Egypt, the Land of the Pharaohs

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giza pyramids

Motto : there is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing…

With a population of 85 million people and an area of over 1 million sq kilometers, Egypt is the land of the ancient Pharaohs and home to the iconic pyramids, rising from the timeless deserts.

The desert seems endless, but you’ll find, here and there, beautiful oases filled with palm trees and lately, even modern cities and high-tech coastal holiday resorts, because Egypt evolved in the last 50 years, becoming a modern country and one of the best destinations for those of you seeking a warm place during the cold winter.

When talking about Egypt, you’ll automatically think about the land of the pharaohs, like Tutankhamen, the boy king (he was crowned pharaoh at age 18) whose death mask was built of solid gold and made for one of the most precious and well known ancient artifacts ever discovered by archeologists. Another iconic figure in the history of Egypt was Nefertiti, the pharaoh’s Akhenaton wife, a beautiful queen that ruled alone in a world of men after the death of her husband.

Egypt.Giza.Sphinx.02

History is one thing, but Egypt’s marvelous monuments, built by its legendary pharaohs can be still admired and visited today, 2-3000 years later after their inception.

Everyone should visit in his/hers lifetime the great pyramid of Giza, the only survivor of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. Also, while you’re at it, go see the Sphinx, the statue with the body of a lion and a human head, the beautiful temples of Karnak and Luxor, the neighboring Valley of the Kings / Valley of the Queens, the Deir el Bahri, the Hatshepsut’s temple and so on and so forth. All these destinations have flabbergasted visitors for hundreds of years and they’re still kicking.

Egypt Unwrapped, Secrets of the Valley of the KingsThe Nile is one of Egypt’s most renowned natural asset, with its lush and green Delta, and along the river, past Aswan, home of the ancient temples of Abu Simbel that were built by Ramses 2, for his wife Nefertari, making for an incredible sight.

luxor

Egypt is a country filled with contrasts, a land of diversity, where ancient history mingles with modern cities, green with barren (the Delta and the desert) and home of a beautiful and lively people.

The best time to go visit Egypt is December to February, this period can be regarded as the tourist high season, while June to August is the opposite.

The country has a desert climate, featuring hot (and dry) summers and very  mild winters (68F).

What to see/What to Do

 While in Egypt…go see the pharaohs work.  I mean, go see the Abu Simbel temples, looking over lake Nasser and built in the honor of Ramses 2 and his wife Nefertari.

Alexandria is Egypt’s second city, after the capital Cairo, located near the Mediterranean sea and featuring a French colonial spirit, along with an art deco architecture and a Greek influence. During summer, go and work on your tan on the beautiful sandy beaches, visit the Roman Amphitheatre and the underwater museum, also the state of the art Bibliotheca.

Aswan is a border town and a hugely popular stopping point for wooden boats (aka feluccas) and cruise liners. Here you can visit  the island of Plants (home of a botanical garden built in the 18’th century) and the Elephantine island.

Egypt-Nile-Delta-Canal-007

Souq al-Gamaal at Birqash is a camel market, an ancient trading place that’s worth paying a visit to. Also, the city of gold, Kom Ombo, located 18 miles north of Aswan, harboring  the temple of Haroeris and Sobek, along with other popular destinations along the Nile, such as the Temple of Horus, or Edfu.

If you’re into water sports, go diving into the Red Sea or, if you’re the traditional type, go golfing at the famous Mena House Oberoi golf course (18 holes).

Sultan-Hasan-Mosque-Cairo-Egypt

Cairo, the Islamic Capital

This is  an ancient city, bursting with life and filled with beautiful mosques, with lots of people taking a stroll on the serene streets. While you’re here, go visit the world’s oldest university, the Al-Azhar Mosque and take pictures of the city from a minaret. Also, don’t forget to take a trip to Khan-el Khalili bazaar, a medieval trading place where you can buy spices, perfume and all sorts of trinkets and if you’re into people-watching, go sip a tea at Fishawi’s  tea house, a 2 centuries old business place.

Food and drinks in Egypt

 

The best thing about Egypt for food addicts is its  cuisine that combines the best  of Middle Eastern/African and Mediterranean cooking and I am not mincing words here.

You’ll enjoy the freshly picked fruits and veggies (dates, olives) combined with the aromatic spices and herbs, the fresh fish and meats, all together making for healthy, flavorsome and delicious dishes. Among Egypt’s most popular dishes you’ll find ful medames, koshari, falafel, kebabs, fuul, Mahallabiyaa and Babaganoush. You should know that Egyptians consider meat dish as a “luxury”, especially pigeon (a local delicacy). Among popular drinks you’ll find kahwa (coffee,strong and thick), mint tea, karkaday, zibib and dark beer (aswanli).

old bazaar

Visa and Passport requirements

You’ll need a valid passport to enter Egypt and sometimes a visa is required, easily obtainable from Egyptian consulates or at the port in Alexandria.

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