Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety… Anthony & Cleopatra
Egypt is an African nation with its roots anchored deep in the bedrock of Mediterranean history. The River Nile, equally a transport system and a life-giving river artery, has been a conduit for human traffic between Africa and the outside world since the dawn of humankind, and remains the iconic geographic feature of the continent. The search for the source of this great river absorbed the careers and lives of some of the worlds greatest explorers, pitted one European power against another, and set in motion the great age of African discovery.
It is Egypt’s extraordinarily long and sustained history that attracts a majority of the millions that flock to the country annually. While the entire Nile Valley is awash with monuments and archaeological sites, the principal areas of interest remain the Great Pyramids of Giza and the City of Luxor with its Temple of Karnak and Valley of the Kings. The main cities of Cairo and Alexandria are both centres of historic significance themselves, and are known for a diversity of museums and monuments celebrating this cradle of ancient Mediterranean civilisation.
Travel To & Within Egypt
Why Travel to Egypt
Egypt is one of the more moderate countries within the Maghreb region of North Africa, and perhaps the most visitor friendly nation of the Middle East axis. Although overwhelmingly Moslem, a degree of freedom of religion is practiced, with Egypt being home to the tiny Coptic Christian community. The country has a highly developed, widespread and established tourism industry that in 2005 recorded some 8.5 million arrivals. Egypt is a link into the wider Arab world, and is now, as it has been throughout its history, poised on the point of contact between the great societies of east and west.
Apart from the obvious attractions of the country – its archaeological heritage being perhaps the most obvious – Egypt’s Red Sea is a popular dive destination, the region around Sharm el-Sheik, with its year round dry weather and warm, clear waters, being a particular favourite.
Why you should add Cairo to your round the world trip itinerary.
When to Visit Egypt
The best time to visit Egypt is during the winter months between October and May when temperatures are cooler and the air is clearer. This is particularly the case if you intend to be out and about visiting historical sites and monuments. Along the coastal strip, up the length of the Nile, and in either of the main cities, any time of the year is conductive to travel.
Peak season is from late August to late November, with another short burst from March to May, so expect at those times to jostle with the masses. Although the remaining months of the year are quieter, they are never really entirely quiet.
The country has suffered a handful of terrorist attacks against tourists over recent years, the most notable being in 1997 when 70 people were killed, including 60 tourists, in an attack against the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor. Since then there has been bombings in the Sinai Peninsular that have injured foreign nationals. Bearing in mind the numbers that travel to Egypt annually, however, these incidences are rare and the effect small.
Crime in Egypt is limited and not a particular problem, although Egyptians appear to have a particular aptitude for pick-pocketing, a fact recognised by disgruntled troops during both World Wars who, stationed in Egypt, coined the term ‘Gyped’ for any incident of petty and frustrating crime in Egypt.
Egypt enforces a relatively closed political system so overt discussion or involvement in the national debate is inadvisable. Modest dress for women is encouraged. For more information.
Petty sexual harassment of women travelling alone, and even in parties, has been reported as being a constant feature of Egypt. Advice on the matter varies from ignoring it, pithy ripostes, insults and angry replies, none of which apparently works.