Travel Details for Magic Egypt 2017
Current mood and political situation in Egypt
If you are considering a trip to Egypt, someone you know will no doubt express concern about the political situation. As your Tour Leader, I have encountered this each of the 29 times I was on my way to Egypt since 1977. And, each time I arrived in Egypt, I was welcomed by warm and friendly Egyptians and faced no difficulties or unrest whatsoever even when I lived there. 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 politicians are still regrouping, Egypt is welcoming visitors into a safe and stable environment and tourists from all over the world are coming to Egypt. Throughout our Magic Egypt 2017 tour, we will have a security guard along with us. If, for any reason, unexpected unrest prevents us from traveling, the trip will be rescheduled. While tourism was reduced in the past year, they are coming back with confidence. I fully expext we will have a sucessful journey amongst the Egyptian people who are warm-hearted, extroverted, and cheerful.
View a video of Hakim's son, Yousef, talking about the revolution in Egypt.
Here is an article asserting that it is safe to go to Egypt.
If you are interested in traveling to Egypt, contact Dr Carmen Boulter directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. In order to make a reservation for Magic Egypt 2017, you'll be asked to provide your passport number and name exactly as it appears on your passport. Passports need to be valid 6 months after departure from Egypt. You'll specify if you wish to be in Double or Single Occupancy. If you prefer Double Occupancy and you are traveling solo, you can request a roommate. In order to complete your Registration, you'll need to pay a $1000 US non-refundable Deposit. Bank-to-bank transfers are requested. Canadians can also use e-transfers. Balance of payments are due no later than January 31. See our Cancellation Policy here. When you secure your international flights, please provide flight details (day, date, time a.m./p.m., and city arriving from and departing to) so we can book your airport transfers. Extra nights before or after the Program can be pre-booked and your Airport Transfers will be included (within 2 days of program).
International flights to Cairo are not included in the package. Most travelers coming from the US will fly out of New York's JFK airport on direct flights to Cairo via Egypt Air. Other routes require changing flights in London (British Airways), Frankfurt (Lufthansa), or Amsterdam (KLM). EgyptAir is offering direct flights to Cairo from Toronto.
Visas, Customs, and Meeting the Group
Tourist visas are not included in the package. Protocol for Egyptian Visas have changed. If you've been to Egypt before, you purchased at the Cairo Airport. Now you have to apply for Visas from home. After going through Passport Control, hospitality personnel from our Egyptian travel agency will welcome you. They will assist you with your luggage and take you to our minibus. It takes approximately 1 hourto drive to our 5-star hotel beside the Great Pyramid. 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 8.87 EGP for $1 US (6.74 CAD/$1). Here is a currency converter to check rates with your country's currency. Converting to EGP at home is expensive and 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. ATM machines work well in Egypt especially if there is a chip on your card.
The weather in Egypt in March is ideal and ranges from 62-84F (17-29C). 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 and summer attire. It is cooler at night in March so you'll need a jacket. Rain is unusual.
Cell Phone Access and Internet
**To be updated*
If you have an unlocked cell phone, it is easy to get a local SIM card with a local number to call home on. WiFi is free in the lobby and public areas. WiFi is available in the Guest Rooms for a fee. At the Steigenberger: Nile Palace, Wireless Internet is available for free in the salon bar. There is a surcharge for Internet access in the Business Center and in the guest rooms. WiFi is available on the M/S Sonesta Moon Goddess cruise.
Hotels and cruise boats do an excellent job on laundry returned in 24 hours for a reasonable fee.
Water and Medical
No inoculations are necessary for travel to Egypt. It is recommended that you drink and brush your teeth with bottled water. Bottled water is included in the tour package. 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.
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. 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 - We will visit a perfume palace in the village by the pyramids where you can purchase a set of 'chakra oils' for healing purposes. Gamal is the owner of the shop and he will give us a short talk on their puposes.
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 + Gold - Silver and gold are widely available. Look for a government 'stamp' to prove the authenticity of the silver. 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.