When it comes to ancient history and wondrous monuments, few countries can match the allure of Egypt. As a cultural and historical destination, Egypt might be unsurpassed, but it also offers superb diving and snorkeling on the Red Sea, the excitement of a desert safari, tasty and varied cuisine, markets with something to indulge all the senses, plus the heady architectural and cultural mix that makes up today’s Cairo.
To burden a cliché, this is one country with something for everyone, and for group travellers, the options are almost unlimited.
CAIRO: MORE THAN A GATEWAY TO THE PYRAMIDS
Most Egypt tours, group or otherwise, will touch down in Cairo. With the Pyramids of Giza right at the city’s doorstep, the world’s greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities on display at the Egyptian Museum, and the ancient ruins of Saqqara and Memphis just to the south, this is a must-visit city for history buffs at least once during their lifetime.
After you’ve seen the essentials, consider taking a day or two to enjoy today’s Cairo, embodied in the richly detailed mosques and Coptic churches that dot the city. Explore the bazaars and cafes of the city’s atmospheric old quarter, or indulge your appetite for Greek history with a visit to Alexandria. The ancient library may be long gone, but its modern counterpart is wonder all its own.
IN THE SHADOW OF KINGS AND QUEENS
Cairo may be the country’s gateway, but nowhere in Egypt contains such treasures of the past as Luxor. From the temple complex of Karnak, one of the largest in the world, to Luxor, its neighbor at the end of a long row of ancient sphinxes, to the Colossi of Memnon, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s most prominent female Pharaoh, and of course the Valleys of The Kings and Queens, there’s enough here to keep serious history fans occupied for weeks! For most globetrotters, one day on each side of the Nile is enough, but it makes a fantastic start or finish to your group’s Nile River cruise.
CRUISE THE ‘RIVER OF LIFE’
A Nile cruise is not only the most practical way to connect the ancient ‘open air museum’ of Luxor to Aswan. It’s by far the most enjoyable too, particularly with your group along to share the experience. Enjoy ice cool drinks on a shaded deck as you sail down the Nile to your next encounter with Egypt’s past, enjoying a wide range of benefits and amenities onboard. You might even sail aboard a boutique Dahabiya, a descendent of the aristocratic yachts that served the ancient kingdom. Stop along the way at the temple of Edfu.
COOK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN (OR A NUBIAN!)
There a those who claim the best place to know a destination is on its plates, and we’re not going to disagree. Sharing a meal with locals is one of Egypt’s great pleasures, particularly in the country’s south. Dining with the Nubians at a local village will show you a very different side of this ancient land on the Nile. The great monuments of Cairo and Luxor give way to a more tribal society, which you can learn about while tucking into Nile perch, spiced rice, freshly flavoured chicken, and the unique local beer.
BAZAARS AND MORE BAZAARS
We know shopping isn’t high on every traveller’s list, but a wander through Cairo’s Khan El Khalili Market is more than just a browse. It’s an essential cultural experience for understanding 500 years of life in Egypt. Be ready for sensory overload, persistent sellers and serious bargaining if you take an interest in the wares. We don’t say that to intimidate you of course. It’s part of the fun, and this is one spot in Egypt where you must pick up a truly unique souvenir, so a little persistence and good-natured bargaining can really pay off.