The incredible twin temples of Abu Simbel are a must-see when visiting Egypt. The temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th Century BC, as a monument to himself and his queen, Nefertari.
These temples were once located on the west bank of the Nile River, but in an incredible feat of engineering back in the 1960s they were actually taken apart and put back together piece by piece in a new location to make way for the Aswan High Dam.
Abu Simbel, Egypt by Annelieke Huijgens
Another interesting fact about Abu Simbel is that it was built so that the internal chamber would light up two times a year: once on the anniversary of Ramses II ascension to the throne (in February), and once on his birthday (in October). Every year on the Sun Festival, crowds gather before sunrise to observe the stream of light gradually sneaking through the stone and enlightening the statuettes of Ramses, Ra and Amun in the central chamber.
Luxor Temple, Egypt by Pamela Frisari
Incredible Luxor Temple is one of the best preserved ancient monuments in Egypt, with many structures and carvings still intact.
Set in the modern city of Luxor, it was actually built on the site of the anicent Egyptial capital of Thebes and was once connected to nearby Karnak Temple by a 3 kilometre Avenue of Sphinxes.
Luxor Temple is also home to a 25 metre pink granite obelisk, which was part of a matching pair until the 1830s when one was given to France. It now stands in the centre of Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Cruising down the mighty Nile River is an amazing way to Nile away the time in Egypt.
You’ll make plenty of stops along the way to take in ancient temples and monuments, and you’ll even get to experience a traditional galabeya party on board one night. Everyone is encouraged to buy a galabeya, a traditional dress, and enjoy a night of celebrating and dancing on board.
Cruising the Nile river, Egypt by Erin Clifford
The Great Pyramids of Giza
This one is a given on any trip to Egypt. The oldest structures in existence, construction began on the amazing Great Pyramids of Giza roughly 4,500 years ago. While it remains a mystery as to exactly how the pyramids were constructed, it is thought that the largest pyramid alone is constructed of over two million stone blocks that range in size from two to fifty tons!
The Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt by Pamela Frisari
Exploring these pyramids and the nearby Great Sphinx is an incredibly moving experience, and will leave you marvelling at the ingenuity of the ancient Egyptian civilisation.
The Wadi Rum, Jordan by Pamela Frisari
Often referred to as the ‘Valley of the Moon’ Wadi Rum is one of the most stunning desertscapes in the world. Made up of an area larger than 74,000 hectares filled with unique red sand and towering sandstone mountains, you really will feel like you’ve set foot on another planet. Staying in a Bedouin camp is the best way to experience the desert, and will give you a glimpse into what life is like for the locals.
The Treasury, Jordan by Dennis Bunnik
The famous Lost City of Petra was carved into the sheer rockface by Nabataeans more than 2,000 years ago and was originally an important junction for the silk and trade routes. To get to the famous Treasury, you have to walk through the Siq, a 1,200 metre long winding rock path, and with every step the excitement of seeing the Treasury builds and builds.
Arriving at the Treasury, you will be overwhelmed by the size. It officially measures 43 metres high and 30 metres wide, and the cliff it is carved into stands at 100 metres. Past the Treasury, there is the whole city of Petra to discover, and this is filled with houses, tombs and even a theatre.
While not an easy feat, if you're up to taking the 850 steps to the Monastery, you will definitely be glad you did. As the largest monument in the Lost City, it is truly a sight to be seen!
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, Jordan by Dennis Bunnik
Sitting more than 400 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth.
The water here is filled with salt and minerals, allowing you to float without even trying.
The mud is also said to be therapeutic, so you’ll no doubt see many people covering themselves in it in attempt to soak up as many of the nutrients as possible.
Tower of David
The Tower of David Museum, also known as the Jerusalem Citadel, is an ancient citadel and houses a fascinating museum that sheds light on 4,000 years of history in Jerusalem. Despite its name, we can be almost certain that King David of biblical fame never saw or set foot in this impressive tower, given the foundations where laid almost 1,000 years after he died.
When visiting, make sure you see the stunning sound & light show here, it will surely impress as it brings the citadel to life!
No machine-readable author provided. Ori229 assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
Located just 10 kilometres from Jerusalem, Bethlehem is known by many around the world as the birthplace of Christ, but this ancient town has a long history starting well before this. References to the city have been found on clay tablets from as early as 1400 BC.
See some of this fascinating history on display here at sites such as Rachel’s Tomb, the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square.
Church of Nativity, Israel by Marion Bunnik
The streets of Jerusalem, Photo by Marion Bunnik
Split into a ‘New City’ and ‘Old City’, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the perfect starting point to begin your exploring.
Here you’ll find all kinds of interesting treasures, new and old, including the Israel Museum, Wailing Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Jewish Quarter and of course, the Tower of David.
If any of these incredible Middle Eastern places pique your interest, you can visit them on a Bunnik small group tour. Check out our Middle East tours here.