Egypt might be considered the world's oldest tourist destination. With a plethora of cultural artifacts dating back thousands of years, and a long history of artistic, political, intellectual, and commercial milestones, the country and region have been attracting travelers since ancient times. The pyramids and tombs are not the only reason to visit Egypt. There is an extraordinary amount of art and architecture including relics from centuries of Greek, Roman, and Arabic occupation. All along the River Nile you can see different parts of Egyptian history that have survived thousands of years of cultural change and the rapid growth. But Egypt, like so many ancient lands, has entered the modern world paradoxically. Laborers often use the tools of their ancestors to farm, while the automobile traffic in the cities can be maddening. These contrasts are all over Egypt, and how much modernization Egypt accepts will ultimately effect the past, as well as the future of this great land.
Traveling in Egypt
Most flights connect to Egypt through European cities. Flying domestically in Egypt can be expensive, but there are trains, buses, and boats that will take you anywhere you want to go. Trains and buses can be extremely crowded because they usually wait until they cannot fit another body, before pulling away from the station. This may be uncomfortable, but it's a great way to immerse yourself in the culture.
Everyone traveling to Egypt is required to obtain a visa, avaible from Egyptian embassies worldwide. However, if you are from the United Stated, the European Union, Canada, or one of GCC countries, you can get a visa upon arrival at one of the larger airports, but you may want to deal with this beforehand, to avoid the trouble. Most visas last for one month, but they can generally be extended.
Traveling in Egypt is cheap: most meals cost under US$5, good hotels can be found for under US$50 a night, many are under US$25.
There are plenty of pickpockets around so it is a good idea to be extra careful with cash or valuables. Traveler's checks are still a good way to carry cash as long as they are American Express or Visa. Credit Cards are accepted in some places, and there are ATM's in larger cities.
Gratuities are generally included in the bill, but you might double check to be sure. Haggling for items at the market and elsewhere is a way of life in Egypt, so don't take anything at first glance--the cost of most products can be bargained down, including hotel rooms and other goods. A rule of thumb, when haggling, is never offer a price if you are not willing to pay it; if a shop keeper accepts your offer you, will be expected hand over the cash, pronto. Don't bargain hunt if you're not going to purchase--it could get you into trouble.
Weather in Egypt
South of Cairo, toward Luxor and Aswan, the blazing heat can be very uncomforable between June and August. However, this is also the most crowded time of year around the Mediterranean Coast. So when you choose to go depends entirely on what you want to do. The best time to travel south of Cairo is December to February. If you want to enjoy the north shore, March to May is the least crowded time when the weather will still be warm.
Health Concerns in Egypt
Bilharzia ranks second behind malaria as a public health concern in tropical and subtropical areas. You can get this disease through contact with infected water, and in Egypt, it is mainly found in the waters of the Nile.
Diagnosing bilharzia is done by checking a patient's urine or fecal matter. If you want to keep from getting this disease it is best to stay away from fresh water rivers and streams, especially near agricultural areas. For more information check out the following website: http: //www.who.ch/.
Population: 69.5 million
Square Miles: 622,272 sq mi (1,001,449 sq km)
People: Berbers, Bedouins, and Nubians
Religion: 94% Islam, 6% Christian
Major products/industries: Oil & gas, metals, tourism, agriculture (especially cotton), and Suez Canal revenues