Egypt is a desert nation, home to numerous beautiful and historic sights including temples, mountains and luscious beach resorts such as Sharm El Sheik and Hurghada. Egypt has a number of fantastic museums which bring its rich history to life as well as beautiful regions along the Nile river which are perfect for cruises to take you from Cairo to other tourist destinations such as Luxor and Aswan further south.
The tourist trade in Egypt is extensive and well equipped for all types of travellers. From backpacking accommodations through to high ranking luxury villas and resorts, Egypt has something for everyone. Key cities for tourists to travel to include Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, Sharm el Sheik, Hurghada, Aswan and Abu Simbel. Cairo is the closest centre within easy accessibility to the famed Pyramids of Giza, which are slightly south of the city, while the cities and towns along the Nile River further south are prime spots to visit abandoned temple complexes of various gods and goddesses from eons past.
Egypt is home to a large percentage of Bedouin tribesmen and women and in some instances trips out to spend the evening with these tribes can be arranged to experience their culture and ways of life overnight. Likewise, Egypt is also home to some impressive desert expanses with beautiful rocky outcrops and cliffs, oases, and coastline. There are some fantastic examples of Christian monasteries in parts of the country such as on the Sinai peninsula with the monastery of St Catherine.
Egypt is a typically dry and hot country particularly in summer months when the heat in some areas can be stifling and oppressive. Some parts of the coast as well as the Nile Delta can receive heavy rainfalls during parts of the year, and along the coastline in cities like Alexandria heavy thunderstorms are not uncommon. In typical desert fashion, the climate is variable in parts of the country. November to March are arguably the best times to travel to Egypt given to the cooler temperatures through the autumn and winter months, however the further south you travel in Egypt, the warmer and warmer it will get. Some parts of the country are prone to icy conditions, such as out in the countryside in the winter and the mountains on the Sinai peninsula as well as along the Red Sea coast are prone to receiving snowfall.
For those people visiting the coast and wanting to take advantage of some of the pristine snorkelling and diving available in the country, the warmer months are the perfect time to go. Depending on your tolerance to heat, April and May or September to October may be more tolerable than the height of summer in July or August.
Egypt like many other countries in the developing world retains the standard issues with regards to drinking water and health situations. Appropriate vaccinations such as typhoid and Hepatitis should be given well in advance of your trip and only bottled water should be consumed when in country. Care should be taken with vegetables and ice as to whether they have been prepared or washed with tap water which could be contaminated.
The money of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, which as of April 2017 is roughly 1 dollar = 18 pounds.
Holidays in Egypt observe both the Orthodox Christian and Muslim Calendars so it’s expected that many areas will have holy feast days and days off or reduced services in observance of the holiday. For example, Orthodox Christmas is observed on January 7th, so throughout the country even in places that are predominantly Muslim in background you may experience a reduction of services such as buses, banks and shop opening hours.
Other holidays to note in Egypt include the following:
- Egyptian Revolution Day (January 25)
- Sinai Liberation Day (April 25)
- Labour Day (May 1)
- Revolution Day (July 23)
- Armed Forces Day (October 6)
- Shawwal, the 10th Hijiri Month (Eid Elfitr) (varying dates by year, check in advance)
- 10th Tho-Elhejjah, the 13th Hijiri Month (Eid Al-adha) (varying dates by year)
- Ramadan for either 29 or 30 days depending on month, check in advance.
Visas for three months are issued on arrival at the port of entry for most nationalities. Some nationalities do not require visas to visit Egypt and others will require a visa in advance to be placed in their passports. A full list of information for each nationality can be found online.
Getting around Egypt can be quite straightforward and easy for most travellers. Taxis in the main centres are plentiful and usually fairly cheap. Always negotiate the price in advance. Train service is excellent and affordable with a number of departures to and from main centres daily.
Packing for Egypt will depend on when you go and what you do. Most of the time wet weather gear is not needed unless you plan to spend significant time in the Delta and the area. Good walking shoes or sandals, sunscreen, hats and cool, loose clothing are recommended for the majority of the country.
Egyptian history is extensive and varied, giving rise to a number of stories of gods waging wars against one another and iron fisted rulers with swathes of slaves at their disposal. Egypt also plays a prominent role throughout much of Christian history, being the country in which Jesus and his family sought refuge as well as being the site of some impressive Biblical stories such as Moses and the escape of the Jews from the Pharaoh.
Ancient Egyptians had a rich culture built on a strong foundation of worshipping their gods. The Egyptian pantheon is home to dozens of gods and goddesses, all of whom had their own uses and disciplines. The Egyptians honoured various types of cats as physical incarnations of the goddess Bastet, and even cat mummies can be found in some funerary locations such as in tombs of Pharaohs and even in tombs of lesser men.
Egypt as conquered by Alexander the Great whom was afterwards known as the Pharaoh of Egypt. Following the death of Alexander in 323BC, and the subsequent assassination of all his heirs, the land of Egypt passed to his general Ptolemy from whom history’s favourite queen Cleopatra descended.