Egypt captures the imagination of every born traveler, from the very first time they see images of the Pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx, and the blue and gold gilded coffins of ancient Pharaohs in a world history book. These wonders, however, are just the tip of the cultural iceberg of a civilization that flourished from 3000 B.C. to 30 B.C., ruled by approximately 30 dynasties. Over the millennium, waves of conquerors passed through Egypt – Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs and Turks – all leaving their footprints on the country. Discover Egypt with Frontiers and you won’t just scratch the surface as on most standard tours. Well connected throughout the country, we can custom-design your itinerary to include visits to remote oases, after-hours tours of certain temples and museums, and even private audiences with prominent Egyptologists such as Dr. Zahi Hawass, Director General of Giza Antiquities.
Paramount to all great civilizations are great cities and Egypt has several unique metropolises. Cairo buzzes with a mix of modernity and the traditions of Islam upon which the city was founded. The Mediterranean city of Alexandria is well worth a visit with its stunning 21st century library. As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor is often called the "world's greatest open-air museum" for the ruined temples that lie within the modern city. Across the Nile River from Luxor is the monumental Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. For divers and snorkelers, the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh (on the Sinai Peninsula) and Hurghada both boast spectacular reef access as well as posh accommodations at Four Seasons and Oberoi properties.
A Nile River Cruise is essential when visiting Egypt as it is the single best way to take in the wealth of archaeological sites that line the river. The fertile landscapes encountered along the banks and the traditional feluccas plying the Nile’s waters are little changed since the time of the Pharaohs. Most cruises operate between Aswan and Luxor and range from 3 to 7 nights. Popular sights include the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt's longest-ruling female pharaoh, the Valley of the Kings, and the beautifully preserved Temple of Horus, the falcon god.
Frontiers staff have cruised on several of the best Nile River boats including the 18-cabin Sun Boat III, the 36-cabin Sun Boat IV and the 27-cabin Oberoi Zahra. The Zahra is arguably the most luxurious vessel on the Nile and was featured in the August 2009 issue of Architectural Digest. Discerning Frontiers clients recently on board reported some of the finest service they’ve experienced anywhere in their travels.
Beyond the cities and the Nile is vast desert dotted with oases that until recently were mostly inaccessible. Our favorite is Siwa in Egypt’s Great Western Desert, where Alexander the Great was said to consult the Oracle of Amun in 331 B.C. Here you’ll find the Adrere Amellal Ecolodge, offering an amazing retreat and true desert experience. You’ll have the opportunity to experience Bedouin culture and hospitality, dine under the stars, and explore the dunes on jeep safari (and by snowboard!)
Mollie Fitzgerald has spent four weeks in Egypt between two trips over the past few years, including a privately escorted group tour in March 2010. She’s still finding sand in her luggage! Contact Mollie for her take on "quintessential Egypt."
Photos Courtesy of: Mena House