Egypt is far too often seen through the lens of a tourists camera on a whistle stop tour of it’s major sites, before being whisked back to their air conditioned resorts and all inclusive drinks, but to truly see Egypt you have to match her pace.
Egypt is not a land that is prone to rush herself. She is as slow and relaxed as her antiquity demands. The Nile itself, a gushing, raging force of nature as it passes through Sudan and the Nubian desert, slows its pace as it reaches upper Egypt itself. Even Mother Nature herself is unable to withstand the command of the Egyptian gods to slow down, soak in the majesty of the country you are in and truly savour its unique feel and flavour.
Because there is nowhere else on earth quite like Egypt.
Sailing down the Nile is one of my most memorable travel experiences, but I’m not talking about the usual floating hotels filled with package tourists from Thomas Cook, I’m talking boarding a traditional Fellucca and spending a day or two simply floating between one stop and the next, and then repeating the experience when I wanted to move on to somewhere new. No hurried itineraries, no organised excursions or activities, this was seeing a part of Egypt the way the ancient Egyptians would have seen it. Lazing on the deck of a wooden boat and occasionally dipping my hand in the warm water as I did nothing more than enjoy the fertile landscape around one of the most iconic rivers in the world, read a book or discover exactly why the ancient Egyptians revered the night sky so much as I slept on deck.
The simple joys of slowing down in a world that is constantly demanding that you move faster.
And all this took was heading down to the riverfront in Luxor, Aswan or any of the stops in between, and bartering passage with one of the boats captains.
Even when on land, visiting the ancient sites requires more than a quick stop and a photograph. You can’t just turn up, take a few snaps for Instagram and then be out again in five minutes. You will miss the very things, the very experiences that you have come here to see.
By turning up at each monument, at each temple and ruin and ancient site on your own, away from the tour groups and crowds and touts that inevitably follow them you get a truly special experience that is unique to you alone. You get a chance to see for yourself the splendour that once made Egypt the superpower of the known world, you get drawn into the romance of the mythology, the awe inducing magnificence of the sheer antiquity and the scale of the structures themselves.
I have always believed that slow travel is the best way to see the world, and nowhere is this more self evident than when passing through some of the greatest archaeological and cultural sites in antiquity. Egypt has been one of the worlds greatest tourist attractions for over 3000 years, and nothing in all that time has done a single thing to reduce that reputation.
So ditch the tour groups and give it the time it truly deserves, Egypt will reward you tenfold.
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