Once in a lifetime

Experience exotic Egypt

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by Claribel Rizas

Egypt is perhaps one of the most famous regions of Africa, an area of mysterious, beautiful deserts, fascinating history and stunning attractions. However, there is more to this land than mummies and pharaohs: here is a guide to how to get the most out of a holiday to Egypt.

Egypt has several international airports with Cairo being the biggest and most central. It is also possible to travel there by boat from Jordan or Saudi Arabia; many luxury cruises also offer a visit to Egypt as part of their package. Once in Egypt, if you're looking to explore the country as a whole the best bet is probably to rent a car; buses and trains aren't particularly reliable; and petrol is extremely cheap in Egypt.

As one would expect from such a popular holiday destination, accommodation wise Egypt has something to suit every budget. There are budget hotels and hostels scattered through the country though it is well-worth researching these beforehand, some of them can be a bit dodgy. If you're looking for a luxurious stay in a central location then you can't do much better than the Grand Hyatt, it has fourteen restaurants, fantastic view of the ancient Nile and premium quality rooms.

When it comes to local cuisine, don't be put off by Egypt's reputation for relatively poor food hygiene. Restaurants like Cairo's Felfela chain are a great place to sample delight like Ful Medames (a dish composed of cooked fava beans). The seafood in Egypt is also particularly good, fish markets are a great place to sample some of the more exotic types available.

Of course, the main reason most people visit Egypt is for its history. Alexandria makes a great one stop shop for those looking to immerse themselves in Egyptian history; it has both the awe-inspiring Lighthouse of Alexandria and the famous Montazah Royal Gardens to tempt tourists. Traditional choices like the Pyramids, the Egyptian museum, the Nile itself and the Valley of the Kings also all live up to the hype.

However, Egypt isn't just about looking at old ruins; there are more active options available as well. The country's seaside location means there is a lot of scuba diving and snorkelling available, some of it through incredibly fertile and interesting waters. A cruise along the Nile and a trip to the desert are also worth doing, though you are advised to undertake either of these activities with an experienced guide.

When it comes to nightlife its well worth remembering that Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, meaning in the less touristy areas there will be few bars or clubs serving alcohol. Public drunkenness is also looked upon very negatively wherever you are. If you are looking for a real taste of Egyptian nightlife then the 'Baladi Bars' are worth a look, though these are often only for men.

Egypt is a country which marries the best of the old with the new. You may think you know about it from pictures and reading, but it truly has to be visited to be believed.

Claribel Rizas is a freelance travel writer with 10 years experience of worldwide travel. They recommend Monarch for Egypt holidays.


1 comment :

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