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EGYPT guide

General Information for Visitors to Egypt

Passports

All UK Nationals need a Full passport, valid for at least 6 months after your return date. Children who are British citizens are now required to travel on their own passport.

Visas

An entry visa is required for certain areas, and can be obtained in advance from the Egyptian Consulate in London at a cost of £15.00.  Visitors travelling to Sharm el Sheikh, Taba and Neweba  for up to 14 days will be given an entry permission stamp on arrival. Visa can also be obtained on arrival at your Egyptian point of entry, and although generally less expensive than the cost of a visa issued by the Egyptian Consulate (address and telephone number is given below), it can sometimes involve lengthy queues. If you decide to obtain your visa from the Egyptian Consulate in London, you should allow 5-10 working days for the visa to be processed.

Egyptian Consulate in the UK

2 Lowndes Street, London SW1X 9ET, UK
Tel: (020) 7235 9777 or 0906 550 8933.
Website: www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1230 (lodging applications); 1430-1600 (visa collection).

 

Health Requirements

There are currently no vaccination certificates required for entry into Egypt, however, regulations do change and we therefore recommend that you consult with your doctor well in advance of your departure. It is your responsibility to ensure that you travel with appropriate certification, if required.

Climate

You can expect the weather to be very hot and dry during the day, except for the winter months of December, January and February when temperatures, particularly around Cairo, can be much cooler. The dry heat can be deceiving, so it is imperative that ample precautions are taken to avoid sunburn. 

 

Language

Arabic is the official language of Egypt although English and French are widely spoken.

 

What Clothes to Take

Pack informal, comfortable clothing with sensible walking shoes or trainers for sightseeing. In winter temperatures drop in the evenings so pack a jacket or woollen cardigan for warmth. In summer light cottons are advisable and a sun hat is a must. Casual dress is all that is needed for a cruise and evenings are informal – a jacket and tie is not essential. Dress should be conservative when visiting local areas and mosques.

 

Food and Drink

Local food is a mixture of Arabic and continental cuisine and can be delicious. Hotels tend to serve food that will appeal to European tastes, as well as some traditional Egyptian. We would strongly advise against eating food from street trolleys and markets. Dine only in good restaurants and cafés, drink only bottled water and avoid iced drinks. Wash all fruit before eating.

 

First Aid Kit

A small first aid kit is useful and could contain plasters, antiseptic cream, anti-insect cream (before and after) and sunburn lotion. Stomach upsets are not uncommon in Egypt and many visitors carry preparations to combat diarrhoea. Local doctors can provide stronger preparations if necessary.

 

Tipping

“Baksheesh” is part of Egyptian life and it is customary to tip for any kind of service, however small. It is a good idea to carry a lot of small change around with you for the purpose of tipping. Cruise passengers tip at the end of the cruise for services provided for the duration of the cruise. Approximately £15.00–20.00 per passenger is collected and distributed among the crew. This is considered to be the fairest way of rewarding crew members, for the services they have provided. You will have a resident guide during your cruise and passengers also tip their guide. This is in addition to the monies collected for staff on board the cruise boat. 

 

Valuables

You may be travelling around a great deal and it is best to avoid bringing valuables such as jewellery. Observe sensible precautions – use safety deposit boxes in hotels for passports and money and take care of your handbag or wallet when in crowded areas.

 

 

Getting About

Taxis are cheap by UK standards and readily available. Horse drawn cabs (caleches) offer a slower and more romantic ride, but agree a price before you set off. Traffic in Cairo can be very congested. Travel by road between resorts is by convoy (with the exception of the Sinai). This is required by the Egyptian government and is for the safety and protection of all visitors. 

 

Best Buys

Best buys include Egyptian cotton clothes, alabaster, carpets, copper utensils, inlaid wooden boxes and chess sets, leather goods, papyrus prints and jewellery. Bargaining or bartering is a must when buying from street sellers or market stalls. Never offer the price you wish to pay- start much lower and gradually increase – it can be great fun!

 

Remember

Egypt is different and it helps to have a sense of humour and be broadminded. Standards you might expect elsewhere are not always adhered to, however, you will find the country and the people fascinating and will long to return.

 

Other Useful Addresses:

 Egyptian State Tourist Office in the UK

Egyptian House, 3rd Floor, 170 Piccadilly, London W1V 9EJ, UK
Tel: (020) 7493 5283.
Website: www.egypt.travel

Egyptian Tourist Authority in Cairo

Misr Travel Tower, Abbassia Square, Cairo
Tel: (2) 285 4509.
Website: www.egypt.travel  

 

Places you have to go

RIVER NILE

Few places in the world can compete with the magical atmosphere and grandeur of this spectacular waterway, dotted with ancient temples and sites wich have stood for thousands of years.

Few places in the world can compete with the magical atmosphere and grandeur of this spectacular waterway, dotted with ancient temples and sites which have stood for thousands of years.

Herodotus’s statement “Egypt is a gift of the Nile” is as true today as it was, when spoken so long ago. This timeless river, that flows north from the cataracts in Aswan, to Luxor, once the ancient playground of the Pharaohs, and on towards Cairo and the sea, continues to give life to this cradle of civilisation. It is as enthralling now as it ever was, its banks littered with ancient monuments and tombs, and village scenes that have changed little since biblical times. Her modern day people are warm, friendly, generous, intelligent and fiercely proud of everything this wonderful country has to offer.

Cairo, Egypt’s capital, is an exploding metropolis which somehow preserves within it one of the finest medieval cities in the world. It is however the Museum of Antiquities, and the Pyramids at Giza with the enigmatic Sphinx which hold visitors spellbound. Luxor was known in pharaonic times as “the city of a thousand gates” and was the site of Egypt’s capital during its most glorious period in history. Vast fortunes were expended on building temples such as Karnak and Luxor. Across the river is the starkly desolate Valley of the Kings, burial ground for many of the New Kingdom pharaohs.

 

 

LUXOR

Luxor possesses undeniable charm. Here and there among the palace halls and gardens and on facades of nineteenth-century buildings with corbelled balconies there is a glimpse of the past and of a time of British colonials and Egyptian monarchs.

The ancient Egyptians called it simply “Niut”, “the City”. Homer named it the “City of a Hundred Gates”. Vivant Denon, who accompanied Napoleon’s troops, noted, “This city remained such a vast apparition for our imaginations to grasp, that on catching sight of the scattered ruins the Napoleonic army stopped unprompted and broke into spontaneous applause.”

The small town of Luxor more than lives up to its promise of historical splendour. Known in pharaonic times as “the city of a thousand gates” Luxor stands on the site of Egypt’s ancient capital, Thebes.

When the pharaonic empire reached its full power and glory, riches were lavished upon the temples and tombs built in the surrounding area. Across the river is the starkly desolate Valley of the Kings, burial ground for many of the New Kingdom pharaohs, including Tutankhamun. In the very centre of the modern town is the temple of Luxor, once connected by an avenue of sphinxes to the temple of Karnak. After a hard day’s exploring, what could be better than drinking a cool beer whilst watching the sun set behind the Theban hills?

ASWAN
Aswan seems to close the doors on the Middle East and to open those on Africa. Swirling and flowing strongly, the Nile snakes its way between islandsand black rocks which disturb its stately majesty, and challenges the high dunes of golden sand to bury it once and for all.

At Aswan the Nile is particularly majestic; sunset is a sight to behold when the river appears like molten lava flowing gently around Kitchener’s Island.

Aswan is the town visitors to Egypt remember most and rarely does anyone fail to enjoy its subtle delights. Although lacking much of the ancient splendour to be seen elsewhere, many of Aswan’s monuments have been saved from the rising waters of the High Dam, itself a testament to modern man. Take a felucca ride and enjoy the nearby islands, in particular Kitchener Island, from where Lord Kitchener planned the Sudan campaign and later created a fine botanical garden with many rare species of plants and shrubs. Afterwards, head for the terrace bar at the Old Cataract and enjoy a slow gin and tonic whilst the sun slips down behind the far horizon and a refreshing breeze wafts the evening air.

 

RED SEA

The huge advantage of the Red Sea is that visitors can enjoy the beauty of the marine world equipped with nothing more than a mask, snorkel and flippers. The spectacle is of course even more impressive when wearing a tank and weight belt.

The Red Sea is one of the worlds best preserved and most spectacular underwater paradises. Sheer walls, virtually covered with exotically shaped corals of stunning colours begin just below the surface of the water. The coastal waters, so rich in marine life, are rivalled by few other sites for offering some of the finest dive sites anywhere in the world.

HURGHADA

Hurghada is the undisputed favourite resort among Egyptians and visitors from around the world who love sunshine, sea and diving.

           

At least one hundred tourist developments of varying levels of luxury stretch for twenty kilometres along the coast.

It seems a long time since Hurghada was nothing more than a small fishing village and modest shipyard ignored by the rest of the world, including the Egyptians. In fact, it is only in the last ten years that Hurghada has grown into a town of 35,000 inhabitants to become the most popular seaside resort in the country. Hurghada is the undisputed favourite resort among Egyptians and visitors from around the world who love sunshine, sea and diving. At least one hundred tourist developments of varying levels of luxury stretch for twenty kilometres along the coast. The town centre, known as the Ed-Dahar quarter, has preserved a certain traditional character with a small souk and cheap hotels.

Few coral reefs are accessible by swimming from the shore and it is therefore worth paying for a day’s excursion out to sea. Various clubs offer this type of trip and among the most prized destinations are the Giftun Islands. The islands are a conservation area and access is restricted. Rubbish and wastewater are collected by specially equipped boats.

Hurghada lies between an azure sea, teeming with coral and exotic fish, and hazy blue mountains. Hurghada is the best known of the Egyptian Red Sea resorts. Originally a fishing village, it has now grown into a huge developing town, fascinating and lively, if somewhat untidy! The wide range of hotels offers accommodation from the very basic to five star. Most are situated between five and seven kilometres south of Hurghada, on the way to Safaga and Luxor. Each hotel offers a retreat from the bustle of the town, many having a range of shops and restaurants close to hand.

 Naturally watersports feature high on any list of things to do whilst in Hurghada and can easily be arranged whilst in the resort. Inland it is possible to visit the Bedouins on a jeep safari or to go across to Luxor for either a day or a week long cruise down the Nile.


EL GOUNA
El Gouna prides itself on being Egypt's only fully intergrated town on the Red Sea Coast. El Gouna is the first tourist development reached when heading to Hurghada from the north. Built along 10 kilometers of beachfront and spreading across a myriad of islands interlinked by beautiful lagoons, the resort's unique architectural styles offer six luxury hotels, a golf course, shopping mall and an open-air amphitheatre. Services and activities are centered round the immaculate downtown village and the marina harbour town. Countless opportunities for fun, wellness, fitness and chilling out are scattered throughout the resort to satisfy each age group and personal inclination. In short, it is a pleasant place to holiday for those happy to settle for sun, sea and sand.

 

SHARM EL-SHEIKH
Sharm el-Sheikh considers itself and indeed is the seaside resort in Sinai. Large numbers of visitors holiday here every year. The small town has grown rapidly and there are more and more tourists enjoying the charms of the place.

Sharm el-Sheikh considers itself and indeed is the seaside resort in Sinai. Large numbers of visitors holiday here every year. Sharm el-Sheikh Bay, Naama Bay and Shark Bay are about 6 km apart but the development of the resort is such that they will soon form one settlement. The long beaches of fine sand already attract visitors and since the small town has grown rapidly, there are more and more tourists enjoying the charms of the place.

Visitors love to lie and roast in the sun but beware of too much exposure, as it is very fierce. They also love to swim in the extraordinarily clear waters and to hire windsurfing boards, ideal for making the most of the ever-present breeze. The seabed close to the coast is like some gigantic coral aquarium, home to coral grouper (red fish with blue spots), Napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, butterfly fish (always in pairs), map angelfish (blue and yellow), threadfins and scorpion fish with long, elegant fins.

After sunset, visitors have the choice of touring the shops, which open quite late and offer the usual souvenirs or of frequenting the café terraces strung out along the main road running parallel with the beach. Those not worn out by their day of sun and sand can head off to one of the numerous hotel discos.

The views from here across the Gulf of Aqaba to the Saudi Mountains are breathtaking and the Red Sea is renowned the world over for its coral reefs.

Sharm El Sheikh lies at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The main area for hotels is the central area of Na’ama Bay, with the majority of them directly on the beach. They offer a wide selection of restaurants along the bay and this gives the area a very cosmopolitan and social atmosphere, particularly in the evenings, when strolling along the bay is a favourite pastime.

Worth a trip St. Catherine’s Monastery, dating back to the 4th century and situated at the foot of Mt Sinai, from the top of which Moses received the Ten Commandments.

 

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