Egypt is the home of one of the oldest civilisations on earth and is a destination that people dream of visiting at least once in their lifetime. With the wealth of travel comparison websites now helping tourists to save their hard earned cash, it’s never been easier to visit this exciting country. The only problem is, there is so much to see and experience that it is difficult to fit it all into a limited period of time.
Egyptian people are friendly and eager to please, even more so if you make the effort to learn a few words of their language. The hotels offer a wide range of foods for visitors, but make sure to try some of the local dishes while you are there.
Buffet tables are often decorated with exquisitely carved fruit and vegetables that draw you to the wide selection of dishes on offer. You will find that many of the Egyptian dishes are influenced by surrounding Mediterranean countries such as Tunisia and Morocco and the sweets are similar to those found in Greece.
A visit to Cairo would not be complete without a visit to the Cairo Museum. Filled from top to bottom with a stunning collection of antiquities, it requires more than a few hours to do it justice. Be warned though, the museum is a popular tourist attraction and can become incredibly packed at peak tourist season.
The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, iconic symbols of Egypt, can be found on the outskirts of Cairo and they are extremely popular attractions. And next to the pyramids you will find the Cheops Boat Museum, which houses a perfectly preserved solar boat used on the Pharaoh’s final worldly journey to Giza.
Some of the oldest pyramids can be seen at Saqqara, where the tombs of the ‘Principal Dynasties’ are located, including those of the Persian and Ptolemaic periods.
Between Giza and Saqqara there is the Mit Rahina Museum, which houses what artefacts from the ancient city of Menufer, or Memphis. The statue of Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx of Amenophis II can be found there.
Several incredible temples are situated along the Nile. The sheer scale of what was achieved so many years ago is truly awe inspiring. Cruise boats regularly sail up the Nile from Cairo to Luxor, stopping within easy reach of the temples along the way.
Deir el-Bahri is the complex set among what remains of the Temple of Hatshepsut and is consecrated to the goddess Hathor.
Kom Ombo is unusual because a part of it is dedicated to the god Horus and another part to the god Sobek, the crocodile god. Abu Simbal, the temple of Amun Ra, Harmakes and Ptah, was built by Ramses II in the heart of Nubian territory. It is probably one of the most photographed temples in the country.
When visiting these temples, one of the most amazing things to note is how well preserved the colours used in the murals are, considering the age of the structures. The skill of the artisans is evident in all the temples.
Whether you choose a package-type holiday or explore on your own, the services of an experienced guide can be invaluable. Worldwide travel insurance is also important if you intend visiting the tombs of the Pharaohs as access can involve climbing up or down very long narrow steep stairways, which could result in an accident.
Unless you are comfortable in extremely hot conditions, choose the time of year for your visit carefully and be sure to carry bottled water with you always. Wherever possible, sightseeing is best done early in the day or in the late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.
It is also a good idea to visit the Foreign Office website for advice on traveller safety before departing.