Practicalities

Passports and Visas. Both are required for entry. In March 2015 Egypt joined many other countries by asking for Visa’s to be done in advance of travel via your local Egyptian Embassy. (Note as of 2 April 2015 it is reported that implementation of needing Visa’s prior to travel has been postponed).

Wi Fi Increasingly Wi Fi is available across the country.  In the hotels we select it is mostly available, in room, for a fee or free in lobby areas.  We can specially arrange a USB WiFi stick for you if you ask in advance, for payment of a small fee.

Registration. Within 7 days of arrival every visitor must register with the police and in  every city throughout the stay. Hotels provide the service automatically. Mostly  it  will be necessary to leave your passport with the hotel but this poses no  concern; they are always returned.

Money. The Egyptian pound is divided into 100 piasters with denominations identified  both in English and Arabic. Currency can be exchanged at the airport. Visitors  must declare all money brought into the country (but this is rarely enforced).  When changing currency the visitor receives a form which should be presented to  the bank teller each time currency is exchanged at a bank and this form may be  examined upon departure. Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels and the  larger stores but infrequently in smaller shops. ATM cards can be used locally,  but we advise checking with your issuing bank before you leave home. Egyptian  currency may not be taken out of the country.

As of October  2014, you get around 7 LE ( Egyptian Pound ) to   US$1.

Tipping. Tipping is an integral part of daily and we provide our Guests with Tipping Guidelines.

Business Hours. Banks are usually open from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM every day except Sunday when  hours are 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon. Stores are usually open from 8:30 AM to 1:30  PM and 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM. in summer; 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM in winter. Businesses  close on Fridays and many on Saturdays. Some shops close on Sundays.

Health Concerns.We  do suggest always checking the website of the Centers for Disease Control for the most current information on health concerns.   Currently (Oct 2014 there are no specific innoculations needed).  Only if  coming from an area infected by either cholera or yellow fever does one need a  health certificate for entry. Eating uncooked fruits and vegetables or drinking  local water can lead to “Ramses Revenge”…taking a supply of an anti-diarrheic  medication is strongly recommended. Pharmacies are usually open from 10 AM until  10 PM and all pharmacists speak some English. Bottled mineral water is available  everywhere and is very inexpensive.

What To Bring/Wear.Breathe-ability is the key to successful travel clothing. With casual,  comfortable and loose-fitting garments that can be added or subtracted in layers  you can easily move from sweltering day to chilly evenings. Wash and wear  clothing is a great benefit and while the large hotels all provide laundry  service you may only wish to wash a single shirt or top…and may find it’s much  easier to do it yourself in the bathroom sink. Modest clothing, for both men and  women, should always be worn: keep shoulders and upper arms covered, skirts  above the knee and shorts for both sexes are frown upon. For women a one-piece  bathing suit is a better choice than even a less-revealing two-piece style.  Comfortable walking shoes are essential, as is a hat, umbrella, sunscreen and  lip balm as the Egyptian sun can be ferocious. Travel as lightly as possible as  you’ll be on the move a lot. Besides camera and lots of film, lightweight  binoculars are useful as well as a small flashlight for the less-well-lit  tombs.  Bring a supply of the over-the-counter medicines (aspirin or other pain  reliever, eye drops, first aid creme, band aids, etc.) you may need and any  prescription medicines in their prescribed containers.

Cameras.Today virtually every traveler brings a digital camera.  However if you are  contemplating bringing a video camera it is best to record the camera’s  registration number as this may be requested by Egyptian Customs when entering  the country.  Also, if you have camera equipment that looks to be “professional”  (heavy tripod, extra lighting equipment) you will be asked to purchase photo  permits.  Egypt regulates professional photography very closely and permits can  be expensive.  Also, these days, almost all interior photography is not  permitted, even flash-free photography.

Electricity. 220 volts 50 cycles AC in Cairo and most areas EXCEPT Alexandria, Heliopolis and  Maadi where the electricity is 110 volts AC 50 cycles. Wall plugs are the round,  two pronged European style.

People. Egypt  has a population of well over 85 million and its rapid increase is a primary  governmental concern. Egyptians are warm, friendly, courteous and genuinely  pleased to have visitors in their country. Every effort will be made to satisfy  the visitor, however, be forewarned, things may not always be “mumkin”  (possible) and patience may be required. It is considered rude to be abrupt and  social congress is the norm during every interpersonal transaction. Haggling or  dickering over a price is considered social sport and not to engage in it is  almost offensive to the merchant. “Baksheesh” or tipping is the normal way of life.

Egypt is  a Muslim country which, while progressive in many ways, holds religious  traditions and tenets quite seriously. Women, although occupying many  professional positions, are still not equal by law to men. Most public places  are basically male bastions. Many women, even in urban Cairo, do wear the veil  but it is probably more a statement of modesty or piety, rather than of  obligatory necessity. While alcohol is permitted (and Stella, the locally brewed  beer, is actually very refreshing) moderation is the key. Some absolute don’ts  include:

  • Don’t drink and  drive (good advice anywhere) and don’t overindulge in alcohol
  • Don’t bring  illegal substances in the country (penalties are very severe)
  • Don’t touch or  deface in any way any of the monuments
  • Don’t pick up  rocks in the desert without checking first for either snakes or scorpions
  • Don’t go barefoot  or touch the coral reefs…you could get a nasty scratch as well as kill what  you’ve touched
  • Don’t touch  anything living in the reefs…you could get bitten or shocked
  • Don’t even attempt  a Pyramid climb…it is strictly forbidden now

Safety. Cairo  is safer than any large Western city, but as in any country (including your own)  common sense and precautions should be used. Wandering alone is not recommended  and we strongly recommend against our women guests traveling alone or even in  pairs in certain areas without an able-bodied male escort.  Virtually all hotel  rooms have in-room safes (or if not, there will be a safe at Reception) and this  is where you should store any valuables when not on your person.

National Holidays Include:

  • February 23 – Union Day
  • April 25 – Liberation of Sinai Day
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • July 23 – Anniversary of the 1952 Revolution
  • October 6 – Armed Forces Day
  • October 24 – Suez Day
  • December 23 – Victory Day

Religious Holidays.These are based on the lunar calendar and shift from year to year.  The primary  and extensive religious holiday is the fasting month of Ramadan but tourism is  unaffected.  Your guide & driver will not eat or drink between sun up and sun  down but tourism facilities are available for the Non-Muslim.

News.  All hotels  will have in room TV and most will pick up CNN International and the BBC.   English language newspapers are available in all major cities.

Global Phone Cards.   If you have a GSM phone you will be able to  purchase a SIM card to allow the phone to operate in Egypt.  Your guide will be  able to help you find a local phone store.

Mail &  Shipping Services.   Mail is reliable and fairly speedy. If you purchase something  you’d like shipped, allow the shopkeeper to do it for you and be sure to get a  receipt…using a credit card may be the best way to pay for an item you would  like to have shipped.

U.S.  Services for Tourists.   Must reading before your trip for U.S. citizens is “Know Before You Go”  on the U.S. Customs website.   Also on the must read list is the U.S.  Department of State’s International Travel section which also provides a link to  register your tour with the local U.S. Embassy.    

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