Tag Archives: egypt

Dahab, Egypt

Dahab City CenterDahab is a small resort town on the  coast of the Red Sea on the Sinai Peninsula, neighbouring Israel and facing Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. Accessing the Sinai Peninsula involves passing under the Suez Canal, a major trade route for goods. As this is a major source of income for Egypt it is very well protected with numerous police and military checkpoints.

Dahab appears to have once been a lively town, very popular with snorkelers and divers alike. Due to recent turmoil and the closure of a nearby airport, it has become a very quiet holiday town.

Drinking tea in a Bedouin CampAfter the fast paced tour through the main sites of Egypt, it was nice to use the time in Dahab both to see the town and to enjoy some rest and relaxation in the resort.

Aside from catching up on sleep, emails and reading my book I enjoyed two of the activities on offer in Dahab: Quad Biking and Snorkelling at the Blue Hole; as well as spending some time in the city center.

Quad biking in the hills of DahabQuad Biking

In the hills of Dahab is a desert landscape. While the quad biking wasn’t overly epic, it was certainly fun to have a look around. We visited three sites: A valley within the mountains, a bedouin camp for some tea and Laguna Beach on the coast.

Cost: 170EGP

Snorkeling

The Red Sea is well known for it’s beautiful coral, so I headed up the coast to the popular diving location of the Blue Hole. The water was colder than anticipated but the coral was beautiful and teeming with sea life.

Fish on the reef in the Red SeaI snorkelled along the reef edge before passing through the saddle into the Blue Hole. While the Blue Hole is best for divers, it’s rim has plenty to offer those who are snorkelling.

Cost: 150EGP

Check out all my Dahab photos on Flickr

Dahab Street Art: Old Bedouin Man

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Aswan, Egypt

Abu Simbel - Ramses IIAswan is a great starting point for a few visits, primarily Abu Simbel Temples, Philae Temple, and Edfu Temple part way between Aswan and Luxor.

I heard that the town of Aswan is quite a nice place to explore, but after a bout of food poisoning and a bad cold, I was in no state to explore.

Abu Simbel Temple

The most important pharaoh in the history of ancient Egypt is Ramses II, who ruled Egypt for 67 years. Abu Simbel is one of his temples and is dedicated to four gods: Ra, Ramses II, Amun and Bitah.

Abu Simbel - Ramses IIThe temple is in fantastic condition and shows absolutely stunning scenes of the fight between the Egyptians and the Hittites. A temple with fight scenes is unique as all other temples show scenes of Coronations and other similar things.

The entrance to the temple has four large sculptures of Ramses II at various stages in his life. The smaller statues between his legs depict his children.

 

Abu Simbel - NefertariThe neighbouring temple is a temple Ramses II had built for his wife Nefertari, and it is dedicated to the cow god, goddess of fertility, Hathor.

Abu Simbel - Ramses IIBoth temples were originally built along the banks of the Nile. When a decision was made to build the Aswan Dam, people became aware that this would flood the section of the Nile were the two temples are found. A huge effort and absolutely astounding effort was made to move the temple to higher ground. For the untrained eye, little to no damage to the temples was sustained in the process. If you weren’t told, there is no way you would guess that the temples had been moved.

While Abu Simbel is most definitely the more impressive of the two, they are both stunning temples, with such detail in the carvings and paintings. Many of the original colours still remain.

Be aware that the trip to Abu Simbel takes 3 hours each way from Aswan. Typically this is done as a police convoy departing Aswan at 4:30am, it then leaves Abu Simbel to return to Aswan at 10:30am.

Cost: 100 EGP

Philae Temple

Similarly to Abu Simbel, the Philae Temple was found on an island in the Nile River. Unfortunately, it was not rescued prior to the Aswan Dam being built and as a result was submerged.

Some years after it was originally submerged a restoration process was undertaken to move the temple to a nearby island. The temple is by no means complete, but it is a reasonable representation of what it once was. It is a greek design built during the Greek Empire and is dedicated to the goddess Isis.

Cost: 60EGP

Philae Temple

Edfu Temple

Edfu TempleEdfu Temple is roughly halfway between Aswan and Luxor. It is dedicated to Horus and is the second largest temple in Egypt. While it may not be the largest temple, it is the most well preserved.

The temple took 47 years to build and has the same design as basically all temples in Egypt. The temple first has a gate or pilons. Entering through the gate goes into an open court, followed by a colonnade hall and ending in a sanctuary.

Check out all my Aswan photos on Flickr

Philae Temple Gates
Philae Temple Gates
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Luxor, Egypt

Luxor is in Upper Egypt, south of Cairo. I would have anticipated that Upper Egypt was north and Lower Egypt was south, but it is the exact opposite. The terms upper and lower are reversed due to the altitude of the land.

Luxor can be found along the banks of the Nile River, once again monuments related to life are typically on the East Bank and monuments related to death are on the West Bank.

Luxor has numerous breathtaking, history-rich monuments worth visiting, but with limited time my visit had four highlights: Hot Air Ballooning, the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut and Karnak Temple.

Hot Air Ballooning

Hot Air Ballooning in LuxorWith a 5am hotel pickup, followed by a ferry crossing the Nile, we had the opportunity to get carried into the morning sky for a most peaceful sunrise over the West Bank of Luxor. We had hoped to fly over the Valley of the Kings, but the wind didn’t work with us in this regard.

Despite not flying over the Valley of the Kings, we did fly over some spectacular temples and monuments, including the Temple of Hatshepsut. The sun rising and casting golden-orange light on the mountains and temples was absolutely breathtaking. It was a fantastic way to start the day.

Cost: 75GBP (approx. 840 EGP)

Hot Air Ballooning in Luxor

Valley of the Kings

A ticket to the Valley of the Kings provides you access to three tombs. Not all of the tombs are open all of the time, so you need to pick which three you would like to visit, based on what is open (our guide gave us recommendations). In the event you want to visit the tomb of Tutankhamen, it is an additional ticket. I visited the tombs of Setnakht, Merenptah, Ramses IV and Tutankamen.

It is forbidden to take photos inside any of the temples, if you try to sneak a photo you are likely to be fined and excessive amount of money or have your camera confiscated. We were advised to leave our cameras in the bus. There is a ‘safe’ storage facility on site for you to check in your camera, but the staff there advised us that anything left there will be stolen. So either leave your camera on the bus or keep it out of sight.

The tomb of Setnakht was recommended for us to visit as it is viewed as the mummification temple, based on the scenes depicted on the walls. It was an absolutely beautiful temple with many of the painted walls retaining their original patterns and colours.

The tomb of Merenptah was the tomb that extended the deepest into the mountain, of all the open tombs on the day we visited. Based on what I know about the depth of the various tombs in the Valley of the Kings, it wasn’t as deep as I had anticipated, but nonetheless amazing. The thing that is most mind blowing is the size and weight of the sarcophagus’, boxes and treasures that would have been inside each tomb.

The tomb of Ramses IV is the most spectacular of the open tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The colours on the walls are the most vibrant in this tomb. The attention to detail is absolutely amazing.

The tomb of Tutankhamen is actually really small and he was a quite an insignificant king. The reason that it took so many years to find is that it is actually situated beneath another tomb. When it was found, it had been untouched and all the treasures were all still tucked neatly into their separate rooms within the tomb. As it was the only tomb to have been discovered completely intact, Tutankhamen became one of the most well known kings in Egyptian history. These treasures can now be found in museums, but the mummy of Tutankhamen remains in his tomb and the walls remain beautifully decorated.

Cost: 100EGP + 100 EGP to visit the tomb of Tutankhamen

Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple

Temple of HatshepsutHatshepsut is the only Queen to have been buried in the Valley of the Kings. She was a woman, but portrayed herself as a man, though I can’t recall why this was. The scultptures of her at the front of the temple clearly depict the body and clothing of a man, but with the facial features of a woman. While I did not visit her tomb in the Valley of The Kings, I did visit her temple outside the Valley of the Kings.

Around the temple of Hatshepsut are many hieroglyphics and paintings. Including many depictions of the Cow Goddess of fertility, Hathor.

While completely unrelated to the Cow Goddess, the Egyptians have an interesting belief in regards to the cow and earthquakes. They believe the earth is carried on one of the horns of a cow. When she tires and moves the earth from one horn to the other the earth experiences an earthquake.

Cost: 50EGP

Temple of Hatshepsut

Karnak Temple

Karnak TempleKarnak Temple was found in 1985 in very poor condition. The complex housed seven temples, only two of which remain. The main temple which remains is the biggest of it’s type in the world.

Karnak Temple has been a popular location for Hollywood movies and some of the more famous films it has featured in include The Mummy, Indiana Jones and James Bond (I’m not sure exactly which one for any of those).

Cost: 80EGP

Check out all my Luxor photos on Flickr

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest

Cairo, Egypt

My trip to Egypt was part of a Travel Talk tour of Egypt & Jordan. Within Egypt there were four main places we visited, Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Dahab. Egypt has a population of around 91 million, approximately 22 million of who live in Cairo.

The streets and markets of CairoOn arrival in Cairo I was met by the Travel Talk driver Baseem, who helped me with the arrival visa and security. Before entering the security line, on the right are some banks where you pay US$25 to buy a single entry visa. You stick the visa sticker on a blank page, which gets stamped as you pass through security.

Out on the roads, I was unsurprised to discover that Cairo roads are absolute mayhem. You duck and weave between cars and trucks, tooting the horn to prevent being side swiped by another vehicle. There is always one more lane of cars than marked lanes on the road. People occasionally pull over on an outer lane of the highway to wash their car or chat to someone else. Motorcyclists plow through the mess without care for helmets or any kind of safety. Pedestrians run across the highway at random, even mothers with babies seem to have no fear running across multiple lanes of crazy traffic. It was an interesting welcome to Cairo.

Cairo, Giza and New Cairo are all parts of greater Cairo. Cairo and Giza are the two main areas visited by tourists, and the Nile River separates them.

On day one the tour guide Mega introduced himself to the group and with great enthusiasm and love for his country and history he took us on our Egyptian adventure.

The Pyramids of Giza

As most people are aware the Ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation and that they worshipped many gods including the sun. The concept of reincarnation comes from the sun as it rises (is born) every morning in the east and it ‘dies’ at the end of every day in the west, to rise again the next day. For this reason, all tombs are built on the West Bank of the Nile, the body is buried on the West, so that it may rise again in the East. In alignment with this belief all pyramids were built on the West Bank of the Nile. For those that haven’t established the link, all pyramids are the tombs of Kings.

Camel Riding at the Pyramids of GizaIt is not part of the pyramids of Giza complex, but the first pyramid we visited was Sakkara. There are several pyramids in the complex. The most famous one is the Pyramid of Djoser. Djoser has a stepped construction and was one of the first pyramids ever constructed.

Within the Pyramids of Giza complex are also several pyramids, though the design is more refined and doesn’t display the stepped construction seen at Sakkara. Some of the pyramids show the remains of a smooth rendering over the top of the construction.

Great Pyramid of CheopsThe Great Pyramid of Cheops is the largest of all the pyramids, with a height of approximately 149 metres. It is one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, and was the world’s tallest construction until the Eiffel Tower was built. King Cheops was one of the most loved Kings of ancient Egypt and to the people of Egypt it seems fitting that he is celebrated with such a magnificent monument.

The other pyramids in the area belong to Cheops’ family members, son, wife and sister. The famous Sphinx guards the area. The Sphinx has a construction of a lion’s body with the head of a man. The head of a man represents wisdom and the body of a lion, representative of strength or power.

The site is spectacular to visit. It is so challenging to understand how people in ancient times were able to build such immense structures. I felt awed to be a witness to such creativity and display of ingenuity.

In addition to wandering around the complex, I enjoyed a short camel ride around the site, to get some fun photos!

Cost of Sakkara and Giza: 160EGP
Cost of Camel Ride: 50EGP (from memory)

Pyramids of Giza

Cairo Museum

A sarcophagusCairo Museum is certainly worth a visit to see many ancient Egyptian artifacts. Many of the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamen can be viewed here. You can also see the mummified bodies of many of Egypt’s great rulers of ancient times, including the most important pharaoh in history Ramses II.

Be aware that if you want to take your camera into the museum you need to pay an additional 50EGP. You can leave the camera in a storage space for free. We were advised it was very secure, but with stories of theft out of safe storage spaces at other sites, we decided against this.

Cost: 85EGP

Mohammed Ali MosqueMohammed Ali Mosque

The Mohammed Ali Mosque is in the old citadel overlooking the city of Cairo. It’s alabaster walls and meticulously designed interior are absolutely gorgeous. While I probably wouldn’t have put it high on my “to see” list, it was a thoroughly enjoyable place to visit.

Cost: 60EGP

Cairo Markets

One of the many Cairo Markets

Around Cairo downtown are many different markets where you can buy souvenirs. I would recommend visiting at least one or two. Be prepared to haggle, but don’t engage in discussion on price unless it is something you are actually willing to buy.

They are some fabulous jewellery stalls which can create rings, bracelets and pendants with a cartouche of your name in hieroglyphics.

Pyramid Light and Sound Show

At the Pyramids of Giza there is a nighttime Light and Sound show. It’s a little bit cheesy, but otherwise fantastic. I did this at the end of my tour and they presented a reasonable summary of the Egyptian history I had learned throughout the tour, which pulled together the information nicely for me.

It was fun to see the pyramids and sphinx lit up with various different colours. If you are on a budget, I would not recommend going, but otherwise it’s quite a bit of fun.

Cost: 170EGP

Pyramids of Gaza Light and Sound Show

Check out my Cairo photos on Flickr

As the wifi in Egypt has been very poor, the album is not yet complete – I will add the remaining Cairo photos as soon as I can.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterest