The vast, isolated country of Egypt in the North Eastern
corner of African is central to studies of the world's
oldest civilisations. Traveller Megan McCormick begins
her journey in the sprawling city of Cairo where the most impressive monuments and fascinating
sights and relics can be discovered in the old city.
The Bazaar of Khan al-Khalili is a
huge market, which has been open for business since
the middle ages. Megan learns about herbal medicine
from a "doctor's " clinic and sees craftsmen
in the workshops at the bazaar. From here she pays a
visit to the mosque at Ibn Tulun: although the site
has been Islamic since the mosque was built in the 9th
century AD, according to legend this was the spot where
Noah's Arc came to rest and where Moses confronted Pharaoh's
No one comes to Cairo without seeing it's most famous
landmark, the Great Pyramids at Giza, just
outside the city. They were built as the tombs of three
Pharaohs, the first in a string of pyramids running
all the way down the Nile to the Sudanese border. Evidence
suggests that the first pyramid took hundreds of thousands
of workers thirty years to construct.
Egypt was one of the earliest places where Christianity
took hold and the monastery at St Antony's, three hours
to the south east of Cairo, was reputedly the very first
monastery. St Antony lived as a hermit in a nearby cave
for twenty years. Father Lazarus, a former university
lecturer who emulates St Antony's way of life, tells
Megan why he chose to live on this mountain saturated
En route to Siwa in Egypt's Western
Desert Megan stops at the war cemetery at El
Alamein, commemorating the soldiers who fought
in World War Two. Tens of thousands of young men on
both sides died in the Battle of El Alamein. When she
arrives in the remote oasis town of Siwa, close to the
Lybian border, Megan is invited to a Siwan stag celebration.
The laid-back town is famous for its dates and olives
and the town centre is dominated by the crumbling remains
of the 13th century fortress of Shali.
From Siwa Megan embarks on a five day desert trek to Luxor. On the way she pays a visit
to the oasis town of Bahariyya, where
every traveller is greeted personally by the mayor.
She joins a family celebrating sebuwa,
a ceremony held a week after the birth of a new baby.
The following day the group heads for the historic ruins
of Bagawat. Here there are 263 Coptic
tombs dating back 1800 years, some of which have biblical
murals painted on the interior.
Megan is relieved to arrive in Luxor at last. The West Bank of Luxor is known as Monument
Valley and its here that you'll find the famous Valley of the Kings. The government
has invested heavily in security at major sites since
the Shi'ite massacre of fifty people at Luxor in November
1997 which cast a cloud over the Egyptian tourist trade.
Nevertheless Megan finds an Egyptologist to guide her
around the working archaeological site and to teach
her about burial practice. The next morning she has
an early a breathtaking view of the entire site - by
For the final leg of her trip Megan takes a short flight
from Aswan to Abu Simbel, the gateway to southern Egypt. It's here that Ramses
had his sun temple built over three thousand years ago.
Four massive statues over sixty five feet tall impress
upon the traveller the ruler's strength and divinity.
The temple was moved block by block to a man made mountain
sixty five metres higher then its original site so as
to prevent submersion by the newly created Lake Nasser