By Racheal Nabisubi
Travelling can be so awesome, especially when the area you descend on holds historical significance and yet displays the innovations of the present generation and prospects for future human advancement. Such places are hard to come by because they are just a handful of them across the world.
Egypt, the arid piece of land renowned for the source of human civilisation, is one such place. My visit there turned out to be an eye-opener that I chose to maximise it at all costs. Truth be told, like the buganda saying goes, ‘travelling is seeing and coming back is to tell stories’, which I am going to do here.
Showing off the three pyramids
Egypt is facing a number of challenges, both political and economic, which have led to a reduction in foreign exchange. Very few tourists are in the country for fear of their safety. But we were protected throughout the visit until we departed from Egypt.
Every country has an attraction that identifies them most. I always heard about the pyramids of Egypt and read about Mount Sinai in the Bible. I got a glimpse of these tourist sites in Egypt.
Amidst tight security in Cairo, the city was secure. There were roadblocks every after five minutes. The realisation of what a city looks like after a crisis was tough.
The people at the pyramids were a little harsh because they were struggling to get income. I discovered that the shortage of tourists within the area had made them aggressive.
Shereen Tousson, our tour guide, says: “The Pyramids, one of the wonders of the ancient world, cover 13 acres and the average weight of each stone is five pounds.”
Pyramids of Giza are a group of pyramids located in Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo. The largest pyramid is the Great Pyramid (also known as Khufu) and it stands 138 metres (451 feet) high.
Each side is oriented with one of the cardinal directions of the compass (north, south, east, and west). Khufu is made up of two million blocks of stone.
The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) is situated to the southwest of the Pyramid of Khufu. Although it appears to be taller than the Great Pyramid, as it stands on higher ground, it is actually smaller than that of Khufu.
Visitors can enter the Great Pyramid through a passage in the masonry. The pyramids are prominent for their incredible construction, which features a high degree of accuracy. They are constructed from limestone and granite.
Scientists found a puzzle in that there is no evidence of binding material used to stick the blocks together. Tousson further refutes allegations that the slaves were the ones who built this ancient site.
It was amazing looking at the ancient buildings of the Pharaohs which still appear very strong. It sets you wondering why it is very hard to find ancient buildings in Uganda today.
“Uganda needs to adopt a system of valuing and renovating what our ancestors left behind. This way, Ugandans can become patriots,” noted Christine Nakito, the manager of Palm Tours and Travels.
She added that Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo should be part of the regular tourist attractions like the source of the Nile, gorillas, Murchison Falls and Bwindi Impenetrable forest. The shrine should not be a seasonal place (only remembered on June 3).
A gentleman known as Mohammed led us through climbing Mountain Sinai, a sign that religion cannot be bent to retard economic standards of the country.
Although the Egyptian people have different religious sects, tourism unites them as one. Anything cultural or historical is very important and is believed to be a source of revenue and employment. For example, St. Catherine’s Monastery and Mount Sinai have Muslims residing there.
St. Catherine is said to be built at the spot where Moses encountered the burning bush as narrated in the biblical book of Exodus. It is the oldest monastery in Egypt, though it is currently closed due to the recent conflicts.
“I know it will take some time to reach the peak, but we can catch our breath whenever we feel tired. Moving in a circular direction, there is a point where you climb more than 1,000 steps to reach the peak. It feels great making it to the top. There is a coffee house to quench your thirst,” Mohammed explained.
It took us four hours to reach the top of Mt Sinai. Tousson informed us that the mountain is now known as St. Catherine. It was named after the king’s wife who decided to denounce the ‘worship of idols’ and instead worship God.
Through the eastern desert, we saw Alaska mines, where coal and aluminium are mined.