Quseir - Egypt

Quseir is a quiet resort on the Red Sea with sandy beaches, clear waters and coral reefs located 50 miles (85 km) south of Safaga. The town's narrow streets are lined with colourful bazaars which have a decidedly Bedouin accent. Al-Quseir, known in Ptolemaic times as the White Harbor, has a long history as one of the major ports of the Red Sea. From here, Queen Hatshepsut launched her expedition to the Land of Punt, as depicted in the reliefs in Deir el-Bahari temple at Luxor. Legend has it that the expedition returned with two live panthers and 21 incense trees. The oldest part of town lies between the port and the 16th century Ottoman fortress of Sultan Selim, ruler of Egypt during the 16th century, who built an impressive fortress which speaks of a lively town of strategic importance. An ancient caravan trail, to Qift in the Nile Valley, leads from al-Quseir through the mountains, passing several Pharaonic and Roman sites. The remains of Myos Hormos are only 5 miles north of present Al-Quseir, where one can see the ancient port structures and, scattered on the terrain, a myriad of Roman amphorae. More interesting sites are to be found in the surrounding area, such as the mines at Bir Umm Fawakir, the rock pictures at Wadi Russumat, and the vast Roman settlement at Mons Claudianus.