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LAND-BASED EGYPTIt would be remiss to travel to Egypt and only experience the Red Sea when there is so much history right on your doorstep. Why not combine your coastal holiday with a River Nile cruise, or daytrips from your diving base of operations to one of the world-famous historical sites?The SphinxValley of the Kings
The UNESCO World Heritage Site Valley of the Kings is a valley on the west bank of the River Nile, opposite Luxor, where for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock-cut tombs were excavated for the Pharoahs and powerful nobles of the period, including perhaps most famously, the ‘boy king’ Tutankhamun. It is one of the most-famous archaeological sites in the world and has to be seen firsthand to be appreciated fully.
The temple of Karnak, near Luxor, was known as Ipet-isu – or ‘most select of places’ – by the ancient Egyptians, and is a city of temples built over 2,000 years ago. This derelict remnant is still capable of overshadowing many wonders of the modern world. The Hypostyle Hall, covering an area of 5,000 sq metres and featuring 146 massive columns, is still the largest room of any religious building in the world, and the great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big that St Peter’s, Milan and Notre Dame Cathedrals could fit comfortably within its walls!
The very small village of Abu-Simbel lies 280km south of Aswan, and only 40km north of the Sudanese border. Even though it is home to several hotels, it probably wouldn’t factor as a holiday destination if it wasn’t for the majestic Abu-Simbel Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to Ramses II and Nefertari, the world-famous temples will take your breath away.
To fully discover the ancient wonders of Egypt, a cruise on the River Nile is truly an unforgettable experience. Most cruises sail between the historical majesty of Luxor and Aswan, and within this stretch of the Nile is the world’s most-intensive concentration of temples, tombs and palaces, constructed over the span of 4,000 years. This includes the temples of Abydos, Dendara, Karnak, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and Abu Simbel, each conceived for their respective deities, further to the tombs in the Theban Necropolis within the Valley of the Kings across the river from Luxor.
Delve into historyThe Pyramids and Sphinx
The three majestic pyramids sitting on the Giza plateau outside Cairo are a world-renowned archaeological site, and the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (and the only one to remain largely intact). Together with the Great Sphinx, this array of monuments and structures is truly awe-inspiring, and one of those places that has to be seen firsthand to really appreciate.Archaeological wonders and the River Nile