Forget the tourist train in Egypt - head for Siwa Oasis, or a Beginner's Arabic Course in Cairo

The Pyramids at Giza, the Temples at Luxor, The Sinai Desert, the cities of Alexandria and Cairo and on and on and on – but look, because of the very presence of tourists who’ve all but killed off what they come to see in the first place – these places are absolutely chokka every day of the year with tour groups, hawkers, camera clickers, camera nickers, muggers, huggers and some awfully stinky buggers.

So, what to do? well you could slip down to the isolated Oasis of Siwa near the Libyan border which is a world away from the frenzy of the delta. A virtually independent state until the late 20th century, it is worth going down for the local olive oil and dates alone, you’ve not tasted anything like these, believe me

But if you insist on seeing Cairo then how about not just seeing it, but really experiencing it. Pupils of the Bridge Abroad programme will learn the Egyptian dialect (one of the easiest to pick up) as well as classical Arabic on a week's beginners' course in Cairo.

The focus is on learning through interaction with some of the city's 14.5 million residents, after daily lessons in a school 15 minutes from the centre.

Afternoons are spent among the throng, picking up more vocabulary in the souks, cafes and squares, and at lectures, concerts, cinemas and the famous sites 0808 120 7613

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