Saturday, September 8, 2007

Egypt Travel Guide

History, beautiful scenery, a friendly welcome and fantastic shopping are all elements for a wonderful holiday and these elements are in abundance throughout the magical country of Egypt. I worked in the travel industry in Egypt for over a year, 1997 - 1998, and have returned many times since. In fact I will never tire of the magic of the Pyramids, the beauty of the Nile and the warmth of the people.

If you are planning a trip to Egypt please read the advise below as part of your research

Best Time to go
Egypt sits on the Eastern edge of the Sahara dessert so it doesn't have a "wet" season, although you may experience some rain during winter months along the Mediterranean coast. Bright blues skies are the norm but the sun that we all love when travelling needs to be respected especially in Egypt. We will work on the Northern hemisphere seasons in this article. Summer, especially July and August, the heat is fierce and not to be underestimated. In the southern towns of Luxor and Aswan expect a high of +50C a couple days a year and a norm of +40C over summer. In December and January the temperature can drop to the low teens at night and a warm coat or fleece is advisable. You will find the most comfortable temperatures for travelling from March to May and September to November. Saying this if the only time you can travel to Egypt is in mid summer then I would still advise you to go. The sites and experiences in this great country will make it worth it. You can escape the heat of the day by doing your site seeing early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Staying Healthy
Along with the dangers of over heating travellers tummy can be common in Egypt, a couple of days of the Pharaohs curse can put a dampener on your travels. I strongly advise when in Egypt to drink lots and lots of bottled water, it's available everywhere and at around 1USD great value. See the "How to avoid Delhi belly" post in this blog for more good tips. As for escaping the heat you need to replace the liquid you sweat. The Egyptian Climate is extremely dry and your sweat evaporates on contact with the dry air giving the illusion that you are not sweating. A hat to keep the sun of your face is essential along with sunglasses and sunscreen.

Changing Money
There are ATM and currency exchanges in all the major towns and cities. Bazaars and hotels will take US dollars but you might not get the best exchange rate. The exchange rate is fixed by the government in Egypt so you will get the same ROE where ever you change.

How to avoid the crowds
Egypt is a very popular destination and official figures put the number of tourists visiting every year as 8.6 million. Quite difficult to avoid the crowds then? not necessarily. Operators such as The Imaginative Traveller pride themselves on giving you the real experience and could mean having dinner with Nubians on a Nile island, eating in good restaurants popular with the locals or even riding donkeys to the valley of the Kings through villages and farms.

Felucca or Nile Cruiser?

If you are not familiar with a felucca it is a traditional Egyptian sailing vessel that takes travellers on a three night sail up the Nile river. It is basically a floating mattress and has to be one of the most peaceful and relaxing ways to do the Nile cruise. There is a crew on board who sail the felucca and cook for you. Sounds ideal right? well if you asked where the bathroom was you will be offered a bush on the Nile banks. remember the Nile is a river and sea sickness is not an issue.

Felucca Positives:
Relaxing and a great experience
Great for travellers on a budget as felucca's are a fraction of the cost of a cruiser

Felucca negatives:
Basic comforts much like camping but meals are cooked for you.

Nile Cruiser
If you would prefer a more luxurious Nile experience then a Nile cruiser is the other alternative. These cruisers are basically floating hotels that have all the mod cons including air conditioned cabins, restaurant, bar, entertainment, sun loungers, shade deck and most have a splash pool for cooling down.

Important note: many cruisers are shared with different groups and many will do a lot of cruising at night time meaning you miss the most beautiful parts of the river. The Imaginative Traveller's MS Melody has only Imaginative Traveller clients on board and does most of her cruising in daylight hours.

History yes but what else?
There are other great places away from the main Nile Valley region in Egypt that are worth a look. Check out palm tree oases and the sand dunes of the Western Desert, the diving and snorkeling on the Red Sea and catch one of the most beautiful sunrises on earth at the top of Mt Sinai.

All Egypt travelcan be arranged at Travel Light

These are just some of the more common questions I get asked if you have any other question please feel free to post a comment or contact me at

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