A true treasure is the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), also known as the Giza Museum, a museum of artifacts of ancient Egypt. Described as the largest archaeological museum in the world, the museum is under construction and is scheduled to be partially open in 2019, exhibiting the full Tutankhamun collection with many pieces to be displayed for the first time. The museum is sited on 120 acres of land not far from the Giza pyramids.
The Egypt You Expect
Built four and a half millennia ago, the Sphinx and Pyramids are the most widely recognized symbols of Egypt. The Great Pyramid of Khufu, the oldest and largest, is awe-inspiring. Tell clients not to miss the extraordinary Solar Boat Museum, featuring a cedarwood boat built to carry King Khufu into the afterlife, completely original except for its ropes.
Coptic Cairo is an early Christian neighborhood where the Holy Family is thought to have lived during their flight into Egypt. One of Cairo’s oldest quarters, it contains ancient churches and an excellent museum. Cairo’s atmospheric souk of Khan al Khalili is not just for souvenir hunters. Its bustling narrow passages are a kaleidoscope of spices, jewelry, copper- and brassware, carpets and clothing from belly-dance outfits to traditional galabeyas.
Most of Egypt’s greatest historic sights lie in the Nile Valley between Aswan and Luxor, and the best way to visit them is by a Nile cruise. At Luxor are Karnak and Luxor Temples, the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari and the Colossi Momnon. At Aswan are the High Dam, Philae Temple and Granite Quarries, as well as lesser-known sights of Elephantine Island, St. Simeon’s Monastery, the unfinished Obelisk and Nubian Museum. Between these, cruises stop for temples at Kom Ombo and Edfu.
The Unexpected Egypt
More Mediterranean than Middle Eastern, The “other great city of Egypt,” Alexandria, offers a calm oasis away from the picture-taking tourists who flock to the more recognizable sights. Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, the city stood as a beacon of culture and is often referred to as the Pearl of the Middle East. Alexandria’s summers are flooded with locals from the region as well as tourists basking in the sunshine and high humidity, although the sea breezes help to keep it at a more tolerable level than most other cities. Its famous Lighthouse is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the city exudes an aura of history and charm. How could it not? After all, it’s the city where Cleopatra charmed her lover, Marc Anthony. The Royal Library of Alexandria is one of the most extensive in the world (the largest in the ancient world) and with Roman temples and a Greco-Roman Museum, Alexandria still holds onto its ancient ruins roots, but with a modern infrastructure.
Egypt is also a top destination for the active traveler. Diving, desert treks and even sandboarding are all some of the adventures to satisfy any thrill-seeker, and another great way to sell the destination. Have them gallop through the desert in the shadow of the pyramids or wind and kite surf on the Red Sea. For fishing, the Nile provides the largest freshwater fish in the world, or for a real cutting edge sport, a desert safari with sand boarding options will be sure to leave them breathless.
Surprisingly, its miles of golden beaches draw more tourists to Egypt than the ancient sights, with the Sinai and Sharm el-Sheikh and El-Gouna - just north of Hurghada on the Red Sea - favored by high-end vacationers. Sun-and-sand trips can easily include visits to St. Catherine’s Monastery and other Sinai Peninsula monuments. The Red Sea also has some of the world’s best scuba diving, with shipwrecks and pristine reefs to explore.
Planning a Trip
Forecasted to be a top destination in 2019, you will want to have expert assistance arranging your clients’ trip to Egypt. Ya’lla Tours (www.yallatours.com) provides private tours with hand-picked Egyptolgist guides. Their overland touring in Egypt is privately escorted. If your client’s tour includes a Nile cruise, the touring from the boat is escorted in small groups, except on their Ultimate Egypt program, in which a private guide accompanies clients on the cruise. Custom tours are their specialty.
For more information visit the official website of the Egypt Tourism Authority at www.Egypt.travel