Egypt is a land of history, ancient temples, stunning landscapes, and a pulsing, vibrant modern culture. Steeped in romantic ideas and feelings, the thought of traveling to Egypt elicits everything from wonder to awe to goosebumps. Pack with a long list of “must see” places and sights, here are photos of 5 of the top experiences every traveler should experience when visiting Egypt.
The Great Pyramid and the Giza plateau
Located on the outskirts of Cairo, where the fertile Nile valley meets the arid desert, the Giza Plateau and its pyramids are one of the most iconic images from Egypt (along with Pharaoh Tutankhamun). Built in the 4th Dynasty, the largest of these pyramids (the Great Pyramid) was built by Pharaoh Khufu, possibly as a burial site. The other two pyramids where built by Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure. Not trip to Egypt is complete without marveling at these great wonders of the ancient world. Constructed with incredible procession, there colossal structures still tower high above the desert plains, even with their outer layers having been stripped many centuries ago.
Sunset Al-Azhar Park. Cairo Egypt
Located in the heart of Cairo, across of the imposing Citadel, Al-Azhar Park is a quiet oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of this sprawling metropolis. Surrounded by the exquisite mosques, winding laneways of medieval-era architecture of Islamic Cairo, Al-Azhar park is situated on a hill high above the busy city. Comprised of sprawling gardens, cool fountains and pools, wide leafy boulevards for strolling, and numerous cafes and fine dining restaurants, Al-Azhar feels more like a beautiful park in Europe than located one of the biggest cities in the Middle East. Spend an afternoon or an evening in Al-Azhar enjoying dinner with an excellent view of the citadel. Stroll through the beautiful grounds. Enjoy one of the best views of Cairo as the sun sets and the lights turn on.
Exploring the Valley of the Kings. West Bank, Luxor Egypt
The burial site of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom Pharaohs, the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of Luxor is a maze of tombs housing the final resting places of many of Egypt’s greatest rulers (and a few of their relatives). Situated below a pyramidial shaped mountain the valley is littered with tomb entrances. On average 5-7 tombs can be visited. The interior of these tombs are brightly decorated with scenes of the deceased, their accomplishments as Pharaoh, images of gods and goddesses of the ancient Egyptian pantheon, and images of the journey into the afterlife. Walking through these tombs is like taking a journey through the king’s most personal inner self – seeing their hopes, dreams, loved ones, what they most valued, what accomplishments they want remembered, and even sometimes what they feared.
Sailing the Nile
The longest river in the world, the Nile is Egypt’s life blood and no trip to this fascinating country is complete without sailing on it’s gently flowing waters. The Nile actually passes through 11 countries on its journey from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea. A fascinating method of sailing along the Nile, is to take a felucca ride at sunset through the First Cataract near Aswan. This stretch of Egypt’s Nile is the cleanest, flanked on both sides by nature reserves, it’s a great place to see local bird life, water buffalo and rumored the occasional crocodile.
The largest ancient Egyptian temple complex in Egypt, Karnak (located in Luxor) is spread over 5 kilometers. This vast complex is made up of temples, chapels, pyloned halls, gardens, a small lake and numerous other administrative buildings. At one time in antiquity, it connected with Luxor Temple through the avenue of the sphinxes (which is being reconstructed). Karnak was begun under the reign of Senusret I, in the Middle Kingdom, and continued all the way up to the Ptolemaic Period, with each Pharaoh adding his or her own mark. In ancient Egyptian times, the area surrounding Karnak was termed “The Most Selected of Places”. Today, it is Egypt’s most impressive temple and takes nearly a half day to fully explore these extensive and impressive ruins.