Experience Egypt the alternative way!Posted on: 19 January 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring
It's one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, but Egypt can be much more than just the pyramids!
Egypt is a tourist hotspot, which often means busy guided tours, miles of queues and a series of identical snaps to prove it. So why not head off the beaten track and try out these unusual Egyptian sites.
Instead of a camel ride in the desert, why not try....
Birqash Camel Market (Souk al-Gamaal), Cairo
Every Friday morning Egypt’s largest camel market sees hundreds of the dromedarys gathering to be sold for tourism and meat. Although the market is some 35km north west of Cairo - a 40 minute taxi or minibus ride - the trip there is nothing compared to the journey the camels have made to reach the market; some will have walked from as far as the Western deserts of Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Aswan. The sight of hundreds of camels being haggled-over, bought and sold is both unique and unmissable and provides an exceptional view into the background of an animal synonymous with North Africa.
Instead of scuba diving in the Red Sea, why not try...
Camping in the Western Desert
After the shark attacks off the coast of Egypt, scuba diving isn't number one on most people's holiday to do lists! Leave your hotel behind for the chance to sleep out under the stars and among the sand dunes and rock formations of Egypt’s stunning Western Desert. The region occupies approximately two-thirds of the country and the area was all once underwater, resulting in the snow-like wind-swept stone monoliths and fossilised whale bones of the White Desert, as well as the volcano-shaped mountains of the Black Desert. Be prepared for hostile landscapes, fluctuating temperatures and a distinct lack of luxury, but with magical sun-rises and clear star-lit night skies this will be an unforgettable experience.
Tour companies, such as Western Desert Tours, can take you by 4x4, camel or even foot through the region’s continuously changing terrains and vast sandy plains. This is a fantastic option for a one to six-day trip that is a far-flung stretch from the typical beaten path.
Instead of the beaches of Sharm el Sheikh, why not try....
The Western Oases
The Western desert isn’t all dry sand and rocks; it is dotted with five stunning oasis sites - Siwa, Baharia, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga - each of which has its own fascinating attractions. For example, Siwa is 80km long and is filled with lush landscapes of salt lakes, mineral springs and farmland. It is also home to the historical Temple of Amun, in which Alexander the Great is said to have consulted the Oracle to confirm that he was the son of Zeus.
Arguably the most beautiful of the Western Oases is the fertile Dakhla Oasis, which consists of several communities along a string of sub-oases. The area boasts leafy palm groves, orchards and market gardens, as well as some fascinating historic sites such as the deserted 12th-century Islamic town of El-Qasr and the temple at Deir el-Hagar.
Instead of a visit to The Valley of the Kings, why not try...
Abydos is a prominent sacred city that is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites of ancient Egypt. It doesn’t tend to attract the same mainstream crowds and large tours as most Egyptian sites, which are usually situated closer to the Nile. Located in the low desert, Abydos was the site of an Ancient Egyptian city and temple complex that was inhabited for thousands of years. It has also served as a necropolis for the earliest Egyptian royalty, and was later a pilgrimage centre for the worship of Osiris. The 100-tonne limestone pillars of the stunning Great Temple of Abydos and structure of the Temple of Seti I are considered highly unusual in style, due to their smooth appearance and beautiful chambers.
Instead of the Great Pyramids of Giza, why not try...
The Pyramid Field of Dahshur
To experience the might of the pyramids, but without the crowds and tourist buses of Giza, Dahshur offers some impressive examples of ancient Egyptian construction. The Red Pyramid is the third largest pyramid in the country at 105m high and one of the few whose chambers can be entered and explored by visitors. Also situated at Dahshur is the majestic Bent Pyramid, named for its unusual wonky appearance owing to an unexplained change of angle half way through its construction. It is also the only Egyptian pyramid to still retain the majority of its limestone casing, providing an insightful example of the original appearance of all pyramids.
For great deals and cheap holidays in Egypt check out www.lowcostholidays.com for flights and hotels and then go exploring!
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