10/17/2011 08:46 am ET Updated Dec 14, 2011

Exploring Egypt During The Turmoil (PHOTOS)

For centuries, Egypt has sparked the imagination of poets, writers, scientists and everyone in between. Because the ancient Egyptians were so advanced yet so mysterious, Egypt fascinates has long fascinated the Western world, where touring displays of ancient Egyptian artifacts still sell out, as they always have.

Egypt's landscape varies widely. Cairo is as densely populated and as modern as any city most in the US whereas villages in the lush Nile Valley have changed little in thousands of years. The Sahara dominates much of the country, with remote settlements dotting its brutal, beautiful expanse.

Tourism is vital here. Looking at the arrival numbers from before the protests this past January, it becomes clear how important the industry has become to modern Egypt. One estimate is that the country earned about 11 percent of its gross domestic product through tourist dollars alone in years past. The tourism industry normally employs around 2.5 million people across the country and affects the souvenir salesmen, the camel-ride operators, the people who manage the stalls in the bazaars and many more. Factoring in all of those directly and tangentially connected to tourism in Egypt, the total number of people whose businesses are affected strongly by tourists rises to about 10 million.

Currently, tour operators and travel agencies across the country are discounting their trips and tours to Egypt because political unrest has made the country a less desirable destination for the risk-averse. Many operators that were booked through 2013 are now looking at empty calendars, which makes now the perfect time for the more adventurous to head to Giza and beat the crowds.

A world of wonders is still waiting, nestled in the Egyptian desert. A portal into the history of humanity itself awaits along the land that runs beside the Nile River. It is a look into our own past, while the modern Egypt is an investment in our own future.

The Magnificent Wonder of Egypt