Exploring Cairo and Memphis Egypt

Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika

I never in my lifetime imagined I would find myself in Cairo, Egypt, but it has happened. My husband, my 86-year-old father and myself traveled to Northern Africa to be with our son and his family who are stationed there.

Egypt is a mysterious country we read about in the Bible and listen to news bytes about on the nightly news (and not always in a positive light). Self absorbed Pharoahs have left colossal monuments to themselves, which have made them unforgettable.

The extensive Nile River seems to defy nature by flowing northward towards the Mediterranean and giving life to a stretch of parched sandy covered Sahara. Gliding on a falucca guided by a toothless navigator up and down the Nile stands out as one of the favorite things we did in Egypt. The city lights of Cairo belied the impoverished state of much of the massive capital. Over 12 million people call it their home making it the most populated city in Africa.Sailing the Nile near Cairo, Egypt 2013

My son attempted to educate us on Egyptian history and culture by filling our days with trips to museums, citadels, mosques, pyramids, temples, as well as cities of the living and dead. It was like having a whole textbook full of Egypt stuffed into one week.

We had begun training for our trip to the land of sphinxes by biking and walking as often as we could, but nothing could have prepared us for the intense heat of the noonday sun in April. Unless you have very thick hair, you might want to don a hat to avoid getting sunburned on your bald spot like my husband did. There are only two seasons in Egypt with November through March usually cooler than the rest of the year. Warm winds from the desert whip fine dust around which clouds the air.

Our family live in a suburb of Cairo where many expats live. Bougainvilleas and palm trees colorize the monochromatic landscape.

One of the first places we visited was The Triad of Memphis. This is the ancient capital of Lower Egypt. I thought Memphis was only in Tennessee, but I was wrong. Few ruins of what used to be a prosperous dynasty still remain. The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that Memphis would be desolate. Prepare your baggage for exile, daughter living in Egypt, for Memphis will become a desolate place. It will become a ruin without inhabitant. Jeremiah 46:19. 

Ramses II at Memphis, Egypt Copyright REK

And here we were! I wondered if I was at risk, since many people had expressed their concern before I left, knowing I was headed for Egypt. Fortunately, we had a great tour guide who was a good friend to my son. We learned that many chariot factories were anciently located in Memphis as well as richly decorated edifices adorned with gold and precious stones.Head of Goddess Hathor, Memphis, Egypt (Limestone) Copyright REK

The temple of Ptah, where many pharaohs were crowned, was built by Seti and remnants are in Memphis. Colossal statues of Ramses II once stood in front of the temple, two of which still exist. We were fortunate enough to see one of them. It now lays horizontally inside a protective building where you can look down on it. The statue has a cartouche (emblem identifying the image) engraved on the right shoulder, on the belt and on the breast.

Not too far from Ramses II is a sphinx carved from a single block of alabaster weighing eight tons. It is believed to have flanked the entryway to the temple of Ptah.Sphinx at Memphis, Egypt


I plan to write much more about our amazing trip to Egypt, so stay tuned.


Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, and has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:


email: kongaikr@byuh.edu


Traveling to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and The Holy Lands

 Traveling to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and the Holy Lands offer everything from stunning natural scenery to world-class cities to some of the planet’s most important cultural and historical landmarks. From the pyramids of Ancient Egypt to the amazing sights of Istanbul, this region offers a dizzying array of incredible places to see and interesting things to do.


The Sphinx and Pyramid in EgyptThe cradle of the Ancient Egyptian civilization and some of the world’s most historic landmarks, Egypt is both fascinating and exhilarating. Travelers will find many exciting Egypt Tours availble. Cairo boasts a wealth of world-renowned museums and historic sites to explore such as the famed Egyptian Museum, Tahrir Square and the Giza Zoo while the beautiful city of Alexandria boasts attractions like the Library of Alexandria, the Citadel of Qaitbay and the Alexandria National Museum. Other must-see landmarks and destinations in Egypt include the iconic Giza Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and the Ancient Egyptian ruins of Saqqara and Memphis.


Ancient roman columns and paved streets in Jerash, JordonAn ancient and beautiful land, Jordan is home to some of the world’s most important cultural sites and stunning natural scenery all around. The archeological ruins of Petra are nothing short of astounding and are among the country’s premier attractions while the capital city of Amman plays host to fascinating Ancient Roman ruins and the must-see National Archeological Museum.


The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey.Turkey boasts wondrous landscapes, ancient ruins to explore and some of the world’s greatest cities. Istanbul holds nearly 2,000 years of history and culture to discover as well as architectural treasures like Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. It also boasts interesting historical sites such as the Galata Tower and the Old City Walls and a wide array of world-renowned museums like the Museum of Archeology. Another top destination in Turkey is the city of Antalya, known for its beautiful beaches and dramatic seaside scenery. Other top attractions and destinations in Turkey include Mount Nemrut, the ancient ruins of Ephesus and Ani, the breathtaking Mediterranean coastline and the bustling capital city of Ankara.


Ksar Ait Benhaddou in Souss-Massa-Dral along the Ouarzazate River. Morocco.This North African nation offers much to see and do as well. A leading destination is the famous city of Casablanca, renowned for its cafes, shops, galleries and historic sites like Old Medina. The historic city of Fez is known for its stunning medieval and ancient architecture while the capital city of Rabat hosts great museums like the National Archeological Museum and sites of interest like the stunning Royal Palace, Old Medina and the ruins of Chellah. Outside of its major cities, Morocco sports top destinations like the elegant beaches of Agadir and the ancient coastal town of Essaouira.

Holy Land

Saint Town JerusalemThe Holy Land offers a wealth of fascinating sites for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Jerusalem in particular offers amazing attractions like the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Old City, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the fascinating Israel Museum. Other premier destinations and attractions in the Holy Land region include the stunning Mount Sinai, Bethlehem, Nazareth and the beautiful Sea of Galilee.

Interested in visiting these and many other cultural and historical landmarks in the area? Travelers will find many Egypt travel packages are available to fit any budget.


Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Cape Town South Africa

Anyone visiting Cape Town, South Africa, should consider a day trip to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Located just a few kilometers south of the old city center of Cape Town, the Kirstenbosch Gardens are acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens in the world. The grandeur of the setting alone, on the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, makes these gardens unmatched for visual drama.

Kirstenbosch Gardens were established in 1913 to conserve and display the richly diverse flora of region, and was the first botanic garden exclusively devoted for this purpose. With over 7,000 species under cultivation and over 22,000 indigenous species naturally preserved, the gardens display an immense variety of the flora of the area, as well as rare and threatened examples from all the diverse regions throughout southern Africa.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Cape Town, South AfricaThe beautiful botanical gardens cover 36 hectares out of the 528 hectares of the grounds. Most of the estate is mountainside nature preserve supporting natural forest and fynbos, along with a variety of native animals and birds. Kirstenbosch lies in the middle of the Cape Floral Kingdom, also known as the Cape Floristic Region, which in 2004 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The gardens are a celebration for the eyes, showcasing the diverse variety of South African plants. Fynbos and Proteas, Cycads and many more are intermingled across rolling lawns, with streams and ponds and meandering yet well-planned paved pathways for easy walking. There are plaques and signs placed along the way to provide information about the various trees and plants on display.

There are two restaurants on the grounds: The Botanical Café and the Silver Tree Restaurant, and picnic luncheons can be arranged. There is a free daily walking tour everyday at 10:00 a.m., and golf cart tours every hour for R45. On Sundays from November through April, sunset musical concerts are held on the grounds. Prices vary. The entrance fees are R35 for adults, R20 for students and R10 for children.

The Gardens are 13 kilometers from Cape Town city center, and are open to the public 365 days a year from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. September through March, and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. April through August.

If you are visiting Cape Town, be sure to set aside at least part of a day to enjoy the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, but once there you will undoubtedly want to make a whole day of it.


Scenic Day Trip, Table Mountain Cape Town

Visitors to Cape Town may enjoy taking a scenic day trip to Table Mountain. Just fifteen minutes from downtown Cape Town, this is one attraction that can’t be missed! The mountain is easy to access with transportation options like rikki taxis, metered taxis, sightseeing buses, city buses, or your own vehicle.

Once you reach the lower station, climb aboard the cable car to begin the five minute ascent to the top of the mountain. The cable cars rotate 360 degrees offering panoramic views of the city for the entire journey to the top. For the more adventurous tourists, there are also hiking trails to the top. It is about a 3k trek, and is considered challenging. It’s not recommended for young children or elderly. Table Mountain administration also reminds you that high winds can shut down the cable cars, so plan ahead and dress accordingly in case you have to walk back down!

Cape Town from Table Mountain, South AfricaOnce you are at the summit of the mountain, take in the breathtaking views of downtown Cape Town, the ocean, and surrounding mountains. There are plenty of scenic viewing points on top of Table Mountain that offer spectacular views of sights like Cape Town Stadium, the Cape Flats, and Devil’s Peak. Since the top of the mountain is flat, navigating it is not challenging and makes enjoying the views even better.

There are other sightseeing opportunities as well, and there are even wheelchair accessible routes. The flora and fauna in Table Mountain National Park is abundant and exciting to discover. Visitors may see mongooses, snakes, butterflies, lizards, porcupines, and over a thousand different varieties of plant life.

For those looking for an extreme thrill, try Abseil Africa! This is a one-of-a-kind experience and can be the most exciting thing you ever do. Step off the mountain at 1000 meters above sea level and rappel down with nothing but the air around you. The abseil from Table Mountain is the highest commercial abseil in the entire world!

Tourists can enjoy a meal, snack, or drink at the cafe on top of the mountain. There is also a souvenir shop to purchase trinkets. There is something for every one of all ages and all stages at Table Mountain!


Cape Town Wine Country Day Trips

Located approximately thirty minutes away from Cape Town, Stellenbosch is a small town in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Franschhoek is located about thirty minutes east of Stellenbosch. As such, both towns are easily accessible from Cape Town and great places for a day trip. There are numerous private and group tours with daily departures that can be arranged from Cape Town. It’s also an easy trip to self-drive by hiring a car for the day, especially when traveling with two or more people.

The obvious reason that most people visit Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is to see the many wineries. Many of the wineries are easily accessible by foot, but others are best reached by minibus or van, which can be arranged through the wineries themselves or as part of a longer trip from tour operators in Cape Town. Most winery tours include wine tastings and tours of the wine making facilities. Other tours may include lunch or historical guided tours through the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

Stellenbosch Winery, Cape Town South AfricaDespite the wineries being the biggest draw, there are many other activities available in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The close proximity of the wineries means that local restaurants are of very high quality, with plenty of fresh local food and wine. These are great places to eat lunch or dinner, or even buy items such as fresh fruit, bread, meats, and wine for a picnic. In addition to the many wine tastings, there are also cheese tastings.

For travelers who are outdoor enthusiasts, there is plenty to do in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and the surrounding areas. There are many great places to go hiking, biking through the vineyards, rock climbing, and for real daredevils, skydiving. There are also several golf courses in the area.

Stellenbosch also has several museums to tour, including The Stellenbosch Museum and Fick House, both excellent examples of colonial Dutch architecture and a glimpse into a different time. Franschhoek has the Huguenot Memorial and Museum, a museum about the town’s founders, the French Huguenots who fled Europe during the Inquisition. Both towns also have a variety of places to shop, with Stellenbosch having more options, with lots of places to buy jewelry, clothing, wine, art, and other fun trinkets.


Cape Peninsula National Park, Cape Town

Cape Peninsula National Park and Cape Point Cape Town South Africa

Essentially situated within the city limits of Cape Town, South Africa, Table Mountain National Park is one of the main highlights of any visit to this city. Most people allow at least an hour or two for a visit, but plan to spend all day if you intend to visit Cape Point. In fact, there are so many fascinating sights within the national park that time will fly and you’ll probably be anxious for a return visit.

Misty Beach, Cape Point Peninsula National Park, Cape Town South AfricaThe national park stretches from Table Mountain in the north all the way to Cape Point in the south. Cape Point, as the southwestern most tip of Africa, is a natural wonder where two oceans meet. Visitors can either hike to the point or board the Flying Dutchman funicular for spectacular views and a more leisurely trip. Visitors will find that the Point is well equipped to meet their needs with interpretive signs and plenty of facilities. The Two Oceans Restaurant offers delicious food along with unforgettable ocean views and the Tigers Eye Curio Shop stocks souvenirs suitable for taking home as a memento.

The Cape also features two lighthouses, one of which is still operational and assists vessels as they voyage around the Cape of Good Hope. The cape enjoys a Mediterranean climate similar to the Cape Town weather, giving it summers that are typically hot and dry and winters that are generally brief and wet. Consequently, it is a good idea for visitors to arrive prepared for the weather. Everyone is encouraged to bring proper sun protection like a hat and sunblock along with plenty of water. A suitable windbreaker and rain gear are suggested in adverse conditions. Because of the many hiking opportunities throughout the national park, visitors should also carry a snack and a well-detailed map to ensure a pleasurable excursion.

Within the boundaries of the park visitors are likely to encounter numerous native animals such as baboons and zebras. These encounters offer excellent opportunities for photography, though visitors are cautioned to avoid approaching the animals for safety reasons. The flora is diverse and in some cases unique to the cape, providing exciting opportunities for amateur botanists.

A visit to Cape Point is an ideal day trip from Cape Town. The park is so close to the city that a return visit is easy to accomplish. Allow at least a full day to experience most of what this unique park has to offer to visitors.

 If looking for more information on Cape Town check out mydestination.com/capetown


Behold the Beauty of Cape Town

This beautiful African metropolis is brimming with vibrant culture, steeped in historical significance, and a home to thriving wildlife. There is always an adventure to be had while traveling in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa. Known as the “Mother City” of South Africa, Cape Town is perched on the coastline and enjoys the status as one of the world’s most iconic cities. It is certainly a town worth visiting to marvel at the natural beauty of Africa’s southern coast.Cape Town South Africa

The Castle of Good Hope, locally referred to simply as The Castle, is South Africa’s oldest surviving building. Built between 1666 and 1679, The Castle is home to impressive art and military paraphernalia collections including the William Fehr Collection. This includes an old Cape Dutch furniture exhibit that is quite interesting.

Situated at the back of Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens offer endless displays of beautiful South African flora. The plants and flowers of the Cape, exhibited in the gardens, are hugely diverse and incredible spectacular to behold. The plants housed at Kirstenbosch include rare succulents, a giant baobab tree, and fascinating examples of medicinal plants native to the Cape.

It is impossible to journey to Cape Town without recognizing the historical significance of the city. This can best be appreciated during a visit to Robben Island where political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, served time. Some of the tour guides were at one time prisoners, so they can offer unique insight into the events that took place in the prison.

Table Mountain and Cape Town South AfricaTable Mountain presides over the city of Cape Town and offers spectacular views to those who venture to its peak. Adventure seekers can hike to the top of the mountain, while those who do not want to spend a day climbing a mountain can hop onto a cable car that will bring passengers straight to the top. The Table Mountain vistas are not to be missed.

Cape Town’s stunning beauty is not only enjoyed from the top of a mountain, but can also be experienced in the ocean and among the wildlife. There are two National Parks in the city, Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and Nature Reserve as well as Table Mountain National Park. Both offer stunning landscapes and chances to glimpse the local fauna. Divers, swimmers, and sailors will enjoy spending their time in the beautiful Cape Hope water. The sandy beaches and turquoise water offer the perfect setting for fun in the sand and surf.

Gourmands will enjoy learning about and tasting the region’s wine. South African wines have been gaining popularity worldwide; so spend some time on a wine tour on one of the many impressive vineyards near Cape Town.

Cape Town is not only an impressive South African city, but it has real international appeal. The architectural marvels, tasty cuisine, and fascinating wildlife all provide ample reasons to visit the Cape. There is culture to be experienced, history to learn, and adventures to be had in this seaside city dominated by a mountain and surrounded by and incredibly beautiful natural environment.

Travelers to the area will find a wide assortment of Cape Town hotels to suit any budget. International visitors will be most likely arriving into Cape Town International Airport, South Africa’s second busiest airport and locate a short 12 miles from downtown Cape Town. Looking for places to stay? click here for more information on accommodation in Cape Town.


Dining in Tanzania

Serangeti Safari, TanzaniaMany tourists choose Tanzania for their African holiday due to the vast availability of safari tours, national parks and dive sites. After a day on safari or a hike through the mountains, many tourists are left wondering which among the dozens of restaurants they should choose. Here is a list of popular restaurants in Tanzania to make that choice a bit easier.

Tunza Lodge

Located on Ilemela Beach, Mwanza, the Tunza Lodge is not only a popular place to stay in Tanzania, the Tunza Lodge is  the choice of eatery for locals and tourists alike. Stop by for a full meal or have a seat at The Cockpit Bar for a drink and a choice off of the a la carte menu. The scenery at Ilemela Beach can relax even the weariest of travelers!

Onsea House Arusha

Offering African, Belgian, Italian and Vegetarian cuisines, Onsea House Arusha is located on Baraa Road in Moshono Village. Options both dine-in and takeout though, if you plan on dining in, reservations are recommended. For the budget conscious, try ordering off of the set menu. Many recommend a sunset meal on the terrace for the most breathtaking local views.

Leone L’Africano

One may not expect to find an Italian restaurant in Africa but that’s exactly what you’ll find in Dodoma. Leone L’Africano offers guests the chance to enjoy a drink at the bar before heading to the garden for dinner. Owned by Italians, you should expect nothing but the best authentic Italian cuisine offered on the continent.

KilimanjaroShah Tours – Mountain Inn

Mountain Inn is Shah Tours base hotel located in close proximity to Kilimanjaro National Park. In the dining room, you can enjoy Indian cuisine from either the set or a la carte menus. Seating choices include the bar, the gardens or the lawns. No matter where you choose to enjoy your meal, you’ll leave satisfied with both the food and the atmosphere.


Open for dinner, the Diner, located on Kenyatta Road in Mwanza, offers a more casual dining experience. Offering a fairly extensive selection of Indian cuisine, as well as Chinese food, Diner is a fun place to pop into for an evening meal.

Traveling in the country is quite the experience and dining in Tanzania should be no different. Consult your tour guide(s), fellow travelers and friendly locals when deciding on your dining location. No matter where you decide to eat, be sure to try at least one traditional African dish before you return home! Click here for more information on Tanzania.


Plan a Safari Adventure in Tanzania

Ruaha National Park , TanzaniaThe United Republic of Tanzania, home to the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, is a scenic country filled with inspiring natural beauty and steeped in historical importance. This eastern African state boasts some of the best National Parks where tourists can witness wildlife in their own territory. As the country is bordered by the Indian Ocean on the east, there are also plenty of activities for those who enjoy the sun and surf. Finally, any travelers visiting Tanzania should not overlook the rich history of the area, which stretches back to pre-human hominids. This country is brimming with opportunity and excitement for any tourist interested in an African adventure.

There are many beautiful National Parks well worth visiting throughout Tanzania. The parks in the Northern portion of the country tend to be more popular among tourists, but the parks in the south should not be over looked. This is especially true for those visitors hoping to experience the local’s lifestyle. These southern parks include Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve, which have a much greater variety of wildlife than Serengeti National Park. Ruaha, colloquially known as “Giraffe Park”, is home to large numbers of giraffes, elephants, lions, and rare hunting dogs. Selous Game Reserve is one of two parks in Tanzania that has rhinos.

Zebras, TanzaniaAside from the spectacular wildlife roaming the Tanzanian countryside, there are both sea and mountains to experience while touring this African state. Many tourists journeying to Tanzania want to climb Kilimanjaro, making the area around the largest peak in Africa quite busy. Still, for those with a yen for adventure, organizing a hike to the top is quite rewarding and offers unmatched views of the countryside surrounding the mountain. In addition to the rugged mountain terrain, there are also exotic islands to enjoy and seaside activities to take part in. Zanzibar, an island just off the coast, is great for swimming with dolphins and snorkeling. Small populations of Colobus monkeys have also made their home in the Joanzi Forest on the island.

A trip to Tanzania would not be complete without taking time to learn a bit about the area’s history. In fact, the country boasts two of the best Stone Age sites in the world. Isimila Gorge and the small settlement on Zanzibar have some of the earliest examples of human art, estimated to be around 30,000 years old. There are also slave trade sites that can be visited which, while solemn, are also interesting and informative.

Tanzania is a country that is rich with wildlife, idyllic natural terrain, and human history. When planning a trip, try to go between June and August. This is the end of the rainy season, so the temperatures are bearable during the day and comfortable in the evening. A journey to the country does require an adventurous spirit and a desire to encounter other cultures, but there is so much to experience that no one should miss a chance to visit. So, brush up on some common Swahili phrases, and get ready for a trip no one could forget.


Namibia, Getting To Know One Of Africa’s Treasures

Elephants in NamibiaNamibia is one of the more tourist-friendly countries in Africa. Its primary appeal to visitors is its stunning environmental beauty, including sprawling nature preserves and otherworldly desert landscapes. A country of 2.1 million people, Namibia is the second-least densely populated country in the world. This means that much of its landscapes are relatively untouched, especially when one considers how many Namibians live in the country’s capital, Windhoek.

Germans were the first Europeans to colonize present-day Namibia, arriving in the late 19th century. South Africa took control of Namibia from Germany after the First World War, and administered it under the discriminatory apartheid system until Namibia gained independence in 1990. Since then, Namibia has been a politically stable country, although it clearly remains poor by “First World” standards.

Given its size, Namibia’s climate and natural environment can vary widely. The vast majority of Namibian life takes place in the so-called “Central Plateau,” where Windhoek, the country’s capital lies. Since most international travelers will likely be flying into Windhoek, one has to take into account that this area of Namibia can be scorching in the summer or frigid during winter nights, depending on the season. Much of the rest of Namibia is semi-arid, or simply full-on desert. In fact, Namibia contains part or all of two major world deserts: the Namib Desert, and the Kalahari.

The official language of Namibia is English, and is widely spoken in the urban and tourist areas of the country. Aside from English, Afrikaans is spoken widely, and the country also recognizes a variety of native languages, including some of the “click” languages that this part of Africa is famous for. Although the European legacy of colonization has obviously had much of an impact on present-day Namibian culture, this country’s inhabitants have been successful in preserving many of the elements of their traditional ways of life. In particular, Oshiwambo is the first language of approximately 50% of all Namibians.

Aside from mining, which is the country’s largest industry, tourism is the biggest driver of Namibia’s economy. Many Hotel, lodges and small boutique inns provide travelers  amble opportunities for accommodation in Namibia.

Fish River Canyon NamibiaPerhaps Namibia’s star attraction is Etosha National Park, where you can easily spend days or weeks meandering around the park looking for African wildlife in its natural habitat, including lions, zebras, and tigers. You can even camp in the park, or stay in one of the many Namibia’s hotels or lodges there, and all the campsites there have floodlit waterholes where you can see the park’s wildlife from the comfort of your sleeping bag. Fish River Canyon National Park is another star attraction of Namibia’s nature scene. The main attraction here is the stunning natural beauty of the gigantic canyon, and the rushing waters of the Fish River will certainly be a sight for sore eyes after trekking in the Kalahari Desert!

While like all of Africa, Namibia is not without its travel challenges, its political stability and natural beauty makes it a great option for travelers to Africa. You are sure to come back with amazing wildlife photos and a new perspective on the continent after a trip to Namibia! For more information on accommodation in Namibia, click here

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