Table of Contents
- 1 The Sunshine
- 2 The Red Sea
- 3 The Oases
- 4 Sinai
- 5 The Food
- 6 The History
- 7 The Diversity
- 8 The Post-Egypt-Nostalgia You Feel
- 9 It’s Affordable -well cheap
How many of you have been asked, or heard concerns raised about going on a trip to Egypt? As a female traveler, do I have to cover up and wear a veil all the time? Does Egypt only have 5 star resorts, ain’t no place for backpackers & budget travelers? Can I enter a mosque or are they only open to Muslims? Is it dangerous for Christians to travel to Egypt? I’m vegetarian will I find anything to eat in Egypt? Do many Egyptians speak English, or am I going to be lost in translation? etc…
Don’t listen to what they say, go see. ~ Chinese proverb
Chill-out, relax, get over stereotypes & misconceptions about Egypt & Egyptians, is there anywhere in the world where it’s entirely safe? Isn’t terrorism, harassment & insecurity about everywhere? Prove us wrong!
Egypt is the kind of has it all destinations; whether you are a laid-back traveler, or looking for the ultimate adventure, the sea person, or the party-goer, the foodie, or the sporty, the history & culture buff, or the city boy/girl, the luxury seeker, or more into nature, outdoors & primitive lifestyle, in Egypt you’ll never run out of options.
Shali Fortress in Siwa Oasis
Egypt isn’t the Pyramids of Giza, or the intense capital of Cairo that is not really a 48 hours kind of destinations , yet can easily be enjoyed by following this guide, it isn’t also taking a Luxor & Aswan Nile cruise, combined with some beach fun in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt is the 365 days a year of sunshine, 7 oases, the Red Sea, the Sinai Peninsula, the diversity of activities, sights, and things to do, the people, the food, and much more than that.
Baladi Bread (Egyptian Pita Bread)via flickr by M M
Where else in the world will you be in a country where the sun shines every single day, even in winter time, it rarely rains or gets cloudy -only few sandstorms a year, it could be even cold in Cairo & Alexandria, yet perfectly warm on the Red Sea coasts, where you can actually sunbathe, and get tanned.
Witnessing sunrise & sunset at Dahab’s Blue Lagoon
The Red Sea
Egypt’s Red Sea is home to the world’s most magnificent diving spots & shipwrecks, rich in marine life, & coral reefs, let alone the water clarity that makes it easy for snorkelers or even for people sitting on shore to marvel at the underwater world effortlessly. With barely any sea currents, it’s the perfect spot for freediving, also having some windy areas makes kite-surfing & windsurfing widely practiced in Dahab & Ras Sudr. Oh, did I mention that the water temperature is NEVER too cold to take a dip?
- Hippie laid-back destination, yet hiking, rock-climbing, and water-sports heaven: Dahab
- A down-looked at destination favored by divers: Marsa Alam
- Camping & backpacking hubs: Nuweibaa, & Ras Shetan (also Dahab)
- Top notch resorts, & clubs: Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, & Taba Heights
- The has it all destination, yet posh: Gouna
- Off the beaten track: Safaga
- Cairenes winter escape: El Ain El Sokhna known as El Sokhna
- Kite-surfing spots: Dahab, and Ras Sudr which is closer to Cairo
Diving in the Red Sea by Mohamed Said
We have seven of them, each oasis is unique in a way. The closest to Cairo is El-Fayoum around 1 hour and 15 minutes drive, and the farthest is Siwa; 9 hours drive, 10 to 11 by bus, sharing borders with Libya, significantly influenced by the Amazigh culture.
Snippets of Bahariya Oasis
Their uniqueness lies in;
- Fayoum: the Valley of Whales (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the world’s largest Petrified Forest, on December 21st of each year the “Wonder of the Sun” phenomena at Qasr Qaroun, Maidum Pyramid believed to be the first pyramid, and the Pottery School in Tunis Village established by Eveline the Swiss lady who fell in love with Fayoum & decided to live there to start this school.
- Siwa: all the natural springs; hot & cold, the Salt Lakes where you can experience floating, and are cooler & clearer than the Dead Sea in Jordan, Shali Fortress, those hot sand baths given in summer to treat people suffering from joints and bone problems, but above all home to Egypt’s most luxurious eco-friendly lodges of Adrére Amellal, Taziry, & Talist.
- El-Dakhla: Roman temples & ruins, and is home to the luxurious Al Tarfa Ecolodge
- El-Kharga: the largest Oasis, yet the least interesting
- Bahariya & Farafra: the white & black deserts, and the crystal mountain
- Wadi El-Natroun: where it’s believed that the Holy Family has found shelter, home to four of Egypt’s most important monasteries of El Anba Bishoy, El-Baramus, Suryani & Abu Maqqar
Snippets of Siwa Oasis (Pic 1: Cleopatra’s bath, Pic 2: Salt Lakes, & Pic 3: The Temple of Amun)
Besides our seven oases, there is the great Sinai Peninsula –commonly traveled to by bus, that no words can describe its beauty. Home to; Egypt’s highest mountain of St. Catherine; Mt. Sinai where Prophet Moses was given the 10 commands; several valleys; canyons; hiking trails; rock formations; camel races and the Holy Family found shelter too.
Did you know that the Sinai Peninsula is located in Asia? Which makes Egypt divided between Africa & Asia.
Monastery of St. Catherine in Katerina, South Sinai via pixabay
A full of flavor Mediterranean Oriental fusion, though Egyptians tend to be carnivorous, yet our best dishes are vegetarian, to name a few:
- Molokheya: green soup poured over rice
- Koshari: the ultimate carbs mix of; rice, pasta, vermicelli, black lentils, chickpeas, fried onions, tomato sauce, vinegar & garlic sauce
- Messa’a: moussaka Egyptian style
- Bamya in tomato or green sauce: okra
- Bessara: I have no idea how it’s made, but it’s a green dip, and it’s good
- Betengan Ma’li: Fried eggplants with garlic sauce
- Mahshi: cabbage and vine leaves wrapped & stuffed with rice
- Dolma: zucchini, eggplants, and bell peppers stuffed with rice
- Feteer: the Egyptian version of Pizza -nothing to be compared to Italy’s, with a variety of sweet and salty add-ons
- Ful Medames: Fava beans which is the official Egyptian breakfast with falafel, known in Egypt as Ta’meyah
Molokheya in the making at Kebdet Elprince
Carnivorous options are;
- Stuffed pigeons
- Molokheya with rabbits
- Fattah with Lahma: rice with moist bread in vinegar, garlic & tomato sauce, served with tender beef chunks
- Samak Sayadeya: oven baked fish in tomato sauce
- Fried livers and brains
- Grilled livers Alexandrian style
- Mombar: intestines stuffed with rice
Food fiesta at Cairo’s Kebdet Elprince
Did you know that our falafel is the only falafel made from fava beans, unlike the rest of the Arab world that makes it from chickpeas?
The holy family has found shelter in Egypt, the Pharaohs started one of the world’s greatest civilizations that came into existence, Egypt was part of the Ottoman empire, colonized by the French & the Brits, a Kingdom turned into a Republic, had two major revolutions. Home to the world’s largest open-air museum, and has 2/3 of the world’s monuments. This is where Jews, Christians & Muslims lived peacefully under one roof, and one can still see their influence.
Making a full list of monuments, temples & attractions is nonsense, but you must know that nearly every corner of Egypt -including the oases- has some monuments worth checking out.
Abu Simbel Temple at sunrise
A country that has energy rarely found at any other country, two seas, a river, 7 oases, Sinai, mountains, sand dunes, canyons, marine life, endless activities, delicious food, nightlife, sightseeing, nature, history, culture, warm people, should I say more? Who can get bored, or run out of activities? Where else can you find such an interesting combination in one place at affordable prices?
In Egypt, there is always something for everyone.
- Foodies can head to Alexandria, Egypt’s food capital, or savor our appetizing cuisine at any Egyptian town or city, you won’t get enough of our street-food & local eateries, but those who are not adventurous enough can easily indulge themselves at high-end restaurants & cafes
- Adventurous souls & Water-sports fanatics will find an array of adrenaline pumping activities to try from hiking, rock-climbing, & sand-surfing, to cycling, Nile-kayaking, horse & camel back riding, you name it
- Laid-back travelers & Yogis can easily escape the chaos of big city to find peace and quiet in the desert, one of the oasis, or any of Egypt’s relaxing coastal towns
- Backpackers & Budget Travelers will always find a good deal that won’t break the bank
- For History & Culture Buffs; without question, this is the place to be
A typical Egyptian street-cafe (Al-Fishawi Cafe) via flickr by Travel Aficionado
The Post-Egypt-Nostalgia You Feel
Egypt visitors build a love/hate relationship with it; hate of all its chaos, inexplicable non-stop honking, and above all its people who obviously lack the sense of time, yet the love of its randomness, warmth in human relations, and energy. They get nostalgic, and really feel sad to leave it.
Cairo Traffic via flickr by Asim Bharwani
It’s Affordable -well cheap
After the Egyptian pound devaluation, which is very sad for us, yet good news for Egypt visitors. Egypt has become an extremely affordable destination -tends to be cheap, having that said it’s now the perfect time to visit, and get the best out of this amazing country without spending a fortune.
Pig bank via pixabay
* All photos without photo credits are taken by me
** Our featured image is at Marsa Nayzak in Marsa Alam by Gigi Ibrahim via flickr
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