Escape to Egypt
Egypt has been everyone’s bucket list destination since the ancient times, but due to the relatively recent Arab Spring, travelling to the conflicted country got iffy for a hot minute. With the situation being much calmer now and new infrastructure being put in place, however, it’s well on its way to regaining its tourism hotspot status, and there never has been a better time to go there. So pack your bags and let us help you plan the mother of all getaways.
While many things are being improved, the airport experience is still notoriously difficult. Even if you’re planning to skip the tour package and go the adventurous route, signing up for a Meet n Greet service will save you a world of pain. You can book one yourself for about $25 per person at www.cairoairportassistance.com, or get your local tour operator to do it for you. The service entails having an official to receive you as soon as you disembark, and helping fast track your immigration and security checks without any hassle. It could save you up to two hours, and spare you a lot of hassle.
Different airports have different requirements and security protocols. One thing that Cairo airport is a stickler for is drugs, so if possible, avoid carrying any meds whatsoever, even something simple as paracetamol. You will have to face a lot of questions. If you are taking any prescription meds, make sure you have prescriptions handy, and declare them at the outset.
Pack lots of light layers, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. While the hot desert sun is blinding and bright, the wind chill factor is something that also needs to be taken into account.
No trip to Egypt is complete without a trip to Giza and the necropolis. Gaze up at the Great Pyramids, the last standing Wonders of the Ancient world. The best photo op is one where you can get the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids in one.
Other stops to make in the Saqqara region include the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which is the oldest stone colossus in Egypt, and, for the fit and the brave, a climb down to the tomb of Teti, which includes some ancient burial texts on the walls.
This is the old capital of the Pharaohs, and the city where Alexander the Great named himself a Pharaoh. At present, all that remains of the ancient capital is a museum that houses a colossal statue of Ramesis II, and a Sphinx version of Queen Hatshepsut, as well as some old pillars dating back to the Pharaonic ages.
Egypt’s bustling capital has something for everyone. If you haven’t had your fill of Pharaohs and their riches, make a stop at Cairo Museum of Antiquities and marvel at the mind-boggling amounts of treasure, both literal and historical. The Mummy Room, and King Tut’s treasure room are particularly fascinating.
A trip to Old Cairo will take you right into the heart of religious upheaval and harmony. From the ruins of the Roman tower that housed early Coptic prisoners, to the Abu Serga Church, to the Ben Ezra synagogue, you’ll find a staggering amount of history packed into one locality. There are also a number of old mosques to visit, but if you had to pick just one, the Masjid Amr Ibne Al Aas, which is the oldest surviving mosque in Africa, is the one to see.
From the past to the present, a trip to Cairo should include a walk down Tahrir Square. Although the famous square has been cordoned and partitioned since the Arab Spring, it is still an area that bustles with life.
For a complete change of scenery, a three hour drive from Cairo will take you to the coastal city of Alexandria. Drive along the Corniche, buffeted by the sea breeze, and take in the gorgeous vistas. Must-see locations include Pompey’s Pillar, which is a Roman Pillar flanked by a pair of Ancient Egyptian sphinxes, resting atop a Greek temple; as well as Qaitbay Fort, which stands on the site of the Old Lighthouse (another Lost Wonder of the Ancient World), the Catacombs, which house some beautiful Greco-Roman art (as well as hundreds of graves). More contemporary sites include King Farouk’s Montaza Palace, with its beautiful gardens of date palms by the sea, and the brand new Library of Alexandria, which has a beautiful art gallery open to the public.
For those looking for a hassle-free package that covers accommodation and sight-seeing, it’s a good idea to book and pay for everything from Bangladesh. Travel Booking Bangladesh offers some comprehensive Egypt packages. Check them out on Facebook, or their website www.travelbookingbd.com
If you’re a more intrepid traveller wanting to skip the middleman and DIY your trip, you can book your tours with Egypt Day Tours. Check them out at www.egyptdaytours.com