Egypt As You Never Seen Before

Amazing Places In EGYPT

Egypt, a country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East, dates to the time of the pharaohs. Millennia-old monuments sit along the fertile Nile River Valley, including Giza’s colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx as well as Luxor’s hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs. The capital, Cairo, is home to Ottoman landmarks like Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities.

The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world’s great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose around 3200 BC and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 BC, who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks, took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt’s government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honoured place of the Nile River in agriculture and the ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

Despite ranking in the top 30 largest countries with its 1 million square kilometers of land, Egypt is a country that is notorious for its geographic ‘distribution.’  99% of Egypt’s population utilizes only 5% of the total land area but nearly 100% of its aquatic resources as a result of the predominantly barren ecosystem.  The lifeline of some 90 million human beings, the river Nile is the focal point of urban planning, an incredible 6,695 km gift of sustenance for Egypt and three other countries, making it the longest, and arguably most vital, river in the world.

The Nile enters Egypt a few kilometers north of a Sudanese town called Wadi Halfa through a narrow canyon that traverses sandstone and granite cliffs. The northward flowing direction of the river has thus earned Egypt’s southern border the name “Upper Egypt.” Within this stretch of the Nile is the world’s most intensive concentration of temples, tombs and palaces constructed over the span of 4,000 years.  This includes the temples of Abydos, Dendara, Karnak, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and Abu Simbel, each conceived for their respective deities, further to the tombs in the Theban Necropolis within the Valley of the Kings across the river from Luxor. Absorbing the river-scape from the comfort of a felucca (small sail boat) is the epitome of pleasure, relished by locals and non-locals alike. This is easily arranged in Aswan, and larger Nile cruise boats can provide an even more luxurious experience. As this river continues to flow upwards past major cities and temples, it begins to branch out into a flower-shaped formation known as the Nile delta, covering 240 km of the Mediterranean coastline. Home to 39 million people, this is Egypt’s most agriculturally rich land with some of the most beautiful, soul-rejuvenating nature Egypt has to offer.

Much like the Nile, the Red Sea coast, a once microcosm of the world that hosted sailors from far away lands, has also become a pivotal part of the country. Turquoise waves break against rocky capes and windswept beaches in the foreground of an endless mountain range, a much needed escape for the people of Cairo. The real lure here, especially for the non-locals, are the fabulous island reefs near the resort of Hurghada and the smaller settlements of Port Safaga, El-Quseir and Marsa Alam to the south.  This entire region saw a rapid transformation in the past two decades, catalyzed by surges of annual tourists, with the most notable development being the future construction of Egypt’s new capital city near this coastline. These destinations pack a powerful punch when it comes to travel-seeking vacationers.  Shark-diving, snorkeling, and kite-surfing are complemented by the revitalizing effects of 18-hole golf courses, private beaches, open-air cinemas, and unrivaled night life scenes.