5 unusual things to see and do in Egypt

21 November 2019 08:22

Look beyond Giza to discover more of Egypt's intrigue

Look beyond Giza to discover more of Egypt's intrigue

Ancient whale remains, enigmatic eats and off-colour desserts await travellers looking to scratch Egypt's surface. Read on for our picks of the quirky bunch...

1. Explore the city of the dead

The city of the dead or el-Arafa as it's known in Arabic, is a resting place for millions of Egyptians dating back to the 7th century. Strangest of all, the crumbling tombs sit next to pristine mausoleums in a cemetery shared with a living population. A post office, medical centre and running water can be found alongside graves in ornate rooms that look like small houses complete with gardens. Look no further than the outskirts of Cairo for this necropolis.

2. Wander Whale Valley

Wadi Al-Hitan, or Whale Valley is home to the fossils of the earliest and now extinct whales. The bones show the last stages of archaeocetes losing their hind limbs and provide evidence that whales were once land-dwelling animals. The dry landscape was once a part of the prehistoric Tethys Ocean and now leaves behind key archaeological remains. Some of the more unusual formations in the valley are affectionately known as mud lions and sitting sphinxes.

3. Eat the Nubian way

Head to the East Bank of Azwan and its many villages to eat the Nubian way. This ethnic tribe is indigenous to Sudan and Egypt and famed for cuisine quainter than that enjoyed by those further north. Unique spices grown by the Nile combine with peas, spinach and okra to complete aromatic dishes enjoyed in rustic surroundings. Expect a mud hearth for cooking and clay water coolers in kitchens that have barely changed over thousands of years.

4. Visit the Hanging Church

Modelled on Noah's ark and perched on top of the gates of an old Roman fortress, the Hanging Church isn't suspended at all. The church's marble pulpit is supported by 13 columns, representing Jesus and his 12 disciples. Those with a keen eye will notice one black column, said to represent Judas and a grey column in remembrance of Thomas and his doubt of Jesus' resurrection.

5. Behold the Blue Desert

What's the most fitting way to celebrate a peace treaty? According to artist Jean Verame, a splash of blue dye in the desert. The 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty inspired the Belgian to paint rocks with the colour of peace, at the one-time battleground between the two nations. Tourists often stumble on the unexpected stones on their way to St. Catherine's Monastery or Mount Sinai. If blue isn't your colour, why not try Farafra's white desert?

Off to Africa? Don't forget to get covered!

Don't forget your travel insurance before you galivant to Giza. At World First we provide dedicated African insurance, so you'll be fully covered for your Egyptian escape.