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8/30/2018 3:30:45 PM

5 coolest things to do in Egypt

One of the oldest tourist destinations in the world, Egypt and its collection of world-famous ancient sites and legendary national treasures have been wowing the crowds for centuries. 

Are you planning a trip to Egypt? Have a look at this list to make sure you won't miss the five coolest experiences in the country.

Discover Islamic Cairo

20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Egypt Global Grasshopper

Don’t leave without visiting the famous Khan el-Khalili souk or other street markets (photo:Dorli Photography) 

Once you get over the chaos, the culture shock and in-your-face touts, this city is a traveller’s dream and easily one of the most important destinations to travel to in Egypt. History fans will also be in their element here with age old traditions perfectly preserved in every corner of the city. Of course there’s also an endless supply of ancient temples, tombs, churches, monuments and the museums to explore. Don’t leave without visiting the famous Khan el-Khalili souk or other street markets, especially if you feel the need to stock up on everything from exotic looking carpets to brass trinkets.

Tour Egypt’s Pharaonic Sites

Luxor and Aswan host the most amount of Pharaonic sites in Egypt. Nevertheless, Egypt is full of different temples, statues, and Pharaonic sites for tourists to enjoy.

20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Egypt Global Grasshopper

Pyramids of Giza (photo: Oberazzi) 

The last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the world's most recognisable landmarks. Built as tombs for the mighty Pharaohs and guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, Giza's pyramid complex has awed travelers down through the ages and had archaeologists (and a fair few conspiracy theorists) scratching their heads over how they were built for centuries. Today, these megalithic memorials to dead kings are still as wondrous a sight as they ever were. An undeniable highlight of any Egypt trip, Giza's pyramids should not be missed.

Dive in Egypt’s Red Sea

Locations such as Marsa Alam, Hurghada, Sharm Al Sheikh, and Dahab offer many great diving sites where visitors can discover the hidden beauty of the Red Sea and its rich ecosystem.

Upon first glimpse of the 300-sq-km national park of the White Desert, you’ll feel like Alice through the looking-glass. About 20km northeast of Farafra, on the east side of the road, blinding-white chalk rock spires sprout almost supernaturally from the ground, each frost-coloured lollipop licked into a surreal landscape of familiar and unfamiliar shapes by the dry desert winds.

Admire the White Desert

These sculptural formations are best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when the sun lights them with orangey-pink hues, or under a full moon, which gives the landscape a ghostly Arctic appearance. The sand around the outcroppings is littered with quartz and different varieties of deep-black iron pyrites, as well as small fossils. On the west side of the Farafra–Bahariya highway, away from the wind-hewn sculptures, chalk towers called inselbergs burst from the desert floor into a spectacular white canyon. Between them run grand boulevards of sand, like geologic Champs-Élysées. No less beautiful than the east side of the road, the shade and privacy here makes it a great area to camp.

20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Egypt Global Grasshopper

White Desert (photo: Dietmar Temps)

About 50km north are two flat-topped mountains known as the Twin Peaks, a key navigation point for travellers. A favourite destination of local tour operators, the view from the top of the surrounding symmetrical hills, all shaped like giant ant-hills, is spectacular. Just beyond here, the road climbs a steep escarpment known as Naqb As Sillim (Pass of the Stairs); this is the main pass that leads into and out of the Farafra depression and marks the end of the White Desert.

A few kilometres further along, the desert floor changes again and becomes littered with quartz crystals. If you look at the rock formations in this area you’ll see that they are also largely made of crystal. The most famous of the formations is the Crystal Mountain, actually a large rock made entirely of quartz. It sits right beside the main road some 24km north of Naqb As Sillim, and is easily recognisable by the large hole through its middle.

At the time of writing, foreigners were officially no longer allowed to camp overnight in the desert, but in reality many people do. The tourist police turn a blind eye, but it pays to do the trip with an experienced safari outfit. As well as the national park entry fee, you pay a LE20 fee for each night you sleep here. If you come as part of a group, the fees are included in your tour. You can usually buy tickets at the entrance to the park, but don’t worry about going in without one; you can just pay the rangers when they find you. Sleeping anywhere in the park, surrounded by the white formations and visited by friendly fennecs, is an unforgettable experience.

Try Egyptian exotic dishes

An essential part of experiencing the Egyptian culture is the food, especially breakfast. An authentic Egyptian breakfast can’t be complete without the famous foul medames (cooked fava beans), tameya (patties made of ground fava beans), fried or boiled eggs, fresh fries, cheese with tomato and green pepper, and the traditional baladi bread. With its exceptional variety, people don’t only enjoy the mouthwatering taste, but they also feel full and energetic for most of the day.

Just like breakfast, Egyptian lunch offers a wide range of varieties of authentic meals. However, one of the most traditional meals to try when visiting Egypt is Kushari. Kushari or Koshari consists of rice, macaroni, lentils, and tomato sauce with garlic vinegar poured on it and then topped with chickpeas and fried onions.

a dish of kushari in Cairo.

 Rice and spicy … a dish of kushari in Cairo. Photograph: Alamy

“Masr Hebat Al Nile” is a famous phrase people ususally say when the Nile is mentioned. It means that Egypt is gifted by the Nile, as its ancient civilization, agriculture, and life was built and prospered because of the Nile. Whether visiting Cairo or Aswan on a boat, a cruise, or a falouka for an hour or a whole day, don’t leave Egypt without cruising the Nile.

For a drink, don’t miss Asab Al Sokar, Arabic for sugarcane. It is one of the most common juices in Egypt because it is light and thirst-quenching, making it perfect for the hot and sweaty months of summer./.

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