Welcome to Egypt!
One of the oldest countries in the world and once considered the “Cradle of Civilization” for its advanced society built along the banks of the fertile Nile River, Egypt is today a World tourism hotspot, flaunting two stunning, gigantic coastlines, the iconic pyramids, while being a food lovers paradise for its excellent blend of exotic savories & spices.
Tracing its history back to almost 8000 BC, the Egyptian civilization is a must visit destination for historians and avid travellers. Egypt is officially an Islamic country and Arabic is its official language. Years of modernization and foreign influence are seamlessly interwoven with the country’s long and rich cultural tradition, ensuring it remains one of the most diverse destinations for serious vacationers and one of the main reasons that Egypt tourism has risen steadily over the last few years. About 75 percent of Egypt's population is Muslim, with a Sunni majority. Sunni Islam sees Egypt as an important part of its religion not only due to Quranic verses mentioning the country, but also due to the Al-Azhar University, a school for religion studies and works and one of the earliest Universities of the World.
The Country has so much to offer! From a day at the beach, to what feels like ‘time-travel’ while at the ancient monuments, or just enjoy the throbbing nightlife in its numerous cities, Egypt will never let you be bored.
|Also Known as||Arab Republic of Egypt|
|Area||1,010,408 Square kilometer|
|Best known for||Pyramids, Islamic Cairo and Monastery|
|Things To Do||Pyramids of Giza, Egypt Culture And Shopping|
|Places To Visit||The Ancient Trail, Religious Sites, Maze Like Souks And Museums|
Geography of Egypt
Located in North-eastern Africa, including a large part of the Sinai Peninsula, which is almost considered Asia, Egypt’s land frontiers border Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and Israel to the northeast. It has a coastline of approximately 3000 km, along the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.
Egypt has an interesting divide, based on the flow of the River Nile - Upper Egypt in the South and Lower Egypt in the North. This is from the fact the Nile flows from South to the North, eventually meeting the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Housing a few low mountains, Upper Egypt is mostly desert, while it is Lower Egypt that has more urban spaces, wide valleys and the mouth of the Nile, near Cairo.
Entry into Egypt through any of their International Airport points, will depend on where you plan to start your trip. You can choose to land at any of the major airports in Egypt:
Cairo International Airport (Cairo), Luxor International Airport (Luxor), Borg El Arab International Airport (Alexandria), Hurghada Airport (Hulghada El Dahar), Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport (Sharm el Sheikh centre, near Ras Nasrani). Connectivity to all major tourist spots is easily available and can be planned ahead.
For an immersive experience in a Country’s culture, food plays a major role in creating the best adventures.
Similar to the cuisines of Arabic-speaking countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, Egyptian cuisine has dishes like stuffed vegetables & vine leafs, Shawarma-sandwiches the region.
Must Try Classic Egyptian dishes:
Ful Medames is one of the most primary foods consumed and is believed to be cooked all the way back in ancient Egypt. It consists of fava beans (ful) slow-cooked in a copper pot (to produce the right flavor) that have been partially or entirely mashed.
Classic Falafel (known as Ta'miya in Egypt) which is deep-fried ground fava bean balls is believed to be invented by Egyptian bedouins.
Kushari is another famous dish, an unusual mix of rice, spaghetti, vermicelli, small macaroni, lentils, rice, chickpeas and tomato sauce.
Do also try Besarah (vegetarian, creamy mash dish), Mulukhiya (a savoury meat stew), Fatta (a special occasion, rich, savoury meat dish), Sayadeya (cooked mainly in the coastal cities, a complete one-pot fish dish, baked in earthenware pot), not forgetting the delectable Kebabs & Koftas.
Dressing In Egypt
Being a predominantly Islamic country, the Egyptians are generally conservative, religious and the dressing followed is usually very conservative. While the people are accommodating towards tourists being dressed in less than what the locals wear, it is prudent to not dress provocatively. As a foreigner it is best to wear pants or jeans instead of shorts, as only tourists wear these. In Cairo, Alexandria and other tourist destinations you'll find the dress code to be much less restrictive as they have modern nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and bars. It would be ideal to pack some formal wear as official or social functions and smart restaurants usually require it.
To let a person know you want respect, and nothing else, one sign of respect is to use the Arabic greeting, "Asalamualaikum" ("hello, peace be upon you"), and the other person should reply "Walaikumasalam" ("peace be upon you").
Mainly located in dry tropical region, Egypt is mostly desert, meaning it’s warm through the year, even during the winter months and the best time to visit is during the “winter” months of October to February, when temperatures are between 9 and 25 degrees. Spring Season is between March and May here & brings with it a few dust storms.
The country is vast treasure trove of history, with a population of approximately 101 million people and a 80-90% majority of whom are Sunni Muslims. The remaining population is of the Coptic Egyptian Orthodox Christians, of Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt, servicing Africa and the Middle East. Arabic being the country’s most spoken language; the Egyptian language spoken in ancient Egypt is an Afro-Asiatic language.
As a Muslim country following a conservative life style it is important to respect the faith and local customs. Traditions are meant to be followed; hence public displays of affection are frowned upon. It is respectful to remove your shoes before entering any establishment, you can decide with a discreet glance at the footwear outside the place, and follow suit. The locals are friendly people and are always willing to help tourists out with information or their time.
Weekends start on a Thursday and Friday being the holy day of Islam, you will find most establishments are closed. In the holy month of Ramadan most businesses, along with tourism, takes a backseat as Muslims cannot work for more than six hours a day. During this time of Ramadan, public eating, drinking or even chewing gum on the streets is forbidden.
Tipping Etiquette in Egypt
Tipping or Baksheesh is a well-practiced art in Egypt and it is important to know this before you travel here. Although it is an integral part of services and often expected, there is no compulsion to tip every time, or a specific amount or percentage that should be given as a tip. If you choose to tip then ensure to do so in the Egypt Cairo currency.
Beautiful Cairo on the River Nile
Called the “gift of the Nile” by Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, Egypt’s rich agricultural productivity, being one of the region’s major food producers, has a rural population largely supported by agriculture and is devoted to working the land. Today however, Egypt is largely an urban land throbbing with industry, with the capital city, Cairo, as one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations, and manufacturers.
Agriculture as a sector has been increasingly outstripped by Trading as the largest sectors of the national economy. Although Tourism has traditionally been an enormous source of foreign exchange, however the industry has witnessed several fluctuations during times of political and civil unrest in the region.
Explore Islamic Cairo
The winding, narrow roads of the capital city are crammed full of mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools of learning), and monuments dating from the Fatimid through to the Mameluke eras.
Here is located a complex web of roads, surrounding the market, the shopping souk of Khan el-Khalili, with coppersmiths and artisans still working in their tiny workshops, and temporary stalls laden with ceramics, textiles, spice, and perfume selling their wares to tourists and locals alike. This is also home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved architecture of the old Islamic empires.
Do visit Al-Azhar Mosque, the mesmerizing Sultan Hassan Mosque, and climb to the roof of the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila for the best minaret-speckled panoramas across the entire district.
‘Must See’ locations and their enthralling special features:
Egypt has amazing gifts to offer everyone –
- Enjoy a bit of natural beauty by taking a tour through the Nile, or take deep-sea diving lessons.
- History fans will delight in tours that explore the Pyramids of Giza; Abu Simbel temples - which have giant rock carvings of famous pharaohs; a visit to the Museum of Ancient Egypt, containing the world’s largest collection of pharaonic artefacts; the Great Sphinx, a hugely popularized figure by movies and books over the years.
A well-planned Egypt trip is guaranteed to excite, enrapture and captivate your senses for the duration of its entirety.
Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza features among the last surviving of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ and are one of the world's most recognizable landmarks.
These tombs of the Pharaohs Cheops (Khufu), Chephren (Khafre), and Mycerinus (Menkaure), guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, have equally awed tourists and historical fanatics alike, and top every visitors lists of tourist attractions to see in Egypt. Sitting on the desert edge of Cairo's sprawl, forming the most wonderous sight to behold, these megalithic memorials to majestic pharaohs are an undeniable highlight of any Egypt trip.
Memphis, located south of the Nile River delta, on the west bank of the river, and about 24 km south of modern Cairo, was founded by King Menes as the capital of ancient Egypt, and a very important centre during much of Egyptian history. Memphis is believed to be under the protection of the god Ptah, the patron of craftsmen.
Pyramid and ruins at Saqqara
Giza's Pyramids have been popularly seen in all Egypt trips photos, videos and posters, but they're not the only pyramids Egypt has in its historical land. Saqqara is a vast necropolis of tombs and pyramids that was utilized during every era of pharaonic rule and is best known for its Old Kingdom Step Pyramid, which shows how the architects of Ancient Egypt advanced their engineering knowledge to create the final, true pyramid shape.
Cairo's Egyptian Museum has one of the world's great museum collections and delightful treasure trove of the Pharaonic world. Housed within the walls of a faded pink mansion in downtown Cairo, it is home to a dazzling amount of exhibits. Do not walk in expecting grand showcases meticulously listing the historical background, or a date stamp on every item carefully labelling its archival value or any form of chronological order. This is a place offering old-world charm in its jumbled up, chaotic placement, among other artifacts, of its two highlight collections: 1) the haul of golden treasures unearthed from Tutankhamen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings and 2) the fascinating Royal Mummies exhibit room.
The Citadel of Cairo or Citadel of Saladin was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is a medieval Islamic-era fortification, built by Salah ad-Din and further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers.
Trip to Alexandria
With a population of 3.8 million, Alexandria is Egypt's second largest city. A gleaming rebel city of the Mediterranean for much of its life, founded by Alexander the Great and once home to Cleopatra, it has an old-world charm that’s unmatched and still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and still-palpable glimpses of its past. It houses the country’s largest seaport and is its window to the Mediterranean Sea. A favorite summer destination to capture cooling sea breezes for Egyptians and foreign visitors alike, is still Alexandria's long seafront Corniche Road leading to its fort, now on the site where its famous ancient lighthouse once was.
Special Underwater archaeological finds have filled Alexandria's museums with interesting exhibits. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Latin for Library of Alexandria) is a major library, as also a cultural center on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria.
St. Catherine's Monastery
Standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, St. Catherine's is one of the oldest monasteries in the world.
It is set amid the desert mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments and is home to an incredible collection of religious iconography, manuscripts (some of which can be seen in the on-site museum), and art, as well as the burning bush.
In this trip to St. Catherine's do include a hike up Mount Sinai to see sunrise or sunset; for better views climbing the famed Steps of Repentance or otherwise taking a camel path for an easier route.
Today, the resort of Hurghada is the most visited tourist destination in entire Egypt, with more than 100 different hotels, many of which dot the shoreline. Located next to the Red Sea and boasting a number of superb beaches, Hurghada beginning as a once a small, unimposing fishing village cannot be seen anywhere in is present day form.
Tourism is a huge part of Hurghada and especially for its superb diving opportunities as the Red Sea here is especially excellent for diving or snorkeling. It is particularly appealing to those with little experience of scuba diving, so that they can marvel at the underwater reefs and enjoy the mesmerising marine life, with hundreds of varieties of tropical fish visible from just 10m from the beach, while maintaining a feeling of safety. Activities here include snorkeling, scuba-diving, windsurfing, parasailing, and jetskis. If you prefer serene yet scenic views without dipping your feet in the water, you can still experience the amazing coral reefs and underwater scenery with a ride in a glass bottom boat.
River Nile is the instant identity of Egypt and for many, this famed waterway that saw the rise of the Pharaonic era is a major highlight of their Egypt trip. The Nile offers a unique and most relaxing way to view the several temples that dot the date-palm-studded riverbank on the route between Luxor and Aswan, along with stunning sunrise and sunsets backed by sand dunes and is one of Egypt's most serene vistas.
The singular most popular activity in Luxor and Aswan is the Nile Cruise, from Aswan to Luxor or vice-versa. Sailing inside a five-star hotel boat in the Nile River, this cruise enables you to stop at each location along the Nile, where you can see all the famous ancient monuments.
Visiting Luxor and Karnak Temple while on Cruise
Luxor Temple is located around three kilometers to the south of Karnak Temple, to which it was once linked with a processional way bordered with sphinxes. The oldest evidence for this temple dates to the Eighteenth Dynasty (c.1550–1295 BC). Unlike most other ancient Egyptian temples, is not laid out on an east‑west axis, but is oriented towards Karnak. This is because Luxor Temple was the main venue for one the most important of ancient Egyptian religious celebrations, when the cult images of Amun, his wife Mut, and their son, the lunar god Khonsu, were taken from their temples in Karnak, and transported in a grand procession to Luxor Temple so they could visit the god that resides there, Amenemopet.
Aptly called “The Most Select of Places” by the ancient Egyptians, Karnak Temple was the most important temple in Thebes (modern Luxor), in Upper Egypt. This was where the cult of the great god Amun of Thebes was conducted. As such, it was extremely wealthy and its priesthood held great political power.
The temple is located on the east bank of Luxor. Like most ancient Egyptian temples, it is built on an east–west axis. Ancient Egyptian temples were models of the cosmos, and this layout meant that they mirrored the sun god’s trajectory through the sky. Rather uniquely, however, it also possesses a north–south axis, which orients it towards another temple, the abode of Amenemopet known today as Luxor Temple.
Karnak was in reality a complex of temples. The enclosure walls include a full temple to Khonsu in the south-western corner, next to which is the Opet temple, which was built in the Graeco-Roman Period for Opet, a hippopotamus goddess of childbirth. The beautiful sacred lake, where priests purified themselves before carrying out temple rituals, can still be appreciated today. Many more, smaller, temples and chapels dot the landscape of Karnak, making it a veritable open-air museum.
Experience Nile at Aswan
A few days stop to stay at the most tranquil town that set upto meandering curves of the famous River Nile, soaking in the relaxed atmosphere at a place backed by picturesque orange-hued dunes, Aswan will capture your heart and senses in an unexpected way.
So much to do! A camel ride to visit the desert monastery of St. Simeon on the East Bank, or a river ferry to Elephantine Island, or strolling leisurely on the Nubian villages’ colourful streets, or lazily sipping on never-ending cups of delicious tea while watching the lateen-sailed feluccas drift past, there’s just so much on offer. Catch a ride on a felucca to sail around Aswan's islands and to experience the best sunset of your life. This is Aswan's most popular activity and the most wonderful way to take in the local sights, especially historic sites here and numerous temples nearby, including Philae Temple on its island.
Called the “City of Peace”, given the number of international peace conferences that have been held here, this well-known port as well as resort town situated at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt a simply known as "Sharm, is extremely popular with budget holiday makers and divers. The English especially love being here and while Sharm has earlier seen about 8500+ tourists on any given day, these numbers have doubled in the last few years, even the economic downturn notwithstanding. Sharm el-Sheikh is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Arab world. It boosts one of the finest diving spots in the world and for the adventurous - an unforgettable trip into the desert.
Diving the Red Sea
The best place for divers to base themselves is in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, which is closest to the reefs of Ras Mohammed National Park, as well as the reefs of the Straits of Tiran.
For the best location to dive the sites of the Straits of Gubal, head to Hurghada or El Gouna on the Red Sea coast, while the advanced divers should head out to the resort of Marsa Alam, the closest base for diving Egypt's "deep south" dive sites.
A whole new world as fascinating as the temples and tombs on land awaits below the Red Sea’s surface.
Renowned among scuba divers the coral reefs of the Red Sea are home for both the soft corals on display as also the vast amount of sea life, ranging from multicoloured reef fish, nudibranchs, to turtles, dolphins, sharks, and even dugongs.