Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Green Fields of Fayoum

Fayoum Oasis

The Green fields in Fayoum

Flora, fauna and pharaonic treasures make Cairo’s closest oasis the perfect escape

Tiny flatfish sold by the highway, iridescent green bee-eaters swooping over tangled telephone wires and mud-brick pyramids in the midst of farmland – in Fayoum Oasis, ancient culture and abundant nature combine for the perfect weekend adventure.

Under two hours drive from the capital, the area is home to some of the country’s most interesting wildlife. The reason is the oasis’ unique habitat. Connected to the Nile by a canal, the saltwater Lake Qaroon provides food for a huge number of birds, including various species of herons, waders and in the winter months, flamingoes. Lake Qaroon itself used to be filled by the floodwaters of the Nile, and was freshwater.

However, in 2,300 BC the channel that linked the valley with the Fayoum depression was made into the Bahr Yussef canal, constructed to provide a permanent supply of Nile water and silt to the farmland in the area. The lake provided a way to store water during high floods for around 2,000 years, but when the nearest branch of the Nile silted up, Lake Moeris (as it was then called) receded to its present size.

With a limited amount of freshwater coming in and evaporation from the desert sun, salinity increased, and the lake became saltwater. Nevertheless, certain species of fish have found the lake a perfect habitat, and every day fishermen on the calm waters of Qaroon pull out flatfish, Grey Mullet and Tilapia to sell on the roadsides and in the markets of Fayoum City and Cairo. Hundreds of canals now link the area to the Nile Valley.

As a visitor, if you are using public transport, your first stop will probably be Fayoum City. While it does have a certain unusual charm, owing to the canal running through the middle of town and the wooden waterwheels, the ‘city” is a fairly unremarkable provincial center.

There are hotels in town, and for an easy weekend trip to see the archeological sites, staying there would be a good option. Just don’t ask the tourist police for help. Despite the oasis’ peaceful reputation, they are overeager to protect foreigners; at the same time they have a remarkable lack of knowledge about:Fayoum itself. If che Courisc police do meet you, you’ll likely find yourself negotiating your itinerary with the truck full of cops assigned to follow you around.

Apart from a look at the creaking water-wheels all over the oasis, there are a number of dilapidated pyramids to climb around. Set among lush greenery, the Pyramid of Hawara, 12 kilometers southeast of Fayoum City, is attributed to Pharaoh Amenemhat III, the twelfth-dynasty king who along with his father Sesostris III was responsible for much of the ancient irrigation work in the area. The mud-brick structure, originally coated with limestone, is barely even a pyramid any more, but if half the fun of ancient ruins is climbing around the rubble, imagining what they used to be instead of being told, then visiting Hawara is a lot of fun.

The Pyramid of Meidum is found 32 kilometers north of Fayoum City, and although it is also very run-down, its unique structure is worth studying, as it was the first ‘true’ pyramid attempted in Ancient Egypt, as opposed to a step pyramid. When antiquities fatigue becomes unbearable, it’s time to get down to the lake. At the village of Shakshouk, a row of restaurants lines the dirt corniche. The menu is fairly similar in all of the establishments – fish and shrimp from the lake, fried or grilled, served with bread, tehina and salad. Highly recommended is the Grey Mullet, with a surprisingly tasty meaty flesh, grilled with spicy tomato salsa on top.

Order with fried shrimp, and watch the fishermen on the lake and the locals passing by on the corniche as you eat. With a car, you will be able to visit the more out-of-the-way spots in the oasis, whether you want to just park and walk through the verdant farms (make sure to ask permission from whoever’s working the land) or drive out to the protected area of Wadi El-Rayan, where two massive artificial lakes with a small waterfall between them have created an oasis south of Fayoum for migrating birds and stressed Cairenes.

 Fayoum’s prehistoric history is very much on the surface. The Petrified Forest and Valley of the Whales (Wadi El-Hitan) are as excitingns they sound. Ac Wadi El-Hi-tan, 44 kilometers west of the lakes of Wadi El-Rayan, the fossilized remains of a group of whales lie on the sands, in a place that seems it could never have been completely covered by water. And while trees are not nearly as cool as whales, the Petrified Forest (the fossilized remains of trees, north of Lake Qaroon) is still a unique sight. Even if you don’t visit any of these sights, or stay overnight in Fayoum, the oasis is the perfect place for a day trip by car from Cairo. Driving on the tarmac road through the dunes in Wadi El-Rayan, picnics and horse riding by the lake and wandering along narrow paths through sugar cane fields is why visitors come back to Fayoum.

Source: Egypt Today.

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Day tour in Khan el-Khalili in Cairo


Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khaliliis a major souk in the Old City of Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.
The souk dates back to 1382, when Emir Djaharks el-Khalili built a large caravanserai in Cairo under the Burji Mamluk Sultan Barquq; the eponymous khan is still extant. By the time of Barquq, the first Circassian Mamluk Sultan (1382- 1399 A.D.) much reconstruction needed to be done within the walls of the city in order to repair the damage incurred as a result of the Black Death. When Barquq started his madrassa in Bayn el-Qasrayn, markets were rebuilt, and Khan el-Khalili was established. It was also known Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman Empire.
In addition to shops, there are several coffee houses, restaurants, and street food vendors distributed throughout the market. The coffeeshops are generally small and quite traditional, serving Arabic coffee and usually offering shisha. The al-Hussein Mosque is also in Khan el-Khalili; Al-Azhar University and its mosque are not far away.
Naguib Mahfouz’s novel Midaq Alley (1947) is set in an alley in Khan el-Khalili.

To know more visit this place to enjoy arabic atmosphere

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the Egyptian desert is the Sun Seekers’ Heaven

Sunshine and wide open spaces are the cure for city-weary travelers


the Egyptian desert

The Sun, space and opportunity to leave behind the crowded high-tech world are what attract adventure lovers to the boundless stretches of Egyptian desert, one of the loneliest and unspoiled places on the planet.
You don’t need to be a veteran explorer to find out more about the desert’s mysteries; a day trip to the Egyptian desert lets you experience the beauty of the desert without committing to a more demanding trip.
Egypt has five oases in the Western, or Libyan Desert — Kharga, Dakhla, Bahariya, Farafra and Siwa, where you can hook up with a hotel or safari company for guided outings. Dakhla, the farthest of the five, is an 11-hour drive from Cairo.
Kharga, the southernmost oasis and the one nearest the Nile Valley, is the capital of New Valley Governorate. The oasis was known as a stop for the caravans coming from and going to Sudan carrying ivory and slaves. About 250 kilometers from Luxor, the oasis has an amazing old city, with very narrow streets and one-story mud houses constructed using palm tree trunks. The oasis museum — open Saturday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — contains Islamic and Roman artifacts.

Moving from Kharga to Dakhla, the 200-kilometer drive is a journey in itself. The desert seems like a wild painting with unique compositions of colored rocks and hills. The oasis itself is an extensive patch of farmland and palm groves between mountains and desert. Dakhla is home to a few ecolodges, and most organize safari trips into the desert.
Aside from the sun and hot springs (found in all the oases), the oasis is full of ancient sites including Mout El-Kharab  (Temples of Death), an Islamic graveyard where you can see skeletons through little moles in the walls. Sheikh Bashandy Maqam, Kanteeka Temple, and many other temples from the Islamic, Roman and Pharaonic eras are also open to visitors.
Situated between Dakhla and Bahariya is the smallest and most isolated oasis, Farafra, closer to the Libyan border than the Nile Valley. The majority of its residents are native Bedouins, most of whom live in the northern part of the oasis, where you will find one of Farafra’s main attractions, Badr’s Museum. The museum showcases artist Badr Abdel Moghny’s drawings, paintings and sand sculptures. Farafra is also an excellent launch point for a camel trek into the White Desert, most famous for its mushroom-shaped rock formations. Other spots worth a visit include Qasr El-Farafra, the old mud-built town, and the hot sulfur spring of Bir Setta. Make sure you wear a dark swim-suit as the high concentration of minerals in the water, although healthy for your skin, may stain your swimsuit.
The road to Bahariya from Farafra, after passing through the White Desert, then runs through the Black Desert, which gets its color from the iron and minerals in the rocks.
Many think of Bahariya, 350 kilometers from Cairo, as one oasis, but it is actually a group of oases. Bawiti, the main one, is home to the “golden mummies” with their gilded coverings, Pharaonic era tombs and the only known temple dedicated to Alexander the Great. The oasis itself is full of camping areas (you’ll need to get permission to stay here) and greenery that can make a perfect weekend destination for desert lovers. As the desert continues to draw more visitors, tailored trips are increasingly available from a number of tour operators. One specialty trip offers tourists Arabic lessons over a campfire in the desert. The Arabic teaching trips usually last more than 10 days, giving you the chance to explore the language and the land as part of a loaded schedule. Belly dancing classes are also offered with a professional teacher and musicians.
Be Ready

Enjoying the wide open spaces and drifting away from the urban world can be just the break you need. That said, be sure to get on the road early to maximize your time in the daylight; getting lost in the desert at night is not a risk you want to take. Safety is important in the desert too, so travel in a group of at least three four-wheel-drive vehicles to ensure your safety. While spontaneous hikes and exploration are encouraged, be sure that everyone knows how to return to a preplanned location or clearly marked meeting spot. No one should wander off on their own under any circumstances.
Make sure you bring plenty of water: It gets powerfully hot in the desert, even in winter, and dehydration can sneak up on you or your car before you know it. If you are doing serious off-roading, bring at least one GPS unit, extra batteries, and preferably a standard compass as well. The mobile networks generally don’t extend into the desert, so walkie-talkies are the best way to communicate between vehicles.
The desert is not a playground for the untrained driver, and even the most experienced safari guides regularly get stuck in the sand. Before you take your 4WD out to play, take some courses in off-road driving and land navigation techniques, or just hire an expert to do the driving for you.

You can try this adventure tour to the Egyptian desert through our programs in this link:

Taken from Egypt Today Magazine

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What do you know about Philae Temple in Egypt the Ancient Egyptian Temple


Philae Temple in egypt

Philae Temple location: It is situated 5 km from Aswan train station. Who built it? It was built by some of the Ptolemaic kings such as Ptolemy 8th and Ptolemy 12th.

Why was it built? The temple was built on the honor of goddess Isis the chief deity of the island.


The Philae temple was reorganized on the island of Agilkia as it was on Philae Island. The construction of this temple consists of the Mammisi, which is in the center and the ambulatory is behind it, then there are two pylons to the north and to the south.

To the left of the smaller pylon, there is the main temple of goddess Isis. To the right of the large pylon, there is the long open court which extends to the south of the island.

Ptolemy I made this island to be a cult center of goddess Isis to create a struggle between the priests of goddess Isis – which was the goddess of Philae temple – and the priests of god Khunum. According to this struggle, he could be able to know what happened in the southern borders of the country.


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Vacation with the Egyptian Ancients

Luxor and Aswan provide an escape to the ancient worldluxor31

It might seem a bit difficult to squeeze a visit to Luxor or Aswan in a weekend, but if you enjoy seemingly endless train rides punctuated by beautiful scenery and glimpses of bucolic Nile-side life, then you should enjoy the 12-hour train ride from Cairo. Two trains that depart from Giza seven days a week. No matter how you get there, your final destination has incredible natural scenery and sacred monuments enough to fit a weekend, or if you’re lucky and can win your boss over, a week-long adventure.


For many tourists, the Karnak Temple, with its mammoth hypostyle hall of 134 columns in 16 rows, is the highlight of Luxor. The main difference between Karnak and other monuments in Egypt is the length of time over which it was built. An estimated 30 pharaohs contributed to its construction, which started in the twentieth century BC. For nearly 2,000 years, subsequent pharaohs added to their predecessors’ work, bringing Karnak to reach a size, complexity and diversity that has not been seen anywhere else in the region or the world. This complex covers a total area of almost 100 hectares.

Karnak is best done in two trips, one during the day to truly appreciate the massive stonework and structure; and the other a night visit for the Sound and Light Show. The latter offers a concise history lesson about Karnak’s major landmarks in a far more entertaining package than your grade-school studies. Shows are available in English, German, Italian, French, Russian, Japanese and Arabic.

The standard guided tour of Thebes includes stops at the Colossi of Memnon, the Valley of the Kings (one ticket allows entrance to three tombs), Valley of the Queens (one ticket allows entrance to two tombs) and either Medinat Habu or Deir El-Bahri (Temple of Queen Hatshepsut), plus a couple of papyrus and alabaster shops where your guide will undoubtedly tell you he’s getting a special price just for you.

First-time visitors would do well with a guided tour to get the lay of the land, but history buffs and archeology buffs should look into setting up their own itineraries either alone or with a private guide.
A good way to escape the crowds is to visit the less popular sights that many tourists and package tours ignore. The Tombs of the Nobles have beautiful and well-preserved wall paintings, while at the Valley of Artisans you can see the former home of the workers and craftsmen who served the pharaohs.
Luxor also has some of the best Pharaonic museums in the nation. The Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum are both well maintained with well-labeled and artistically lit displays. You can see the mummies of Ramses I and Ahmes I in the Luxor Museum without purchasing an additional ticket, unlike the royal mummy rooms at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Luxor Museum also has a excellent collection of statues, including several found in a cachette at Luxor Temple.
Ruins may not seem terribly romantic, but after a long day of sightseeing, a horse-drawn carriage along the Corniche or a felucca at sunset offer distinct possibilities in that department.
In terms of accommodation, Luxor suits all budgets from zero- to five-star. If you have the time, set up one half-day tour per day: Four hours of tombs and temples isn’t so daunting when you know a Nile-side hotel pool is waiting.


About 230 kilometers upriver is Aswan, with its scenic sunsets and clear waters. If there ever a winter destination in this country, Aswan is it: During the summer, the Upper Egyptian heat is unbearable and sticky, the city at its best from October to April, when temperatures are cool enough to let you enjoy a walk on the corniche or a felucca ride at the break of dawn.
Compared to its neighbor to the north, Aswan has fewer historical sights, although they are equally as breathtaking. Chief among them are Elephantine Island, Kitchener’s Island and Philae Island.
Elephantine Island, a former ivory trading post that also earned its name from the boulders on its shore that resemble bathing elephants, is the largest island in Aswan. The Nubian villages and ruins here date back to the Pre-Ehnastic period. From Elephantine’s northwest corner you can see Kitchener’s Island, a botanical garden filled with exotic plants and trees imported from all around the world The island is named after Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who led a successful British campaign in Sudan against Mahdist forces in the 1890s. This place is perfect for a lazy afternoon, a nap under a tree or a picnic with friends.

Elephantine Island also has a splendid view of the Aga Khan Mausoleum, the final resting place of the forty-eighth imam of Ismaili Muslims, on the west bank. The building was constructed in 1950. Even though the mausoleum is not open to visitors, you can still arrange a trek up to the top of the hill and enjoy the incredible view of the valley.

Other west-bank sites worth visiting are the seventh-century Monastery of St. Simeon, open daily 7am-5pm. The structure stretches over two levels, which include a church, shops and breathtaking views. You might want to stop at the Pharaonic tombs of the nobles Mekhu, Sabni, Sarenput II, Harkhuf, Pepinakht and Sarenpit I if you haven’t yet had your fill of Ancient Egypt.

One of the tourist standards is a visit to the High Dam, not very aesthetic but a refreshing change from the Pharaohs. Construction on the 11,811-foot long dam which provides irrigation and electricity. While on top of the dam, you can see the Kalabsha Temple on the edge of Lake Nasser stretching to the south.
Far to the south on the shores of Lake Nasser are the temples of Abu Simbel. Hotels and tour agents can help set up an all-day bus excursion to the temples, which might also include visits to Aswan’s antiquities. Egypt air also offers Aswan-Abu Simbel flights with transportation to the temples and a couple of hours to visit.

In the lake between the High Dam and the Aswan Dam are the Greco-Roman temples of Philae Island. The temples were rescued by a UNESCO project, which moved many of the endangered sites to a higher and safer ground. This temple, dedicated to three of the most powerful and dominant deities of ancient Egyptian culture (Isis, Osiris and Horus) symbolizes their tragic story of murder, betrayal and magic.

With the greenery edging the island and the blue backdrop of the sky, Philae, reached by motorboat, is one of the prettiest antiquities sites in the whole country. The temples also host a Sound and Light show that tours you through the temples..
While in Nubia, eat at the Nubian Restaurant. Usually the meal consists of a choice of chicken or fish with a curry-like sauce served with rice and flat bread, followed by a show with Sufi dancers and musicians; dinner and show cost about LE 100 per person, ect.

We can arrange to you a program to see all sites in Luxor, Aswan & Abu Simbel. You can visit this link to choose you favorite tour:

Source: Egypt Today Magazine

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