Travel

Explore the 'old world' of Egypt

Egypt.
Egypt. Contributed

SO there I was, in the middle of a Sydney winter, sitting in a hotel room editing photos, when out of the blue came an invitation to shoot a new tourism campaign - four weeks, all expenses paid, shooting the most stunning locations in Egypt.

A dream assignment.

It wasn't my first trip to Egypt, having travelled there backpacker-style about 15 years ago.

I've always been fascinated by the "old world", which meant Egypt was one of those countries I really had to see.

Back then I did things rough, staying in two-star backpacking joints and really getting the dirt between my toes, but I missed out on travelling to Cairo and always knew I had to go back.

And wouldn't you know it, my first stop in this trip was Cairo - and this time I was lucky enough to be doing it in five-star comfort.

Flying into Cairo, I couldn't believe how densely populated it is. It's home to about 18 million people, and it felt like it.

The city is a heaving mass of people racing in every direction.

Every evening, the banks of the Nile welcome thousands of revellers on more than a hundred party boats; a sea of pumping party music, light shows and general madness as each vessel attempts to outshine the next. It is a scene of utter chaos and a cacophony of sound, and I loved every minute of it.

This is a side of Egypt I hadn't seen as a backpacker moving through the tourist traps and back alleys, and it's a sight not to be missed.

But you can't go to Egypt and miss the postcard-famous sites - especially when you're being paid to photograph them; so my next stop was the Great Pyramids.

I'd seen countless photos, sketches and paintings of this particular Wonder of the World, so to say I was pretty excited about finally getting in amongst it would be a gross understatement.

And if I already thought being paid to be here was a sweet gig, come 4pm the crowds were moved away from the entire site so we could shoot with a clear view.

What an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To be (almost) alone in a place so loaded with history and spirituality is eerie, exciting, and so surreal that I had to stop shooting for a while just to really appreciate how incredibly lucky I was to be there.

But there was more to come.

Our next stop was Luxor, just as rich in history and incredible photo opportunities.

Travelling along the River Nile is an experience in itself, as I took in the huge sections of super-lush vegetation en route to the Great Temple and The Valley of the Kings.

We stayed at the Winter Palace, a grand old hotel with what must be the biggest and most beautiful foyer I had ever seen, with hallways that seemed to never end.

Next up were the two 3000-year-old temples at Abu Simbel, surely among the most magnificent monuments in the world.

Their removal and reconstruction are an historic event in itself. When the temples (280km from Aswan) were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser, with the construction of the high dam, the Egyptian Government secured the support of Unesco and launched a worldwide appeal to save them.

During the salvage operation from 1964 to 1968 the two temples were dismantled and raised more than 60m up the sandstone cliff. A remarkable feat of engineering.

We shot the temples from aboard the MS Eugenie, a luxury steamboat which comes complete with a mosaic-lined swimming pool and three bars.

But, in a trip filled with incredible sights, my personal highlight was the White Desert, which we reached after an arduous 10-hour drive south west from Cairo.

When you're that far into the desert the scenery can get a little monotonous, but then you arrive at this incredible spot and you can't believe your eyes. In the middle of nowhere, this is a snow-white wonderland filled with incredible rock formations which, oddly, give it the look of an arctic landscape.

The White Desert is a vast expanse, starting at the western banks of the Nile and continuing well into Libya.

It's often referred to as "the desert of deserts" and it's a world of desolate beauty - one of the few places in Egypt where you can go for days at a time without seeing a soul.

We stayed close by at the five-star Al Tarfa eco lodge, located at a nearby oasis.

Relaxing after dinner with a whisky in my hand and a 360-degree view of the incredible scenery, I remembered why I'd been so impatient to return to Egypt. It's a land of contrasts - the scenery, the people, the culture - and one that can't be missed. And the one travel essential you can't live without here?

A camera.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Missing children from Emerald

Blue Holden Barina.

POLICE is seeking public assistance to two Emerald children missing.

Clermont: A town laid to ruin

EERIE REMINDER: The piano in the tree in Capricorn St is an eerie reminder of the height and ravaging force of the floodwaters. Although it's a replica today, there were  three pianos found in trees after the 1916 flood.

Isaac council commemorating centenary of the 1916 Clermont flood.

Auto students revved about donation

MOTORING AHEAD: CQUni Emerald students Caleb McDonald and Alex Funnell work on an abandoned vehicle.

Auto students getting hands-on experience at CQUniversity Emerald.

Latest deals and offers

New aquatic centre taking shape

Construction on the Blackwater Aquatic Centre is now in the deep end as excavation of the 50m pool continues.

Missing children from Emerald

Blue Holden Barina.

POLICE is seeking public assistance to two Emerald children missing.

Clermont: A town laid to ruin

EERIE REMINDER: The piano in the tree in Capricorn St is an eerie reminder of the height and ravaging force of the floodwaters. Although it's a replica today, there were  three pianos found in trees after the 1916 flood.

Isaac council commemorating centenary of the 1916 Clermont flood.

Auto students revved about donation

MOTORING AHEAD: CQUni Emerald students Caleb McDonald and Alex Funnell work on an abandoned vehicle.

Auto students getting hands-on experience at CQUniversity Emerald.

Heartfelt donation to hospital

CAMERA DONATION: CQ Angel Mums co-founder Ruth Poletto, senior midwife Geri Storey, nurse unit manager Annie Grombek, CQ Angel Mums co-founder Andrea Cislowski and CQ Angel Mums member Christie Dornbusch.

CQ Angel Mums donates a Heartfelt camera to Emerald Hospital.

Die-hard fan's 34 magic Gympie Muster years

STICK AROUND FOR A BEER: Mal Williams has been at every Gympie Muster for 34 years.

Mal Williams has only missed one Muster in 35 years - the first one

Kooza takes circus-goers back to Cirque Du Soleil's roots

The high wire act as featured in Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza.

NEW show puts the skills of the performers front and centre.

Branson "amazed" he's still alive after cycling crash

Branson saw "his life flash before my eyes" during a bike crash

Reality TV show "turned our special day into a joke"

UNHAPPY: Maryborough couple Emma and Steven Dilliway who star on Australia's Cheapest Wedding and are not happy with the outcome.

Reality television helped turn this wedding into an internet joke

John Krasinski has better sex now he's in good shape

John Krasinski says there's at least one good reason to get jacked

Kanye West gets 'free reign' at VMAs

Kanye West has been let off the leash for the VMAs

Robbie Williams sings at manager's funeral

Robbie Williams and Lamar sang at the funeral of their manager

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa