Egypt, Africa

Egypt is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It is the home of some of the most extraordinary archeological ruins ever seen. The Great Pyramids complex of Giza was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and is now the only one of them still remaining. But even though the Great Pyramids are without equal in the world as an archeological site, they are only one of many such sites in Egypt. There are also amazing ruins in Memphis, Thebes, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. The Temple of Karnak still has giant stone columns and statues standing after thousands of years. The Temple of Edfu is a colossal, sprawling complex with monolithic walls and huge columns. The Temple of Abu Simbel has enormous seated figures of pharaohs whose individual fingers are larger than a full-sized man.

You can learn more about all these historical wonders at the Egyptian museum in Cairo, where you can see the treasures unearthed from the tomb of The Boy King, Tutankhamun. You can discover the history of the most recent 2,000 years by touring the Cairo of today, built up since the Christian era, where you can see the history unfold in churches, synagogues and mosques, or spend time shopping at the markets.

You can do a jeep safari, where you learn the ways of living on the desert. You can take a camel ride or head out onto the desert on a quad bike. Golfers can find courses in Cairo, Alexandria. Luxor and on the Red Sea Riviera. You can spend time on the beach on the Mediterranean at Mariut, Agami or Sidi Abdel Rahman, or on the Red Sea at Sharm el-Sheikh.

For most Americans, Egypt is a destination still best experienced on a guided tour. It’s still a little too exotic and foreign a destination for most Americans to navigate around comfortably without support from a local. Though English is widely spoken, the street signs are still in Arabic and it is fundamentally a non-Western culture, so it’s much easier to get where you want to go and do what you want to do with help from a professional tour organization or guide.

The basic combination that has become the standard of the tour industry combines a visit in Cairo with a Nile Cruise that travels to upper Egypt to see the villages and colossal ancient ruins that were built along the Nile, Egypt’s main artery of life. Within that basic pattern, the tours vary widely. The ways that the itineraries are structured, the specific sites visited, the time allotted to each site, the kinds of accommodations and transportation utilized, how much free time is built into the schedule, how flexible they are, what is included in the price -- all these factors are handled by different tour operators in their own individual ways.

Most tour packages allow free time for their customers to shop, explore or get meals on their own, but they will provide recommendations. Cairo is a huge city of 18 million and its restaurant choices are cosmopolitan. You can choose from a variety of restaurants that offer Middle Eastern, Indian, French, Italian or Continental menus.

Air choices are plentiful. Cairo is a major destination both as a perennially popular leisure travel destination and as a hub for business travel.

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