Formidable pharaonic ruins, gigantic pyramids and vast sculpted sand dunes: Egypt’s wonders are endless. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first visit to the enigmatic Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only remaining example of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Egypt holidays are like a trip back in time, especially on a cruise down the Nile, where you can experience the
country in all its timeless glory (although cruising conditions have developed considerably since the great Ramses II). Drift along this biblical river in a beautifully preserved steamship, traditional dahabiya (houseboat) or an elegant felucca (sailing boat), gazing at ancient temples with a cocktail in hand.
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What can you find in Egypt that you won’t find elsewhere?
Egypt holidays have all the ingredients to ignite your curiosity. Firstly, the museums are mind blowing. One such institution is Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, displaying the death masks of pharaoh’s past and some 120,000 antiquities, while Tutankhamun’s full burial collection will be displayed in the highly anticipated GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum) in Giza. There’s something special about visiting the pyramids of Giza and crawling through secret tunnels to get to the great burial chambers. To stand and admire the Great Pyramid of Khufu, a structure which consists of over two million blocks of stone and has stood for more than forty-five centuries - for most of which time it was the world's tallest building - is something special. As the Arab proverb goes: 'Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids. Exploring the Valley of the Kings, on the Nile’s western banks, is another must-visit for its painted royal temples, as is Abu Simbel, a monumental feat of architecture built by Ramses II between 1264 and 1244 BC. On the eastern side of the Nile, you could easily spend a lifetime learning about the colonnaded Karnak complex, especially the papyrus columns of the Great Hypostyle Hall. And where to relax after all that sightseeing? The Red Sea not only offers luxurious resorts complete with tennis courts, kids’ clubs and pampering spas but also superb coral reefs that are home to fantastic marine life over which you can snorkel or dive.
Who is Egypt best for?
Few destinations work for both couples and families, but Egypt manages more than credibly, combining culture and cracking beaches in one delectable holiday destination. And you don’t have to be a history buff to be impressed by Egypt’s past. Egypt holidays can bring the country’s glorious ancient past to life, whether by exploring temple complexes with an expert guide or marvelling at them from the deck of your luxury Nile steam ship. Channel your inner archaeologist inspecting hieroglyphics and unlocking ancient treasures preserved in Cairo’s awe-inspiring Egyptian Museum. Diving fanatics should head to the Red Sea’s offshore coral reefs, satisfying even the most seasoned divers with numerous shipwrecks and marine life to rival Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
What are the best ways to discover Egypt?
Egypt’s landmarks are sprawled across the country, accessible by car, plane and boat… so, a seamless itinerary is imperative. In Cairo, a driver and an expert guide (the key ingredient) can take you to around the best bits, from souqs to museums, while you might want to swap your vehicle for a camel ride around the Pyramids of Giza to avoid the main crowds. Small boats make all the difference when cruising the Nile, allowing you to stop off in places that larger vessels cannot. Hop on and off at ancient temples with plenty of pampering in between. Combine this with a stint in Hurghada by the Red Sea for well-deserved beach time and watersports galore.
Special things to do in Egypt
Stay in a hotel facing the pyramids of Giza. If you can drag yourself away from this coveted spot, visit the Cairo Museum and come face-to-face with Tutankahmun’s resplendent gold mask. Or scour the bazaars with a personal shopper for the best jewellery and leatherware. The secret is to have a top guide. Fortunately we have access to some of the best. A skilled guide is essential not just for the depth of knowledge they can share with you, but for their ability to avoid crowds and hassle. One of the best parts of a tailor-made Original Travel holiday is that you'll feel like you're able to unlock invisible doors. Without your guide, you might never touch the real Egypt, the one beneath the skin of everyday life. You might never find the silversmith in the souq who will engrave your name in hieroglyphics on a key-ring. Or have the chance to get your personal travel diary bound in the most beautiful decorative leather book-binding. Or visit the belly-dance costume stall.
Take a trip on a dahabiya: Hire out a traditional dahabiya, a sleek wooden sailing boat originally built to carry royalty. This way you and your party can view the temples from an exclusive perspective and stop off at small islands for private dinners.
A desert Eden: Located on the border of Libya in Western Egypt, the Siwa desert is where the vast sands meet greenery, creating a magnificent contrast. This urban oasis has long been a haven of beauty spectacular in its isolation. Explore ancient temples, hot springs and surreal sandscapes as well as authentic Berber traditions.
Diving the Red Sea: For fanatical divers the Red Sea coast offers undoubtedly the best diving within easy reach of Europe. Sharm el Sheikh, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and Hurghada, just across the Gulf of Suez, both have excellent fully equipped dive centres for diving instruction and exploring the beautiful underwater world. Unlike many other places, the coral reefs here are still in good health and harbour almost as many fish species as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, while the numerous wrecks that lie in these warm, shallow waters add extra interest to the diving.