Egypt is bounded to the north by the Mediterranean, to the south by Sudan, to the west by Libya and to the east by the Red Sea and Israel. The River Nile divides the country unevenly in two, while the Suez Canal provides a third division with the Sinai Peninsula.
The best season is winder (Oct – May) when temperatures in Cairo are comfortable during the day and cool or even cold at night. Weather in Upper Egypt is comfortably warm. During summer (Jun – Sep), Cairo is hot and dry and Upper Egypt extremely hot. The Red Sea coast is hot & dry, with rain mostly in winter and mild wind throughout the year. Egypt is an all year-round destination.
Egyptian Pound (EGP)
Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken and understood.
South African passport holders require a visa for Egypt
WHAT THINGS COST *
Bottled Water USD 2.00
Can of Coke – at hotel USD 3.00
Bottle of local beer – at hotel USD 6.00
Take-away lunch USD 8.00
Dinner in restaurant USD 15.00
20 Minute taxi journey USD 10.00
* Purchase price will vary depending on point of sale.
Short Descriptions for Major Touristic cities
Cairo, Egypt’s splendid capital is a city rich in history that encompasses many ancient cities & civilizations, regarded by many as “Mother of the World”. Egypt is therefore considered a hub of cultural, social, intellectual, economic & political activity. Cairo is also accommodates 26% of the Egyptian population. It is a melting pot where antiques of Pharaonic Dynasties, Greco-Roman civilization, Christian and Islamic Landmarks and co-exits. A dynamic city proud of its warm and friendly people known for their traditional hospitality.
The second largest city in Egypt, located on the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria, is the largest port in Egypt, known widely as “The Pearl of the Mediterranean”, was once the ancient capital of Graeco-Roman Egypt, blessed with pleasant weather & marvelous sandy beaches, Today Alexandria is considered as the second capital of Egypt, it is distinguished by its strategic location.
Al-Alamein Area is 104 km west of Alexandria on the paved road parallel to the Mediterranean coast leading to Marsa Matrouh. Al-Alamein is known for its serenity, its fascinating scenery and mild climate which excels in its moderation the climate of any other part of the world and attracts thousands of vacationers. Al-Alamein is historically recognized as its sands witnessed the most decisive battle that ragged the second world war in which more than eight thousand soldiers of the allied forces led by Montgomery and the Axis forces led by Rommel lost their lives. A war museum commemorating the Battle of Al-Alamein and other North African battles still resides in the village, also there are German and Italian cemeteries just on its outskirts. Located 66 miles west of Alexandria, Al-Alamein main activity today is as a port for shipping oil.
290 Km west of Alexandria, It is noted for its beach which extends for 7 km with its fine white sand and transparent, quiet water as it is protected by a chain of natural rocky breakwaters extending in the sea parallel to the beach all its visitors agree that it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The Suez Canal Cities
Port Said was constructed when the Suez Canal was dug out in 1869, 220 km from Cairo. It links Africa with Asia. It is also considered the meeting point of the important maritime routes between the East and the West. Its fame increased internationally after becoming a free zone. One of the attractions is Al-Gameel area, which is a protected area 12 km west of port Said where fishing is practiced. It is also possible to go on a cruise in the port to watch the convoys which cross the Suez Canal.
On the East bank of the Canal and is considered an extension of Port Said. It is a quiet city with gardens and villas built on the colonial style. There are hotels, restaurants and clubs that provide excellent services. Furnished cabins and chalets spread on the beaches for rent.
The city of gardens and flower. It lies midway between Port Said and Suez, 120 km from Cairo on the west shore of Al- Temsah lake. Ismailia is known for its beautiful landscape and plentiful orchards. Beaches spread on Al- Temsah Lake which is considered one of the largest lake in Egypt where visitors enjoy sailing.
Overlooks the Suez Gulf, 134 km east of Cairo. It is noted for its dry climate and beautiful beaches scattered between Suez and Port Tawfik. It is considered both a winter and summer resort.
Sinai, land of Turquoise
The land of history and sanctity. Located east of the Suez Canal overlooking the Red Sea, between the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba. Sinai has history and civilization since the Pharaonic era. The Pharaohs explored it for gold, copper and turquose it also witnessed several military battles. The Holy family also crossed Sinai on their way to Egypt and took the north coast of Bardawil Lake. The last to cross this rout were the Muslim Arab armies under the command of Amr Ibn Al-‘As. Sinai abounds in natural fascinating scenery of high mountains in the north coast. The Red Sea, with its warm clear waters, offers colorful coral reefs and rare marine life. As well as windsurf, motorboat races, diving centers and year round resort.
It lies on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, and covers the area between Balouza (west) of Rafah (East), The coastal line is known for its abundant olive and palm trees.
Its main Cities is Al-Arish, the capital with its clear blue water and widespread palms on its coast and Rafah, the second city.
It extends from Taba on the gulf of Aqaba through the north of Al-Thi desert the (the labyrinth) to Ras Messallah on the gulf of Suez in the west till Ras Mohammed in the South. Its capital is Al-Tor on the Suez gulf about 400 km from Cairo. Its main cities are Ras Sudr, Saint Catherine, Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Nuweiba.
Overlooking the Suez gulf and is distinguished by several natural tourist aspects. It is considered a beautiful winter and summer resort.
It is 80km south of Al-Tor, it is renowned for being the most fit area for diving all over the world as it includes the most exquisite coral reefs and rare colored fish.
336km from Suez, 53km from Ras Mohammed. The simplicity of sun, sea and sand, It lies on the Aqaba gulf, an international summer and winter resort preferred by vacationers to experience fishing, swimming, diving and relaxing. It has places for accommodation, tourist villages, hotels connected with well – equipped diving centers, camping site and a youth centers.
81km nearly from Sharm Al-Sheikh. One of the most beautiful beaches of Sinai, called Dahab owing to its renowned golden sandy beaches, it is also famous for its deep diving sites which offer divers from around the world a memorable underwater excursion. For accommodation there are tourist resort, hotels and also diving centers and camping sites.
Lies 87km from Dahab, on the Aqaba Gulf. Tourists like to stop here to enjoy magnificent beaches, participate in all manners of water sports, view the beautiful coral reefs or take safaris in the desert to visit nearby Bedouin settlements. Palm trees cover its beaches, it has camping sites and hotels. It is a major sea port in south Sinai, it has an international harbor that operates a daily fairy cruise between Nuweiba and Aqaba.
Taba, an international border town some 220km north of Sharm El-Sheikh, is a paradise uniquely positioned to overlook Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Against a backdrop of mountains and golden beaches, the coastline from Taba to Nuweiba is among Sinai’s most striking features. Taba is home to numerous bays, coves, lagoons, a fjord and an island. The recently restored Salah El-Din fortress on Pharaoh’s Island is another must see for visitors. Taba – which promises to be a future regional tourist destination – boasts a wide variety of tourist amenities and is so close to the Israeli border that there is a bus service into Eilat.
Combines a collection of rare animals, reptiles and birds in addition to a variety of medicinal plants and herbs. It has the highest mountain in Egypt, the summit of Saint Catherine which is 2637 meters high above sea level.
The Red Sea
The Red Sea is 1930km long bordered by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti. It is characterized by its warm climate all year round, its coast temperature ranges between 35 and 41 degrees and the temperature of its highly saline water varies between 21 and 28 degrees. This made it an ideal environment for the growth of coral reef, colorful fishes of various species and rare marine life. The coast of the Red Sea extends from El Ein El Sokhna to Halayeb for 1080km and its beaches are distinguished by their soft sand and clear turquoise sea where the underwater visibility is more than 30 meters and diving is permitted at 45 meters deep.
Hurghada (the capital)
It lies 395 km. South of Suez, and is noted for its magnificent summer and winter climate. The clarity of its water made it a center of tourist attraction especially for divers and practicing water sports because of the worldwide fame of its coral reefs and rare marine life it enjoys. Visitors can watch the exquisite underwater marine life through well-equipped glass bottom submarines. Hurghada has a large number of hotels and tourist resorts of different categories, as well as equipped diving centers offering facilities for aquatic sports, in addition to restaurants and bazaars.
Al-Ein Sokhna (the hot spring)
55km south of Suez. It is one of the most beautiful spots of the Red Sea, and the nearest to Cairo noted for its sandy beaches and has many tourist resorts
25km north of Hurghada. It is a tourist resort recently developed that offers ultra-modern facilities. It is built on clusters of islands surrounded by lagoons and spread over 11 km of pristine beachfront. It is the ultimate holiday destination for diving, water skiing, sailing, fishing, windsurfing and home to an 18-hole championship golf course. Entertainment facilities are also endless, including horse and camel stables, Quad Biking and Jeep trips to the desert. It has a small airport for handling private planes.
65km south of Hurghada. It is a marine port connected by a regular cruise shuttle service line with Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Safaga City is considered one of the most important therapeutic tourist canters as special medical researches have proved the potential of attracting international tourism to Safaga. It combines treatment by sea water, coral reef mud, sun rays, sand, sulphur water and mine dust. It heals psoriasis.
80km south of Safaga. It is an excellent site for camping. Recently, several hotels of different categories have been developed. Tourists can practice water sports. It is an important port for exporting phosphate.
135km south of Al Qusseir. It is suitable place for fishing and diving, connected to Edfu by a desert road 280km long. It is considered a big tourist center which avails the tourist of the chance of visiting the important monumental sites and at the same time of enjoying the pleasures of the Red Sea and its exotic beaches.
It is a depression in the western desert 103km south west of Cairo, surrounded by night plateaus. Fayoum gets its water supply from the Nile through Bahr Youssef. it is separated from the Nile Valley by a ridge and contains a large lake, called Qaroun, one of Egypt’s largest saltwater lakes. It enjoys a variety of tourist attractions and distinguished by its year round moderate climate, the beautiful scenery, its proximity to Cairo. The blend of desert and agricultural atmosphere, its cultural and historical background of Pharaonic, Graeco Roman, Coptic and Islamic antiquities that makes Fayoum an exceptional resort destination and an excellent site for bird watching.
Located 365km west of Giza and 200km north of Farafra Oasis. Bawitin is the capital of Bahareya Oasis, it is most famous for the huge cemetery dating back to the Greco Roman period located in its capital El-Bawiti. It is known for its sunny dry weather throughout summer and winter its natural springs (cold and hot) amount to 398 springs.
300km south of Marsa Matrouh and can be reached by cars from Matrouh. The Siwan landscape differs from other oases in that it includes several salt lakes. Siwa’s climate is seasonal: chilly in the winter, hot in the summer and moderate in the spring and autumn. Siwa is also a great place for visitors to pick up traditional goods, like handmade baskets made of palm fronds, embroidered fabrics and Siwan silver jewels. Siwa is also surrounded by a number of smaller oases.
Al Wadi Al Gadeed Oasis
The governorate of the new valley lies in Egypt’s west desert 625 from Cairo, 220km from Assiut. It includes three main oases, Al-Kharga; the capital, 240km South west of Assiut, distinguished by several monuments, springs and tourist sites – Al-Dakhla; it is located 200km west of Kharga and it is full of archaeological ruins from different periods – Al-Farafra, located between Baharia and Dakhla Oasis, 320km north west of Dakhla, the most ancient parts of the village lie on the mountainside by small palm tree. One day trip by jeep or camels through the desert routes from Farafra to the white desert, Baharia Oasis, Dakhla Oasis and Siwa can be arranged – in addition to the small Oasis of Baris.
This zone hosts the fascinating beauty of nature and Pharaonic, Roman, Byzantine, Coptic and Islamic monuments.
It combines 3 governorates, Al-Minya 247km south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile.
Assiut 373km south of Cairo and Suhag 470km south of Cairo.
Luxor is considered the greatest outdoor museum in the world, it contains nearly one third of the world’s antiquities. There is hardly a place in Luxor which has not a relic that reflects the greatness of the ancient Egyptians and their civilization that dates back to seven thousand years ago.
Situated on the eastern bank of the Nile 899km south of Cairo. Aswan is considered the most beautiful winter resort not only in Egypt, but also in the whole world as it is distinguished by its fascinating nature and serenity far from the bustle of cities, and its warm weather which is characterized by dryness and sunshine throughout the year.
Once the ancient kingdom of Kush. Nubia houses archaeological sites of great interest: temples, fortresses and tombs. The construction of the high dam posed a great danger of over flooding the temples of Philae, Kalabsha and Abu Simbel.
Not only considered among the most fabulous ancient monuments on earth, but the two temples at Abu Simbel have witnessed historic removal & reconstruction process once threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser, the two temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they had been built more than 3,000 years before.
Below are a few hints, which may help you when planning for your trip to Egypt.
For South African passport holders, a visa is required to enter Egypt. This visa must be obtained prior to departure from South Africa.
Light weights in summer (April – October) and medium weights for winter (end October – beginning April). You will require some warm clothing for Winter as Egypt can get very cold.Bring a light jacket for cool evenings even in summer. Comfortable shoes are a must, preferably with rubber soles. Egypt is a Muslim country, and tourists should dress conservatively, particular when visiting Mosques and holy places.
As a norm the weather is dry, sunny and warm to hot most of the year with very little rainfall. The winter temperatures are similar to a European Spring. June, July, August and September are hot, but the evenings can still be refreshingly cool.
We recommend that you bring some kind of washing soap to do your hand washing of clothes. It is also a good idea to bring a blow-up hanger, or some other light hanger, as not all hotel hangers can be removed from the cupboards, for hanging wet washing on. Remember to bring suntan lotion, and we also recommend that you bring a sun-hat. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance, and a mosquito repellent may come in handy. We also advise you to take tissues and wet wipes.
Egypthas the same voltage as South Africa (220V). The majority of electrical sockets take a two-prong plug. An adaptor- set (multi plug) is recommended.
Only drink bottled water, which is readily available and cheap. Make sure that the bottle has been properly sealed before you buy it. It is also recommended that you brush your teeth in bottled water. Before drinking fruit juice, establish that it is made from fresh fruit and not from concentrate to which tap water has been added. Ice-cubes in drinks are a no – no, instruct waiters not to put ice cubes into your drinks. Always wash and peel fruits. Food is safe as long as you eat in an International hotel, Nile Cruiser or a restaurant that caters for tourists. Beware of eating food bought from street vendors. The notorious “tummy bug” which sometimes plagues travellers to Egypt can also be eliminated if you avoid sudden temperature changes such as returning from a hot day’s sightseeing and immediately going into a fiercely air-conditioned room. Instead, remain in the shade and drink tepid or warm drinks, until your body temperature has had time to regulate itself. As a precaution we recommend you bring with you “Pectrolyte” which seems effective against minor stomach-upsets.
The official currency of Egypt is the pound (“LE”), which is divided into 100 piastres. Your travel allowance should be taken in U.S. dollars. Please ensure that you have some small US dollar notes available ( eg $ 1 – $ 5 – $ 10).
Money can be changed at Bureau de Change offices, banks and in hotels, the rate seems to be fairly standardised everywhere. Always try to keep some small change, LE 0.50 and LE 1.- bills, these are used for “baksheesh” and means you will not have to tip more than you are prepared to do for incidentals. Please note that you are not likely to be able to sell your Egyptian pounds once back in South Africa, so keep this in mind when changing money close to your return date.
Some passengers have reported difficulties using American Express and Diners Cards to pay for their meals etc. in their hotels. These credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercards. Please bear in mind that Travellers Cheques cannot be cashed on board the Nile cruiser.
Tipping in Egypt is often referred to as “baksheesh”. It is more than just a reward for extending a service, it is a way of life, and “baksheesh” is given to door-men in hotels, waiters in restaurants, taxi drivers etc, in fact to anyone extending a service. At times this expectation becomes tiring and avoiding eye contact may be a good way to avoid some of the pressure for Baksheesh. Tipping to guides, drivers, transfer personnel and hotel / Nile Cruise staff is customary. Hotel porters should receive a small tip (approximately US$1-) for carrying your luggage. Guides and drivers should receive a gratuity, as should the transfer representative who will assist with check-in at hotels, reconfirmation of your air-tickets and other practical details provided their services have lived up to your expectations.
Many of our clients ask us for recommended rates, so here is a guideline which you are free to follow or not, as you please:
Passengers not on group tours:
Guide: US$ 4.- per passenger per day for a full day’s services
Driver: US$ 2 – per passenger per day for full day’s services.
Office / transfer representative: US$ 2 – per passenger per day.
Nile Cruise staff: US$ 5.- per passenger per day whilst on cruise.
Hotel staff: Usually 10 % of restaurant/room service bill.
Passengers on group tours:
For passengers travelling as part of a group, please note that the cost of tipping must be collected before departure and distributed accordingly in Egypt.
Egypt is full of opportunities for great photography. It can sometimes be a bit tricky taking photos of people, so it is always better to ask first. Expect to be asked for “baksheesh” if you have taken photos of the locals.
FLIGHTS – RECONFIRMATION
If you are flying Egypt Air, please note that it is a “dry” airline, i.e. no alcohol is served on board. Please remember that it is essential to re-confirm your return flight latest 72 hours prior to departure. Failure to do so may result on your booking being cancelled, and all costs relating to this will be for your own account.
All hotels provide some kind of breakfast, even though you may have to check out from your hotel before the dining room opens in the mornings. Please check with hotel reception what arrangements your hotel makes for passengers with early departures.
A suggestion from several passengers: If you enjoy your tea/coffee, take a small immersion heater (plus international adaptor set to make sure the electrical plug will fit), a mug, tea/coffee bags, sugar and milk powder/Cremora. Ordering coffee/tea from room service is expensive!
Please note that coffee/tea is only served free of charge with breakfast, if your tour includes other meals, tea / coffee will be charged extra!