Abu Simbel
What can be said about Egypt?  It has some of the most titanic historical sites in the world, and unfortunately the Egyptians know it.  I had previously been to Egypt in 1999 (shortly after the Hatshepsut temple massacre of Swiss tourists) and only made it as far up the Nile as Luxor.  This time, since I was approaching Egypt from the south, I wanted to catch the Nubian sites that I missed last time, and so I booked a flight out of Luxor to leave Africa for good.  It was a good call.  The gobsmacking temple of Abu Simbel (pictured above) in the far south of Egypt may be the finest temple in all of Africa, both for the imposing sentinels (of the pharaoh Ramses II who placed himself next to some gods) as well as the sublime tomb interiors.

Abu Simbel Abu Simbel
Close up views of the figure statues and an inscription on the facade of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel.

 Edfu horusEdfu
The seldom visited temple of Horus (the falcon headed god) in Edfu, situated along the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, is no less impressive than any of the great temples in Egypt, and the absence of tour group hordes is a welcome relief.

Colossi of Memnon
Two of the classic monuments in Luxor, the city on the site of the ancient royal town of Thebes.  The other obelisk from the Luxor Temple (above) stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.  The Colossi of Memnon (below) stand as sentry guardians to the temples of West Thebes and the Royal Necropolis in the Valley of the Kings (containing King Tutankhamen's tomb among many others).

For most travellers, a visit to Egypt is a mixed bag.  Impressive sites, low prices, quality comfort (especially welcome after a couple of weeks roughing it in the Sudan), and excellent tourist infrastructure are tempered by the dismay of having to withstand aggressive and sometimes swindling sales pitches, sneaky dual pricing, and generally being treated as a walking moneybag.  These attitudes of course are most severe in tourist towns like Aswan and Luxor and not so bad elsewhere, but it is regrettably an inextricable part of Egyptian memories that most people carry back home with them.