No, really. Forget Stonehenge, Angkor Watt, the Parthenon, Pompeii …
Yes I know that sounds like sacrilege but it’s true. Unless you have seen Ancient Egypt you ain’t seen nothing yet.
How come you can visit tombs in the Valley of the Kings in lower Egypt where the paint is still fresh and vibrant looking after 3000 years…. And today we can’t get a paint job for the house that will last at least 10. It’s mind-boggling. Let’s consider – the ancient Egyptians were working on sophisticated engineering projects like the pyramids, irrigation, surgical instruments and the use of medicinal herbs while our ancestors (North American / European) were living in caves wearing animal skins. Makes you think?
If you have a fascination for ancient history – for all things related to what we are today as human beings and how we developed – then Egypt has to be the next place to visit. Put this country on your bucket list. There are more important archeological and ancient historical sites in this country than Tim Hortons locations in Canada.
Another very good reason to visit now is that the Canadian Government has lifted the travel ban for Egypt. The Arab Spring brought democracy to Egypt but it also brought a swift decline in tourism numbers. Hotels, river cruise operators and tour guides have all suffered through this decline but savvy tourists who visited the country over this time experienced almost private experiences at the pyramids, the tombs and the temples. Consider the numbers – before the Arab Spring over 200.000 visitors a day arrived at sites such as Luxor and the Valley of the Kings and Queens. To enter some of the tombs you might feel as if you were at DisneyWorld without an express pass with wait times in line ups of up to 45 minutes for each tomb. Your photographs of famous sites such as the Temple of Edfu might resemble Times Square on New Year’s Eve due to the number of people visiting.
My experience was very different. Although there was a fair number of tourists our guide made sure we were up early every morning to get out to the sites in order to be the first people there. I was able to wander around the terraces of the temple grounds and feel that I was the only person there. A real opportunity for wonder and reflection.
Some tombs cost a little extra to visit – for example the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Just four of our group decided to fork out the extra $16 to see his tomb. Wow – now that was an experience. The original mummy is there in a sealed glass case. My husband and I dawdled and the other couple left the tomb. We just couldn’t believe that we were experiencing a private viewing of King Tut. Priceless!
Another reason to go now….. plans are afoot to close the original King Tut tomb and replace it with a replica. There has just been too much damage and the concern is that they want to protect these incredible ancient wonders. Some tombs are already closed to the general public and not accessible with your permit to visit the Valley of the Kings. You can still visit these tombs but it will cost …. Some permits cost in the region of $3000 a visit.
Apart from the pyramids and the tombs and temples you will be charmed by the Egyptian people. They take hospitality to a whole new level and I can honestly say that I felt like an honoured guest wherever I stayed. Yes it’s hectic and the traffic in Cairo is a nightmare, the streets are dirty, the muezzins call to prayer will wake you at 5 am, the street vendors are persistent in their extravagant compliments as to your smile, your hair, your eyes – anything for a sale.
I loved it….. and I will return.
You should go too.