The Pyramids and the Sphinx are the ultimate inspiration. This is the automatic association people make when thinking about Egypt and its ancient history. But all the school projects, travel brochures and documentaries can’t prepare you for the exhilaration of standing beneath them. They are simply the greatest archaeological structures you will ever encounter.


The Nile

Slumber your way down the longest river in the world on a traditional felucca and enjoy typical Nubian hospitality. Sure, the toilet amenities leave a lot to be desired, but after a long sheesha session on deck, nothing else need be a problem. Felucca trips are popular and most tour operators now offer the excursions as part of an itinerary. Independent travellers should have no trouble finding a felucca operator in Aswan.


Mt Sinai

The rugged mountain in the southern deserts of the Sinai Peninsula has for thousands of years been a place of pilgrimage for travellers wanting to retrace the footsteps of Moses. The 2285m peak is believed to be the place where God himself spoke to the Old Testament prophet and passed down the rules we’ve been breaking ever since. It’ll take you about three hours to reach the top and is best climbed in the early hours of the morning to enjoy sunrise.


The Red Sea

Any proud Egyptian will tell you the turquoise waters of the Red Sea off the eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula make for the best diving in the world. When you plunge in to discover colourful reefs and rich marine life, it’s hard to argue. The Red Sea offers the diver everything from lagoons and vertical wall descents to cave exploration and wrecks long forgotten and rediscovered.


Abu Simbel

Pharaoh Ramses II was good enough to build what is now one of Egypt’s finest surviving monuments, hidden deep in the southern desert bordering Sudan. The face of the temple is dominated by four enormous seated statues of the Pharaoh.


The Egyptian Museum

It’s regarded as one of the most decisive collections of ancient artefacts, ruins, precious jewellery and bones anywhere. If you can cope with the crowds and a pretty thorough security patdown, the Egyptian Museum is worth at least half your day. It is the only place in the world where you can come face-to-face with the death mask of Tutankhamen, the boy king whose death has long been the subject of speculation. 


Hatshepsut’s Temple

Given the average snapper struggles to fit this massive temple near Luxor in the one frame, it’s hard to imagine it was once lost in the desert sands. It was only uncovered in the middle of the 19th century. Queen Hatshepsut was the first great woman in recorded history, and this three-terraced temple was a bold representation of her wealth, popularity and power.


The Valley of the Kings

Take some time to appreciate the final resting place of more than 60 of Egypt’s most highly regarded ancient leaders, including the boy king Tutankhamen and Queen Hatshepsut. Not to be outdone, the Valley of the Queens is only a short drive south-west and hides about 70 tombs, mostly of royal wives and siblings.


The Temple of Philae

Originally built by the Romans, the Temple of Philae sat atop an island which was eventually flooded by the Nile. Rather than completely submerge the ruins, during the construction of the Aswan High Dam the temple was moved brick by brick to the Island of Agilika. Tourists now arrive by boat — which can make for a nice change to being on the road.

Luxor Temple

Impressive enough by day, a night wander through Luxor’s most famous monuments is inspiration enough to start humming the Imperial March from Star Wars. There’s just something colossal about the place that will trigger your imagination. From the grand statued entrance to the inner courts, pillars and the great obelisk of Rameses II out the front, it’s 4000 years of history laid out in front of you.

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