Egypt

 Camel in Egypt  Abu Simbel, Egypt

Why Egypt?                                                                        Click here to view video

From iconic pyramids and medieval bazaars, to natural beauty and a vibrant contemporary culture, Egypt is a land packed with captivating treasures.  The pyramids at Giza - the sole survivors of the seven ancient wonders - the lotus-columned Temples of Luxor and Karnak, sunrise across the Valley of the Kings, and the sound-and-light show at the mighty tombs of Abu Simbel have thrilled visitors to Egypt for centuries.
 
Egypt's natural assets are equally as potent, with the white desert's wind-polished rock formations, the iron-clad mountains of the Sinai, and the gleaming underwater landscapes of the Red Sea.  A pulsing modern Arab state throbs beneath the surface, and, ultimately, Egypt is best understood not so much under the shadow of its great monuments, splendid though they are, but in the call to prayer at sunset, in the chatter of hooves on tarmac in a rural village, or tea and talk with Egypt's garrulous residents in a random coffeehouse.

  • When should I travel?
Egypt is a huge country with plenty of variety in its climate; when it’s chilly and wet in Alexandria, it can be ravishingly hot in Aswan.  The best time to visit most sights, including the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings, is from February to April and October to November. During these months the heat reminds you that it's the ‘Land of the Sun', but not too hot to be enjoyable. At this time, the skies and sea are a perfect blue. The downside is that these are the most popular times of the year for visitors.  In April, the hot, dusty khamsin wind blows from the Sahara, making touring of sights potentially troublesome; during an intense sand storm, vision may be reduced to a few meters.  During the hot, dry summers (June-August) there’s always the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion, which might confine visitors indoors during the early afternoon. Winters (November-Februrary) are usually mild and often overcast, leaving the desert and its ancient monuments looking lacklustre. Rainfall is negligible except on the coast.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
Following mass demonstrations in major towns and cities a curfew remains in place between midnight and 0600 hours (except in Luxor and the Red Sea resort areas). Visitors should obey this curfew and be aware of any changes. While protests have calmed the situation remains volatile and visitors should remain vigilant. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact their local embassy for the latest travel advice.

  • What money should I take?
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). British pounds sterling, Euros and the US Dollar are accepted everywhere although change may be given in Egyptian pounds. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in all but the smallest hotels and restaurants throughout the country, except in the Western oases. Travellers cheques are becoming less useful now that international ATMs are prevalent throughout the country. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling

  • What language will they understand?
Arabic is the official languagebut English and French are widely spoken and understood in Egypt.

  • How about my health?
Public hospitals are open to tourists. The standard of care is good in Cairo and Alexandria but is of varying standard in other parts of the country. Health care provision and standards of hygiene is lacking in remote rural areas, particularly in the Western Desert oases. Health insurance is strongly advised.

  • Public Holidays

2012
January 09 *Coptic Christmas Day
February 05 Birth of the Prophet
April 15 *Sham el-Nassim (Coptic Easter)
April 25 Sinai Liberation Day (Sinai only)
May 01 Labour Day
July 23 National Day
August 19 Bairam Feast (End of Ramadan)
September 11 *Coptic New Year
October 06 Armed Forces Day
October 26 Feast of the Sacrifice
November 15 Islamic New Year

2013
January 07 Coptic Christmas Day
January 24 Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
April 25 Sinai Liberation Day
May 01 Labour Day
May 05 Coptic Easter
May 06 Sham el-Nessim
July 23 National Day
August 08 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
September 11 Coptic New Year
October 06 Armed Forces Day
October 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
November 04 Islamic New Year

  • Do I need a visa?
Visas are required by South African passport holders.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
A yellow fever vaccination is not required when travelling to Egypt.