Egypt Tours and Travel Guide
Egypt Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Ancient Egypt is epitomized by two icons, one man-made and one natural. The Pyramids of Giza, at Cairo, are the only remaining wonders of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, burial memorials for pharaohs whose remarkable construction has baffled observers for millennia.
The timeless Nile River is now best explored by river cruise ship. Stops along the way include Luxor, site of the ancient Temple of Karnak, and the Valley of Kings, where King Tut is buried. Egypt remains a "must-see" on any bucket list.
Luxor, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings
There are so many treasures for the eyes and mind to feast on here that it may seem a little overwhelming! The Valley of the Kings itself contains hundreds of tombs: fortunately not all of them are open every day so some of the selecting is done for you. The valley is broken up into two sections called the East Valley and West Valley.
Upon entering the site, you would purchase a general admission ticket which allows you entry into the valley. It also allows you to explore three tombs that are open to the public that day. But tickets to the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI, and Ayare sold separately. One of the most popular tomb at the site isKing Tut’s which was was found largely intact when it was excavated in 1922.
However, it should be noted that when you visit the tombs most of the artifacts have been taken out, especially the case for King Tut’s crypt. But the intricate detailing and decoration of each room definitely makes the visit worth it. And you can always make a trip to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which harbors most of the artifacts that were found in the tombs.
For those looking for adventure, a donkey ride in the hills above the valley of the kings is something you won’t forget, or for those seeking even more height there may be an opportunity to enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon ride over the valley.
What a wonderful way to witness the sun rising and look down on the mighty Nile river!
Karnak Temple, known to some as the temple from the James Bond movie ‘The Spy who Loved Me’ is simply unmissable. Built as a place of worship in ancient Egypt, the Karnak Temple is one of the largest ancient religious site ever built. It dates back to the Middle Kingdom but remained an active place of worship until the Roman succession in 30 BCE. Today, you can walk through its many courts and temples. The hundreds of tall columns and statues in its grand hall are likely to take your breath away.
A Word about the Pyramids
There’s no denying the Pyramids of Giza will take your breath away and fully deserve their status as a wonder of the world. Don’t be surprised however, when you arrive at the pyramids to find that they appear to be in the middle of a Cairo suburb. This much is true, but the good news is that at least from one side, the Pyramids do back onto desert.
As with all big attractions, it’s best to head there early in the morning to skip some of the crowds and midday heat. And there’s so much more to discover than the ‘headline attraction’!
While in Cairo don’t forget to pay a visit to the Egyptian Museum, whose contents were miraculously kept safe during the uprisings in Cairo in 2011, and if you like to bargain hard while you shop: head to the Khan el Khalili market.
Cruising the Nile: Slow Style
Geographically, the Nile River is the longest river in the world. It is mentioned throughout history for its physical and metaphorical vigorousness.And today, you can experience its beauty and tranquility like the ancient pharaohs did thousands of years ago. There are hundreds of large cruise ships ploughing the Nile River in Egypt; particularly on the stretch between Luxor and Aswan.
Why not travel like a true Nubian in a slow style and in a more environmentally friendly way on the river by taking a traditional Egyptian sailing boat ‘Felucca’ for a ride? Check if your tour includes the option for this, many do.
Visiting Aswan and Abu Simbel
Aswan marks the south of the navigable Nile river as beyond lies the Aswan Dam and the shores of Lake Nasser. At the southern end of Lake Nasser lies Abu Simbel, a magnificent temple carved directly into the rock, and whose figures seem to watch over the river themselves.
When Lake Nasser was (somewhat controversially) created by the installation of the Aswan Dam and the flooding of the riverbanks surrounding it, the Abu Simbel temples were physically dismantled and moved, piece by piece, some 65 meters back from the river banks and up the cliffs to save them.
Beyond the Nile Basin
Egypt offers a wealth of other interesting destinations that are a little more off-the-beaten-path. The red sea is unrivaled for its Scuba Diving, and the desert in the west of the country is famous for its beautiful oasis towns such as Dakhla and Siwa.
Travel Safety and Security in Egypt
Egypt is truly unique in the sights it has to offer, its history, landscape and people. Since 2011 Egypt has been suffering from intermittent but well publicized political turbulence, and visitor numbers has been affected. Much of the area of the country frequented by tourists (Cairo, the Nile basin including Luxor & the Valley of the kings, Aswan, Abu Simbel) are some of the safest parts of the country and do not have travel warnings in place. For full and up to date information about safe travel in Egypt check the travel advisory website of your country’s government.
In general understanding the culture a little, staying away from large crowds or political gatherings and using your common sense will help make your trip even safer. For women travelers, dressing conservatively in light, non fitted clothing that covers your legs and upper arms will help decrease any unwanted attention from would be admirers.
One of the best points of going on a guided tour is that you will have local information and support at all times during your trip - therefore providing a bit of extra security.
Things to Know Before You Go
Is it safe to travel to Egypt?
As of January, 2018 - a Level 2 Travel Advisory was put into place by the United States Government. This advises "increased caution" traveling to Egypt, as a result of certain terrorist activities and threats, and military activity on the border.
But what does this mean? It is advised that when you are visiting Egypt to remain cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times. It also means that the specified areas, e.g. the Sinai Peninsula and the borders, should be avoided. However, the Egyptian government emphasizes that all areas with a high concentration of tourism are heavily guarded to ensure your safety.
Yes, you can travel to Egypt, but there are certain precautions that you should take to keep yourself safe. The first is to know your country’s embassy location and number in case of an emergency which can be accessed through your country’s government website. You should also remain within the areas that are deemed safe.
Most government websites also provide a link to a site where you can input your information so you get messages from your embassy about safety conditions in the area. For visitors from the US, you can enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). Also, it is advised to remain away from any political protests or crowds.
Finally, we at Stride highly recommend booking a guided tour, rather than trying to navigate the foreign country yourself.
Guided Tours to Egypt
Guided tours are always advised. Because they are always well-informed and know how to avoid, as well as respond to dangerous situations, guided tours are the safest option for foreign travelers.
Certain areas in Egypt, like the Sinai Peninsula, have a higher risk of danger and most, to all, tours do not visit these places. Before your trip to Egypt, you can always contact your tour company to see what specific precautions they take to ensure everyone’s safety.
What should women wear in Egypt?
Another common question that many people wonder before traveling to Egypt is, generally, what to wear? It is no secret that catcalling and sexual harrassment is common in Egypt -- and while usually not dangerous, it is best avoided.
A general rule of thumb for women should be to dress conservatively. This means covering as much skin as you can -- your shoulders and legs, especially. When surrounded by other tourists, you will likely be able to wear whatever you want, but it is traveling in between these locations, or at night, that you may run into problems. Certain mosques will also require you to cover your entire and arms and hair.
Here is a list of items every woman should pack when visiting Egypt (or any other conservative Muslim country):
- Lightweight scarf: this scarf will be your best friend. You can wrap it over your head and shoulders when you need to enter a mosque, without having to drag around an entirely new outfit.
- Sunglasses: Making eye contact in Egypt is considered to be flirting, so these will help you avoid the gaze of any men who might call out to you. These will also be useful in general, Egypt is a sunny place!
- Maxi skirt: Maxi skirts made of a lightweight, loosely-fitting material are a great way to avoid getting too hot, and avoid any unwanted attention.
- Tunic shirt: Wearing a cotton or linen tunic-style shirt is a great way to beat the heat and make sure you're covering up. This style of shirt will not only be long enough to cover your hips if you are wearing skinny jeans, but they usually have high necklines and longer sleeves.
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