Egypt is a country we tend to learn about in a somewhat detached way. We read about it in history books and see occasional adventurous depictions of the ancient Egyptian empire, and for most of us, that’s that. We leave it behind as a piece of history, like the time of the Romans, or the Renaissance, or the Age of Exploration, and so on.
It seems silly to say so, but in a way, this almost precludes us from thinking about Egypt the way we should: as an enduring country full of natural, historic, and modern wonder alike, that we can actually visit! This, in fact, is what Egypt is, and it’s high time more people realized it. To that end, I wanted to go over some of the very best things you can do while traveling there in modern times.
The 6 Best Things You Can Do In Egypt
1. Red Sea Diving
If you don’t have much to do with scuba diving, you probably don’t think of Egypt as a destination for it. Rather, it’s likely that more tropical or exotic destinations come to mind: the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand, etc. Among divers though, Egypt is considered a paradise due simply to the natural qualities of the Red Sea.
It is warm, has very high visibility, and supplies divers with calm, easy waters. You can’t ask for much better than that, and there’s fascinating, beautiful marine life to boot. If you’re interested in scuba or even already experienced in it, this should absolutely be a priority in Egypt.
2. Touring The Ancient Sites
I don’t want to spend too much time on this category because most of what we all hear our whole lives concerning Egypt is about ancient sites. And while my argument is that there’s more than this to Egypt, these sites are still the main highlights and are what separates Egypt from any other destination on Earth. The pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, the pharaohs’ temples and burial sites…. There’s a great deal to see, and for the most part, it’s all pretty accessible.
3. Sailing The Nile
Like so much of the rest of Egypt, our imaginations of the Nile River tend to be warped. The prevailing image of the river for many comes from the Bible and films that have depicted the baby Moses being cast along calm, stream-like waters in a bed of reeds. The online video game, “A While On The Nile,” is filled with symbols of all the famous sights of ancient Egypt, expanding on traditional slot machine gaming with all sorts of animated embellishments.
That, in a way, is the spectrum: the stream of Moses’s journey to the over-the-top heart of all ancient Egyptian activity. Both are understandable ways to think of the river, but both also miss the point that this is a gigantic, wide river not just in Cairo or by some ancient palace, but winding through the entire country. In places, it is strikingly beautiful, and in such places sailing on the Nile can be incredibly peaceful and enjoyable.
Hiking is an underrated aspect of exploring Egypt and is relevant at a number of specific destinations. For that matter, you can even make a hike out of exploring popular places like Giza and its pyramids and monuments, taking a long walk to examine as much as you can from as many angles as you like over the course of a day. There are also more specific hiking opportunities though – perhaps most notably Mount Sinai. Some will find some appeal in this idea because of the historical significance of the mountain.
Various faiths hold that the mountain was of great significance in the Exodus story, and even for those who don’t believe in these biblical tales, the very fact that so many do believe still makes the mountain relevant to history (somewhat like Mount Olympus in Greece, if you will). But aside from this, the mountain also makes for a wonderful hike, with a summit nearly 7,500 feet above sea level and spectacular views in all directions.
Sandboarding is exactly what it sounds like, and has become popular in parts of Africa and the Middle East where there are suitable dunes for it. It’s actually getting somewhat serious, and a few years ago we began to see headlines indicating that it had become a professional sport. But you can also try it as an amateur, and as far as I’m concerned there’s not a more enjoyable way to have a unique experience in Egypt – provided you don’t mind a little action!
6. Luxurious Stays In Cairo
Without reviewing any specific hotels or anything of that nature, I also want to make sure that anyone considering a trip to Egypt is aware that it should be thought of as a modern country, and that Cairo, in particular, is not what you might imagine. It’s an interesting place, with the pyramids in the distance, various eras of Islamic history on display in different neighborhoods, and certain areas that do seem somewhat like they’re fresh out of the past. But there are also modern buildings and neighborhoods, and accordingly, you’ll find plenty of nice, luxurious places to stay if you want to remain in the utmost comfort while you tour the country.