NOTABLE INCREDIBLE LUXURIOUS EGYPT
Custom Luxury Tour Arranged by Ngaire Keene through Ker & Downey
Hosted by Ken Hutyra and Ngaire Keene Hutyra | March 04, 2016 to March 15, 2016
Travel and Practical Matters for Egypt
Vaccinations And Health
NO VACCINATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR THIS TRIP
The CDC recommends that all international travelers ensure that their tetanus, immune globulin (hepatitis), and polio vaccines are up-to-date. Take a look at their website Centers for Disease Control for more detailed information. No vaccinations are REQUIRED for travel to Egypt just recommended.
Ker & Downey advises that you check with a qualified health professional for the most current information concerning your exact travel itinerary and personal health history. It is suggested that you assemble a traveler’s medical kit appropriate to your destination, length of trip, and general health. Your physician can advise you on specific items to include (such as remedies for minor stomach ailments or motion sickness). You should include an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling. Prescription medicines should always be carried in your hand luggage (not in checked baggage) in their original, labeled containers only. It is very important to maintain (or even increase) your daily intake of fluids while in Egypt to avoid the dangers of dehydration, which can occur unexpectedly with Egypt’s extremely dry climate.
PLEASE BE AWARE that travel to Egypt is physically demanding. Domestic air schedules dictate the use of early morning flights, days are sometimes long, and sightseeing stops often involve many steps and/or uneven walking surfaces. In addition, traffic along the Nile River may be such that other boats may have to be boarded to access the riverbank. Therefore, travelers with physical disabilities and those who require frequent or ongoing medical attention should carefully consider their participation in Egypt tour programs and advise KER & DOWNEY of their health situation at the time of booking.
If you favor a particular brand of spirits, you may want to use your duty-free liquor allowance to purchase a bottle in route to Egypt for your personal consumption. Alcoholic beverages, particularly gin and wine, are sometimes in short supply on board Nile cruise boats. Please be advised, however, that beverages purchased in this manner cannot be left with the bar on board. Also, there is often a corkage fee if you request the bartender to open a bottle that is not purchased on board. If you are taking foreign-made possessions on your trip abroad (video cameras, etc.), consider carrying copies of documents such as bills of sale, insurance policies, or receipts for purchase/repair as proof of prior possession.
Whether or not an airport departure tax applies to an international departure flight from Egypt depends on the airline ticket. On an airline ticket with the originating flight outside of Egypt, an Egyptian airport tax does not apply. If, however, the originating flight on an airline ticket involving Egypt is from a city within Egypt, an airport departure tax of 29 Egyptian Pounds applies. When airport departure taxes apply but have not been included in the ticket price, they are subject to collection (in local currency) when you leave Egypt. If any applicable airport departure taxes are not included in the price of your tour (or not included in the fare charged on your airline ticket), please set aside the correct amount(s) in advance for the international departure flight(s) in your itinerary to which this tax applies. Please be advised that airport departure taxes are subject to change without notice.
Egypt is a year-round travel destination with a reputation for having one of the hottest, driest, and sunniest climates in the world. Therefore, many travelers fail to anticipate how much temperatures can vary in a single day at any time of the year—or how cold it can get during the winter months. October through May are perhaps the best months to visit Egypt. Daytime temperatures are usually comfortably warm at this time of year (though it can be cool enough for a sweater). In the summer months, daytime temperatures are extremely high. [Almost all hotels (and all Nile cruise boats) are air-conditioned to provide relief from the extreme heat of the summer months. In Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, sightseeing vehicles are also air-conditioned.] In the winter, nighttime temperatures may plummet and a hot daytime desert can become surprisingly cold. This is especially important to note if you are traveling from December through February, when temperatures can be as low as 40-degrees Fahrenheit after sunset and warm clothing is necessary April is a month of unpredictable weather when the normally cool weather may be countered by hot, intense desert winds.
Average daily high/low temperatures (Fahrenheit) and average number of days with rain:
The above is not an exact weather forecast. Unseasonable weather can occur, and you should pack with a degree of flexibility in mind.
Clothing And Packing
Since temperatures in Egypt vary considerably from month to month, your travel wardrobe should be planned according to the month in which you are traveling. To maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe, we recommend packing lightweight clothing that can be worn in layers and one warm sweater or jacket. Clothing made of a natural, “breathable” fabric (such as cotton or wool) is generally the most comfortable.
The winter months of December through March (and occasionally April) are cool by day but can be very cold at night. During these months, pack warm clothes made of wool or knit fabrics and be sure to take along an extra-warm coat for evenings.
From May through early June and September through November, clothing of heavy cotton (or lightweight blends) is recommended.
From June through August, daytime temperatures are consistently over 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) and can be as high as 110 (F); so loose-fitting clothing of lightweight cotton will be most comfortable.
Good laundry service is available on board Nile cruise boats and at nearly all hotels, so there is no need to bring a great deal of clothing. Casual clothing, such as slacks and Bermuda-length shorts, is perfectly acceptable for all daytime sightseeing. On board the Nile cruise boats, “smartly casual” attire (sport coat for men, dress for ladies) is most appropriate for High Tea and dinner.; For dinner at the larger hotels in Cairo, men may want to bring a jacket and tie and ladies one or two semi-formal dresses (although standards have relaxed in recent years, and this is not absolutely essential). No shorts are to be worn at dinner.
Egypt’s climate is dry all year around, so you will not usually need rainwear (unless you are going to Alexandria from December through February). A pair of comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes with soft soles is essential at any time of the year. We recommend shoes with crepe or rubber soles for desert walking and exploring tombs. We suggest that you carry a change of comfortable clothing in your hand luggage on the day you board your Nile cruise boat, as cabins are usually not available for occupancy until noon and you may arrive some time before that. You will then be able to relax comfortably on deck while awaiting access to your cabin. Since some hotels (and Nile cruise boats) have swimming pools, remember to pack a swimsuit. Although Egyptians are accustomed to foreign visitors, please remember that Egypt is still a conservative country, especially with regard to women. Modesty of dress is expected. Short skirts and bare arms should be avoided, especially on days when your sightseeing includes visits to mosques, churches, or synagogues. Scarves must be worn over the head (and shoes removed) when entering a mosque.
The sun can be very strong in Egypt; so it is essential that every traveler bring a pair of dark glasses, a protective sunscreen or sunblock, and a hat for protection from the sun. If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, we recommend that you bring an extra pair of glasses, a copy of the prescription, and eye drops (for lubrication in especially dusty areas). NOTE: Prescription glasses should be carried in your hand luggage (not in checked baggage) in their original, labeled containers only.
Binoculars enhance any trip, and it is suggested that you carry a lightweight, compact pair. It is also suggested that you carry a small, lightweight flashlight for visiting dark tombs and temples. You might also bring a washcloth, some pre-moistened towelettes and insect repellent. Lip balm and moisturizing creams will protect your skin in the very dry climate. If you are allergic to dust, a surgical mask is useful for touring temples and tombs. Finally, we recommend bringing a travel alarm clock, as a hotel wake-up calls are sometimes unreliable in Egypt.
There are several different sets of baggage allowance regulations in effect for international and regional flights. Baggage allowances can vary depending on which airline(s), class of service, and routing is used. Despite the information given here, we urge you to check with your booking agent for the exact baggage regulations pertaining to your specific itinerary. While two (2) checked suitcases weighing up to 70 pounds are allowed on Trans-Atlantic flights from North America to Europe, elsewhere the weight limit of 44 pounds of baggage per person is still in effect for scheduled flights and is adhered to very strictly. We urge travelers to adhere to the lower baggage limit (two pieces weighing up to 44 total pounds, plus one carry-on bag), because that amount of baggage will be accepted on all scheduled flights. Any baggage in excess of airline limitations may be subject to substantial freight charges by the airline. These charges are the entire responsibility of the traveler. Every piece of checked baggage should be unlocked so that security checks do not break them, and it should contain identification inside (as well as outside) stating your home address and phone number. While every precaution will be taken with your baggage, Ker & Downey cannot be held responsible for any damaged or lost baggage; and we strongly recommend the purchase of adequate baggage insurance by each traveler.
Good laundry service is available on board Nile cruise boats and at nearly all hotels, so there is no need to bring a great deal of clothing. It is also suggested that you request laundry service only at hotels where you have at least a two-night stay, to ensure that your laundry is returned to you before you check out.
In Egypt, electricity runs 220/240 volts. If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs. These are available from better electrical and hardware stores in the U.S. and Canada. Whenever possible, it is suggested that you take battery-operated appliances—and remember to take along extra batteries.
Food & Water
Generally, food is clean and well prepared in Egypt, especially in leading hotels, on Nile cruise boats, and in restaurants. However, it is always important to take precautions when traveling. For instance, you should avoid possibly contaminated food, particularly raw seafood and unwashed vegetables. In addition, avoid eating fruits that are already peeled. Eat only foods that have been cooked and delivered to your table hot, and exercise caution in eating foods that can spoil from lack of proper refrigeration (such as salads containing mayonnaise, cream-filled pastries, and dairy products).
Even though tap water in major hotels and on board Nile cruise boats is filtered, we advise you not to drink (or brush your teeth with) the tap water in Egypt. Additionally, do not accept ice in drinks. It may be necessary to exercise caution when using “purified” water that is provided in thermoses and flasks in hotel rooms. It is generally safer to drink directly from the can or bottle of a beverage than from a questionable container. We suggest that you drink only boiled or bottled water, and this is commonly available for purchase. If it is not, please ask your Ker & Downey guide for assistance in this regard.
After a few days in Egypt, it is quite possible that you may get the local version of “tourista,” (commonly known in Egypt as “gyppie tummy”). You should not be alarmed, as this is rather common; but be prepared to treat it by having a remedy with you. In addition, it is extremely important to take the medicine as soon as stomach upset occurs. Do not wait in the hope that symptoms will disappear on their own. If your tour includes all meals, lunch on the day of your visit to Abu Simbel will either be on board your Ker & Downey Nile cruise boat, a basket lunch, or at your hotel in Cairo (depending on the timing of your flights). If you are not on a Ker & Downey group tour programs and your travel arrangements do not include all meals, we recommend taking snacks along for the flight to Abu Simbel, as it is a long time between breakfast and your next meal on the day of this excursion. Generally the flight does not return to Cairo until late afternoon, and there are no suitable places to eat lunch once you leave your Ker & Downey Nile cruise boat.
In Egypt, the unit of currency is the EGYPTIAN POUND, which is divided into 100 Piasters. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Pounds. There are also notes with denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 Piasters as well as some coins. Banking services are available 24 hours a day at Cairo Airport and at the larger Cairo hotels. A bank representative also routinely boards each of the Ker & Downey Nile cruise boats for the convenience of passengers wanting to convert currency.
We recommend carrying approximately 75% of your money in the form of travelers’ checks and 25% in cash. It is a good idea to include about twenty-five U.S. one-Dollar bills to be used for tipping. Credit cards are accepted in most major hotels and restaurants, but not in smaller shops, markets, or businesses. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, although Visa and MasterCard are not accepted on board Ker & Downey Nile cruise boats. Personal checks are generally not accepted in Egypt.
Please note: Ker & Downey and Keene Luxury Travel assumes no responsibility for any purchases made by our clients while traveling. As a courtesy to our clients, Ker & Downey's overseas offices will, if requested, refer you to a shop that carries the merchandise for which you are looking. This is not intended as K&D’s or B&K's endorsement of the shop or as any assumption of responsibility for any merchandise purchased at the shop. Further, K&D or B&K will not take responsibility for following up if any merchandise that you choose to have shipped home is not received or is received in unsatisfactory condition. Therefore, we urge every traveler to heed the following shopping guidelines. Based on our own experiences, to avoid disappointment over purchasing decisions:
- Bring your purchases home with you. Unless you are prepared to wait up to 3 months to receive your merchandise.
- Do not purchase expensive goods of supposed high quality unless you are absolutely sure of what you are buying (or unless you like the item enough to buy it even if it is not authentic or as valuable as you thought). Unless you are an expert in gems, furniture, etc., do not assume that the quality and/or value of your purchase is as represented by the vendor.
- Always take the time to read the charge slips for credit card purchases before you sign them. This may seem obvious; but in the excitement of making a foreign purchase, travelers sometimes overlook this and are unpleasantly surprised when they return home and are billed by the credit card company. Taking a few moments to review the charge slip before signing it (and computing the exchange rate to be sure you are charged the right amount) can save you headaches later.
- For purchases made abroad that are being hand-carried home, keep all sales receipts with you (in your hand luggage). It is also suggested that you pack all your foreign purchases together in one bag (separate from your other personal belongings). You might consider bringing some “bubble wrap” and string for packing any fragile merchandise you purchase while traveling.
- Please note that the purchase of “natural treasures” for export from any country is strictly illegal and that the onus rests entirely on the buyer. (In Egypt, international customs regulations now virtually forbid the exportation of antiques.) If you are approached by someone offering this type of “curio” for sale, do not buy it. International agreements are such that, if you are caught with such a restricted item, it will almost certainly lead to prosecution.
Security: Always hand carry your film, since new baggage x-ray equipment is now being installed in many airports. We recommend that you bring all the photographic equipment you will need from home, including an ample supply of film and additional camera batteries. (Film, batteries, and photographic materials are very expensive in Egypt and may be of questionable age and quality.) It is also suggested that you check the working order of your camera and have your equipment insured before you depart. Generally, a 35mm camera is considered the best type. For photographing temples and other antiquities, a telephoto lens is indispensable; and we recommend 120mm as the minimum size. We recommend carrying several speeds of film, including ASA100 for outdoor photographs in full bright daylight. During the middle of the day, there is an enormous amount of reflective sunlight; and it is important to carry a light meter (unless you are familiar with desert photography). Remember that the sun is deceptively bright, and carry adequate filters. Perhaps the best time for photography is the early morning or late afternoon. At these times of the day, colors tend to be richer and sharper; and the ancient stones take on a beautiful, mellow appearance. ASA200 of ASA400 film is usually good for early morning and evening photography. (Even higher ASA-rated film may be useful for photographing the interiors of temples when flash photography are prohibited.) Remember to change the ASA setting on your camera when you change film types! Keep your film as cool as possible while traveling, and NEVER leave it in direct sunlight or on the hot floor of a vehicle. It is important to bring plastic bags to protect your camera equipment and film from Egypt’s very fine sand and dust. We do not recommend having your film developed in Egypt, as the quality of development is generally poor.
Photographic Restrictions: There are many different rules that govern photography in Egypt, depending on the specific site or monument. These restrictions are truly in the interest of preservation, and your full cooperation is expected. Signs are usually posted in restricted areas; but, if in doubt, ask your guide rather than risk confiscation of your film. At some places, a ticket must be purchased to use cameras and/or video equipment. Photographic fees vary greatly and are subject to change without notice. As previously stated in the CUSTOMS INFORMATION section, all video equipment must be registered immediately upon arrival at Cairo Airport. The use of video equipment is prohibited on the West Bank at Luxor and at the Valley Temple at the Sphinx, and no photography whatsoever is permitted at Aswan High Dam (see on “Photography Etiquette” below). Here is a partial list of current fees for the use of video cameras (without flash only):
- Saqqara (inside tombs) - 25 Egyptian Pounds per tomb
- Pyramids (inside) - 100 Egyptian Pounds per pyramid
- Egyptian Museum (inside) - 100 Egyptian Pounds
The fee for “still” cameras at the
Pyramids and at all museums and tombs that allow photography is 5 to
10 Egyptian Pounds. Please note, however, that tripods are NOT
allowed in most museums that permit photography or inside tombs.
Photographic Etiquette: When photographing people, always ask permission first (or have your guide ask). The only exception to this is when you are photographing a public scene with a lot of people in it, aiming at no one in particular. Always be considerate of anyone’s desire not to be photographed. As stated above, there are some places where photography is prohibited; and these areas are usually clearly marked. Under no circumstances should you take photographs of Military or Police personnel. Nor should you take photographs of military areas. (This includes the Aswan High Dam, where photography of any kind is strictly prohibited.) Taking photographs when permission is not granted is inconsiderate at best and may result in the confiscation of your film.
Valuables And Travel Insurance
Exercise the same safety precautions throughout your travels as you would at home. Keep in mind that your passport must be surrendered for police registration on arrival in Egypt (see section on PASSPORT AND VISA INFORMATION). At all other times, however, we recommend that you carry your passport with you and memorize its number, date of issue, and place of issue. It is also a good idea to carry a photocopy of the informational pages of your passport (the pages containing your photograph and passport details, as well as any amendment pages and visa) and to leave a copy at home. Follow the security measure included with your travelers’ checks, and also leave an additional record of their numbers at home.
We recommend that all travelers purchase adequate trip cancellation / interruption, medical and baggage insurance and that they carry the details of their coverage with them on tour. Information on coverage available through Ker & Downey will be included in your pre-tour materials (as will the cancellation policies applying to your tour).