the Copts, have carried on their traditions that in many respects – such as the church’s liturgical language and the traditional calendar – link back to the time of the pharaohs. Tap into the history in remote desert monasteries and ancient churches.
Beaches & Beyond
That empty beach with nothing but a candlelit cabin, and a teeming coral reef offshore: they’re waiting for you in Egypt. The coast along the Red Sea has a rugged desert beauty above the waterline and a psychedelic vibrancy below – rewarding to explore on a multiday outing to one of the globe’s great dives or on an afternoon’s snorkelling jaunt along a coral wall. There is just as much space and beauty in Egypt’s vast deserts. Whether you’re watching the sun rise between the beautiful shapes of the White Desert or the shimmering horizon from the comfort of a hot spring in Siwa Oasis, Egypt’s landscapes are endlessly fascinating.
Top five stops on a Nile cruise
In-the-know travellers are seizing the opportunity to visit Egypt’s famous tombs and temples while there are no crowds – and the best way to do it is by following the mighty River Nile on a cruise...
Need to know
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Is now a good time to visit Cairo?
'Do you have a strong heart?' asked the man behind the Egyptian Museum’s bookshop counter. 'You need one here…' 'Yes, yes, I think so', I said, nodding earnestly...