81. Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza
The reason most people visit Cairo is to see the Pyramids at Giza, the only survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The three main pyramids were built for Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus, pharaohs from the fourth dynasty. Standing sentinel over the entire site is the Sphinx, which has the face of a man and the body of a lion. It was carved 4500 years ago from a single piece of stone and is so architecturally precise, it is just 4cm out at its base! It is 80 metres long and stands 22 metres tall.
Luxor, or Thebes as it was known, was Egypt's capital, where high priests and kings would congregate to worship their top deity, the god Amun. The hypostyle hall is the largest of its kind in the world, the scale is breathtaking. There are 134 columns, each covered in inscriptions revealing a moment in history 3-4000 years ago, commissioned by King Seti I and completed by Egypt's most famous ruler, Ramses II.
The majority of the temple was buried in sand for nearly 1000 years and its importance, like most of Egypt's ancient sites, was only revealed to the world during the 19th century. It can have its drawbacks. It's usually very crowded and the hawkers and touts are extremely pushy, described as the most annoying in Egypt.
83. Cruise the Nile to Aswan
Aswan, the southernmost city in Egypt, has been important for centuries. A garrison town, a frontier city and gateway to Africa, the now-inundated land of Nubia was a prosperous marketplace at the crossroads of the ancient elephant and camel caravans carrying spices, gold, ivory and other treasures. More recently well, since the early 19th century it became a popular winter resort. Its close proximity to Sudan gives it an ambience more African than Egyptian.
The city's Corniche is one of Egypt's most attractive boulevards. There you can visit Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic, Islamic and modern monuments, a good museum, magnificent botanical gardens, the vast High Dam and Lake Nasser.