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On The Go Tours / Egypt / Travel Tips And Useful Info

Time

Egypt is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Voltage

Standard voltage is 220 volts. Primary sockets require the European, 2 pronged variety. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.

Money

The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound.

Pound Sterling, US Dollars, Euro and other major currencies can be exchanged in Egypt. Exchange facilities are available at various bureau de changes and all major towns have ATMs. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities.

Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.

Health

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Egypt from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Rabies are strongly recommended.

Water

As tap water is not safe to drink in Egypt, only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants.

Food

Egyptian cuisine is not unlike the cuisine of Turkey, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. The basic staple centres on pulses - fuul medames (fava beans) and ta'amiyya (chickpea patties). These tend to be the centrepiece of a meal that will normally include salads, seasoned vegetables and meats. Houmous and other yoghurt based dips, coupled with fresh pitta, schwarma (similar to a Turkish doner kebab), kofta (a skewered spiced meat dish) and fiteer (a kind of pizza) are other popular dishes. The lunchtime bargain has to be kushari, though. A curious mix of noodles, rice, lentils, fried onion and spicy sauce. It's very tasty and exceedingly cheap. Exotic juices freshly squeezed from the fruits of mango, guava and other seasonal varieties are also widely available, as is fresh fruit.

Shopping

Egypt is a virtual Aladdin’s Cave. While Cairo's Khan al-Khalili bazaar is cavernous and full of unusual and everyday objects, smaller souks and bazaars abound in other towns, too. Top buys include - perfume concentrate, carpets and rugs in innumerable hand-loomed designs, backgammon boards, hand-crafted sheesha pipes, Pharaonic objects fashioned in marble and alabaster, Egyptian cotton sheets, clothing and of course - authentic papyrus.

Travelling with Children

On our group tours, we welcome young adults aged between 16 - 18 years, accompanied by a parent/guardian. If your chosen tour includes 2 nights onboard a Nile felucca, persons aged between 16 - 18 years are required to upgrade to our Nile Cruiser for this section of the holiday.

We offer three specially designed family tours that welcome children above 5 years of age as well as two tours for teenagers - Egypt Unplugged with Teens & Pharaohs Adventure with Teens, for young adults aged 12 years and above accompanied by a parent/guardian. Our private journeys and tailor-made holidays cater for all travellers of any age.

Festivals

Christmas

The Coptic Christmas is celebrated on 7th January. The Coptics believe this day to be birthday of Christ. People enjoy a mass gathering at midnight and enjoy a traditional cuisine of festival known as 'fata'.

Abu Simbel Sun Festival

The Abu Simbel Sun Festival is held on 22nd February and 22nd October every year. We run special tours to coincide with this incredible event. See our Sun Festival tours for details.

Ramadan

One of the pillars of Islam requires Muslims to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the month which commemorates the divine gift of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed. From sunrise to sunset, those who fast must refrain from eating, drinking and smoking. There are good and bad aspects of visiting the country during Ramadan. On the bright side, people hit the streets after the sunset "breakfast" ready to sing, play cards, enjoy some of the special musical and theatrical entertainments and just generally have fun. Shops re-open until the wee hours, and many hotels create special Ramadan Tents where they offer traditional holiday snacks and drinks, live entertainment, water pipes, backgammon boards, card games and the like.

The other side of the coin is that many aspects of "business as usual" don't apply during the month. Banks and offices all have shorter working hours, some restaurants close for the entire month, and about an hour before sunset the roads and streets will be full of people racing to buy last-minute supplies and get home in time for Al Iftar. If you plan to visit during Ramadan, you should understand that the touring day will be shortened. There will still be plenty of restaurants open and serving lunch, especially in the tourist areas, but it would be very bad manners to eat, drink or smoke in the sight of passers-by.

Do remember, if you visit during Ramadan, that your dress should be a bit more circumspect than usual. Some women who do not normally cover their heads do so during Ramadan, and often feel that make-up, perfume and other "vanities of the flesh" should be given up during this month.

The precise dates of Ramadan varies from year to year. Ramadan lasts for about a month and is dependent on the lunar cycle and the Islamic lunar calendar. Forthcoming Ramadan dates are: 06 June - 05 July 2016 & 27 May - 25 June 2017.

Overnight Sleeper Trains

Many of our holidays include an overnight sleeper train journey from Cairo - Luxor or Aswan and vice versa. The sleeper train is the highest class of rail travel available in Egypt, though by western standards it would be considered of a moderate standard. Cabins on board the sleeper train are equipped with 2 bunk beds and fresh linen is supplied. There is also a washbasin and towel and the cabin door can be locked from the inside. Wash rooms including western toilets can be found at the end of each carriage. Dinner and breakfast (of a basic standard) are included within the fare. There is a bar carriage located toward the centre of the train where hot and cold beverages can be purchased, and sometimes alcohol.

We always request that our cabins are side by side, allowing the group to socialise before turning in for the night, though ultimately the location of our cabins ans whether they are together rests with the rail authority.

Oases hotels & camps

On our Dunes & Tombs, Sandblaster, Siwa to Alexandria, Nile Valley to Siwa Oasis tours Road to Jordan and Western desert bolt-ons we travel to remote areas of the country where accommodation and facilities are limited. With plenty of research we can safely say we use the best, reasonably priced hotels within these regions. Additionally, sometimes we are able to camp freely under a blanket of the stars, such as in the White Desert.

Camping in Wadi Rum

On our Road to Jordan and Pyramids Petra Promised Land tours, we spend a night in the Wadi Rum desert where you can choose to camp under the stars or in tents at our remote Bedouin camp. Desert camping is fun and the best way for us to experience the desertscape. Our desert camp offers basic facilities. Freshly laundered bedding and blankets are provided, though it is of a personal choice should you wish to bring your own.