If there is one country that conjures up images of mystery and intrigue, it is Egypt. Home of the Pharaohs and in possession of some of the richest history in civilization, Egypt should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Not only is there so much to see, but it’s also light on the pocket, the crowds have lessened due to the political turmoil and as it is a Muslim country, the delectable local cuisine is easily enjoyable.
The best time to visit Egypt is in the winters, as the temperatures remain moderate and you are able to roam around in the warm sun. One of the best ways to go around Egypt is via tour operator. They can set up the itinerary according to your requirements which can help ease the overall stress of planning the trip. This is a preferred option, especially if travelling with kids.
The first stop is Cairo, which houses the main attraction, the Pyramids. It’s a sprawling, chaotic city and can take some time to get from point A to point B. Staying near the Pyramids is a good option, as you can head there early morning, after which it gets crowded. Seeing them in person is definitely mind-blowing, as one cannot fathom how such huge structures came into being without any modern machinery. You can opt for a camel or horse ride that allows you to view all seven Pyramids in one go. One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that Baksheesh (tip) is expected by everyone for any kind of service that is provided, so you will have to budget that in separately. Also, be very clear on the expectations of service that will be provided, as at times miscommunication can lead to unpleasant consequences. Cairo is also home to the Egyptian museum, which is chockful of artifacts. It’s even more interesting if you have a guide with you as it brings the history to life.
The Nile Cruise
The trip to Egypt is incomplete without a Nile Cruise, so it should definitely be part of the plan. For the Nile cruise, the first stop is at Aswan, which can be reached by plane. From there you can board the cruise and start the journey down the river Nile. It’s an amazing experience, gliding down the legendary Nile that has fed the Nile Delta and Egypt for thousands of years. The stretch is dotted with many architectural wonders and many stops are made on the way. Kom Ombo has two temples paying homage to the god of crocodiles, Sobek, and Horus. The temple of Edfu is sprawling and dedicated to the falcon god. There is much to explore here, with the various ante chambers and wall carvings.
Valley of the Kings
Another awe inspiring stop is the Valley of the Kings, where the famed boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, was discovered along with other kings. What makes this place stand out is that there is still some semblance of bright paint visible even after thousands of years, on the cryptic hieroglyphs and the many scenes carved out in stone.
Luxor is the final stop. It houses two stunning temples that are a must visit. The first is the Luxor Temple, the entrance to which is flanked by Ramses II’s statues. The second is the Karnak Temple that is dedicated to the sun god Amun-Ra, and is majestic because of the many obelisks, columns and carved pillars that populate it. While you roam around these temples and find yourself alone, your imagination runs wild, thinking of the times gone by and the countless people and their lives, and the rituals that were performed here thousands of years ago. It can certainly give you goose bumps, thinking of how advanced this civilization was to create such majestic structures that still hold despite the ravages of time.
End the trip with a leisurely trip down the Nile on a Felucca, a traditional Egyptian boat. It’s great when the breeze is blowing but if it isn’t, you can get stuck and have to be pulled back by modern motorboats.
For food, do try Koshari, the national dish of Egypt made of rice, lentils and macaroni, or the falafel and the many other local delicacies. Shopping is an experience in itself and you must ensure that you have strong bargaining skills; if you feel pressured, say a polite ‘la shukran’ and move on.
It’s important to have a strong interest in Egypt and its majestic history to fully enjoy a visit to this country. And if you do, then the trip will really be one its kind and something that you will always remember.HH
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