Teach in Egypt
WHY GO THERE?
The land that gave birth to the first great civilisation needs little introduction. The pyramids, the minarets, the Nile – the scope of Egypt is magnificent.
Visitors are surprised to discover that those legendary pyramids are merely the tip of the archaeological iceberg. Pharaonic nations, ancient Greeks, Romans, Christians and Arab dynasties have all played their part in fashioning Egypt’s embarrassment of architectural wealth.
Cairo’s chaos whirrs around a medieval core that has remained unchanged since the founding days of Islam. Upriver, Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes, is lined with warrens of opulent burial chambers and boasts some of the most formidable monuments in all antiquity. Further south at Aswan, even more geometrically imposing temples write a testament to the power of archaic gods and omnipotent pharaohs. It is here that the Nile is best explored by ancient sail, on a felucca (Egyptian sailing boat) at the hands of the prevailing currents and winds.
Out west, Egypt’s ocean of sand stretches infinitely to the Sahara, with a handful of oases feeding solitary islands of green. Hivelike, medieval fortresses cower out here, interspersed with bubbling springs and ghostly rock formations. Meanwhile, the deep, crystal waters of the Red Sea lie brilliantly awash in coral, surrounded by an aquatic frenzy of underwater life. In the deserts of Sinai’s interior, visitors can climb the mount where God had word with Moses, and spend their remaining days in halcyon bliss at coastal Dahab’s backpacker Shangri-La.
Though it is one of the more politically stable countries in the region, modern-day Egypt is not without strife. Thirty years of authoritarian rule, an erratic economy and rising living costs fan the flames of social unrest. Still, Egyptians are a resilient lot, and visitors making the journey here will find as much ancient history as they will modern hospitality.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
1 Cairo – For a glimpse of the more recent past, wander through the dusty, decrepit glamour of Garden City, a labyrinth of crumbling 19th and early-20th-century mansions
2 Alexandria – Sip coffee, smoke sheesha (water pipe), or join in on the heated debates that take place in the many antique coffee houses that dot this hip metropolis
3 Pyramids of Giza – You haven’t been to Egypt unless you’ve stood at the base of these megaton monuments
4 Abydos- Make a pilgrimage to the supposed burial site of the god Osiris, one of the most revered sites in antiquity, and now one of the best-preserved temples
5 Great Sand Sea – Skirt the edge of the vast sand dunes that make up one of the most impenetrable deserts in the world
6 White Desert – Four-wheel drive through bizarre, ghost-white rock formations sprouting from the desert sands
7 Dakhla Oasis – Wonder the curved passageways of mud-brick villages, once inhabited by medieval oasis-dwellers
8 St Katherine’s Monastery – Take a pilgrimage to this ancient desert monastery to stand before a clipping from the burning bush
9 Dahab – Kick back and recover from chronic temple fatigue at this ocean-side backpacker nirvana
10 Mt Sinai – Scale the towering heights of this holy mountain to witness a sunrise of truly biblical proportions
11 Red Sea – Don your scuba gear and explore this vast and pristine underwater world of coral mountains teeming with marine life
12 Aswan – Watch the sunset over one of the most beautiful stretches of the Nile at Aswan, ancient Egypt’s frontier town, and still a place where you can feel yourself in Africa
13 Nile River – Board a felucca, dahabiyya or floating hotel to cruise on the river of beauty and history, still very much the trip of a lifetime
14 Luxor East Bank – Explore Luxor and Karnak temples, two of the world’s most impressive and beautiful religious complexes
15 Luxor West Bank – Revel in life and death: the tombs and funerary temples of some of Egypt’s greatest rulers and the simple life of Egypts’s 21st-century farmers
Egypt, at the northeast corner of Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, is bordered on the west by Libya, on the south by the Sudan, and on the east by the Red Sea and Israel. It is nearly one and one-half times the size of Texas. Egypt is divided into two unequal, extremely arid regions by the landscape’s dominant feature, the northward-flowing Nile River. The Nile starts 100 mi (161 km) south of the Mediterranean and fans out to a sea front of 155 mi between the cities of Alexandria and Port Said.