Egypt with Stephen

Agent Name: Stephen Silcock
Date: May 2007
Trip Location: Egypt

Egypt - abu-simbel_stephenHow Long: 14 days. A couple of days in Cairo at the beginning and end of the trip, a 6 day river cruise and a 3 day stay at a resort on the Red Sea.

Overall Trip Impression: Egypt has captured the imagination of traveller since ancient times. It is a multi-layered history lesson with relics left by pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, Christians and Arabs alike. Mud-brick buildings rub shoulders with modern buildings of steel and glass, the call of the muezzin with the blare of city traffic. The people are always smiling and happy and are more than willing to help a poor tourist. Lively music can be heard everywhere.

Places Visited:

Central Cairo is the hear of the modern city, and boasts some fine 19th century architecture.

Islamic Cairo is the highlight of the city, its minarets and domes, bazaars and alleyways recall scenes from 1001 Nights.

Old Cairo‘s Roman and early Christian history predates the capital itself.

Giza and the Pyramids – its really amazing when you first get a full view of the Pyramids and the Sphinx – its truly a wow moment. These icons we have seen in pictures all of our lives; to

finally stand within reach of them and touch them is just incredible. As you walk among and around these incredible structures, you cant help but be in wonder of not only their size and presence, but the realization that they have stood here for 40 centuries. Its a cliche, but awestruck is such an insufficient word sometimes.

Egypt - luxor_StephenLuxor is the main tourist centre for the largest surviving concentration of ancient monuments in the Nile valley. The temples of Karnack and Luxor on the east bank, the Theban necropolis, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut on the west bank.

Aswan is where the desert comes right down to the waters edge and the river is dotted with islands. It is home to a large Nubian community. Edfu is the site of one of the greatest and best-preserved temples of ancient Egypt, the Temple of Horus.

Abu Simbel is just a half hour flight from Aswan. Here a set of two massive temples and statues up to 60 feet high along their facades are monuments to Ramses II and his wife Nefertari. They were carved into a rock mountain thousands of years ago only to be threatened in the 1960’s by the building of the High Dam and the formation of Lake Nasser. Only a Herculean international effort saved them and provided for their precise reconstruction in a duplicate of their original setting.

Kom Ombo. The town’s ruined yet imposing Graeco-Roman temple is in a particularly beautiful setting overlooking the Nile.

Esna. A well-preserved hall of The Temple of Khnum stands in a huge excavation ditch 10m below street level in the centre of the town.

Edfu. The site of one of the best preserved temples of ancient Egypt, The Temple of Horus was buried under sand and silt for nearly two thousand years.

Hurghada. On the Red Sea coast, this town has undergone a complete transformation since the early 1990s when it was little more than a fishing village. Now a sprawling tourist town with resorts stretching 25km along the coast, it is famous for its dive centers.
Egypt - stephen-camelTravel Tips: In spite of the size and population of its cities, Egypt is one of the safest counties in the world for travellers. The most serious crime that visitors are likely to encounter is minor theft, which is rare, especially away from congested tourist areas. Visitors should, of course, take the usual precautions of wearing a money belt and keeping a close watch on cameras and bags. In fact, tales abound of taxi drivers, hotel personnel and ordinary citizens returning property and keeping a look-out for the welfare of guests. People demanding backsheesh without rendering a service can be irritating, but calm and good humoured refusals will eventually meet with success. Most Egyptians are paid such low salaries that backsheesh, in the form of a tip for service, is a vital part of their income.Favorite Hotel:

The Marriott Hurghada Resort. It is a beautiful resort right on the beach with each room overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea.

Local Food to Try: The fresh mango juice is absolutely delicious.
Best Place to Shop: Local markets and souqs.

Best Things to Buy:
Boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl, Egyptian cottons, silver and gold jewelry, copperware, papyrus and spices.

Most Memorable Attraction: Abu Simbel

Best Time to Travel: October to May to avoid the heat.