For centuries Egypt has attracted visitors and for good reason. The world-renowned treasures of this fabled country, from iconic pyramids to medieval bazaars, almost defy description. But take a look beyond the obvious archaeological treasures, and a country rich in natural beauty and vibrant in contemporary culture is easily revealed.
World’s longest river
reflecting on a spate of graffiti-writing on Egyptian monuments, a 19th-century journal writer commented peevishly: "No one can now pretend to have seen the world who has not made one of a party of pleasure up the Nile". And indeed the draw of that magnetic slither of water continues to this day. The Nile defines Egypt as it inundates the delta in the north, slips by rich suburb and impoverished allotment in the capital Cairo, brings life to the settlements of the Nile Valley and delivers visitors in floating palaces to the great archaeological wonders of the ancient world.
Surviving world wonder
and who can dispute the magnificence of Egypt’s fabled archaeological sites? The pyramids at Giza, the sole survivors of the world’s seven ancient wonders, are almost too engaging for their own good. The lotus-columned Temples of Luxor and Karnak, the beauty of sunrise across the Valley of the Kings, or the sound-and-light show at the mighty tombs of Abu Simbel all thrill legions of modern tourists today as they have since the Greeks first visited in Alexander’s time.
Wild desert landscapes
So potent is Egypt’s archaeological heritage that it’s easy to overlook the country’s physical beauty, from the wind-polished rock formations of the white desert to the iron-clad mountains of the Sinai. Nor does the beauty of the country end at the shore: the underwater landscapes of the Red Sea are one of Egypt’s most precious treasures.
Modern Arab state
Part of what makes Egypt one of the world’s great travel destinations is the pulsing and influential modern Arab state that throbs beneath the surface. Ultimately, the best of the country is understood not so much under the shadow of its great monuments, splendid though they are, but in the call to prayer at sunset, in the chatter of hooves on tarmac in a rural village, or tea and talk with Egypt’s garrulous residents in a random coffeehouse.