Egypt small group tour: The best way to see Egypt’s top ancient attractions
Most teenagers were begging their parents to go to Disneyland. Me, I wanted to go to Egypt.
Words by Ute Junker
Originally published in Traveller
For years I had been enchanted by images seen in books: those mysterious pyramids, the elaborate mummification rituals, the animal-headed gods, from Thoth with his ibis head to the crocodile grin of Set.
My parents, bless them, obliged, and that first trip to Egypt still remains one of the most memorable experiences in a lifetime of travelling. Decades on, I still have so many vivid memories of the trip: the incredible scale of the temple of Karnak, the surprisingly small tomb of Tutankhamen, the dazzling jumble of treasures in the Egyptian Museum.
All these years later, I have decided it’s time to return. I’ve put it off for years. For a while, Egypt’s tourism boom put me off; following the crowds has never been my thing. Then came the upheaval of the revolution, which made Egypt feel like a no-go zone.
Now, however, the time feels right to return. Revisiting these ancient monuments, I expect to be awed and inspired all over again – and I am. What I’m not expecting is to discover anything new. After all, I am going over old ground. Egypt, however, has some surprises in store for me.
Our itinerary takes in all the highlights, from the pyramids at Giza to the temples at Abu Simbel, but my personal journey of discovery starts in the city of Luxor. This is where the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes once stood; no wonder, then, that the city is home to some of Egypt’s most impressive temples, including Luxor Temple and the mighty Karnak, an extraordinary complex that covers two square kilometres. No other building on earth has been so sacred for so long: every pharaoh for 1500 years added to this temple. The first stones were laid as Stonehenge was being completed; the last pharaoh to make additions to the complex was Alexander the Great’s brother-in-law.