10 things to do in Egypt
Only the bravest dare to descend into the catacombs of Kom al-Shawkaf in Alexandria. Built at the beginning of our era by noble Romans, the catacombs occupy three underground levels connected by a steep staircase. Unfortunately, only the top level is accessible now, the other two are flooded.
Catacombs – is an ancient underground necropolis with a string of burials (urns and tombs), halls for commemoration and funeral rites. All this splendor is decorated in three styles: Egyptian, Roman and Greek. Particularly noteworthy are the burial wells, and in the center there is a unique tomb-chapel, guarded by statues of Anubis and Sebek, dressed in traditional Roman armor.
2. Meet the sunrise on Mount Moses
Late in the evening people from different countries come to Mount Sinai and begin the ascent to the summit. There are two options for ascent: the “Ladder of Repentance” of 3,750 stone steps with the spring of the Prophet in the middle of the way or the “Camel Trail”, an 8 km serpentine. The last stage of the ascent is the “Monk’s Ladder.”
Given that the route is touristy, there are resting places and trading tents along the way. At night, people warm themselves by campfires at the top of Mount Sinai, but you still need to take care of warm clothes. The point of all the action is to wait for sunrise. For the sake of a fantastically beautiful sunrise over the sea is worth half the night climbing up the steep slope.
3. See what is at the site of the Alexandria Lighthouse
On the foundations of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Alexandria Lighthouse, a fort guarding the entrance to the city’s bay was built in the 15th century. Fort Kite Bay was a traditional Muslim tower fort with loopholes, which allowed to shoot in the direction of the sea.
However, the modern appearance of the fortress – the result of reconstruction (the fortress was badly damaged during the battles in the XIX century). From the old lighthouse remained the foundation and the fort – the walls, which offer stunning views of the sea and Alexandria. Tourists can freely walk around the premises, dungeons, courtyard and go to the fortress walls. You can stop by the Sea and Marine Biology Museums, as well as check out the ancient mosque. And remember, there are still stones from the Alexandria Lighthouse below.
4. Dive into the underwater world.
The many kilometers of colorful beaches of Abu Galum Park are just beckoning with the desert and clear water of the Red Sea. And the mountains stand as a barrier from the outside world, allowing you to fully enjoy the incredible beauty of Egyptian nature. Abu Galum is a real gift for fans of snorkeling and diving. And all thanks to the Blue Hole with its fantastic coral reef, rare species of fish and shellfish. And in the park itself there are very rare and endemic plant species.
Outing to Abu Glaum is usually combined with a visit to the neighboring park of Ras Mohammed. The sea and the reef wall of this place once impressed Jacques-Yves Cousteau himself. There are many unusual fish here too, and if you’re lucky, there will be turtles swimming nearby.
5. Feel like a pharaoh on a cruise on the Nile
Tourists are taken on the Nile with swagger – like the pharaohs used to be. Only now under their feet is the deck of a comfortable liner and all the benefits of civilization. You can even go on a cruise for a weekend.
Multi-day cruises include the most colorful and interesting coastal cities. Including Cairo and the temples of Luxor: Luxor and Karnak. Both sanctuaries are true legacies of one of the planet’s greatest civilizations. Two other interesting sights on the banks of the Nile are the ancient dam near Esna (the ship passes through its locks) and the huge Abu Simbel temple carved into the rock with four statues of Egyptian gods.
6. Take unreal pictures in the Colored Canyon
Do you want to get into a children’s kaleidoscope? Head towards Sharm El Sheikh and take a jeep tour to the Colored Canyon. It’s a veritable maze of phantasmagoric colors and textural backdrops. It must be heaven on earth for designers, fashion designers, photographers and fans of posting beautiful vacation photos on social media. The backgrounds for photos will change every few meters, with absolutely no repetition. Color Canyon – is a five-kilometer long rift in the multi-colored sandstone rocks, rich in different rocks (cobalt, copper) with inclusions of corals and other inhabitants of the ancient sea. After such a trip, you can joke that the photos were taken during a vacation on Mars.
7. Rest in the oasis of Siva.
Scientists say that ancient people began to live in the area of the oasis of Siva three million years ago. To the delight of archaeologists from them remained traces of sites. And tourists are surprised with the remains of ancient cities, well preserved in this piece of the Sahara on the border with Libya.
There is no civilization, but there are very mysterious ruins of temples and the real City of the Dead on the mountain. The most famous “tourists” who visited the local temple of the Oracle were Alexander the Great and King Cambyses. Nearby once stood the temple of Umm Ubaydah, erected in honor of Amon. A little further away is the Mountain of the Dead (Gebel el-Matwa) with hundreds of Roman and Egyptian tombs. The place, just impressive in its mysteriousness.
8. Become the best fisherman on Lake Nasser
Lake Nasser appeared on the map of Egypt relatively recently, in the 1960s. This man-made body of water could have flooded many Egyptian temples and landmarks, but the government managed to move even the rock temple of Abu Simbel. However, at the bottom of the lake there is urban infrastructure and even a river port.
Tourists come here for the beautiful views and gentle sunsets, plus there are lots of birds. And avid fishermen go to special farms for good fishing. In the transparent waters of the lake there are valuable species of fish, they can be watched even from a boat. For professionals organize fishing cruises and competitions.
9. Go on a visit to a Bedouin village
You can learn the life and traditions of the Egyptian Bedouins by going to visit them in the village near El Dahar. This site is located near Hurghada, but civilization ends when you get off the bus or ATV (or even earlier – in the saddle of a camel). There are only tents and traditional Bedouin life around. Tourists are offered overnight accommodations in huts (with camel blankets) and meals cooked over a fire. Staying overnight, you should eat a flatbread baked by a Bedouin, sit on the sand and look at the placers of stars hanging low over the desert. And feel a little nomadic, forgetting for a while about the traditional tourist Egypt.
10. Admire the pyramids and solve the riddle of the Sphinx
You can’t leave Egypt without pictures of the pyramids, the only surviving wonder of the world. You don’t have to leave Cairo for that – the famous Giza plateau has long been a suburb of the capital. Mixed with the modern metropolis, the ancient pyramids have lost some of its charm and glory of structures, standing in solitude among the silent sands, but they still make a strong impression. One more photo must be taken near the guardian of the pyramids – the guardian of the Sphinx is very photogenic, despite a chopped off nose. What if you are lucky enough to guess the riddle of the pyramids?
First Impression of Egypt: Rest in Hurghada
It was in April… Yes, yes, in that fabulous April… My work friend and I decided to spend an unforgettable vacation somewhere abroad. We chose countries with the sea, eternal heat and palm trees. Egypt turned out to be such a country. Initially we were afraid: the end of April, maybe the wind season was not over, and the swimming season had just begun, but we took a chance. And, as it turned out, not in vain.
After arranging our passports and buying our tickets, we stepped aboard the airplane.
It was not only our first trip away from our vast country, it was the first flight for the two of us. A bit of excitement, of course, but it passes quickly as the boundless expanse of sky opens before our eyes. Clouds roll and alternate one by one, layers, layers. Russia… What is it like from a plane?
Honestly, it is just piles of metal, on which the rays of the sun dance: the roofs of buildings, factories, plants, all this makes up a cold spot, which smacks of a slightly eerie coldness. But we are flying to a place where it’s warm, hot, eternal summer, and that’s comforting.
At Hurghada airport a lot of people from the plane, probably more than one, were crowded at the passport control. Everyone was processing their cards. We noticed from the airport that the working Egyptians were only men. Not a single woman, they apparently have them sitting at home with their children, cooking and waiting for their toilers. The queue came up, they stamped our arrival. Welcome to Hurghada!
An employee of “Pegas” travel agency met us, put us into a minibus, and we drove to the hotel. On the way we were told about the Egyptian attractions, local customs, rules, local time. The difference with us was only an hour.
What is it, the hotel where we stayed? It’s just royal. The walls are made of marble, the building is decorated with spiral staircases. The building is regal in scope, the hotel is 4+. The tour operator warned us at once that Arabian 4+ is Russian 5.
There is no glass in the windows of the corridors. Glass only in the rooms. Due to the lack of glass in the corridor in the morning you can feel the fresh breath of wind. The wind in Egypt in April rises in the morning and evening strong, but warm, smelling of the sea. These gentle blows as if filling every cell of the body with new life. It’s an amazing feeling. Just for the sake of it I am ready to visit Egypt again in the windy season.
The environment of the hotel is also super. All is clean, the Arabian men from attendants clean up, separate requests are carried out without censure.
The food, however, not from the first day you get used to it. It was thought that since the country has the sea, there should be an abundance of seafood on the table, which is not the case in Hurghada. There was fish, of course, but no more than chicken, vegetables, other meats. Maybe this is characteristic only for Hurghada, but in other parts of Egypt, fish is teeming on the tables. Maybe guests aren’t subjugated to fish, leaving tidbits for their residents. I don’t know.
That’s all about the essentials. Let’s move on to the more sublime. The Red Sea… It is divine. Very gentle, tender, you plunge into it and feel how its waves embrace you reverently. A complete relaxation session. The sea is transparent, you can see all sorts of small mollusks, every emerald thread of algae, sometimes, in the lull you can discern a stray fish.
On the shore at certain hours, fries were fried and vegetables were served. The rum and coke was unforgettable. There was an aftertaste of rum in the homeland. It was Egypt that gave us a taste of the sweetness of the drink. On the beach we languished all day, from sunrise to sunset, heated like black embers. Here it is, unearthly happiness in an earthly world.
What is the most memorable thing about the journey?
Not the food, not the sea, not the hotel, not the monuments of history, not even the Nile itself… What is it? Music. That’s what you remember the most. Lionel Richie and his “Hello” still makes my soul tremble. This is the tune I heard at the hotel, not the first time of course, but it was there that I heard it sound different. The notes went very deep, to the bottom of my bottomless heart. After a while, hearing this song on the radio somewhere, I am mentally transported to that magical atmosphere of light and warmth. There is a serene calmness in my soul.
What is a must-see in Egypt?
The Pyramids and Luxor.
First of all the pyramids. To be in this wonderland and not touch the history is tantamount to a crime.
The pyramids are mesmerizing. The setting is iconic, I would say. A teenage girl who was on the tour with us fainted. Overexcited, maybe, or maybe her mind could not reproduce the flurry of sensations from these sacred places. Next to the pyramids is Cleopatra’s reservoir itself. It dries up today, but there is something mysterious about it still.
Luxor is also worth a visit, but you need to be prepared for the physical cost of climbing on foot, giving up the bus. It’s not easy physically, so you have to calculate your strength. I had one problem with Luxor. There are shops with merchandise nearby. We had been warned from the start that we had to pass them with great caution. Scammers are on the loose. A local Arab ran up to me and offered to buy an Egyptian stone cat for only $1. I went into my bag, gave him a dollar, and he forcibly took out two more. This cat’s ear was later chipped when it fell, and I had to throw it away. Apparently, things bought under such circumstances do not live long. But let’s not talk about sad things.
After the pyramids we visited a huge store with exhibitions of stone products. On the way we met some desert houses, where poor Arabs lived. What poverty that was. No windows, no doors, no stores nearby. Life in isolation. There was all kinds of things in the store. All sorts of figurines, caskets, vases, anything that can ennoble a house and create comfort and style. The quality is checked, it’s not fake like that pussycat with the broken ear.
Tour of the Nile
Let me tell you about the Nile. We took a tour of the Nile. It included breakfast in a restaurant, boating on the Nile, and a visit to Banana Island.
The Nile is huge. Not much in width, the other side is perfectly visible from one shore. On one side is the city of the dead, on the other the city of the living. These designations, coming from history, are conventional today, but the differences are obvious. On one bank, life was boiling with stores and beautiful houses; on the other, everything was frozen, and the poor lived in shabby shacks.
There was a chilling coolness from the Nile. We traveled in double-decker boats, boats decorated with unusual artificial flowers developing in the wind. First we had breakfast in a European-style restaurant overlooking the river. The view is amazing. Drinking coffee in the morning with a view of the Nile… What could be more beautiful. Makes you feel good for the rest of your life!
Then, according to our program, banana island awaited us. An Arab welcomed us on the island, told us all about his plantations, what he grows there and how he does it. He grew bananas and oranges there, and took care of the crocodiles. He even gave us the opportunity to water the crocodiles with a hose.
On the way to the hotel our guide told us about a magic herb for weight loss – mar-maria, which you can buy in every market in Hurghada. Upon arrival, we went in search of it. It was described as a fragrant, gray-colored herb. We purchased it from one shopkeeper. Then I wanted to compare it with the goods of another shopkeeper. Were we really being sold the same mar mar-maria?
So I compared, took the herb out of my bag and put it to the herb in the window. Oh, my God! Should you have seen what happened to the salesman? He was convulsing and ready to stone me for not trusting him like that. Apparently, it is not customary for the local population to be so untrustworthy. We ran farther back to the hotel than we had seen.
Excursion to the Red Sea
Next was a tour of the Red Sea. We had to get up early in the morning to capture the entire day.
The sea walk included stops and a visit to an island in the open sea. At the stops we did some diving. We were given masks and flippers and we dived underwater. There was life under the water. Beautiful sea reefs, fish, and algae were all boiling in their usual cauldron.
On the way to the island we fished. The catch was then fried for a delicious lunch. Dinner on the ship was something. Lots of food, all accompanied by frantic dancing by Arabs, as if it were a ritual. The modern disco music was screaming to the entire universe, it seemed to be heard all along the Red Sea coast.
The island was truly a paradise. It was said to be submerged at night. The sand on the island was white-white and the water was clear. We got to the shore, where our hotel was located, by boat with a transparent bottom. Through a window on the bottom of the boat we could see the beauty of the underwater world. It was an amazing show!
A Paradise on Earth
Egypt is a very nice country. The locals are friendly, always helpful. Russian women they jokingly called “Catastrophe”, “Russian Mafia”, each of Russia for them “Sophia Rotaru”. Funny, isn’t it? And the blond Russian ladies made the Arabs faint.
How it would be desirable to be there again! I want to show such beauty to my daughter, to my husband who have not been there yet. How much beauty, enthusiasm and pleasure there. Hurghada – this is a real piece of paradise!