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Off-the-beaten-path Egypt tours: Exploring lesser-known destinations

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Off-the-beaten-path Egypt tours: Exploring lesser-known destinations 1

The Hidden Gem of Siwa Oasis

The vast majority of Egypt’s population is concentrated along the Nile river, leaving much of the country’s Western Desert vacant of human habitation. However, the Siwa Oasis continues to thrive as a green haven in the midst of arid sand dunes. This isolated destination is perfect for those wanting to escape the crowds and explore a less-traveled part of Egypt.

  • Visit the Temple of the Oracle of Amun, an ancient holy site where Alexander the Great sought guidance from the oracle.
  • Relax in the soothing waters of Cleopatra’s Bath, a natural pool with a view of the oasis and mountains beyond.
  • Take a stroll through the Shali fortress, the abandoned center of Siwa’s old town in which desert sand is being used to reconstruct the town.
  • Siwa Oasis truly stands out for its unique nature and the strong traditions in agriculture and crafts, including the hand-woven Siwan rugs.

    Off-the-beaten-path Egypt tours: Exploring lesser-known destinations 2

    The Beautiful Monastery of St. Anthony

    Many tourists tend to overlook the Coptic monasteries of Egypt’s Eastern Desert. However, there’s a unique sense of peacefulness that comes with visiting these monolithic, centuries-old structures. One monastery, in particular, St. Antony’s Monastery, is well worth the trip.

  • Explore the ancient library, which houses a collection of over 700 ancient manuscripts written in Coptic, Arabic, and Greek.
  • Admire the stunning frescoes adorning the walls of the monastery’s churches, including one depicting the holy family’s flight to Egypt.
  • Visit the nearby cave where St. Antony spent years in isolation, fighting off temptations and demons.
  • St. Antony’s Monastery is recognized as the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery in the world.

    The Undiscovered Beauty of Fayoum Oasis

    Fayoum Oasis is just an hour’s drive from Cairo but feels worlds away. It’s a peaceful oasis town that has been inhabited for over 11,000 years, and it remains one of Egypt’s least-visited destinations. Exploring this oasis town gives a sense of the traditional lives of farming communities in Egypt’s Western Desert.

  • Visit the famous Wadi El-Hitan or the “Valley of the Whales,” which is home to over 400 fossils of ancient whale and sea creatures.
  • Take a donkey ride around the lake or mountains of Fayoum to see its incredible natural beauty.
  • Explore the ancient Pyramid of Hawara and the Labyrinth, which is believed to be the site of a brilliantly constructed underground tomb of the pharaoh Amenemhet III.
  • Today, about 130 islands on the northern side of Fayoum’s own lake host a variety of bird species and serve as the perfect spot for bird watching.

    The Idyllic Mountain Village of St. Catherine

    Located at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt’s south, St. Catherine is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure-seeking travelers. Visitors will be captivated by this isolated mountain village’s sense of peace and protective atmosphere.

  • Visit the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Catherine, founded in the 4th century and containing some of the world’s oldest Byzantine icons.
  • Take a guided hike up Mount Sinai, to witness the stunning sunrise atop the mountain where the Ten Commandments were received.
  • Wander around the charming town of St. Catherine, enjoying the clean mountain air and quiet scenery.
  • The monastery lies at the foot of Gebel Musa, believed to be the site of the biblical Mount Sinai. Its internationally recognized treasures have made it into the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    The Enduring Charm of Islamic Cairo

    The gleaming temples of Luxor and bustling bazaars of Cairo are often the focus of these popular cities, while the “Old Islamic Cairo” is in turn an equally interesting and inspiring side of these captivating locales. If you want to know more about the subject covered in this article, Ponder this, where you’ll uncover extra information and fascinating insights on the subject.

  • Explore the Saladin Citadel, a hilltop fortress with a 12th-century palace and several stunning outdoor terraces.
  • Visit the ancient Ibn Tulun Mosque, one of Egypt’s oldest mosques sharing its walls with the Gayer-Anderson Museum, two fully-restored homes offering insight into the life and history of Cairo during the 20th century.
  • Stroll through the infamous Khan el-Khalili, one of the world’s oldest Arab markets dating back to the 14th century.
  • The bustling markets and serene Islamic architecture of Old Cairo show the unique blend of cultures and history that has made Cairo what it is today.

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