Egypt is one of the most magnificent tourist places in the world, for its ancient civilization and world most famous monuments and its crystal clear weather.
The river Nile is an incredible 6,695 km gift of sustenance for Egypt and three other countries, making it the longest, and arguably most vital, river in the world.
Within this stretch of the Nile is the world’s most intensive concentration of temples, tombs and palaces constructed over the span of 4,000 years. This includes the temples of Abydos, Dendara, Karnak, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and Abu Simbel, each conceived for their respective deities, further to the tombs in the Theban Necropolis within the Valley of the Kings across the river from Luxor. Absorbing the river-scape from the comfort of a felucca (small sail boat) is the epitome of pleasure, relished by locals and non-locals alike. This is easily arranged in Aswan, and larger Nile cruise boats can provide an even more luxurious experience. As this river continues to flow upwards past major cities and temples, it begins to branch out into a flower-shaped formation known as the Nile delta, covering 240 km of the Mediterranean coastline.
Much like the Nile, the Red Sea coast, a once microcosm of the world that hosted sailors from faraway lands, has also become a pivotal part of the country. Turquoise waves break against rocky capes and windswept beaches in the foreground of an endless mountain range, a much needed escape for the people of Cairo. The real lure here, especially for the non-locals, are the fabulous island reefs near the resort of Hurghada and the smaller settlements of Port Safaga, El-Quseir and Marsa Alam to the south. This entire region saw a rapid transformation in the past two decades, catalyzed by surges of annual tourists, with the most notable development being the future construction of Egypt’s new capital city near this coastline. These destinations pack a powerful punch when it comes to travel-seeking vacationers. Shark-diving, snorkeling, and kite-surfing are complemented by the revitalizing effects of 18-hole golf courses, private beaches, open-air cinemas, and unrivaled night life scenes.
A tribute to its elusive splendor, the Egyptian landscape is quite remarkable, especially considering it’s a country composed mostly of sand and dust
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TIMES TO VISIT SITES
Ideally the best time to visit outside sites is during the forenoon, when the sun has not yet reached its zenith. Sadly though being ideal is not always possible, especially on a tight schedule, and so the following is a good idea for when sites should be seen Please note that only the sites which are referred to as “usual tourist sites” are included in this list. For advice on sites not given here, you should contact your tour agent.
Giza Pyramids and Great Sphinx:
The Giza plateau has very little shade, and even the pyramids do not offer that much due to their shape. Though the site is open all day long, it is advised to visit here in the morning.
Again, this site is very much open, but at least it has some mastabas (tombs) to enter which gives an escape to the sun. There are also some nice high walls which allow some good shade, if you can get near them for the vendors! Therefore it is possible to enjoy Sakkara in the afternoon.
The Colossi of Ramses II is inside a building, which keeps you out of the sun, and the gardens with the various statues and other artefacts are well shaded by tall trees. This allows this site to be visited safely in the afternoon (which is why it is often twinned with a visit to Sakkara).
Being inside this museum allows you to stay shaded all of the time, so it can be visited at any time, morning or afternoon.
Citadel of Saladin:
Though it is exposed to the sun, the majority of the little streets within it are shaded from the sun and the main places you will visit within the Citadel, the Mosque of Mohammed Ali and the Museum, are interior visits. Morning or afternoon is fine to visit here.
The only time you are exposed to the sun is when you are walking to each of the buildings, and the streets are shaded in the afternoon, so another visit than can be done at anytime of the day.
The old market is well shaded so there will be no problems visiting here at any time.
Valley of the Kings:
Though people do visit here from opening to closing time, the ideal period to visit is in the early morning. The tombs are cut into the limestone mountain and rock does conduct heat very well, and it also retains it, so as the day progresses and the hot sun shines down on the valley, which is actually a sun trap, the rocks start to heat up. This heat is slowly given out into the actual tombs, which gradually become hotter and hotter. Add to this the heat generated by human bodies and it is quite obvious that by the end of the day, the valley is filled with little ovens, waiting to bake the next intake. This is a definite morning visit only, unless you like being baked.
Deir El-Bahri (Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut)
This has to be one of the most beautiful buildings of the ancient world still standing. It is located at the foot of the mountain which has the Valley of the Kings on the other side and also has a tendency to become hotter as the day progresses. A.M. visits are best.
Valley of the Queens:
Only a few tombs here, but rock cut as well so needs the same warning as the Valley of the Kings: A.M. visit!
Colossi of Memnon:
These 2 gigantic statues are located on the road leading away from the sites of the West Bank and are not close to the mountains; they are actually on arable land. This site only takes a few minutes to see, so can be visited at any time of the day.
Luxor and Karnak Temples:
The high columns, pylons and walls give each of these two buildings their own natural interior shade. Karnak does have huge areas of exposed land where the sun relentlessly beats down, but these are punctured by walls and pylons, giving a short respite. A.M. or P.M. visits are suitable.
Temples of Philae:
Like the temples in Luxor, these island bound buildings offer their own shade. To be honest, the only time you will be exposed to the sun is when waiting on the motor boat(s) to pick you up.
The most southerly, and possibly the hottest, site on the majority of itineraries, either built in or as an optional excursion. Built on the West Bank of the River Nile, now the West Bank of Lake Nasser, Ramses II’s phenomenal temples are only 40Km from the Sudanese border and are south of the Tropic of Cancer. Though the site is open all day long, it is strongly advised to visit it in the forenoon as the afternoon sun is too hot for most tourists to endure. Some shade is provided inside the temples, but there is a long walk from the bus stop and another one on the way back.