Brief guide to Egypt

A brief guide to Egypt

Guide to Egypt

All year round beach holidays


Sharm El Sheikh: A paradise for those who seek recreation and want to explore marine life. A lage variety of small shops selling a wide variety of goods. A wide choice of restaurants with a variety of international cuisines and tastes.

Taba: A meeting of borders close to the borders of Israel at the tip of the Aqaba gulf overlooks Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Dahab: Overlooks the Aqaba gulf 95 km north eat of Sharm El-Sheikh and has one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Sinai due to its golden sands, 'Dahab in Arabic neabs gold' Dahab is excellent for wind based watersports such as windsurfing.

Nuweiba: Very quiet, very pretty, surrounded by large palm trees, excellent marine sports and an amazing chaotic commercial port where you can catch a hydrofoil to Aqqaba and visit Petra (not recommended unless you stay overnight in Jordan).

Eastern Desert

Hurghada: An international centre for aquatic sports. The unique underwater gardens are some of the finest in the world. You can visit the Roman remains near Gabal Abu Dukran.

El Gouna: 25km from Hurghada offers ultra modern facilities, excellent golf course.

Safaga City: is a port on the Red Sea. Has amazing black sand-dunes and mineral springs. Take trips to Tobia Island or Mons Claudianu.

Al-Quesseir: Has a long history as it is from here that Queen Hatshepsut launched her expedition to 'the Land of Punt' The 16th century Fortres of Sultan Selim is still standing in the town centre. It is a quiet resort excellent for divers with camping facilities.

The Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula

The Red Sea is a branch of the Indian Ocean that climbs northwest to where the Sinai Peninsula divides it into two long, narrow gulfs:the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqqaba The eastern shore of the Red Sea receives many of it formative characteristics from the Syrian-African Rift. In ancient times it served major trade routes. Trade between India and the Middle East and the nations of the Mediterranean basin developed during the Graeco-Roman period. The Red Sea formed the swiftest and safest passage.

An abundance of marine life, including beautiful coral, amazing turtles, graceful dolphins, schools of lionfish, napoleon and barracudas Plenty of opportunities for shelters and shallow dives. Visibility is generally more than 40 metres and the brightest colours are still visible at a depth of up to 15 metres.

Ras Mohamed: Recently declared a natural reserve. Renowned for having the most exquisite coral reefs such as the famous Shark reef and Yolanda reef. Lies at the peak of Sinai Peninsula between the Suez and Aqqaba gulfs and 20 km from Sharm. In the second half of August tens of thousands of storks and other migratory birds stop off during their long route from northern Europe to southern Africa.

The Mangrove Forest of Nabq: Here is the largest mangrove forest in Sinai and the mangrove trees have a peculiarity, they filter sea water through their roots, discharging salt crystals via their leaves. The delicate natural balance of this coastal strip justifies the tough environmental policy the park authorities carry out. Different types of birds can be seen here from white and grey herons to ospreys and storks

Serabit el-Khadem: The temple is at a height of 850 metres on a plateau which ends with a mighty rocky rampart. It was built 1955 – 1750 BC probably built by semi-nomadic Semites dedicated to the god Hathor 'Lady of Turquoise' This area was exploited during the Pharonic age as here they mined for copper and turquoise. There are galleries, wells and tunnels with inscriptions dating back to this age!

Sinai Desert: Where rock meets coral reefs and the desert stops at the sea. A varied and beautiful desert a land of miracles and holy places. The route to the Promised Land. Where Moses witnessed the Burning Bush, The Holy Family passed along during its flight into Egypt and where Amr Ibn El Aas went across on his Islamic invasion of the country. A night camping with the Bedouins in the Sinai desert is an unforgetable fantastic experience, with no light polution the skies are amazing where you can clearly see the Milky Way and shooting stars if you are lucky and no sound pollution!

Moses' Mountain: You will need good walking shoes and a jacket! On the peak you can see the 'Holy Trinity Chapel' built in 1934, a small mosque, and a cave where according to legend Moses spent 40 days. The climb is worth doing at night so that you can experience the rising of the sun over the desert. Going back down you follow a different path known as Sikket Saydna Musa or the 'Path of Our Lord Moses' This ancient route was usually covered by monks and crosses the beautiful Amphitheatre of the Seventy Wise Men of Israel.

Monastery of St Catherine: In the heart of the Sinai at a height of 1570 metres. Where Moses saw the bush on fire which did not burn up and the foot of Gebel Musa (Moses Mountain on whose summit the prophet received the Tables of Law Built in the 6th century and dedicated to the daughter of a ruler of Alexandria who converted to Christianity and was subjected to great torture. It houses the most important biblical library outside the Vatican.

Adventures in the Sinai: Camel trekking, horse riding and 4*4 off road quad bikes are some of the exciting ways to explore the Wadi's of the Sinai or if you prefer a more conventional way, you can trek and explore on foot!

Ain Khudra and the Nawamis On the road from Sharm to St Katherine there are many archaeological and naturalistic sites of great interest. There is a good panoramic view of the huge Wadi Ghazala or the 'Valley of the Gazelles' An isolated outcrop of sandstones known as the 'Rocks of Inscriptions' which name derives from the graffiti dating back to the Byzantine, Medieval and Nabatean ages. There is an Observation Point with a panoramic view overlooking the small oasis of Ain Khudr. Ain Khudr is one of the most beautiful oases in Sinai and of great historical interest since it was along the route followed in the Byzantine age by pilgrims on their wy from Eilat to Saint Katherine. Nawamis here you find small circular dry-stone buildings with west facing entrances employed as the burial grounds between Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age in the 4th century BC.

Coloured Canyon 12 km north of Nuweiba heading up the Wadi Watir - one of the Most beautiful wadis connecting Nuweiba with Nakhl and near the small oasis of Ain Furtaga, is the small track leading to one of the geological wonders of the Sinai – the coloured canyon. Its narrow wall in some points are 40 metres high and a metre wide, made of sandstone possessing amazing hues of dark brown, red and straw yellow due to the presence of manganese and iron oxides.

Salah ed-Din's Fjord a fascinating inlet its water has an incredible turquoise colour which you reach on the road from Nuweiba to Taba. Close by is:

Pharaohs Island a beautiful island and of great interest from an historical and naturalistic point with a fortress built in the Byzantine period. It was occupied by the Crusaders in 1116 and enlarged by Saladin who seized it in 1182.

The Blue Desert and the Wadi Feiran Named after the numerous rocks scattered across an area of nearly 15 square km that the Belgian artist Jean Verame painted blue in 1980 to commemorate the end of the conflict between Egypt and Israel. The Wadi Feiran has the largest palm grove in the Sinai peninsula. Excavations have revealed the ruins of several churches which date back to the lV – Vll AD.

Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses

This is not meant to give you in-depth knowledge of the Gods of Ancient Egypt but just to give you a taste of the amazing life of the Ancient Egyptians and to help prepare you for the wonderful sites you will see and the stories you will hear.

Ammut: Is dreaded and ferocious to look at with a crocodile head, the body of a lion and the hind lags of a hippopotamus and known as 'Devourer of the Dead'.

Amun: Combines with the sun-god to become Amun-Re the King of the Gods Anubis checks the scales, Thoth checks the accuracy, 42 Assessor Gods interrogate the deceased on their past life if they lie they will be crushed in the jaws of goddess Ammut.

Anubis: The jackal god and supervisor of mummification and guardian of the desert cemeteries.

Apophis: The Underworld snake that threatens the very existence of the sun-god.

Assessor Gods: Every dead person has to be judged on their way to the afterlife. Their hearts are weighed by Maat the goddess of truth.

Aten: The most abstract form of the sun-god. He is shown as the solar disc whose rays end in hands. Aten became the supreme god during the reign of the Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Atum: Atum is a form of the sun-god and wears the cloths and regalia of a Pharaoh. Atum floated as a substance containing the seeds of life in a primeval watery expanse called Nun, before the world existed. He emerged, self created standing on a mound called the benben.

Bastet: The cat goddess is the daughter of Re, the sun-god.

Bes: Is very ugly – a bandy legged dwarf with some lion features. Will protect families from snakes and scorpions and always ready to defend a woman and their newly born child.

Geb and Nut: This couple are the children of Shu and Tefnut. Geb is the earth god and Nut is the sky-goddess who arches her body over Geb with her hands and feet resting on the four cardinal points, north, south, east and west, less frequently takes the shape of a celestial cow.
The children of Geb and Nut re the deities, Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys.

Hapy: God of the flood (inundation)

Hathor: Hathor is the goddess of love, joy, music and dancing and the guardian of the necropolis.
Hathor sometimes appears as a cow carrying between her horns the disk of her father Re and is one of the most important ancient goddesses.

Horus: The hawk-god is the manifestation of divine kingship, son of Osiris and Isis and his wife was the goddess Hathor. The Eye of Horus represents soundness and perfection and protects everything

Imhotep: A master sculpture who planned the first huge significant monument built of stone and acquired the reputation as the god of healing.

Isis: A goddess with great magical powers, married her brother Osiris and gave birth to their son Horus.

Khepry: When the sun-god leaves the Underworld to rise over the eastern horizon at dawn he takes the form of a scarab beetle and is known in the form as Khepry.

Khnum: Khnum creates everything in the universe on his potters wheel, all the other gods, humans, animals, birds and fish one of titles is 'Lord of the Crocodiles'. This creator God is often shown as a man with the head of the ram.

Khonsu: The moon-god his names means 'wanderer' and describes the path of the moon across the sky.

Maat: The goddess of truth and a daughter of the creator sun-god. She personifies the ordered structure of the universe and opposes the forces of chaos.

Montu: A warrior god shown as hawk-headed god wearing a crown of plumes and a solar disc encircled by two images of the cobra goddess Wadjyt.

Mut: Is the chief consort of Amun also a lioness-goddess and a cat-goddess.

Neith: The goddess of great antiquity also a creator goddess presiding over conception and birth of the Pharaoh.

Nephthys: Her name can be translated as 'Mistress of the Encosure'. Daughter of Geb and Nut and sister to Isis had a liaison with her brother Seth and a brief affair with Osiris which resulted in her giving birth to the jackal-god Anubis.

Osiris: The ruler of the Underworld, usually shown tightly wrapped in linen, the judge of the dead and able to offer eternity to those who lead reasonable lives.

Pharaoh: Was the divine and earthly manifestation of the god Horus and given the title 'Son of Re'.

Ptah: The creator god of Memphis. Ptah takes the form of a human man wrapped tightly is a robe and is the patron god of craftsman, builders and sculptures and responsible for creative thoughts.

RE: The sun-god in his form of Re-Horakhty is a hawk, crowned with the sun-disc circled by the cobra-goddess Wdjyt.

Sekhmet: In one myth Sekhmet almost wiped out the human race. This Lioness-headed god is the daughter of Re and the wife of Ptah.

Selqet: As the scorpion-goddess is a guardian deity and important to spells to cure poisonous bites and stings

Seth: An exciting, unpredictable god with great strength and the arch-villain in the struggle to rule Egypt.

Shu and Tefnut: Shu is the air-god and Tefnut is not easily defined but may be the air goddess of the underworld.

Sobek: A crocodile god worshipped to protect Egyptians form being eaten by crocodiles.

Taweret: Appears with the head of a snarling hippopotamus, the body of a pregnant woman and arms and legs of a lion with the tail of a crocodile. Tawernet forms one of the constellations of the northern sky.

The Apis Bull: The Apis Bull is the sacred creature of Ptah and worshipped as his living image.

The Sons of Horus: 4 internal organs are put into separate Canopic jars during mummification and each jar has its own god to look after it.

God Imsety – the LiverGod Hapy – the Lungs
God Duamutef - the stomachGod Qebehsenuef – the intestines.

The Two Ladies: 
Wadjyt and Nekhbet are fierce and protect the sun-god and the Pharoah

Thoth: The god of all knowledge also known as the moon-god.

Underworld Deities: Are ferocious and have to be passed by every dead person on their way to reach Osiris in the Underworld.

Wepwawet: A jackal-god whose name means opening of the ways and went before the Pharaoh on his military campaigns.

A brief introduction to some of the terminology used relating to Ancient Egypt

Book of the Dead: A collection of spells to guide the dead safely to the afterlife.

Cartonnage: Commonly used for making masks for mummies it consisted of layers of linen or papyrus stiffened with gesso (plaster).

Heliopolis: The site where the first known sun temple was built and dedicated to the God Ra-Horakhty. On of the most important cult-centre of the Pharonic period.

Hypostyle Hall: A large temple court filled with columns.

Inundation: This is the term given to describe the annual flooding of the Nile in Egypt.

Incense: Aromatics substances used for burning in the temples and for scenting people of high office.

Ka: Was considered to come into existence at the time someone was born and serves as their double

Khafra (Chephren): Son of Khufu and the builder of the second Pyramid at Giza.

Khufu (Cheops): Was the builder of the Great Pyramid in Giza and son of Sneferu.

Mummification: It was essential to preserve a body after death so that it remained recognisable and the KA could return and the journey to the afterlife would not be jeopardized.

Obelisk: A tapering needle-like stone monument with the tip carved in the shape of a pyramid.

Pylon: (Greek 'gate') The name given to the massive ceremonial gateway consisting of two tapering towers linked by a bridge of masonry and surrounded by a cornice.

Pyramids: A funerary monuments built usually of stone.

Historical sites to visit

Luxor (THEBES)

Luxor has 17% of the monuments of the entire world.
The world's greatest outdoor museum filled with awe-inspiring monuments of ancient civilisations.
Sights to see whilst staying in Luxor.

In Luxor

Karnak Temple: which surpasses every other Pharonic temple with over 40 hectares devoted to the gods. For 13 centuries successive pharaohs helped to make this the most magnificent temple complex in the country and in the entire ancient world.

Luxor Temple: is well preserved because it was mostly covered by sand until the 19th century when the houses of the town were slowly cleared away from it. Ramses ll added the impressive pylon with obelisks, colossi (giant figures) and a colonnaded court.

Horse and carriage (caleche) ride around the countryside of Luxor.

Sail in a Felucca watch an amazing sunset whilst sailing on the Nile with the backdrop of Luxor temple a wonderful calming experience.

Luxor Museum An exquisite collection of statues and funerary objects carefully chosen, mounted and displayed to bring out its best qualities.

Hot Air Balloon Looking down on 17% of the heritage of mankind, whilst the dawn breaks and watching the locals and their livestock wake up and start their day is a magical unforgettable experience
Within 1 hours travelling distance.

Visit the West Bank

Colossi of Memnon: are 2 statues 19.5 metres high which once guarded the gates of a mortuary temple now sit peacefully amid the sugar cane fields.

Valley of the Kings and Queens: Entering the royal tombs at Thebes is like following the pharaohs on their journey to the underworld. Hidden in the Theban hills all the New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in this secluded Wadi.

Deir el-Bahri: (Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut) A female Pharaoh called her temple Djeser Djeseru (the Splendour of Splendours) dramatically set against the Theban Hills.

Madinet Habu Temple Mortuary Temple of Ramses lll One of the best preserved temples and easiest to understand, classical with few additions. The enclosure is entered through an unusual gatehouse modelled on a Syrian fortress.

Deir el-Madina: The workmen's Village, home to the craftsmen and artists who worked in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Nobles.

Ramessum The mortuary temple of Ramses ll. The temple has scenes of the victory over the Hittites in the Battle of Qaddesh which inspired Shelley's sonnet 'Ozymandias'.

All Day Trips

Take a cruise down the Nile to Dendera one of Egypt's best preserved temples dedicated to Hathor.

Abydos Centre of the cult of the God Osiris. Anew kingdom temple remains one of the finest and most astounding monuments in Egypt.


The Weather

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