Petra and the Pharaohs of Egypt: sailing the Red Sea

When you think of Egypt, doubtless the first thing that comes to mind is the pyramids – and rightly so. These majestic structures, a wonder of both the ancient and the new world, are over 4,500 years old and took years and tens of thousands of men to build. They are still the main attraction for tourists and draw millions of people to the country each year. However, visitors to this part of the world will soon discover that Egypt and its neighbouring countries are so much more than megalithic monuments. As soon as you move beyond the chaos of Cairo, the country’s sprawling capital, travellers will find Egypt tours rich in history and wildlife and boasting a beauty that is sure to captivate as far as the eye can see.

One of the most unique and unforgettable travel experiences in this part of the world is to sail the Red Sea. This ‘sea’ is an inlet of the Indian Ocean which separates Africa and Asia, running between Sudan and Saudi Arabi and Egypt and Jordan. This calm cruise along the Red Sea from Petra, in Jordan, to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt is the perfect combination of spectacular human heritage and sensational natural scenery. Discover what lies in store on a sailing adventure across the historic Red Sea.

The Valley of the Moon

Made famous by British officer T. E. Lawrence, whose journey across this landscape was commemorated in style with the film Lawrence of Arabia, the Valley of the Moon is another name for the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. This desert, which covers 720 square kilometres, was described by Lawrence as ‘vast, echoing, and God-like’ – and that is what travellers will still experience today. The microcosmic climate of this area has created a dramatic desert wilderness with towering valleys of sand and gigantic sandstone rocks intersected with narrow canyons hiding 4,000-year-old cave carvings. Ride across the desert on a camel led by local guides and spend a night camping under the stars in this strange and sensational place.

Petra: Wonder of the World

At the edge of Wadi Rum lies Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site so astounding that it is included in the new list of world wonders alongside other sensational human achievements such as the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu in Peru. The prehistoric city of Petra, reintroduced to the Western world in the 19th century, was carved directly into the sandstone cliffs which are a striking red, pink, and white. Even today, the elaborate architecture is breath-taking to behold, especially the entrance to the Treasury which was the backdrop to blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Ras Muhammad National Park

Given your time spent cruising the waters of the Red Sea, it will come as no surprise that a sailing adventure in this area also promises sea-based activities. En route from Jordan to the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, you will have the chance to visit the Ras Muhammad National Park which is home to unbelievable sea-life including spectacular coral reefs. This and the crystal-clear waters makes it a highly rewarding place for snorkelling or scuba diving, or you can explore in a more leisurely fashion on a glass-bottom boat.

Naama Bay, the beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, is a paradise of golden sand and turquoise sea, shrouded by mysterious mangroves. Resting and relaxing in this beautiful bay is guaranteed to be the most peaceful part of your trip and will leave you with a matching golden glow inside and out.

Cosmopolitan culture in Hurghada

In contrast to the many historic delights of a cruise along the Red Sea, Hurghada is your chance to taste cosmopolitan Egyptian culture. From the stunning mosque and Coptic Church to the captivating sounds and sights of the lively souk here, you have the chance to experience modern life in Egypt outside of the major cities. Shop for spices and souvenirs and soak in the music and laughter of Hurghada.

Valley of the Kings

Last but certainly not least on this singular sailing journey is an exploration of Thebes, ancient capital of the Pharaohs. A full-day excursion to Thebes starts at the romantically yet also accurately named Valley of the Kings. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most magnificent burial ground in the world, the site of royal tombs for almost 4 millennia. Over 63 tombs have been discovered so far, including those of Seti I and II and Ramesses III and IV, and the pristine Tomb of Tutankhamun. Following this tour, visit the Colossi of Memnon and the expansive Karnak Temple Complex which remains one of the largest religious complexes in the world.

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