Egypt's impressive collection of World Heritage Sites currently stands at seven. This comes as no surprise given its beguiling history and as a result these ancient vestiges help us to understand the past. With one of the longest histories in the world, this country dates back to the 6th-4th millennia BCE and is considered to be a cradle of civilisation.
Come and explore this distinctive destination with one of our Egypt tours and discover Egypt's top World Heritage Sites.
The remains of this former town, monastery and Christian pilgrimage centre were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1979. This site of cultural significance was built in Late Antique Egypt, southwest of Alexandria. Very few remnants can still be found, but you can see the foundations of the larger buildings including the basilica. The tomb of the Martyr Menas of Alexandria, a well-known Egyptian saint, can still be viewed.
Due to excessive agricultural production in the area, the water table has risen and some of the surrounding structures have collapsed. In 2001, this landmark was added to UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger list and sand was placed in the foundations to prevent further destruction. On our Egypt tours, you might get a chance to check out this intriguing place of historical wonder.
When travelling with our Egypt tours, you will visit Thebes - the city of the god, Amon, and the capital of Egypt during the period of the New Kingdom. This ancient site is a window into Egypt's past. During your stay in Luxor, a city on the east bank of the Nile River, you will find a vast assortment of temples, palaces and tombs.
Two of the most impressive surviving monuments that we will explore on the Egypt tour are the Luxor Temple (best seen at night when it is illuminated) and the Karnak Temple Complex where the world's largest religious buildings can be found.
After wandering around the local souks, floating down the Nile on feluccas (traditional wooden sailboats) and riding camels, the tour will visit the west bank. Here, the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens are located. Your guide will lead you through expansive chambers with a major highlight being the tomb of Tutankhamen. Items from this tomb are displayed in Cairo's Egyptian Museum, which we will also visit on our Egypt tours.
Cairo is the starting and ending point for many of our Egypt tours. Hidden away within the main city, Historic Cairo was formed during the 10th century. This is one of the world's oldest Islamic cities and features many beautiful mosques, tombs and fortifications. It originally served as the centre of the Islamic world and reached its golden age in the 14th century. In 1979, Historic Cairo was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
In 969, Historic Cairo also known as Islamic Cairo, Fatimid Cairo and Medieval Cairo was founded. It then functioned as the royal enclosure for the Fatimid caliphs. On a tour of the city, your guide will point out the Citadel and the elaborate Mohamed Ali Mosque - the most visible and striking shrine in Cairo. This centre of historical importance is set on the eastern bank of the Nile and consists of more than 600 classified monuments dating back to the 7th century.
On the last day of some of our Egypt tours, we offer a range of daytrips. If you feel up to another day of culture then don't miss out on our Memphis tour. The capital of the Old Kingdom, Memphis, is a World Heritage Site. This open-air museum on the west bank of the Nile is home to the famed stepped Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara. Saqqara is one of several necropoleis scattered across the valley.
The Pyramid of Djoser was constructed during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser. This special structure is the main feature in a mortuary complex, enclosed by ceremonial buildings. This step pyramid is seen to be the earliest large-scale cut stone construction and the Egyptian's first attempt at building pyramids.
The six pyramids at the Giza Complex are also most definitely on our itinerary. These spectacular architectural masterpieces were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and are counted among the largest structures ever built. The Pyramid of Khufu is the largest of the three pyramids and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence. If you want to get a closer look at the internal chambers, you can climb down inside one of the pyramids (a limited number of tickets are available for the Great Pyramid).
One of the best ways to truly experience Egypt is by travelling along the Nile River. At a point in our Egypt tours, we will exchange tour buses for feluccas and even spend a night on board them. Given that the Nile was a source of life in Ancient Egypt, many Nubian monuments and temples were built on the riverbanks.
Aswan is a scenic city overlooking the river and we shall stop off here to visit the temple complex of Philae. This complex was originally located near the expansive First Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt and due to extensive flooding was moved to the nearby Agilkia Island. This relocation was a result of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project - to save complexes after the construction of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902.
Another famous Nubian monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site is the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel. This complex was also saved from the rising waters and moved to an artificial hill in 1968. As part of our Egypt tour, you can opt to visit the complex. Leaving in the early hours of the morning, the tour will travel to the site so that you can see the sunrise over the temples. Twice a year, the Abu Simbel Sun Festival takes place where the sun illuminates the statues inside the temples.
Take a look at this Egypt tour that allows you to witness this incredible event.
This Orthodox monastery sits at the base of Mount Horeb where Moses was believed to have received the Tablets of the Law. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built between 548 and 565 and is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The site still contains the world's oldest continually operating library with a variety of rare books and manuscripts. The second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world can also be found here.
If you visit Egypt on one of our Egypt tours you can see this site that is scared to the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Constructed by order of the emperor Justinian I, the walls and structures of this monastery are great examples of Byzantine architecture. The space is also filled with an assortment of inimitable works of art from the 5th century. The autonomous Church of Sinai controls this monastery, which is part of the wider Eastern Orthodox Church.
This paleontological site, southwest of Cairo was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005. Fossils of the earliest forms of whale and the archaeoceti (a now extinct sub-order of whales) can be found here. Thanks to the discovery of these fossils in 1902, the mystery of the evolution of whales was solved. This is also the only place in the world where such a great number of high quality fossils have been located.
Although the fossils at this site are not the oldest, the great concentration in the area and their degree of preservation is what makes it so famous. The presence of fossils of other animals like sharks and crocodiles makes it possible to understand more about the environment and conditions of that time. Our Egypt tours do not visit this site, but we can help arrange a tour so you can see these famous fossils up close.
This special Egypt tour features the amazing Sun Festival at the Abu Simbel temple to Ramses II on the 22nd Feb and 22nd Oct each year. We combine this with time in Cairo, Aswan and Luxor, discovering more of ancient Egypt.
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With Encounters Travel you can expect to travel in comfortable, fully equipped and specially designed expedition vehicles, giving you a great vantage point from which to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.