Peaceful, intriguing, adventurous… these are the words that come to mind when I’m asked describe a land that was home to the gorgeous Queen Cleopatra. I was lucky to have experienced its beauty before the civic turmoil: In November 2010. The November to February period is the best time to visit Egypt, weather-wise. It will be about 40 degrees C, no doubt, but you only feel it when you step into the desert.
Sailing along the River Nile is truly the ideal way to enjoy Egypt. Most of the city tours between Aswan and Luxor happen either early in the morning or at dusk. The sunny times are spent at the cruise, either swimming, relaxing, partying, or relishing the buffet spreads, except when you’re visiting the Valley of Kings (Luxor), which houses the tombs of Egypt’s emperors including the young Tutankhamun. It’s a sight to behold! Another highlight of the cruise is the crossover from Upper to Lower Egypt (or visa-a-versa, depending on where you’ve boarded) through the Esna Lock. The technology, the experience, and the wait… sheer fun!
Back on the mainland, Egypt’s major cities are explored by road in a day. Egypt’s ancient capital, Memphis, its current capital, Cairo and the Pearl of the Mediterranean, Alexandria. But naturally, Cairo is the most bustling and vibrant of Egypt’s cities. Apart from regaling at the legendary Giza Pyramids, going on camel rides around them, walking through the huge Egyptian Museum, and shopping at the Papyrus art galleries.
Memphis is where you will see the “first attempts” of the great Giza Pyramids, the stepped Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara (the Memphis necropolis). Within the Memphis museum is a 10-meter long statue of Pharaoh Rameses II. Plus, if you’re looking for some exquisite Egypt carpets to adorn your living room walls and floor, your search is sure to end at one of Memphis’ many carpet factories!
Alexandria is the country’s second largest city founded by Alexander the Great, located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Its historical, yet modern ambience will amaze you, especially if you’re one of those travellers who loves to learn about a city’s history and culture amidst its ruins. The coastline of Alexandria is striking blue, while the city is all white, making it a photographer’s (and of course, a painter’s) delight.
The many fascinating stories of Egyptian civilization – its kings, queens, beliefs, mysteries, and their uncanny resemblance to Indian culture – are unveiled in the various monuments along the River Nile. Be it the Philae Temple in Aswan, the Edfu Temple or the Colossi of Memnon, each of these has a parable attached to it. What’s most inspiring is the care with which each of these sites has been preserved, resurrected even, by the Egyptian tourism authorities and its people.
There’s something for every kind of traveller in Egypt. You could plan a family outing, a romantic getaway, an adventurous expedition, or a cultural quest. Egypt is truly a world of wonder!