The seven wonders of Egypt
There are so many incredible things in Egypt that you can compile a 'seven wonders' list without even leaving the country. Here, guest blogger Andrew Allen (aka The Antipodean) does just that.
Only one country can boast a wonder of the world so eternal that it features on both the Ancient and Modern lists. Perhaps for this reason, Egypt seems to be on the bucket list of everyone who’s had even a whiff of the travel bug.
And, like any destination, there’s a myriad more to discover once you get there. Busabout have a fantastic 10 day trip that takes in all the highlights of this diverse country in one action-packed trip. Between overnight trains and 1am wake-up calls, by the time I left I really felt like I’d sponged up as much as humanly possible from my time in Egypt.
These are the seven wonders of Egypt (according to The Antipodean):
1. Getting lost in the pillars of Karnak temple
If you’ve ever seen the classic film Death on the Nile, you’re likely to remember the extraordinary pillars of Karnak temple. The largest temple in Egypt, Karnak is remembered by most visitors for its 134 overwhelmingly huge stone pillars arranged in 16 rows. Despite being the second most visited site in Egypt, this is somewhere you can actually get lost while exploring the ancient hieroglyphs.
2. Playing football on the banks of the Nile
As if sailing down the Nile in a traditional felucca wasn’t exciting enough itself, playing football with locals on the banks of the river shortly before sunset was a moment to remember. And after the sun disappeared, a bonfire, a guitar and some drums kept the whole group entertained for hours.
3. Seeing Tutankhamun in the flesh
When I booked my trip to Egypt, I was excited about seeing the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Egyptian Museum. The famous sarcophagus had haunted my dreams ever since hearing the story of his curse, and it was breathtaking in person. But for me, the highlight of my Tutankhamun pilgrimage was an unexpected one. When entering his tomb at the Valley of the Kings, I had no idea that his mummy had been unwrapped – allowing you to look closely at the preserved face of Egypt’s young pharaoh. It’s spine-tingling.
4. Riding a camel in front of the pyramids
When you get up close to the pyramids, you realise that the blocks of sandstone at the base are bigger than a car – and probably weigh more. These ancient marvels of engineering deserve more respect and grandeur than they’re afforded by the modern city of Giza, so the first time you lay eyes on them can be a bit of an anti-climax. But thankfully the other side of the pyramids is all desert for hundreds of miles; you can hire a camel to take you a bit further away. When you can no longer see modern civilisation lurking behind them, the pyramids are every bit as spectacular as you’ve been hoping.
5. Climbing Mt Sinai
The Sinai peninsula was my favourite part of Egypt. And the jewel of the entire area is Mt Sinai – one of the most hotly contested religious sites in the world because of its importance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The climb is a bit of a killer because you have to do it overnight in order to avoid the worst heat. But walking up by torchlight is quite novel, and your first glimpse of the gleaming bronze rays peeking over the mountains in the horizon will be burned into your mind for a long time. Suffice to say the people who decided to stay in bed that night were kicking themselves the next day.
6. Being overwhelmed by the size of Abu Simbel temple
One tip from my colleague for visiting Egypt was ‘do NOT miss Abu Simbel!’ And I’m glad I listened to her. This is by far the most awe-inspiring temple we encountered – and it should be, given it was created by Rameses II (who was arguably the most powerful pharaoh), in honour of Amun Ra (who was the most powerful of the gods). It’s located in the south, near the Sudanese border, and the sheer scale of the enormous carved figures makes the realisation that it was constructed over 3,000 years ago somewhat hard to comprehend!
7. Snorkelling in the Red Sea
At the end of a chaotic ten days in Egypt, nothing is more appealing than the idea of soaking up some sun in the seaside town of Dahab. And it’s not just a spot for R&R – divers come from all over the world to dive in the famous Blue Hole – experiencing the incredible marine life of the Red Sea. Having snorkelled at the Great Barrier Reef, my expectations were relatively low, but they were quickly blown away. Even right by the surface, the reef is heaving with life. It’s magical to experience.