The very name Egypt conjures a land of mystique, the ancient pyramids, the glorious River Nile and a country that is at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. In common parlance, even if Egypt was called the ‘gift of the Nile’, it’s actually the gift that keeps on giving. From its 7000 year old history to its fascinating culture, Egypt is richly layered, a multitude of complexities, and a cornucopia of culinary delights.
Colourful markets, stunning mosques, the mesmerising Pharaonic sites, natural and manmade architectural wonders, everything is in excess here, a trait that is entirely Egyptian and one that you will soon come to recognise in everything that you see here. People also come here to indulge in star gazing, a contemplative and mind-relaxing activity and whether you’re at the pyramids of Giza or at the stunning White Desert, you will undoubtedly be able to see and understand the magnificence of the universe as a macrocosm.
There’s no time like the present to take a look at what Egypt tourism has to offer, so let’s take a look at this charming country and its many wonders.
|Egypt Tourism : A Quick Overeview|
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It’s nearly impossible to talk of a visit to Egypt without even a glimpse at the Pyramids. The ancient structures that continue to remain a talking point for all visitors and tourists are indeed spectacular. Austere, yet magnificent despite their simplicity, the Pyramids of Giza have lasted more than 4500 years. The legendary Sphinx is also a part of these Pyramids. A look at these manmade wonders will imbue you with a feeling of awe as you wonder about the architectural marvels that have been accomplished thousands of years ago. It feels surreal to walk around these marvels, built in the presence of pharaohs of 2550 BC.. But there’s more to Egypt than the pyramids. Luxor’s Valley of Kings, slightly less old than the pyramids, is also impressive as a burial ground for many pharaohs and queens, particularly Tutankhamen. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is unmissable for its many wonderful artefacts and a stroll inside is akin to walking down a richly hued historical lane.
Egypt is not just a hub for history and culture lovers. For the young and modern traveller who wants to get in a bit of fun adventure activities along with the requisite sightseeing, Egypt has much to offer. Whether it’s horse and camel riding, jeep safaris or sand boarding in the Great Sand Sea near Siwa Oasis, adventure enthusiasts will find themselves enthralled by the many activities here. The Red Sea is also a tourist favourite. There are coral reefs and brilliantly coloured tropical fish that will fascinate you endlessly. If you want to dive, there’s no better place as Egypt has some excellent diving spots. For those with lesser strenuous pursuits in mind, there’s also snorkelling as you can rent masks and flippers quite easily here. Other fun water-based activities you can enjoy here include windsurfing, water skiing, parasailing and kiteboarding. If you’re looking for some quiet and introspective time, then try your hand at fishing in Lake Nasser or hot air ballooning in Luxor.
One of the best things about going on a trip is to go shopping and coming back to your hotel room, laden with packages. The joy of shopping is quite pronounced in Egypt, as you go hunting for souvenirs, because there’s a huge variety to choose from. Whether you’re looking for jewellery, or leatherwork or copper and brassware, there’s a mindboggling range to select from in the bazaars in Cairo. Look for gold or silver jewellery and then head on towards the perfume and spice bazaars where the air is redolent with fragrance. A visit to Egypt would be incomplete if you don’t take back a kilim (woven rug) with you, and there are different varieties and quality to choose from. Kaftans, leather jackets, handbags and sandals are some of the other things that you can purchase in the Egyptian markets. The glassware here is also quite exquisite and should make an exotic addition to your shopping, although you’d have to be careful in ensuring nothing breaks during your travel.
Egyptian cuisine celebrates the coming together of different cuisines such as Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese, Greek and even French, into a version that has been modified to suit the Mediterranean palate. The food is fresh, delicious and can be found everywhere. Cafés and restaurants serve delicious fuul madammes, a dish made with boiled fava beans, mashed with tomatoes, spices and onions and often served with a chopped boiled egg. This is a typical breakfast dish that you will find everywhere. Other tasty titbits you should definitely explore are taamiya, the Egyptian version of falafel served with pita bread, salad, and tahini sauce, kushari, which has noodles, rice and macaroni in a spicy tomato sauce, and fiteer, which is made with filo pastry, filled with cheese, peppers, egg, olives and mince. A sweet version of fiteer is also available, filled with jam or raisins and finished with a dusting of icing sugar. Of course, the ubiquitous shawarma is ever present although restaurant fare includes slightly more elaborate dishes such as kofta with hummus, tahini and baba ghanoush or tagine made with exotic pigeon meat. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, you cannot miss eternal favourites such as baklava, basbousa, mahalabiyya or Umm Ali.
Egypt is located in the north-eastern corner of Africa and is connected to the Middle East through south-western Asia. The ancient country which has existed for several millennia shares borders with Libya, Gaza Strip and Sudan and has coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the River Nile.
Egypt has a mild and sunny winter with occasional rain during the months of October to February, which is usually considered the peak season. During December and January especially, places like the Pyramids and the temples of Luxor are quite crowded. Even the Red Sea is a favourite destination for travellers who are looking to sunbathe by the warm sea and hence, the resort rates are quite high and flight tickets are also rather expensive. Egypt also has a brief spring when the weather is not yet too hot and since it’s the shoulder season, there are fewer crowds for those who want to go snorkelling or swimming. Most people avoid visiting Egypt in summer as it can be scorching hot.
Egypt has two main airports – Cairo International Airport and Luxor International Airport. Flying to Egypt is the best way to reach the country from India. There are several daily flights from various international airports in India and some of the airlines include Air Arabia, Egypt Air, Etihad Airways and Gulf Air to name just a few.
If you are travelling to Egypt from Israel, then you can take a bus from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Although it’s not too expensive to rent a car to travel to Egypt, it’s not easy to travel across borders because of the authorities in the border areas. Hence, this is not a very viable option for those planning to travel to Egypt.
There are no cruises from India to Egypt but if you want to have an unforgettable experience, you must go on a Nile cruise which can most likely take you from Aswan to Luxor.
Egypt is one of the few countries in the world that can boast of a history that goes back several millennia, at least back to 6000BC when the Nile River Valley was first inhabited. The ancient Egyptian civilisation has a rich history and although most of it has been deciphered since Egyptian hieroglyphs were decoded, some of it still remains a mystery. With names such as Alexander the Great and Cleopatra featuring as part of its history, it continues to fascinate people thousands of years later.
ATMs are widely available in Egypt. And most shops and business accepted all major international credit cards. Beware, there is a shortage of change, and you may find it hard to break large bills. You should tip at restaurants, in cafes leave a tip of approx. INR 20-40/-, you can tip guard at tourist site approx. INR 20-70/-, in cabs just at 5% on top of the fare, at mosques you need to leave approx. INR 20-40/- for shoe covers and at restaurants add 10 to 15% on the bill depending on the quality of food and service.
Budget hotels cost approx. INR 600/- for a double room, a mid-range hotel will cost approx. INR 2000/- for a double room and a luxury hotel may cost approx. INR 10,000/- for a double room. These are all rates on a per night basis.
A falafel sandwich may cost approx. INR 10/-, a meal for two may cost approx. INR 430/- a fancy meal for two may cost approx. INR 1000/-.
Train from Cairo to Luxor may cost between approx. INR 405-730/- per person. A flight may cost approx. INR 2300/- per person for the same.
Entry tickets at tourist destination may cost between approx. INR 215-720/- per person. A car and driver for the day may cost approx. INR 1260/-. A personal tour guide may cost approx. INR 350/- per hour. A high-end cruise at the Nile start at approx. INR 11,300/- per person, per night.
Only Thomas Cook could have told us about a Scuba Diving experience in Egypt that goes into a lost city Thonis – Heracleion. This trip was really amazing experience and something different than what other companies offered us. The other places and trips to Pyramids, Temples and Caves were all managed perfectly. Egypt is an amazing country to experience at-least once in your lifetime.
The Nile River Cruise is an exquisite experience. It takes you across some of the most beautiful landscapes ever. Knowing this, we booked our package for Egypt from Thomas Cook and got the best travel package. Getting this package right was the most important requirement of our 2nd anniversary trip and Thanks to expert and professional help, it happened.
Nothing matches the beauty of watching the sunset behind the Pyramids from the balcony of your hotel. It was just because of assistance from Thomas Cook that we were able to enjoy Egypt’s surreal places like Valley of Kings and Abu Simbel Temples. Egypt is cheaper than Euro-trip and way more extensive and interesting. A cultural experience of a new country cannot get better than this.