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Egypt's civilization, based on the fertile Nile River, dates back to 3200BC.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World and a must see on your Egyptian visit.

There's a lot more to see and do in Egypt, too.

 
 
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An Introduction to Egypt

Ancient civilizations and modern resorts
 


click image for a larger map of all Egypt

As is clearly shown on this map, Egypt's cities have necessarily been based on water sources, which is also why a Nile cruise takes you to much of the highlights of ancient Egypt.

 

 

With an impressive history dating back over 5000 years, and enormous enigmatic pyramids and other monuments to its grand past, Egypt offers a very different type of tourist experience.

But there's more to Egypt than 'just' its history.  Resorts on its coasts take advantage of its warm sunny climate, providing another reason to consider Egypt for a vacation.

 

Why Visit Egypt

Visit Egypt to see its history, and stay longer to sample its modern Arab culture and perhaps to enjoy time at an ocean-side resort.

Most people will spent a week in Egypt, depending on the nature and extent of their travels to this interesting country.

An Introduction to Egypt

Egypt is perhaps one of the very few countries that has a big haul of history amidst historical controversies.  People like the Jewish hero Moses, Queen Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, King Tut and others have donned the land.  Egypt showcases much of man's history, his achievements and the glorious monuments that stand to tell a tale for our future generations.

Egypt is located in the north eastern tip of Africa and is bounded by Israel to the East, the Mediterranean Sea to the North, Libya to the West and Sudan to the South.  Officially, Egypt is known as the Arab Republic of Egypt.  From the hotels in Tel Aviv to those in Cairo, the region is home to some of the finest hotels in the world.

Cairo, which happens to be the largest city in Africa and the Middle East, is Egypt's capital.  Egyptian Pounds is the official national currency and is divided into 100 Piastres (currently - Sep 2012, one US Dollar gets you about 6.1 Egyptian Pounds).

The main religion in Egypt is Sunni Moslem (about 90%) with the rest of the population being predominantly of Christian (Coptic) faith.  The main language is Arabic, with English and French also commonly spoken amongst the more educated classes.

More summary information on Egypt can be found here.

History

The River Nile has been a breeding ground for several kingdoms and dynasties in Egypt for a period of over 5000 years. Egypt has been named in the Old Testament of the Bible with the Champion of the Jews, Moses, leading the Jewish slaves from the clutches of the King Rameses.

Egyptian history could be divided into several eras. One of the very first and long standing eras is the Pharaonic era which witnessed thirty dynasties rule over the land in a span of 2500 years. 97 pyramids, which are the tombs of the pharaohs, were built along with the world famous sphinx during this era.

The Pharaonic era came to an end with the conquest of Alexander the Great, giving birth to Ptolemaic era. This dynasty ruled over Egypt for close to 300 years and ended with the Roman invasion and the death of Queen Cleopatra VII. Alexander established Alexandria which became the capital of ancient Egypt.

Following the fall of Ptolemies, Egypt was ruled over by the Arabs, Ottomans, Muhammad Ali and finally became a British colony in 1882. Egypt was plundered and exploited by the British for the next forty years until it came independent in 1922 after several nationalist and resistance movements.

Tourist Attractions

If you are interested in choosing from a range of holidays to Egypt you can be assured that there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy and open your eyes to a wealth of history.

Egypt has been a favorite tourist destination for most Europeans and the flavor is spreading to other parts of the world.  Egypt offers a wide variety of tourist attractions ranging from the Pyramids of ancient Egypt to cruises on the river Nile.

Some people are sensitive to security issues while vacationing in Egypt.  There have been isolated and infrequent reports of problems in Egypt, and for this reason, you are probably better advised to take an integrated tour where the tour provider has made security arrangements and has carefully chosen the places you say, the tours your take, etc, rather than to travel on your own.

Pyramids

The Egyptian Pyramids are and remain the largest constructed monuments in the entire world.  They are the tombs of pharaohs who lie mummified after their death for their final journey.  It has been estimated there are around 97 pyramids standing in Egypt today.

The Giza Pyramids consists of three world popular pyramids and is guarded by the lion headed Sphinx.  One of the Giza Pyramids, the Cheops Pyramid (also known as Great Pyramid) is the tallest and the most spectacular of them all, standing at 145 meters tall.

These pyramids are dated to be 4000 years old and are one of the classic seven wonders of the world.

Other Monuments

Structural Egypt extends beyond the pyramids.  There are other monuments that adorn the land with architectural wonder and unique beauty.

The Great Sphinx, which guards the Giza pyramids, is a mammoth construction.  The broken nose of the human-headed lion-bodied mythological creature is the oldest of all the Egyptian super human structures.

Troubled by robberies in the pyramids, the latter part of Pharaonic era gave rise to tombs carved inside mountains.  The Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Nobles are the tombs that moved out of pyramids and into the mountains.

Funerary temples which depict the pharaohs seated on the throne like the Colossi of Memnon and Ramesseum at Luxor and the Colossus of Rameses the Great at Memphis are in ruins and can be seen while traveling on ferry or river cruise.

A Roman Amphitheatre in Alexandria was recently unearthed beneath a Napoleonic era fort.  This is the only circular Roman theatre in all of Egypt.

Safaris

The sound of Africa has safari written all over it and Egypt is no exception.  Egypt offers different varieties of safaris for travelers to witness the animals that have adjusted to difficult climactic conditions.  The Egyptian crocodiles, previously assumed to be extinct, can be found on the shores of river Nile.  Tourists can also go on a safari in a jeep or ride a quad bike or on a camel back.

Savoring the Egyptian oases is another delicacy among tourists.  Each and every oasis has a different characteristic of its own.  The Egyptian culture regard an oasis as a place where one forgets one's burdens and becomes one with nature.

Spending nights under the stars at these oases is a star attraction.

Nile Cruises

River cruising on the river Nile is without doubt one of the most convenient and comfortable, to say nothing of relaxing and luxurious ways to explore many of the monuments and temples.  You can see rural Egypt along the Nile, which still remains in the same condition as it did a few thousand years back.  You'll see people living in mud brick homes, ploughing the land with plows pulled by animals, and moving their produce on donkey back.

The Nile cruiser is a Floating Hotel. Most mid line cruisers come with good restaurants, swimming pools, gym, bars, libraries, even sometimes a driving range and possibly other amenities too.

October through mid April is the best time in the year for a Nile cruise. Once past mid April the water level drops down and if the decrease is significant enough it may result in non operation of cruisers.

Beaches

Because of the availability of all inclusive holidays to Egypt there are probably more visitors to the beaches than to the ancient Egyptian sites. Most of these visitors are Europeans who find Egyptian beaches warm and better value than many other 'sea, sun and sand' alternatives.

Egypt's beaches are spread across the Mediterranean and the Red Seas.  The Mediterranean beaches are particularly favorite with tourists for their azure cool water.  The facilities at these beaches are no lesser than any other beaches around the world.  However, tourists often forget that these beaches are in a Muslim country which is based on conservative practices.

Tips for Travelers

  • Airports - Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and Hurghada are the International airports in Egypt with Cairo International airport being the biggest and the busiest. Many international and regional airlines fly into Egypt.

  • Visas - For most travelers, visas can be obtained after landing at Egypt, but check with your travel agent or nearest Egyptian Consulate for the latest requirements.  The airlines distribute the visa forms on their flights.

  • Survival Kit - Hats or head covering, sun block lotion, sunglasses, water filtration system, 220V rounded two pronged power adapter and all your medicines.  Although all the medicines are available in Egypt, they are usually sold with a different name.

  • Weather - Days are commonly warm and hot while the nights are cool.  Egypt has two seasons; mild winter and hot summer.  Winter season is between November and April and the summer season is between May and October.

  • Food - Price of food is reasonable in Egypt.  Bigger cities have fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC.

  • Clothing - Wear loose clothing made of cotton in summer.  During winters, layers of clothing should be sufficient.  No topless or nude bathing allowed in the beaches.

  • Domestic Travel - Railways connect major cities and the frequency of trains is high.  Buses ply to all the cities within Egypt.  Cairo and Alexandria have metro rail system which is the main form of transportation for the locals.

Common Arabic Words

Here are a few Arabic words that would definitely help during a trip to Egypt :

  • Thank You : Shukran

  • Welcome : Marhaba

  • My name is : Ana Esmi

  • Yes : Naam, Away

  • Sorry : Assef

  • Please : Men Fadlek (m) and Men Fadlik (f)

  • I Speak English : Ana Batkalem Englizi

  • What Time Is It? : En Saa Kam

  • Good Morning : Sabah Al Kheir

  • Good Evening : Masah Al Khier

  • Goodbye : Salaam

For More Information

More general and background information about Egypt can be obtained from the Egyptian State Information Service.  Specific travel planning information is available from the Egyptian Travel Authority.

 

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Originally published 8 May 2007, last update 19 Dec 2013

 
 
 

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