In case the pyramids don’t blow you away…
The pyramids are definitely a wonder to behold—while most people are captivated by their size and history, others may be left underwhelmed. Though the site may not always live up to everyone’s expectations (thank you very much Aladdin), some may even wonder, why visit at all?
Egypt is an ancient and beautiful place steeped in history and defining cultures, which have cultivated it into the popular tourist attraction it is today. So if the pyramids don’t blow you away, here are three Egyptian experiences that will (literally) take your breath away!
1. Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel temple complex is a sight that makes you marvel at what the human race can achieve. Carved into a solid rock cliff, the two temples were constructed during the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II around 13th century BCE, and took nearly two decades to complete. Colossal statues depicting Ramses and his queen Nefertari flank the entrances of the temples, with the larger of the two temples reaching 30m (99ft) in height.
In the 1960’s, the Egyptian government planned to build a dam on the Nile River, which would have seen both temples submerged under water. Thankfully, UNESCO stepped in and worked with a team of archaeologists to move the temples, piece by piece, to a man-made mountain on a plateau of cliffs close by. This unbelievable operation cost over $40m and will leave your mind baffled as to how they achieved this great feat.
Here’s hoping you are a morning person, since buses to this amazing monument depart from Aswan at 4AM! Thankfully the journey is only takes 3 hours, the perfect amount of time to get a few extra hours of sleep along the way. Make sure you bring some tissues to wipe the dust from your chin, as you pick your jaw up off the ground!
To book your tour to this amazing site, be sure to check out Aswan Individual.
2. Blue Hole
A relaxing sanctuary off the coast of the Red Sea, Dahab is an ideal retreat for those traveling through Egypt. Famous for cats (that’s another story) and the Blue Hole, Dahab is not to be missed on your trip! A natural sinkhole that disappears into a bottomless paradise, the Blue Hole is a diving and snorkeling site surrounded by walls of coral, rivaling the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. One of the best snorkeling experiences on the globe, the blue hole is a MUST for anyone traveling though Egypt. Head upstream and let the current take you on a magical snorkeling journey or scuba dive and descend directly into the depths of the hole.
Many hotels and hostels in Dahab offer PADI courses for those wanting to learn to dive. Do take care though, as many ambitious divers have lost their lives in their quest to reach the bottom of the hole. When you are done, be sure to thank the locals for the experience by indulging in a burger and shake as you emerge from the best snorkeling experience of your life!
For an awesome snorkeling and scuba diving experience, check out Blue Hole Travel.
Karnak Temple is the second-largest religious site in the world (after Angkor Wat, Cambodia). Now an open-air museum, the site, which was once a city of temples, spans two square kilometers. A visit to Karnak Temple will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into ancient Egypt. Get lost in the maze of man-made pillars and pylons as you wander around this historical marvel. Let your mind piece together what this beautiful site must have looked like in the 16th century BCE. Temples once adorned with gold and jewels have been stripped or decayed over time. The temple complex was constructed over a period of 1,300 years, with 30 successive pharaohs adding their own touches along the way. Located approx. 2.5km from the city of Luxor, don’t be surprised if you get hit with a sense of déjà vu on arrival. Karnak temple has been featured in Hollywood blockbusters, such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the classic James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
Most tour companies run day trips to Karnak, but public transport, including buses, taxis or the more traditional caleche (horse and cart) are also available. If you happen to visit at night, don’t miss the incredible Karnak Sound & Light show!
For more information on Karnak Temple, including detailed maps and apps, check out Discovering Egypt.