The most epic Egyptian adventure

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If you don't believe in time travel, wait until you touch down in Egypt and find yourself stepping back into the romance of its past.

A land of extraordinary antiquities, stark desert landscapes and a remarkable culture that dates back around 5000 years, Egypt is the birthplace of one of the oldest civilisations in the world, and few destinations have the ability to capture our imagination like this storied North African country.

With its pyramids and treasure-laden tombs, captivating mythology, stone-carved temples, mummified pharaohs and an impressive seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, Egypt's appeal is as enduring as it is influential.

From the culture that gave us some of the earliest iterations of paper, writing, architecture and agriculture, here's our pick of the must-see attractions in Egypt.

The Nile River

The world's longest river is shrouded in mystique. Perhaps it's the lush valleys lining its edges, or the antiquities hidden along the bends, but the Nile has inspired countless films and books, including Agatha Christie's whodunnit, Death on the Nile.

Ancient Egyptians thrived on its fertile banks and in fact, their dependency on its resources led to the invention of the 365-day calendar, which they developed to predict the yearly flooding, known then as akhet or the inundation.

Nowadays, it offers travellers a serene, slow-travel soul boost, with boutique cruises and luxury steamboats sailing alongside traditional wooden feluccas to teeny villages and marvels worthy of a museum.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Pyramids of Giza

It's hard to fathom that this relic of ancient architecture lies on the outskirts of one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Approximately 18.5 kilometres from the centre of Cairo and set on the plains of a desert plateau, the Giza Necropolis is a trio of stone pyramids built around 4,500 years ago to house the elaborate tombs of three ancient pharaohs, Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, in preparation for the afterlife. 

Standing at 147 metres, The Great Pyramid entombing Pharaoh Khufu is the tallest and most intact and took some 20 years to build. To this day, no one knows exactly how the pyramids were constructed, but scientists have acknowledged the sophisticated planning and precision involved. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Aswan's Old Cataract Hotel

Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie and Margaret Thatcher are some of the impassioned personalities to have checked into this British colonial-era hotel in the southern valley of Aswan. 

Set on the banks of the Nile overlooking idyllic Elephantine Island and rebranded in 2011 as Sofitel Legend Old Cataract, this lavish resort was built in 1899 by 19th-century travel pioneer Thomas Cook and maintains a strong sense of place.

The luxury hotel has undergone several renovations over the years, including upgrades to its historic rooms, new wings, redesigned interiors and an infinity pool, but that feeling of old-world glamour remains. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Abu Simbel temple

This iconic temple complex features two ancient sites, carved out of solid rock into a mountainside. The Great Temple of Ramses II is the largest of the two and features four imposing statues of a seated pharaoh Ramses II, while the second is believed to be dedicated to his chief wife Queen Nefertiti. 

The facade is a feat in itself. But to discover that the entrance of Ramses II temple was built to let in light on only two days of the year is mind-blowing. On October 22 and February 22, sunbeams illuminate three statues seated in the innermost chamber, a phenomenon historians think marks the pharaoh's coronation and birth. 

Remarkably, in the 1960s, the entire complex was moved to higher ground to prevent it from being lost to the Aswan High Dam.

The S S Sudan

This 19th-century vintage ship is the river's original paddle steam boat and one of the first vessels on the Nile to offer luxury cruises.

Designed in authentic Belle Epoque style, it first set sail from Luxor to Aswan in the roaring 20s and was operated by travelpreneur Thomas Cook. It's 23 cabins retain many of its original features, including rich woodwork, period furniture, decorative carpets, wall-mounted telephones, an ornate staircase and spacious upper and lower sundecks for river gazing. 

The iconic boat is no doubt the inspiration for the wealth of luxury vintage-style steamboats now offering scenic cruises along Egypt's scenic Nile, the lifeblood of ancient civilisation. 

With international travel finally back on the cards, consider your first overseas adventure sorted.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, Kenneth Branagh's daring new mystery-thriller Death on the Nile is a tale of unbridled passion and incapacitating jealousy, featuring a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travellers and enough wicked twists and turns to keep audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.

Death on the Nile releases in cinemas February 10.

Watch the trailer at 20thcenturystudios.com.au.

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