Egypt

The land that gave birth to the world’s first great civilisation needs little introduction. The pyramids, the temples, the Nile – the scope of Egypt is magnificent. Visitors are surprised to discover that the legendary pyramids are merely the tip of the archaeological iceberg. Pharaonic nations, ancient Greeks, Romans, Christians and Arab dynasties have all played their part in fashioning Egypt’s embarrassment of architectural wealth. There is an extraordinary combination of chaos and peace that reigns throughout this ancient land.

When to Visit

During the summer months day time temperatures reach mid 30º degrees along the Nile Valley and in Cairo. The best time to visit is from October to April where an average temperature of 20º degrees keeps things cool, dry and comfortable.

Highlights

PYRAMIDS OF GIZA You haven’t been to Egypt until you’ve stood at the base of these legendary monuments, marvels of human engineering and construction. The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

ABU SIMBEL Built into the solid rock cliff by Pharaoh Rameses II to commemorate his victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh, the temples of Abu Simbel are a must-see for any visitor to Egypt.

ALEXANDRIA Stretching along the beautiful Mediterranean coast, at one stage Alexandria was the largest city in the known world and was famous for its great library, also the largest in the world.

VALLEY OF THE KINGS The Valley of the Kings was the burial place of choice for the Pharaohs and elites of Egypt’s New Kingdom, but is most well-known to us due to the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

EGYPTIAN MUSEUM The Egyptian Museum is one of the world’s most famous museums and houses a magnificent collection of antiquities including mummies, sarcophagi and the fabulous treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

KHAN EL KHALILI BAZAAR An ancient, oriental bazaar or souk in one of the main districts of Cairo, its narrow, winding passages are filled with tiny shops selling souvenirs, antiques and jewellery, craftsmen with their traditional workshops.

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Useful Information

Shopping

One of Egypt’s best shopping experiences is Cairo’s medieval market Khan-el-Khalili. Everything from cheap souvenirs to household goods, reproduction ‘antique’ jewellery, brass plaques and jugs, copper utensils and cotton goods fill the narrow noisy alleyways. Shopping hours vary widely according to season and location. In most cities, shops are generally open daily 1000-2000, taking a lengthy lunch break in summer, and some will close on Fridays. Markets tend to stay open later in the evening. Shops are now required to close by 2200; those with a tourism licence may open later. During Ramadan, especially when it falls in summer, shops may well close at sunset and reopen several hours later, after eating. Some shops may close during Friday midday prayers, for a couple of hours. Christian-owned shops might close on Sundays.

Tipping

A ‘Basksheesh’ will be requested of you by almost anybody who provides you with a service, and indeed by many people that do not. This includes situations you may be accustomed to, such as after a meal, or by a porter who carries your bags to your room. But it also includes situations that may seem a little unusual such as in a public toilet, or by a security guard or curator at one of the ancient sites.

Getting around

Getting around in Egypt is pretty easy. Although it may seem very different from what most travellers are used to back home, the Egyptian transportation system is efficient and you shouldn’t face trouble finding your way around and reaching any destination. If you’re not planning to rent a car or drive your own vehicle in Egypt, taxis come as the easiest way for moving around in cities. For travelling between cities, you have the choice between buses, trains, and the domestic air carriers operated by the national airline EgyptAir.

Language

Arabic

Customs

Egypt is an Arabicn country and has Middle Eastern customs. Whether Muslim or Copt, the Egyptians are deeply religious and religious principles govern their daily lives. Combined with religious belief is commitment to the extended family. Egyptians have been raised in a social environment steeped in Islam, a background that can color their decision-making in a way difficult for foreigners to understand. Devout Muslims do not drink alcohol though most do not object to others imbibing in reasonable amounts. If in doubt, ask. In addition to the prohibition on alcohol, the faithful do not use drugs or eat pork, which is considered unclean. Explicit sexual material--magazines, photos, tapes, or records--is illegal and subject to confiscation. Ticket lines are occasionally segregated. Women should line up with other women (especially since the lines are usually shorter). On buses, the driver may want you to be seated in the front with other women. On the metro lines, the first car is usually reserved for women. You will find that whenever you start talking with an Egyptian, you will inevitably draw a crowd, and often the Egyptians will start discussing among themselves over the correct answer to a question. In Egypt, a woman traveling alone is generally safe, but she will be noticed, less in large cities than in the country. However, if problems do occur, seek help from the police or any shop nearby. All visitors to mosques, mausoleums, and madrasas must remove their shoes. Most Muslims walk around in their stockings but those mosques that are major tourist attractions have canvas overshoes available. Women must cover bare arms and should also have a hat.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Frequent travellers or those intending a long stay overseas should consider vaccination against Hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies should be considered for all travellers spending extended periods of time in Egypt. All travellers should be up to date with their routine "background" vaccinations, including a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Egypt should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: European Voltage: 220-240 volts (same as New Zealand, no voltage/frequency converter required). Modem Plug: French and US Source: Korjo Travel Products.

Communications

Country Code for Egypt: +20 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz International Operator: 120 Emergency Services: 122 Ambulance: 123 Fire: 180 Police: 122 Tourist Police: 126 These services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of a Arabic speaker to call the emergency services.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

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