Experience Egyptian hospitality in the Land of the Pharaohs
Egypt is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East. Its stunning Pharaonic heritage makes it one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. The country is largely desert, the only habitable areas being the Nile valley and delta. Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast is redolent of Egypt’s colonial past, with strong British and French influences. The capital, Cairo, houses not only the famous Giza Pyramids and Sphynx but also the Egyptian Museum, with its mummies and the splendid funeral mask of Tutankhamun. Travelling down from Lower Egypt, through Middle Egypt, you will arrive at the southern cities of Luxor (gateway to the Valley of the Kings) and Aswan, with its famous dam. You can also enjoy some of the world’s most breathtaking scuba-diving on Egypt’s Red Sea coastline, either around Hurghada or in Sharm El Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula.
Buy papyrus and top-quality Egyptian cotton at the atmospheric Arab souks of Bab Zuela or Khan El Khalili in Cairo. Approach the Pyramids via the desert on horseback. Sail up the Nile by felucca to Upper Egypt. Spend a night with the Bedouins in the western desert.
When to Go?
Weather-wise, November to March is the most comfortable time to visit; summer temperatures soar to 30°C and even 40°C. The Moslem fasting month of Ramadan falls in or around August and is widely observed; the streets empty dramatically at dusk, then fill again equally dramatically for a noisy, celebratory evening. Whenever you go please remember you are in a predominantly Moslem country with strong sensibility to alcohol, appropriate dress and sexuality.
How to get there?
There are 25 airports in Egypt, the main one being Cairo International (CAI). Egyptair and other carriers serve 111 international destinations, principally in Europe, but also Tokyo, Johannesburg and JFK (New York). The other main international airports near areas of interest are Sharm El Sheikh (SSH) on the eastern Red Sea coast; Luxor (LXR) in Upper Egypt , for Aswan and the Valley of the Kings; and Hurghada (HRG) on the western Red Sea coast.
Sleep at the foot of Mount Sinai (where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments), get up early, climb the hill and see dawn breaking at St Catherine’s church on the summit. In Cairo, buy some material, take them to a tailor with your favourite suit or dress and two days later you’ll have a brand-new perfect copy! Sink your teeth into fule and tamai’a crammed into a freshly-baked pitta bread. Sit on the terrace of a cafe, sipping mint tea, smoking a shisha (water-pipe), listening to the mosque’s call to prayer: you’ll know you’re in Egypt!