Bucket List Series: The Gift of the Nile

You know this land by its pyramids, pharaohs, deserts and camels.


Yes, these concoct the very zest of quintessential Egypt. After all, Egypt is, in all her glory, a flavourful synthesis of the contemporary and the time-honoured. 




a peek into egypt's hallowed past

camel walking on desert


Surely, it comes as no surprise that the storied Pyramids of Giza, taking a well-earned spot in the Seven Wonders of the World, should be a top choice. Seeing the monstrous structures is truly like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.


Perched on the edge of the Sahara, these towering weathered limestone structures give a glimpse into their formerly regal facade. Entering the musty heat of the elaborate tomb chambers of past royalty is a heady feeling. 


Before you leave, don't forget to get a shot of yourself 'air-kissing' the mighty Sphinx!


Valley of the Kings; credit to Lonely Planet


Alternatively, the Valley of the Kings affords a more colourful experience amid its vast burial complex. Awash with vibrant shades, paintings, hieroglyphs and inscriptions blanket the walls. And they tell vivid stories of Egypt's ancient rituals.




the romance of hot air balloons in luxor


Soar on the wings of the wind. 


Gliding through the skies within a rectangular basket of a brightly coloured hot air balloon is a childhood dream come true.


Well, there is hardly anything like the wind ruffling your hair as you skim the tips of mountain peaks and the Valley of the Kings. Watch the sunset drip orange into River Nile and the lush green of Luxor's river banks transform into the ochre sands and tombs.


Luxor is, unbelievably, even more breathtaking from the heavens - a truly fresh angle.




going underwater; diving in dahab

credit to Mal B


The enigmatic waters off Sinai Peninsula's southeast coast conceal an underwater realm. 


Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, Dahab has become a prized dive destination for divers worldwide. Warmer waters with stunning long-distance visibility and unbleached reefs characterise the Red Sea surrounding its shores.


The Blue Hole was its original claim to fame. Lined with incredible walls of radiant coral, it is an essentially bottomless pit you descend into via a narrow opening. Then, mesmerising deep blue swallows you whole.


And then, there is the sunken wreckage of the formidable SS Thistlegorm. A wealth of timeworn cargo from motorbikes to rifles adorn its decks, all preserved in wispy frills of coral.


It is a prized opportunity to dive into a forgotten time capsule.




idyllic felucca ride down river nile

River Nile; credit to Rod Waddington


River Nile winds its way through Egypt in a lazily meandering fashion, past grassy mountains and major cities like Aswan and Luxor. 


What better guide along the Nile than the flow of the current? Within the traditional wooden sailboat that is the felucca, the cloth strung overhead forms a shaded canopy that the midday heat will have you find relief beneath. 


man standing near sailing boat


The riverbanks yield some of Egypt's most glorious sites including the Unfinished Obelisk of Aswan, the Temples of Philae, Horus, Khnum and Karnak. 


Floating down the River Nile is the ultimate way to see it all.




lost in cairo; khan el khalili bazaar

Credit to Intercontinental Travel


The mishmash of sights and sounds assaults your senses from the onset.


Enter the network of labyrinthine lanes within the Middle East's oldest open air market, Khan El Khalili Bazaar. 


Beneath arched doorways, its medieval courtyards are lined with haphazard displays of goods galore and emanate a warm lively buzz reminiscent of an old Arab souk. The tang of Arabian spices wafts, loud shop vendors call out their wares, customers engage in energetic bargaining. 


From statuettes and jewellery to traditional garb and brass antiques, everything is up for haggling - a truly whimsical shopping experience. Prepare to get lost within the alleys and emerge with your hands full!


the El-Tannoura Heritage dance; credit to Tarekheikal


A flurry of colours and beats, catch the vivacious El-Tannoura show that takes place at Wekalet El-Ghouri every Saturday.


Every now and then, the Muizz Street lights up with myriad carnivals for visitors to simply soak up the atmosphere. And in January, the Mawlid Al-Hussein celebrations cook up a frenzy as you jostle with hundreds in festive spirit.




a holy hike up mount sinai

Mount Sinai; credit to Mohammed Moussa


This is where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments - a groundbreaking moment in religious history. 


More than the sweeping panorama of rocky peaks melting into the sunrise yonder, the weight of the location's significance sits heavily. 


The ancient monastery of St. Catherine marks the beginning of your ascent. Huff and puff your way through the vistas of craggy mountains and deep ravines. And look out for trail markers of the mountain's glorious religious significance as you go along. 


At the summit, the utter tranquility brought on the back of the breeze is to die for, especially as you bathe in the warm glow of the sun's rays.


Finally, as the sun dips beneath the mountainous silhouettes, the steep 3750 Steps of Penitence poses a final challenge as you descend Sinai. 

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