Egypt is synonymous with Pharaohs, the pyramids, temples and antiquities from ancient civilisations. And at the centre of these great civilisations lies the Nile River that has influenced their economics, social life, politics and religion. It is the oldest travel destination on earth: Greek and Roman travellers came in 430 BC to wonder at some of the very sights that make it a modern travel destination today. The magnificence of the painted Valley of the Kings, exquisite temples, and the pyramids were all sought-after objects of admiration, and many were already 2,500 years old!
From desert landscapes and dry, rugged mountains that reach to the sea, dusty cities full of exotic sounds and smells, and green strips of agricultural land snaking along the banks of the Nile, Egypt has something to offer travellers from all walks of life: Spectacular diving in the Red Sea; unique desert experiences, whether on the back of a camel to Mount Sinai or on a jeep safari to the inner oases; the colour and chaos of Cairo and its markets; and felucca cruises on the Nile River, are just some of the exotic attractions awaiting visitors. Egypt promises an unforgettable experience of history and relaxation - a mixture of discovery and pleasure.
The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is
divided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in major
hotels and restaurants. Visitors are advised to take travellers
cheques in US Dollars or Pounds to avoid additional exchange rate
charges. Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but
private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks
in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian
British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept
Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in the main
|EGP 1 =||US$ 0.16||Â£ 0.11||C$ 0.17||A$ 0.16||R 1.39||EUR 0.13||NZ$ 0.21|
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Egypt from travellers over one year of age coming from infected areas. No other vaccinations are needed but health authorities recommend that travellers are vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. There have been cases of bird flu in Egypt but all those infected had a history of close contact with dead or diseased poultry; bird flu is extremely unlikely to affect tourists but it is worth avoiding contact with poultry. Egypt has the highest incidence of hepatitis C in the world but the infection is only acquired through the sharing of contaminated needles and, less regularly, through unprotected sexual intercourse. Travellers to Egypt should come prepared to beat the heat with a high factor sunblock and drink plenty of water to combat dehydration. Drinking water in the main cities and towns is normally chlorinated but it is advisable to drink only bottled water. Visitors should only eat thoroughly cooked food and fruits they have peeled themselves to prevent travellers' diarrhea. The waters of the Nile are contaminated and should not be consumed or bathed in. Medical treatment can be expensive and standards vary so insurance is strongly advised, including evacuation insurance. Medical facilities outside of Cairo can be very basic.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Egypt, if arriving within 6 days after leaving or transiting through infected areas. NOTE: Persons without a valid yellow fever certificate, if one is required, will be subject to quarantine. It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Egyptian Tourist Authority: www.egypt.travel
Foreign Embassies in Egypt
Africa's largest city, with a population of nearly 18 million, Cairo is a chaotic mixture of sights, sounds and smells. It is heaving with life, volatile, polluted and boisterous, with an intensity that both exhausts and invigorates the visitor. It is also distinctive with its ancient monuments in juxtaposition to the modern and cosmopolitan. The congested streets of Islamic Cairo are full of donkey carts, traders and mosques, while camels weave their way haughtily between the crumbling pyramids on the outskirts. Taxis clamour for attention and pedestrians elbow their way past busy coffee houses, where those seeking a brief escape from the hustle and bustle sit sipping at a strong cup of coffee while contemplating the smoke rings of a 'hubbly bubbly' water pipe - in true Egyptian style.
Visitors can also practice the age-old art of bargaining for trinkets, spices and perfume in one of the world's largest bazaars, or pay a visit to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which houses treasures from Tutankhamun's tomb and is one of the country's main attractions.
Situated on the Nile, Egyptians arrogantly refer to Cairo as the 'Mother of all Cities'; many visitors who have experienced its unruliness would perhaps describe it in less endearing terms. But no matter how it goes down there is no doubt that Cairo is as beguiling as it is messy, and its charm lies in the blend of African, Arab and European influences, the timelessness of the old, and the energy of the present.
The Nile River has been the lifeblood of Egypt for thousands of years. The narrow fertile strip on either side of the river lies in stark contrast to the desert wasteland beyond. The annual flooding of the Nile, and the resultant deposit of silt on its banks, has left layers of archaeological remains from previous settlements that have been discovered underneath almost every town and village in the valley. Excavations have revealed thousands of tombs, temples and monuments along the banks of the river, and the best places to explore some of these relics are the historic towns of Luxor and Aswan.
Cruises along the mighty Nile River are very popular and allow tourists the chance to visit the numerous ancient attractions along the banks as well as view rural Egyptian life slowly passing them by. The sunsets on the river are legendary. Popular sightseeing stops include the magnificent Abu Simbel temples, built by Ramses II, the Temple of Karnak - still the largest temple complex in the world - and the West Bank, which includes the famous Valley of the Kings. Visitors who aren't keen on a river cruise can easily travel on their own steam to all these incredible places.
Warning: Parts of the Sinai Peninsula are currently not considered safe for tourists due to some kidnappings of foreigners in the area. Sadly, Mount Sinai and St. Catherine's Monastery are in an area previously targetted and visits there are risky. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai, and against all but essential travel to parts of South Sinai. They emphasise, however, that the major tourist resorts are still very safe.
Sinai is about contrasts. This is a desert interior full of history: here Moses received the Ten Commandments en route to the Promised Land; the Pharaohs found gold and searched for their gods; and the Bedouins still camp beside ruins of Crusader Forts. Christianity, Judaism and Islam know Sinai as a holy land and over the years prophets, saints, pilgrims and warriors have crossed this vast nothingness. Mount Sinai and St Catherine's Monastery, at its foot, are frequently visited.
The desert comes to an abrupt end at the Red Sea, where exquisite coral reefs provide a fine underwater playground for divers and snorkellers from around the world. The coral reefs along the Sinai coastline are among the best in the world and 'diving tourism' is the most recent catchphrase on the peninsula. The Red Sea has one of the highest amounts of marine life variety in all the tropical seas. There are numerous popular beach resorts along the Red Sea coast which offer all sorts of activities and sightseeing excursions out into the desert.
Visitors come to Sinai and the Red Sea to experience the simplicity of sun, sea and sand, and surround themselves by rugged mountains, history and modern Bedouin culture.
Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.