In the fifth century BC Herodotus wrote of Egypt that 'nowhere are there so many marvelous things...nor in the world besides are to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness' - and not too much has changed. The Sphinx, the Nile, ancient Luxor, the pyramids - Egypt's scope is glorious.
It's not just the Pharaonic monuments that have drawn travelers to this country since long before the birth of Christ - it's the legacy of the Greeks, Romans and early Christians, and the profusion of art and architecture accumulated from centuries of successive Islamic dynasties.
Modern Egypt is an amalgam of these legacies and more, juxtaposed with modern influences. Mud-brick villages stand beside millennia-old ruins surrounded by buildings of steel and glass. Some townsfolk dress in long flowing robes, others in Levis and Reeboks, and city traffic competes with donkey-drawn carts and wandering goats. Nowhere are these contrasts played out so colorfully as in Cairo, a massive city thronged with people and ringing to the sound of car horns, ghetto-blasters and muezzins summoning the faithful to prayer. Egypt isn't all chaos and clatter, however. It's also a diver's dream dip, a trek across the sands on a camel or a long lazy punt down the Nile.