The Nile - the world's longest river - runs through Egypt, creating a fertile green valley down the middle of the country, from Lake Nasser in the south to the Mediterranean Sea in the north. Except for the Nile Valley, the rest of the land is desert, including parts of the Sahara. Temperatures in this northeastern corner of Africa regularly exceed 37°C, and rain is very scarce.
In addition, Egypt is plagued by periodic droughts, flash floods and sandstorms. Despite the inhospitable conditions, wildlife exists throughout the country, including camels, gazelles, ibex, hyena and jackal. The Nile has a number of fish species, and crocodiles can be found along the shores of Lake Nasser. The Red Sea hosts a large amount of coral reefs and marine fauna.
Other environmental problems include desertification, water pollution from agricultural run-off and industry, and oil pollution that threatens coral reefs and marine habitats, particularly in the Red Sea.
Humphead (or Napoleon, or Maori) wrasse. Red Sea, Egypt.
In Cairo, a group of people known as the Zabaleen (or “garbage collectors” in Arabic) collect and recycle a large portion of the city’s waste; steel, glass and plastic bottles are sorted by hand and sold as raw materials.
A great way to see Egypt is by train. The Cairo-Alexandria route is the busiest route, with frequent services daily. Overnight trains are available for travel from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan in Upper Egypt. Trains do not go to the Sinai and the major beach destinations of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. All trains in Egypt are run by the Egyptian National Railways.
There are ferries operating from Greece and Cyprus to Alexandria. You can also catch a ferry to Jordan (Aqaba) and Sudan (Wadi Halfa).
You can also get around Egypt by bus, both by luxury coach or local services. The luxury coaches are specially designed to travel between major cities and tourist destinations.
Cruising on a felucca – a traditional wooden sailing boat – down the Nile is a relaxing way to see the sights.
With so much traffic, the best way to get around Cairo is by foot. The city also has mini-buses, trams and a metro.
Egypt cuisine is known for its flavour and use of fresh ingredients. Rice and bread, usually pita bread, form the backbone of many Egyptian courses. Ful medames, or mashed fava beans, is the national dish often eaten at breakfast. Kushari is another national dish consisting of rice with black lentils, chickpeas, macaroni and garlic, vinegar and spicy tomato sauce as the topping.
Al-Azhar Park: Located in the oldest part of Cairo, this park, with its gardens, fountains and tree-lined paths, is an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a very crowded city. The highest point of the park offers a panoramic view of Cairo.
Ras Mohamed National Park: Located on the southernmost point of Sinai on the Gulf of Suez, this marine reserve is popular for scuba divers. Here, one finds mangrove trees, along with some 200 species of coral, about1,000 species of fish and other marine species, including turtles. The park also encompasses the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.
White Desert: Located in western Egypt in the Libyan Desert about 45km north of the small oasis town of Farafra, the White Desert is known for its massive chalk rock formations that have been recreated from sandstorms. The formations are cast pink at sunrise and sunset.
Lake Qarun: Located about 100km southwest of Cairo, Lake Qarun is one of the oldest natural lakes in the world and the third large lake in Egypt. The reserve is home to many species of birds, including ducks, gulls, waders, and sometimes flamingoes.
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