Egypt is one of those places whose itinerary is known even to people who have never been to the country or even researched about its ‘top tourist spots’. True, the place is a tourist magnet and for all the right reasons. But, for each one of those who feel lost amongst the crowd and would rather find their own way through Egypt (even though the Pyramids are a given), this is an alternate guide for you so that you can explore the relatively unexplored and boast of an Egyptian adventure, somewhat like a modern exploration of the ancient. By Shubhanjana Das
1. Enjoy a Tanoura Night
When in Cairo, look up Wekalet El Ghouri ‘Ghouri Palace’ near Al Hussein mosque for their tanoura dancing (or Sufi Whirling). The dancers dance in a style invented by the sufis, wearing colourful skirts whose colours signify a Sufi representation. There are two shows each week at El Ghouri. The experience is hypnotic and will leave you suspended in a state of trance for a long time after the show.
2. Dolphin-Watching at Marsa Alam
On the Egyptian Red Sea Coast is Marsa Alam where the Samadai Reef, a horse-shoe shaped protected from boats, is located. These safe, shallow bays are where you can dive into the habitat of dolphins and sea turtles without disturbing them. A venture of responsible travel in Egypt, the companies run a superbly supervised swim where you will approach the dolphins in a way that you communicate with them rather than intruding them.
3. Abu Simbel Temples
When the Aswan dam was built and Lake Nasser flooded, it took with it the Abu Simbel Temples, which were left completely dismantled. But, now it is carved on the rocks and tunneled into the hillside where people gather on the October 22 and February every year to watch the sun rise and illuminate all three of the four statues barring Ptah, the God of Darkness. You may have missed February but October could still be on the cards. #justsaying
4. Zawiyyet al-Mayyiteen
Also known as the City of Dead, Zawiyyet al-Mayyiteen is one of the world’s largest cemeteries. This Christian and Muslim burial ground is no ordinary graveyard for the tombs here are extravagant and ornate, some even dating back to the 7th century, and many look like small houses! Particularly alluring at sunrise and sunset, its unpaved streets and a very ambient surrounding are worth witnessing.
Situated along the banks of the majestic Nile, Aswan is the quieter alternative to its capital Cairo. Spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle of Cairo here at Aswan to dig deep into the Egyptian culture, architecture, history and cuisine. The slow and laid-back pace Aswan, the sunniest city of Egypt, is worth exploring through long walks in the city.