Highlights of Egypt
Cairo, "Al Qahira", is Egypt's capital and usually the starting and ending point of all itineraries. The largest city in Africa, Cairo is home to 17 million people, and offers an incredible selection of shopping, leisure and nightlife activities. Shopping ranges from the famous bazaar Khan el-Khalili Souk, largely unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned retail centres displaying the latest fashions. Today the city throbs with ever increasing energy and has booming western-style nightlife with a wide variety of restaurants and bars, as well as more traditional entertainment such as local coffeehouses and Arabic nightclubs with belly dancers. Highlights of Cairo include the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum and Khan El Khalili Bazaar.
Luxor is the most important and dramatic historical site in Egypt and has often been called the world's greatest open-air museum. Luxor is the modern name for Thebes, the ancient capital city of the New Kingdom Pharaohs (1550 BC - 1070 BC) whose glory still glowed in the memories of classical writers a thousand years after its decline. Today, Luxor is home to more than half of all of Egypt's antiquities and is a must-see highlight on the itinerary of almost every visitor to Egypt. The town has a village atmosphere and a bustling local market, as well as an astonishing collection of ancient temples and relics including Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, Colossi of Memnon and the Temple of Luxor.
Lying at the southernmost border of Egypt's ancient empire, Aswan is truly the "Jewel of the Nile". Pink and grey granite thrusts upward through the Nubian sandstone, forming mountains, cliffs and jagged outcroppings. Aswan is home to the Aswan High Dam, where the Nile's flow is regulated to the whole of Egypt. The area was formerly known in ancient times as Nubia, and has its own unique heritage, crafts and folklore. The Nubian language is still spoken today by many Aswan residents, and traditional Nubian folkloric performances are a must-see for any visitor. Several sites of outstanding world heritage were actually moved piece by piece to higher ground before the dam was made operational - including the Temple of Philae and the incredible temples of Abu Simbel to the south.
Sharm El Sheikh
With its combination of pristine sandy beaches, lively nightlife and wide range of hotels, Sharm El Sheikh offers the perfect starting point for almost all tours in the Sinai. The centre of the resort area is Naama Bay, where most of the early hotels were built. For sea lovers, the oceans of Sharm El Sheikh are bursting with some of the most colourful and exotic marine life –a haven for divers. Highlights include St. Catherine's Monastery and Ras Mohamed National Park.
The Western Desert
The Western Desert is hard to describe, its rugged beauty has to be seen to be believed. One of the most arid regions on Earth, this haven is for those who prefer to explore the adventurous side of the desert. But don't be discouraged if you're a hesitant explorer. The Western Desert holds many activities and resorts to tempt even the most reserved of travellers, including camel and jeep safaris, hiking, bird watching, fossil hunting and camping. In addition, it serves up adventures in degrees, so whether you're looking for a tame, intense, or extreme vacation, you will find it here. Highlights include the Valley of the Golden Mummies, as well as the oasis towns of Bahareya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga and Siwa.
The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria, known as "The Pearl of the Mediterranean", has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern despite being only 225 kilometres from Cairo. Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt. Its status as a beacon of culture was symbolised by Pharos, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Alexandria was also the centre of learning in the ancient world. Now a vibrant, bustling city, visitors can enjoy the relics of the ancient world, as well as any one of the myriad of exquisite fish restaurants that the city is famous for. Highlights of Alexandria include Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Fort Qaitbay, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Alexandria National Museum and Pompey's Pillar.