Travel Tips for Egypt
When approached with clear intention every moment of this trip will offer treasures and opportunity for growth. Before practical logistics, above all we encourage you to travel with an open mind. The cultural differences that you will experience are part of the adventure. This is also true for any difficulties or challenges that emerge. As much as possible, approach every circumstance as a part of your journey.
You will find the Egyptian people incredibly welcoming and eager to help make your journey everything you have hoped for. We encourage you to embrace their open hearts and the exuberant quality of Egyptian life.
The more you can smile and relax, the more you can receive. The more receptive you are, the more you will feel comfortable and at home as you move through your trip.
The following practical details will help with your planning and preparations.
All participants are required to have a passport that is valid for six months beyond our return date.
This is to be carried on your person or stored safely at all times. It is highly recommended to create THREE photocopies of the picture page that includes your passport number. Leave one copy at home and bring two. Our trip guide will carry a copy and you will want an extra copy of your own. You will have a safe in your room for storing valuables, both at the Mena House and on the Afandina.
A visa is required for entry into Egypt. The cost is $25 for US, Canadian or European citizens. Those traveling from the states can pay for this in US currency. You will purchase your travel visa at the airport in Cairo. No copy of your passport photo is necessary. If you are traveling from another country, please check with us or your embassy to be sure that you don’t need to purchase your visa in advance.
If you are flying to Cairo on Egypt Air from JFK, please allow enough time (at least 2 hours recommended) to get to the Egypt Air terminal. There have been times in the past when the Egypt Air check-in counter at JFK closed by 5:15pm and passengers needed to arrive at the ticket counter by then to guarantee getting on the flight. On the return flight to JFK be sure to leave enough time for your connection. Remember you will need to go through customs before going on to your connecting flight.
When you arrive in Egypt, our Quest Travel agent will greet you at the gate, arrange for your visa, and assist you through customs and with your bags. The whole process is very smooth and welcoming. On your return home, when you’re ready to leave we will arrange for transportation back to the airport.
If you are interested in extending your stay, we can arrange for extra days at our hotel after the tour. Please let us know in plenty of time if you wish longer accommodations at the end of your trip, so we’re able to make those arrangements for you.
A journey of this nature represents a significant financial investment. We strongly recommend that all participants obtain short-term travelers insurance covering unexpected circumstances, including lost baggage, accident/life insurance and trip cancellation. Trip cancellation insurance covers your losses on non-refundable air and land costs for trips canceled due to personal or family illnesses and unforeseen documented emergencies. It also covers the cost of emergency evacuation from remote areas.
We recommend trip insurance through Travel Insured International. In order to receive full benefits, you must buy trip insurance within 14-21 days of the date you submit your deposit. For more information please check with your personal travel agent or with Travel Insured International www.travelinsured.com ; 1-800-243-3174). This insurance only covers US citizens departing from the US. We suggest others consult with a local agent to find a reputable company.
Health Preparations & Precautions
There are no inoculation requirements for persons with flights originating in the US or Europe, however it is advisable to consult your physician regarding your personal needs.
Doctors and medical facilities are available to us in most places, however we strongly recommend that each participant bring their own personal preventive medicine supplies plus any medication needed. Your good health and good physical condition will enhance the experience for you as well as the rest of the group.
The most common health issue is diarrhea. It is recommended to take megadophilus or acidophilus daily for at least one month prior to travel, as well as for the duration of the trip. You may also want to bring an herbal immune-support formula.
Do not drink the tap water in Egypt! We strongly stress the use of bottled water (only) for drinking and brushing your teeth. Bottled water is readily available everywhere we stay.
Suggested Healthcare Supply List:
- Grapefruit seed extract (helpful for the stomach bug)
- Topical antiseptic and salve
- Charcoal tablets (dysentery)
- Vitamin C (Alacer-Emergen-C for easy travel)
- Band-Aids, ace bandage, moleskin for blisters
- Insect repellent
- Aloe Vera gel or other skin cream
- Sunscreen , Chapstick/lipbalm
- Golden Seal powder (for immune boosting)
- Small bottle of vodka (for sterilizing your toothbrush if it goes into contaminated water.)
- Immodium, Lomatil, Pepto Bismal (some swear by this as a preventative), or other diarrhea medication of personal preference – local medications are available.
Remember when flying to keep medications handy in carry-on bags, not packed away in luggage. Check online for current TSA restrictions regarding medication and carry-on bags.
Climate and Clothing
The climate in Egypt is dry year round, with sunshine every day. January is a perfect time to visit Egypt with the daytime temperature average in the 60 – 75 degree range. Cairo temperatures are on the cooler side, and the days will be warmer when we are traveling in the south from Aswan to Luxor The evenings in both places can get quite cool, especially on the river, and you will need a wrap at night. Occasionally it is cool in Cairo during the day as well, so be prepared with layers for our outings there.
Whatever the activity, women should remember that Egypt remains a conservative country and we wish to be respectful in our appearance. For women, shoulders should always be covered outside the hotels and boat (there are beautiful shawls available in Egypt). Skirt length should be below the knees. Keeping this in mind, bring comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for layers in the daytime. Light jackets and/or sweaters are advised for early morning and evening and also for the air conditioning in the hotels.
We will be doing a lot of walking so wear comfortable walking shoes—sneakers or sandals with a supporting back strap are ideal, and cotton socks. Pants are completely acceptable for the women and are definitely recommended for camel and/or horseback riding. In the evenings when we dine at our hotel or local restaurants, somewhat nicer attire is appropriate. Casual dress is acceptable, though you might like to plan for one or two evenings. We will certainly have opportunities to be festive. Again, don’t overpack! You will have a chance to shop along the way where wonderful, fun clothing can be purchased.
Hairdryers are provided in your rooms at the Mena House and on the boat. The Mena house also provides a tea/coffee pot in your room.
Please check baggage restrictions on your carrier to be sure that you comply with airline restrictions. We highly suggest that you only bring one checked suitcase with you to Egypt and bring (or buy) an additional empty duffel bag in order to have ample space for packing your purchases upon your return. If you arrive in Egypt with two full pieces of carry-on luggage, you will have no room on the return, so pack light and have fun shopping while you’re there!
Although you will never be required to carry your own luggage, you will appreciate traveling light. Remember that whatever bag(s) you bring will also need to be stored in your stateroom on the boat.
When packing for Egypt, remember to pack your valuables as well as an extra set of clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case your checked bags are delayed.
Computer: The Mena House has a business center and internet access in the rooms. You will need to bring an internet cable if you want to use your computer in your room at the Mena House. The Afandina also has internet access with wireless service.
Telephone: International telephone calls from Egypt are easy to make, and can be dialed directly from our hotel rooms. They are much more expensive from Egypt than from the States, depending upon your international plan. You can also call the US, then have your party call you back at a fraction of the cost (or pre-arrange your own “calling code”). We recommend that you get an international calling card from a reputable phone company that has an access number in Cairo, such as ATT or MCI, or contact your phone service provider for special arrangements for international calling plans.
Prior to our departure, you will receive a complete list of contact numbers to leave with those at home, including the hotel numbers where we will be staying. In case of emergency, you can always be reached through the Quest Travel office in Cairo, 011-202-376-8000.
If you are not using a digital camera, be sure to bring all the film and extra batteries that you will need as these are very expensive there. Likewise, film should be brought back to the states for developing. The film expiration date should be carefully checked and be good for at least one year from the date of purchase as it seems to deteriorate rapidly in Egypt’s arid climate.
Bring along a flash attachment with replaceable batteries if possible. This, along with your wide-angle lens, will produce the best results when photographing inside temples, pyramids and tombs. Since electric current in Egypt is 220 volts, special adapters and plugs will be needed for rechargeable units. Of course if you are using digital technology, you need to bring extra memory cards. There is very limited access for downloading your images during the trip, unless you bring your own computer.
There are currently two sites on the trip that don’t allow cameras. We’ll be sure you’re aware of them before we arrive. The rest of the temples are open for photography.
Money and Currency Exchange
The currency in Egypt is the pound, which is equal to 100 piastres. As of January 2015, 1 Egyptian pound (E£ or EGP) = $0.139 USD, or 14 cents; $1.00 USD = E£7.15.
We recommend waiting until you are in Egypt to exchange money. You will have no difficulty exchanging U.S. dollars into Egyptian pounds. Our hotel will be able to accommodate you during our stay in Cairo. Hotels and most larger shops will take VISA (not as many take MasterCard).
Traveler’s checks are not recommended – they are more of a hassle because you are required to show your passport in order to cash them, and many shops will not accept them. ATM’s are not always convenient, although they can be found when necessary.
A money belt or other safe, secure means of carrying money and documents is advisable. Once currency is exchanged, it helps to carry many one and five pound notes for gifting and tipping. You will have a personal safe in your room at the hotel and on the boat for securing your valuables at all times.
Please do not over pack! Keep in mind the ease of traveling without too many bags. Laundry is available at the hotel before and after our stay on the Afandina. Also remember that you will want space for your purchases on the return home. We will have lots of opportunities for shopping and that there are a wide range of treasures to buy at the markets.
Here’s a basic packing list for your trip:
- Small daypack for daily outings— helps to keep your hands free
- A strap or small bag for carrying your water bottle on daily outings
- Notebook and pens for journal writing
- Sunglasses and hat
- Small flashlight (may be useful in some of the temples and the Pyramid)
- Swimsuit for the Mena House pool (robe and towels are provided)
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Toiletries (must be compliant with TSA rules or placed in checked luggage)
- Earplugs (these can be very helpful during flights and also in shared rooms)
- Eye mask for sleep during flights
- Electrical adaptors for charging your phone, computer, and other appliances (European type with two round pins) An adaptor is adequate for most appliances. For certain appliances a converter is also required.
- Tissues in travel size packages (public toilets may lack paper)
- Moistened towelettes for daily outings
- Hand sanitizer
- Camera with film and/or extra memory cards
- TSA approved luggage locks for the flights
- Clothes that are comfortable and loose-fitting, keeping in mind Egypt’s conservative culture
- Good walking shoes, cotton socks, and good sandals (ie. Teva) with back support
- Sacred objects and ceremony items for the altars at our ceremonies. (We will be allowed to create simple altars during our private ceremonies at the Sphinx and Philae so you may want to bring a special stone or other object to be charged during the ceremony.)
- Personal snack food: Nuts, seeds, energy bars, favorite tea, etc. This can be especially helpful during our longer travel days at airports and on buses.
- Personal reading material as space allows
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