What’s it like to live in a far-off place most of us see only on a vacation? Here, Sameh “Sam” Nazeeh, 35, who was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, and is the head guide for On the Go Tours (www.onthegotours.us), shares his knowledge about the land of pyramids, sphinxes and the Nile. There’s always news about discoveries concerning ancient Egypt.
What’s the research scenario like?
The excavation never stops; researchers are working hard and finding new things. The most important thing they’re studying now is about King Tut. Professor Zahi Hawas is heading that up. It’s a big project. They’re using special labs built to study mummies, and have found that Tutankhamen (an Egyptian pharaoh) had a cleft palate and a club foot.
Which tours are the most popular in Cairo?
Everyone wants to see the pyramids at Giza, which is very close to Cairo — also, the Egyptian Museum, which has the collected treasures of Tut as well as so many mummies. People love to see the old part of Cairo as well as the old markets.
What are the special things to see outside Cairo?
We go all over Egypt with On the Go (tour), though most tours start in Cairo. There are cruises on the Nile. On the boat, you stop and see temples and ruins and monuments. We stop to see the most famous things, like the Valley of the Kings and Karnak, which has the biggest temple in the world. There are all these attractions. Do you have a personal favourite? The Abu Simbel temples of Rameses II, 285 km south of Aswan. It’s my favourite because it can’t be compared to anything. It’s carved into the body of the mountain as one piece. They have a phenomenon at Abu Simbel called the Sun Festival two days of the year. And on those days, when the sun is rising, the rays shine into the inner part of the temple and on to the statues of the pharaoh and the three gods with him. What’s special about this is that the temple was made 3,300 years ago. Ancient Egyptians calculated this effect of the sun and planned the temple for it centuries ago.
What’s the best time to visit in terms of the climate?
Egypt has a mild climate all year. Christmas and New Year’s is a popular time for tourists. March and April are good time to visit too.
What can one expect to see on the Nile cruises?
What you see is beautiful. You have the water of the Nile, then trees, and desert behind it. You see the green fields and the farmers working there. It’s great scenery.
How is the desert sand different from the sand on the river bank?
The beach sand is more white; in the desert it’s more yellow. Both are fine sand, but the sand on the beach is softer.