In case you experience diarrhea on your trip, take some packages of
Ceralyte. This is a
rice-based oral hydration drink that can be quite effective in helping you
get back up to speed after digestive upsets due to bacteria or viruses.
Rehydration is the basic step you can take to overcome the problems
associated with diarrhea,
Cipro - if you do come down with a bad case of diarrhea, you might need to
take an anti-biotic. We work with a physician specializing in travel
medicine who writes us a prescription for a small amount of Cipro, which,
if taken in time, may reduce the duration and severity of the problem. Ask
your doctor for a recommendation suited to you. If all else fails, their may
be medical assistance available on your Nile cruise. Be sure to fill your
prescription for any necessary medicines before you depart for Egypt.
Deet-based Mosquito repellant -Some people are not comfortable with the use
of products that use Deet, but it is an effective safeguard against
mosquitoes that you should consider if you are going to take a Nile River
Cruise. Deet should not be used on children less than two years of
age. Another safeguard to wear long pants and long sleeved tops. Egypt
is not considered a malaria-prone country. Note that the West Nile
Virus originated in the West Nile district of Northern Uganda, not Egypt.
If you are need to take prescription drugs while on vacation, try to carry
them in their original vials or with a copy of the prescription ordering
them in case you are questioned at airport security. Refilling prescriptions
while is Egypt is extremely difficult if not impossible, but your tour
leader may be of assistance.
If you are traveling through Egypt with a tour group, it is likely that they will arrange your guide for the trip. In most cases these guides are excellent, but if you are traveling as an independent and have to acquire your
own guide, you need to make sure that they are knowledgeable, reliable,
assertive and dependable. Let them know your expectations and if they
are uncomfortable with what you want, find another. Reputable hotels
can provide reliable guides, but let them know your expectations before you
Remember also that Egyptologists are trained and go to school in
preparation for this role. A normal guide may not have the depth of
background that you desire, so make sure to hire an Egyptologist if that is
the depth of information that you require. Most guides who accompany
tour groups on Egypt-wide tours are Egyptologists and quite knowledgeable.
Vendors, hawkers and the horde
Touring - The economy of Egypt is deplorable and
numerous people have no job and little potential for finding one. So when
you exit the bus at the pyramids or any other attractions in Egypt, expect
to be mobbed by vendors who will try to sell you souvenirs that usually are
overpriced and of poor quality. In some locations, particularly Giza, Luxor
and the Valley of the Kings, the crowds of vendors can be unnerving. They will claim to know you,
love wherever you are from, offer you unheard of deals and this continues after you make it clear
that you will be buying nothing that day. Do not let anyone drape a product
over your arm, as they will then claim that you have bought it. Simply give
it back them and walk away.
If you are going for a camel ride, ask your tour guide for a
recommendation on which vendor has reasonable prices (of course, this is a
relative question - as all prices will be inflated). Most tour guides
will have a preferred vendor with a fixed price and often you will pay the
guide who will then pay the vendor. Whatever you do, do not arrange a camel
ride by yourself. It is not uncommon for unwary tourists to be taken
on a ride into the desert and then extorted for more money to return them to
their starting point.
Do not expect your guide to haggle
prices for you as this is not a service they provide, nor is it a position
that it is
fair to put them in. Before you arrive at a destination, some guides
will let you know a fair price for goods that may be of interest.
There is little you can do to avoid the crowds of vendors at the
monuments. Here are
some suggestion for running the gauntlet: keep looking straight ahead,
try to avoid eye contact and show absolutely no interest in what is being
sold. If you look at the vendors, their goods, or engage the vendors in conversation, you will regret
it for the next ten minutes, if not longer. Tell them "no thanks” in a serious
voice, or shake you head "no" and move on. Finally, don't let
them get under your skin, as to them this is a sign that you might pay them
just to go away. However, if you do this, you will be besieged by
Taking Taxis - Our best advice is to let your hotel arrange the taxi and to
have the driver wait for you on the return or pick you up at a
pre-arranged time. Yes, this costs a little more,
but you do not want to pick a taxi at random anywhere in Egypt
ToiletsYou will find many of the toilets not up to your standards.
will expect baksheesh, collect it when you enter and, in turn, will dispense two sheets of tissue that
was recently petrified wood. The stall will often be filthy, so ladies should take a package of
toilet seat covers and a packet of tissue because the two sheet dispensed
might not be adequate for your needs. Finally, we recommend carrying and
using hand sanitizer. Public toilets seem to be cleaner in Nubia, but in lower Egypt
especially Cairo, they leave a lot to be desired.
The official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound that is divided into
100 piasters. At current exchange rates the US Dollar is worth approximately 7
Egyptian Pounds, while the Euro is worth approximately 9 Egyptian Pounds.
We prefer to tip and pay in Egyptian Pounds when possible, but US Dollars and
Euros are accepted currency throughout much of Egypt. Currencies other
than the British Pound, Euro and US Dollar are often not accepted.
When touring you should tip Bus drivers the equivalent of $3 USD/day per person. Carriage drivers $2-$3, and tour guides/Egyptologists $9-11 USD per day per person. Hotel room attendants $5 a day
per person, ships crew $5 - $7 per day per person and other personnel based on your value for the services. However, you may need to understand the concept of Baksheesh, It’s somewhat like tipping, but the level of service may be more difficult to appreciate.
Baksheesh - a visitor to Egypt and
the Middle East should get used to tipping for services that are not compensated in the rest of the world. For example, at your hotel, a staff person will always seem to be in the hall when you exit the elevator and then rushes to your room to open the door, expecting a tip for this service.
Almost every person whose path you cross will expect a “little something” and, indeed, this is the pattern of life in Egypt. For example museum guards may turn on a light to show you the details of something that is hidden in the dark, or offer to open a room for you that is currently closed. In return, they expect a modest payment from you. Carry lots of coins and small bills to dole out. Trust us, it is easier to dispense the money than deal with people who think they have been wronged. It may not go down well
with visitors, but
baksheesh is the norm in much of the Middle East.
Touring Egypt calls for casual, modest clothing. Remember you
will be visiting a country in which ninety-percent of the population is
Muslim and the other ten-percent Coptic Christian. We advise dressing in a manner
that will not attract attention to yourself. In order to do this, show as
little skin as possible. Also, note that public displays of affection are
Shoes – You will be doing quite a bit of walking on a tour and river cruise
of Egypt and sturdy shoes are a must. Sandals do not provide you protection
from rough pavements, rocky trails and…..scorpions.
Hats - take a sun hat or an umbrella for shade as the sun can be oppressive
and the can be heat staggering.
Suntan Lotion - We recommend taking a product that offers a high level of
protection (SPF) as the sun will shine higher in the sky here and sunburn
will occur much more quickly than at home.
Sunglasses - are a must. The Egyptian landscapes are barren, bright and
often unbearable without the assistance of tinted lenses. You will also run
into blowing sand, so your sunglasses may do double duty.
Safety in Egypt
Unstable times - These are unstable times in
Egypt. Law and
order appears to be returning to this wonderful country, but at a slow rate
and not in every location. Each
traveler should determine whether they personally would feel safe traveling
in Egypt. We suggest you examine the news about actions that might
influence your desire to travel in Egypt and check with your government's
organization responsible for
foreign travel to determine whether there are travel alerts or
warnings about travel in Egypt.
If you decide to travel to Egypt,
you should be prepared to take a few extra precautions, including making
sure that the company offering your tour has experience in leading tours in
Egypt and local personnel to assist you when required.
Touring in Egypt may not be quite what you are used to experiencing.
When we arrived at our hotel in Cairo in early 2012, our car was stopped
outside the wall of the hotel complex and searched by an armed guard
accompanied by a bomb-sniffing dog. Once we passed this layer of security we
ran into a second gauntlet at the hotel door, which was equipped with a
metal detector and manned by four security personnel, who were armed. Our
personal items were scanned and searched before we were allowed to enter. Although this
might have been disconcerting to some, we were glad to see that our hotel
taking the security of their guests as their leading priority.
We recommend that all touring be done in association with a tour company
whose guides are experienced in travel in Egypt. If you should desire to take a day trip
before your tour starts, we recommend
that you ask your hotel concierge for a safety assessment of the location
you want to tour. Also, you might consider asking them to arrange
transportation for you to and from the location, as well as to recommend the
services of a guide.
Note also, that after immediately after the revolution in 2011 and
through much of 2012, there was a breakdown of order throughout the country.
This does not mean there was an absence of authority or local
policing. In fact, in rural areas communities formed militias that
were responsible for law and order within their community. Do not be
surprised to see remnants of these armed militias on duty in some locations
as order is slowly restored. You will most commonly find them in small
villages along the Nile where they enforce traffic and ensure the safety of
Security Personnel – will likely
accompany you on formal tours. They will ride the bus with you, tour the
attractions, and generally keep an eye on you and the crowd to guarantee
your safety. The guards we observed were armed with machine pistols and look
quite capable of using them if necessary. Again, we were glad that they were
there, although their presence served to unnerve some travelers.
Expect to tip these guards when their duty has ended ($5 - $7 per day per
Tourist Police - The uniformed tourist police are everywhere, but
often seem to have no
actual function, other than to suggest a good place to take a photo and then
wait for baksheesh.
Cairo Security - Many people arrive in Cairo
a day or two ahead of their tour date. Cairo is not somewhere you should wander by
yourself. If you want to tour the city, either take a tour arranged by a reputable travel agency or
arranged by the staff at your hotel.
Airport Security - There are a number of layers of
security at each airport and, as you pass through one layer, you may find
that the next layer does not allow something that passed through the last
inspection. Bottled water is generally not allowed, nor are other liquid
products. Your carry-on luggage may be
scanned, pass inspection and then be physically searched ten minutes later.
Be polite, comply with all requests and you will likely get through security
with a minimum of hassles. Note, that your tour company will provide a
representative to accompany you to the airports and
often on the flights. Let them know if you have any problems and let them
talk to the security personnel involved.
Wheelchair access in Egypt is often not available or is difficult to
find. However, there are travel agencies that specialize in wheelchair
accessible tours in Egypt and we urge you to use your favorite search engine
to discover which of these firms might meet your needs.
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