Current mood and political situation in Egypt
If you are considering a trip to Egypt, you are no doubt concerned about the political situation at present. Carmen Boulter, your tour leader, has lived in Egypt over the years and has observed much over the decades. She has been to Egypt 26 time since 1977 and has developed strong relationships with the Egyptian people. In speaking with the travel agents and with friends in Egypt, it seems that the mood amongst the people is positive and optimistic. While the cabinet is still being reorganized, Egypt is welcoming visitors into a safe and stable environment. Throughout our Magic Egypt 12.12.12 tour, we will have security along with us. If, for any reason, unexpected unrest prevents us from traveling, the trip will be rescheduled. Once money is transferred to Egypt, fees are non-refundable. I fully expext we will have a sucessful journey amongst the Egyptian people who are warm-hearted, extroverted, and cheerful.
Here is an article asserting that it is safe to go to Egypt.
View a video of Hakim's son, Yousef, talking about the revolution in Egypt
In order to make a reservation on the Magic Egypt 12.12.12 tour, you need to provide a $1000 US deposit and fill in the online form linked to the <Register Now> button below. You'll provide your passport number and name exactly as it appears on your passport. You'll specify if you wish to be in Double Occupancy or Single Occupancy. If you prefer Double Occupancy and you are traveling solo, you can request a roommate. Payment schedule: $1000 Deposit; $1500 Instalment due August 15. Balance due no later than September 15 (Double Occupancy $1450; Single Room $2010). If you register after due dates, installments are due immediately. Use PayPal to pay by credit card. Personal checks or bank-to-bank transfers are welcome. Canadians are invited to use e-mail money transfers. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
International flights are not included in the package. Gateway city for the Magic Egypt tour is Cairo. Most travelers coming from the US will fly out of New York's JFK airport on direct flights to Cairo via Delta or Egypt Air. Other routes require changing flights in London (British Airways), Frankfurt (Lufthansa), or Amsterdam (KLM).
Visas, Customs, and Meeting the Group
Tourist visas are not included in the package. They can be purchased at the Cairo airport when you land for $15 US. Peel the sticker and put it on a blank page of your passport. After your passport is stamped, hospitality personnel from our Egyptian travel agency will welcome you. They will assist you with your luggage and guide your through customs. Next, you will board our coach and drive approximately 1 hour across the Nile to our 5-star hotel in the shadow of the pyramids. On the way, you are sure to get an eye full of colorful surprises. Even in the wee hours of the morning, Egypt is brimming with life. Egyptians have their own driving codes that defy our orderly and structured regulations. But take heart, as long as no one asks you to drive, you will be delighted by the thrilling ride. In Egypt, the adventures begin right away!
The official currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). The current exchange rate is 5.96 EGP for $1 US. Here is a currency converter to check rates with your country's currency. Travelers Checks are not recommended. They are not easy to cash and there is a high fee for exchange. Converting to EGP before leaving home is not recommended. Using credit cards for extras at the hotels and on the cruise is fine. It is recommended that you pay cash at the markets. It is easy to get a cash advance on your credit card in hotels. Interact debit machines exist in Egypt but are occasionaly unreliable.
The weather in Egypt in December ranges from 48/74F (9/22C) in Cairo and from 55/83F (14/25C) in Luxor and Aswan. The sun in the heat of the day is bright and strong, even more so in Luxor and Aswan, so you'll need a hat, sunscreen and summer attire. December is winter and nights are cool so you'll need a warm jacket for our December 21, 2012 event. Rain is unusual.
Cell Phone Access and Internet
If you have an unlocked cell phone, it is easy to get a local SIM card with a local number to call home on. Do not just use your regular home cell phone or you'll have a huge bill when you get home. Internet access will be available as follows: (1) Le Meridien Pyramids: $4.20 US for 15 minutes; (2) Maritim Jolie Ville: Free WiFi in the lobby, cable $4.20 US per 15 minutes; and (3) The crusie ship: $4.20 US for 30 minutes.
Hotels and cruise boats have excellent laundry service returned in 24 hours for a reasonable fee.
Water and Medical
No inoculations are necessary for travel to Egypt. It is essential to drink and brush your teeth with bottled water. Bottled water is included in the tour price and extra water is available for purchasethroughout the trip in hotels and on the cruise. While there are drug stores and decent medical services, the selection of medications are very limited and you won't recognize the brands. Very important: If you need it, bring it with you.
What to Bring
Luggage - While you may be sorry if you are encumbered with too much luggage, you will have help with your bags throughout the trip. When we change venues, you will leave your bags at the door and they will be brought to the lobby. You'll identify your luggage and it will be put on the bus for you. When we arrive, you'll get your new room keys, identify your luggage, and it will be delivered to your room.
Clothing - In modern Egypt, tourists can wear whatever they like, however, in Muslim tradition, women show as little skin as possible. For men, shorts and t-shirts are fine. While you may want to change for dinner, there is no need for formality. For women, light pants and long light skirts, or cool summer dresses with sleeves are suggested. A windproof jacket will prove invaluable at night. You can easily acquire large cotton scarves that are helpful for covering up when need be, to protect you from the sun or the wind, or to de-emphasize a short-sleeved garment. Jeans may be a bit hot during the day but are fine at night and leggings work well for the horse and camel ride the night on the desert. On the cruise and in hotels, we are in our own company so lighter attire is appropriate and you can wear bathing suits by the pool. When exploring the temple sites and the inside the pyramids, it is dusty. On the cruise, we will have a 'come-as-you-were' fancy dress party where we'll dress up like ancient Egyptians in galebeyas (gowns) and abayas (robes) which you can find along the way for $20-30.
Shoes - Footwear is an important subject. It can spoil the day if you are unprepared. I suggest you bring at least 2 pairs of comfortable shoes. You can change from one pair to the other as we will be doing lots of walking about and the change will save your feet. Be prepared for intense heat (=sweat) and for extensive walking on sand (=grit). I have decided that light leather runners are best on sand and that sandals work well in the heat of the day.
Personal Items - If you need it, bring it with you! Don't expect to 'pick up' clothes or toiletries. Hair dryers are provided throughout the trip. Electrical current is 220 so if you bring electronics, you'll need a converter. Most computers and digital cameras will adjust for 110/220 current. You'll need an adaptor (see left) if you want to get the plug in the wall.
Egypt is a truly wonderful place to shop but don't expect mechandise like you see at home. If you visit a shop, you will no doubt be offered 'Egyptian hospitality' which means sweetened tea or pop while you look around. If you aren’t used to sugar in tea, learn to say 'no sugar'! Bargaining is an art in Egyptian markets. There are deals to be had but there are plenty of merchants ready to take full advantage of tourists who don’t know what something is worth! You will eventually become a seasoned shopper. Here’s what is popular to buy in Egypt:
Perfume - A real Egyptian specialty, a wide range of perfumes and essential oils are available. Specialty shops carry sets of 'Chakra Oils' that are popular with metaphysical tourists. Also, fancy perfume bottles are very popular and beautiful. These are made of sturdy Pyrex, a highly durable blown glass. They are beautifully boxed and travel home well in your suitcase.
Papyrus - The first paper was Egyptian papyrus. It is durable, virtually indestructible and laborious to make. You will find cheap banana leaf that is mimics papyrus. If you pick and choose your way through, they still make great gifts. Authentic hand-painted papyrus art pieces are the real treasures that will last a lifetime.
Robes - Galebeyas are traditional white cotton garments. Many are decorated with embroidery and colorful braiding. Abayas are robes that are worn over them.
Spices - Spice merchants at markets and bazaars import spices from around the world as well as peddling those from within Egypt. Saffron is a specialty and adds much to culinary delights. Kerkaday, or hibiscus, is a traditional tea that is sweeten and chilled producing a refreshing drink. Pepper corns come in white, red, black, and green. Egyptian curry is hot, mild, and medium. Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and incense make exotic gifts.
Shawls - Handspun wool, silk, and pashmina shawls are a real find in Egypt. They are very high quality weave that will offer years of wear at exceptionally reasonable prices.
Figurines - Many artisans work painstakingly to produce replicas of original artifacts from ancient Egypt made from alabaster, basalt, granite, sodalite, lapis lazuli, wood, and brass. There are also cheaper molded replicas. All figurines are highly breakable. If you are serious about bringing statuary home, you'll be wise to pack it in your hand lugage.
Silver - Silver is widely available. Look for a government 'stamp' to prove the authenticity of the silver. If it is especially cheap, it could be mixed with nickel. An Egyptian novelty is cartouches where a name is written in Hieroglyphic writing. Though hieroglyphs are not a direct translation of the alphabet, personalized cartouches are a tradition and make great gifts.
Gold - There is plenty of gold jewelry to be found at decent prices in Egypt.
Carpets - Handmade silk and wool carpets are another Egyptian tradition. Visiting a carpet 'school' can be really interesting and, certainly, you'll appreciate the skill required to hand tie each knot. The silk carpets are especially regal in that light reflects from various angles the carpet is viewed. They are soft and subtle and will last a lifetime. They can be carried home in luggage or shipped. If you really get into the spirit, you may even go on a magic carpet ride.