Few destinations work for both couples and families, but Egypt manages more than credibly, combining culture and cracking beaches in one delectable holiday destination.
Besides the obvious attractions of its Pharaonic history, Egypt has Greek, Roman and Islamic treasures to explore in Alexandria and Cairo, and numerous historic Christian monasteries such as St. Catherine's in the Sinai Peninsula. But there is more to a luxury Egypt holiday than just culture - the Red Sea coast offers luxurious beach resorts, good weather and the best diving in close proximity to the UK.
If you travel via Cairo then you really can't miss the pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza. To stand and admire the Great Pyramid of Khufu, a structure which consists of over two million blocks of stone and has stood for more than forty-five centuries - for most of which time it was the world's tallest building - is something special. As the Arab proverb goes: 'Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids.' We also recommend Cairo itself for a day or two, despite the bedlam, because our excellent guides can show you the edited highlights among the 120,000 relics in the vast Egyptian Museum or arrange sedate sailing trips on elegant felucca yachts along the Nile.
For fanatical divers the Red Sea coast offers undoubtedly the best diving within easy reach of Europe. Sharm el Sheikh, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and Hurghada, just across the Gulf of Suez, both have excellent fully equipped dive centres for scuba instruction and exploring the beautiful underwater world. Unlike many other places, the coral reefs here are still in good health and harbour almost as many fish species as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, while the numerous wrecks that lie in these warm, shallow waters add extra interest to the diving.
The cultural heartlands of Egypt are strung out in Luxor, Aswan and along the Nile, the river that provides the lifeblood to the country. Luxor, or Thebes as the city was once known, is home to the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, while Aswan is home to the awesome Abu Simbel temple, a testament as much to engineering prowess as the Pharaonic emperors' dedication to vanity.
While it's easy to know what to see in Egypt, it's not so easy to know what you might be missing. And it's these hidden wonders that can transform a fabulous holiday into an experience that's truly out of the ordinary. The secret, as mentioned earlier, is to have a top guide. Fortunately we have access to some of the best. A skilled guide is essential not just for the depth of knowledge they can share with you, but for their ability to avoid crowds and hassle. One of the best parts of a tailor made Original Travel holiday is that you'll feel like you're able to unlock invisible doors.
Without your guide, you might never touch the real Egypt, the one beneath the skin of everyday life. You might never find the silversmith in the souq who will engrave your name in hieroglyphics on a key-ring. Or have the chance to get your personal travel diary bound in the most beautiful decorative leather book-binding. Or visit the belly-dance costume stall. All Original touches we can tailor make for you.
For winter sun, warm sea and the best diving within easy reach of Europe, Egypt's Red Sea coast is the place to go, with excellent, family-friendly resorts and top class facilities. On the way to or from the Red Sea, stop off in Cairo to visit the nearby pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza.
Once you've stood and gawped at the Great Pyramid and its extraordinary feat of engineering, take a relaxing boat trip down the Nile in a private felucca (traditional wooden sailing boat) or relax at our recommended hotel in the shadow of the pyramids, where facilities include a large pool, tennis courts, horse riding and an 18-hole golf course.
Once on the Red Sea, our recommended hotels have professional, in-house dive centres that are the perfect environment for learning to dive. Once qualified, the beautiful underwater world can be explored at dozens of dive sites, including numerous shipwrecks and the colourful reefs of the Ras Mohammed National Marine Park.
Here your urchins can come face-to-face with their marine equivalents and other spectacular sea life such as parrotfish, lionfish and turtles. For children too young to dive, there is still great snorkelling and all kinds of other activities on land and sea. There are excellent kids clubs, tennis courts and private sandy beaches with a variety of watersports on offer. Original Travel can also organise excursions such as boat trips or camel rides in the desert. For parents, there are spa treatments and excellent restaurants to enjoy.
This makes Egypt the perfect place to holiday with your family, especially as they say that in the eyes of a child there are not seven wonders of the world but seven million, and Egypt should prove suitably wonderful for your youngsters.
|Luxor, Aswan and the Nile|
|Pyramids and the Red Sea|
|Siwa and the Western Desert|