Egypt is a country that awakens the imagination. What comes to mind for you—floating down the Nile, Pharaoh Tutankhamun and the ancient tombs, scarabs (famous beetle image) or sphinxes guarding ancient pyramids? Maybe your images tend more to pop culture of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in “Cleopatra” or the more modern films series “Indiana Jones.” Whatever the pictures that come to mind, Egypt is a country of ancient history, civilizations, delicious culinary dishes and adventures for senior travelers.
Egypt history spans from 5200 BCE until 3200 BCE when King Narmer unified Lower Egypt (made up of the Nile Delta) and Upper Egypt (the South area defined geographically by the Nile River which flows South to North). Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC. Pharaohs would rule the city until 30 BC when Caesar Augustus annexes Egypt becoming a province of the Roman Empire. Exploring a brief history gives a perspective on Egypt’s ancient civilization allowing senior travelers to immerse themselves in the past.
Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt after Cairo, will entice any traveler. Conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, the Mediterranean port cities is an extraordinary display of scenery. A short journey from Cairo, many travelers make day trips between the two cities either by train, or hire a car if you want to enjoy the landscape. Sites to consider on a day trip are Pompey’s pillar and Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, both which are within walking distance. Walk the harbor and be sure to stop at a restaurant for grilled fish and a fennel salad, or a favorite squid with tomato, onion, chili, and cilantro. You will not be disappointed. Tipping is a custom not only at restaurants but anywhere you are provided service in Egypt. When finished with your meal head east along the Corniche to visit the Alexandria National Museum, formerly a palace where you will discover a beautifully restored Italianate villa exploring treasures of the city’s history. You also won’t want to miss Tanagra, beautiful Greek women statues discovered underwater in the Mediterranean.
Next a twenty-minute walk to Bibliotheca Alexandrina encompasses six specialized libraries, containing millions of trilingual books in Classical Arabic, English, and French. Visit the four museums and art galleries — planetarium and a manuscript restoration laboratory. Although the original Library lost in antiquity, Alexandria has recreated a stunning Bibliotheca to rival the ancient Library of Alexandria. Alexandria is a quiet city at night so check with your guide or hotel on best local eating and drinking establishments or make it an early evening before you to head to Cairo in the morning.
Cairo, the capital and largest city in Egypt, is an adventure for senior travelers wanting to explore antiquities of this ancient city. Set on the Nile, there are short excursions for everyone. Start with the Great Pyramids of Giza Necropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seniors will view the three famous pyramids Khufu/Cheops, Khafre/Chephren, and Menkaure/Mykerinos, as well as the Great Sphinx. Pyramids were not only tombs, but a place to house items believed required in the afterlife. Egyptians believed that death on Earth was the start of a journey to the afterlife. This site will ignite your imagination by exploring this historic site. If you want to brush up on the history of the Nile Valley, visit the Egyptian Museum before heading out to the pyramids. Hiring a knowledgeable Egypt tour guide or Egyptologist will bring the site to life.
Next head over to Khan Al- Khalili located in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Khan Al- Khalili, an open-air bazaar, is a shoppers’ adventure of exotic items and souvenirs to delight any senior traveler. Remember to consult with your tour guide on customs and issues to be aware of when in Cairo. Before leaving Cairo, you will want to book a Nile cruise to enjoy food indigenous to the city with a show featuring belly dancing.
Many seniors love to scuba dive. Thistlegorm, one of the best dive sites in the world, is located on the west coast of the Sinai Peninsula in the Red Sea where a British army freighter sank in 1941 after being hit by German bombs during World War II. The ship was discovered in 1956 by Jacques Cousteau with the hulls full of World War II relics. Divers travel to Egypt from all over the world to dive this amazing dive site. Exploring the ship, divers discover Jeeps, guns, boots, cargo and other relics from the era while experiencing sea life that inhabits the boat.
After you have concluded your exploration of Cairo, head by air to the east bank of the Nile to Luxor. Luxor was the capital city to the Pharaohs during the height of their power from the 16th to 11th century. The ancient ruins of the Luxor Temple and Karnak, two graceful structures connected by a line of sphinx, will transport you back in time. Viewing the Luxor temple, admire the towering colonnade of 14 pillars 52-feet high with papyrus-umbel capitals. At the entrance, Egyptian Pharoah Ramses had created scenes of festivals and depictions of the wars fought in Syria, as well as statues of himself. In one of the temple halls, you will discover a shrine of Alexander the Great.
Karnak, an ancient Egyptian temple complex, dates back to 3400 - 3100 BCE. Known as the “Chosen of Places,” the ruins cover a large area where you will want to explore the Temple of Mont (the war god) and a southern temple erected to worship the goddess Mut. Between these two temples lays one of the world's largest temple complexes, the temple of Amon-Re(the state god). There is so much to explore at the site from statues of pharaohs, sphinxes, moon dogs, to great halls and hieroglyphics on temple walls.
Egypt is a country enjoyed by travelers of all ages. Seniors traveling to Egypt should explore a trip that has a guide to help tailor the excursions to accommodate any special requirements. A professionally arranged trip helps seniors experience Egypt and all the country has to offer worry-free.
One of the four cradles of civilization, Egypt offers an opportunity for senior travelers to explore extraordinary history, lush landscapes, sail the Nile while eating seafood delicacies, photographing hieroglyphics and wander museums while gaining knowledge of an ancient civilization.