Egypt

Since the early 1980s, tourism in Egypt has bounded from almost nonexistent to the number one industry in the region.  There are some very good reasons for travellers to make their plans for Egypt holidays, not least of which are the magnificent beaches, clear warm waters and stark, dramatic landscapes of this great land of contrasts.

Along with a stunning coastline, Egypt claims a large chunk of the most desolate and uncharted territory in the world, home of pyramids, oases, and the vast, seemingly endless sandy ocean of the interior.

The contrast really is amazing, a safari into the desert where water has always been the most valuable asset anyone can possess, or an underwater paradise of coral reefs and marine life that is unparalleled in its expanse and diversity.  Visitors can take their choice or enjoy the best of both worlds, as accommodations are plentiful for the luxury-oriented traveller and the more cost-conscious and/or adventurous.

One way to combine the two would be Sharm El Sheikh holidays on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.  The late Aga Khan thought it was the most beautiful spot on Earth, and some of the finest hotels, such as Marriott, Four Seasons and Hyatt Regency have made Sharm El Sheikh what some call the Red Sea Riviera.

The Grand Rotana Resort and Spa is a new five-star luxury hotel with every amenity including three world-class restaurants and a 450 metre-long private beach.  The Hilton Shark’s Bay Resort is an all-inclusive hotel with extras such as golf and horseback riding in addition to the ever-present allure of the Red Sea on the doorstep.

Many other hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodations are available at rates that would be considered ridiculously low in Europe, but that offer easy access to all the beauty and excitement of the natural surroundings.

For an authentic oasis experience, the remote Western desert town of Siwa is a wonderful place to relax away from almost all the inroads of modern civilization.  Siwans retain their ancient Berber culture and language; dates and olives are the only ‘industry’ save for the awesome landscape, hot springs and expertly run safaris into the desert around.  The Siwa Paradise Hotel and Tourist Village offers cosy bungalows amidst the date palms, and excellent European and Siwan cuisine as well as Bedouin meals and folklore shows.

Remembering that Egypt’s Nile basin is known as “the cradle of civilization”, the opportunities for exploration and discovery are endless.  In the capital city of Cairo, visitors can bask in the opulence of showplaces like the Staybridge Suites Citystars, just minutes away from such wonders as the great pyramids of Giza and the magnificent and fearsome Sphinx that have enthralled countless travellers over the centuries.  There are also numerous fine establishments such as the Windsor Hotel and the Isis Hotel in central Cairo that offer terrific value for money.