Here are a few suggestions of things to see and do in my favourite places in Africa.
Take heed, my lists are not intended as essential bucket lists and nor are they written in any particular order. To protect our sanity, I’ve limited each country to only ten suggestions. While there may be more worthy sights to see first, you don’t need to worry because you’ll hear all about those as soon as you arrive.
Egypt - Destination guide
Can there be anywhere on Earth where there is more hassle, more crazy drivers and more breathtaking ancient buildings? Prepare to duck and hide from some of the world’s most persistent up-sellers, prepare to hang onto the dash with your clenched teeth as your driver bumps and weaves through a blockade of dodgem cars and ready yourself for Egypt’s magnificent ancient awesome.
Pyramids! Try to visit more than just the famous three at Giza, there are over a hundred to see but few are well preserved. Aim to visit the Stepped pyramid first and if your still keen, check out the Red and Bent pyramids before arriving at Giza.
Stroll around Cairo’s new Egyptian museum like you own it and don’t leave before seeing the mummy room.
Visit the wonder that is Abu Simbel, it’s a long way from Cairo but well worth it.
Valley of the Kings
Visit the Valley of the Kings and be sure to purchase the additional ticket to enter Tutankhamen’s tomb. It’s not the largest, but it’s certainly the best preserved.
Roam about in Aswan’s long bazaar then sail a felucca to the tombs of Elephantine Island.
Enter Karnak temple at night during the sound and light show, then return the following day to appreciate its enormity.
Immerse yourself in the city of Luxor and visit its epic temple complex.
Temples, temples, temples. Make like Indiana Jones and enter as many as you can but try not to miss the temples of Seti 1, Edfu and Hatshepsut.
Snorkel in the Red Sea.
Birqash Camel Market
For something complete different, head out to the Birqash Camel Market.
Egypt - Tips
Give yourself a solid two weeks to explore this amazing and incredible country. There are endless treasures to see so plan your trip meticulously before you leave home.
Visit between December and March when the weather is cooler, but remember, no matter where you are from in the world, the Valley of the Kings will feel like a furnace.
If you have the time, visit the pyramids of Giza first at night. Book a ticket for the sound and light show and watch the spot lights reveal the grand creations before your eyes. Return early the following morning if you want to be one of the few who is permitted to climb inside whichever pyramid is open on the day.
Visit the Cairo museum in the afternoon, it is usually less crowded. Be sure to visit at least once. If you’re interested in history and have extensively travelled the country, a second visit at the end of your trip is well worth your time give you’ll probably have a greater appreciation of the artefacts and where they are from.
Egyptians are more helpful when you pay them a tip, particularly the folding stuff. Always carry small notes in your pocket and try to avoid the unofficial tour guides who lurk behind the best archaeological sites.
Don’t drink the water from the tap and try to eat only cooked food if you have a delicate stomach.
If going to Aswan, save time and the cost of an overnight stay in a hotel by booking the overnight sleeper train from Cairo.
Take some of your favourite snacks with you, they’ll help tide you over while you find some safe local alternatives when you first arrive.
Valley of the Kings
Not all tombs are open each day in the Valley of the Kings. Plan your arrival in advance so you don’t miss out on the one you most want to see.