Safaga

A quiet town with sand dune beaches
A gateway to the marvels of Luxor
The stupendous complex of the Karnak Temple

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Safaga

Following in the footsteps of the Pharaohs

Port Safaga (Bur Safaga in Arabic), where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, is a village on the Red Sea coast.

The town, whose economy is driven by the nearby phosphate mines, consists of a single windswept avenue running straight on, past concrete boxes with bold signs proclaiming their function.
Silos and cranes identify the port, which runs alongside (but remains out of bounds) for most of this distance. However, inland from Port Safaga, a shore excursion on your MSC Grand Voyages cruise can be the opportunity to discover Luxor and the overwhelming concentration of relics in the area.

A tourist mecca ever since Nile steamers began calling in the nineteenth century, visitors come to view the remains of Thebes, Ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom capital, and its associated sites. The town itself boasts Luxor Temple, a graceful ornament to its waterfront and “downtown”, while a mile or so north is Karnak Temple, a stupendous complex built over 1,300 years. Across the river are the amazing tombs and mortuary temples of the Theban Necropolis, an attraction not to be missed on your holiday in Egypt.

In a town where tourism accounts for 85 per cent of the economy, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t move without being importuned to step inside a shop or rent a calèche, but once you get to know a few characters and begin to understand the score Luxor becomes a funky soap opera with a cast of thousands.

Luxor Temple stands aloof in the heart of town, ennobling the view from the waterfront and Midan el-Haggag with its grand colonnades and pylons.

Must see places in Safaga

  • Luxor, Valley of the Kings

    Luxor, Valley of the Kings

  • Karnak

    Karnak

  • Nile

    Nile

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Egypt

In the shade of the pyramids
In the shade of the pyramids

Ancient Greeks and Romans started the trend, coming to goggle at the cyclopean scale of the Pyramids and the Colossi of Thebes.


During colonial times, Napoleon and the British looted Egypt’s treasures to fill their national museums, sparking off a trickle of Grand Tourists that eventually became a flood of travellers, taken on Nile cruises and Egyptology lectures by the enterprising Thomas Cook. A cruise to Egypt today boasts not only the monuments of the Nile Valley and the souks, mosques and madrassas of Islamic Cairo, but also fantastic coral reefs and tropical fish, dunes, ancient fortresses, monasteries and prehistoric rock art. The land itself is a freak of nature, its lifeblood the River Nile.

From the Sudanese border to the shores of the Mediterranean, the Nile Valley and its Delta are flanked by arid wastes, the latter as empty as the former are teeming with people. This stark duality between fertility and desolation is fundamental to Egypt’s character and has shaped its development since prehistoric times, imparting continuity to diverse cultures and peoples over seven millennia. Though most visitors travel to Egypt for its monuments, the enduring memory is likely to be of its people and their way of life.