Egypt is the ideal travel destination for anything you could want. Ancient history, modern history, culture, tradition, sites, attractions, discovery, beaches, relaxation, romance, the sun… The list goes on.
Recent political instability, as a result of the 2011 Revolution, had a devastating effect on Egypt’s tourism industry. While the country is in desperate need of a stable governing body, the country remains safe enough for travellers and tourists who maintain their common sense. The significant decline in tourism also means that prices are low, attractions are not crowded with people and tourism security has increased.
As a recent visitor to Egypt I was lucky enough to experience the country, and its sites and monuments in all of their towering glory, without the distraction of bustling crowds. The number of tourists visiting Egypt plunged by a third in 2011, almost 5 million less than the year before. Two years on and overall tourist numbers have barely improved. Those relying on tourism for their livelihood are in despair every time they hear of a new political protest or violence in Cairo, knowing it will have a dramatic impact on business. While there are the locals and hasslers trying to pawn off fake artefacts and touristy junk, all of the Egyptians we encountered and met were noticeably grateful of our presence and eagerly encouraged us to spread the word of its desperate need for more visitors.
I loved our time in Egypt and am hopeful that we will someday return, but in the meantime, here are ten reasons why I think Egypt should be at the top of your list for your next holiday:
1. The perfect selfie – The absence of other tourists means that you can take a classic selfie on a camel in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza (and many other temples and tombs), uninterrupted by those other pesky tourists that always get in the way.
2. Shopping – Decreased tourism means that you can pay half as much as you used to for pashminas, Egyptian cotton scarfs and shirts, camel rides, and that wooden cat or tacky glass pyramid you probably don’t need but will buy anyway.
3. Affordability – Flights, accommodation and tours are cheaper.
4. History – The ancient Egyptian culture, dating back thousands of years ago, is incredible and available for all to visit. The rock temples at Abu Simbil, tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and the famous Great Pyramids of Giza are some of the many mind-blowing places you can visit in Egypt. These temples and ruins were designed by great architects and built by thousands of devoted people for their beloved Pharos, Gods and Kings.
5. The variety of holiday destinations – beaches on the Mediterranian Sea, temples in Alexandria, the bustling bazaar in Cairo, resorts in Sham el Sheik and Hurgada on the Red Sea, culture and sites in Aswan and Luxor, and scenery on the Nile River. Egypt has everything
6. The weather – the peak season (October to April) is ideal for visiting Egypt. Depending on which city you are in daytime temperatures can range from 18 to 30 degrees with very little rain (average of 3 days per year), making this the perfect getaway from the cold northern winters. The hottest months are during the summer in July and August where temperatures can soar as high as 45 or 50 degrees in the sun.
7. The Red Sea – The Red Sea is surrounded by many beautiful, affordable, modern holiday resorts that provide a gateway to some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world (arguably second to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). The sun is warm and the water irresistible.
8. The Nile River – what a site to behold! The longest river in the world stretches north from its origins in Lake Victoria and Ethiopia, through the centre of Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea, fertilising the dessert and providing prosperity for the entire country. The Aswan High Dam stretches 3.8km across The Nile, allowing dammed water to be stored and the benefits of the priceless water to be shared all year long. A felucca is a traditional Nubian sailing boat that can be hired for a sunset tour, or several relaxing nights, to experience the Nile River at its best. Our two nights on board a felucca and swimming in the cooling waters along The Nile was a personal highlight of our 14 day trip.
9. The food – despite the lack of pork products (in my opinion bacon is its own food group), Egypt’s’ food is some of the best in the world. Perhaps it is the affordability (£4 for a traditional tea and huge meal of rice, lentils, vegetables, bread and macaroni) that makes the food so enticing. Either way the basic vegetables and spices, influences from Greece and the Middle East, as well as the use of clay pots and other traditional ways of cooking made this destination a must-see for the foodie in everyone.
10. The people are unforgettable – The passion of the Egyptologists and tour guides, the devotion of the elderly essence maker, the smiles and curiosity of the helpful children and even the persistence of the hasslers in the streets are what makes me believe that this is a country that was built from greatness and has great things ahead.