Cairo to Istanbul Trip Notes

Travel to the Middle East and visit Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, travelling from Cairo to Istanbul. Swim in the Red Sea and discover Damascus on this Middle East adventure.

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Last Modified: 05 Oct 2012
Cairo to Istanbul
Trip code: XESV
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
From the 'Land of the Pharaohs' to modern-day Istanbul via Jordan and Syria, travel through countries that bear the legacies of Islamic, Christian, Persian and Roman civilisations. Discover deserts and mountains, camp under the stars and float in the Dead Sea. Take in all the wonder of Petra and wander among the bizarre fairy chimneys of Cappadocia - experience it all on this quintessential adventure through the intriguing Middle East.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency contact
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency funds
MapYour fellow travellersVisas
ItinerarySingle travellersIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseAccommodationWhat to take
We also recommendMeals introductionHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMealsSafety
Culture shock rating TransportTravel insurance
Physical ratingGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Physical preparationJoining point A couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingFinish point description
Departure taxFinish point instructions
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Cairo to Istanbul
Itinerary
Day 1 Cairo
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Egypt.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Wonderfully chaotic and always colourful, Cairo is a fascinating mixture of modern city and ancient wonders.
As we will be spending little time touring this fascinating city, if you would like to visit locations such as the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, or the Egyptian Museum - one of the world's best - we strongly recommend that you join one of our Egypt trips beforehand or arrive in Cairo a few days early to discover the city's treasures independently.
Optional Activities
  • The Citadel - EGP60
  • Cairo Tower - EGP70
  • Coptic Museum - EGP50
  • Islamic Art Museum - EGP50
  • Entrance to the Giza site - EGP60
  • The Great Pyramid of Cheops - EGP200
  • The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre - EGP40
  • Pyramid of Saqqara - EGP80
  • Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids - EGP75
  • Solar Boat Museum - EGP50
  • Egyptian Museum - EGP60
  • Mummies Hall at Egyptian Museum - EGP100
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Mt Sinai
Take a van through the harsh, but classic desert landscape of the Sinai, bound for one of the world's most important pilgrimage sites - Mt Sinai and St Katherine's Monastery (approx 8 hrs).
Mt Sinai is where Muslims, Jews and Christians collectively believe that the Ten Commandments were revealed to the prophet Moses. Whatever your beliefs, climbing to the top is sure to move you and the summit provides perfect vistas of a glorious desert sunset.
The climb up Mt Sinai is challenging and will take up to 3 hours depending on the fitness of the group. We hire a local Bedouin guide for the walk and your group leader will also accompany you. As a group we take the less physically demanding walking trail rather than the '3750 Steps of Repentance', as this gives all members of the group the best chance of reaching the summit. Those of the group that wish to tackle the steps will need to sign off the trip temporarily for this section of the climb, and rejoin the group at the summit.
Please note that the Saint Catherine Monastery is closed to visitors on Public holidays and Sundays, and it may not always be possible to visit. Please speak with your leader about viewing the monastery on an alternative day.
Included Activities
  • Mt Sinai climb with local guide
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Red Sea Beach Camp
Visit the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Catherine, built around the burning bush that spoke to Moses. The monastery was built over 1,400 years ago by the Roman Emperor Justinian to protect the monks and hermits residing in the area. A site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century, it's the oldest Christian monastery in continuous existence. The monastery is named for the martyr Saint Catherine, who lived in the 3rd century, and whose relics were found at the summit of Mt Catherine (Jebel Catherine).
We then travel to our Red Sea beach camp, close by to the town of Nuweiba (approx 2 hours).
The Red Sea coast is justifiably famous for its beautiful scenery both above and below the water. Why not start the day with a fantastic snorkelling trip to discover this spectacular world? There is also time to make an optional scuba dive on nearby reefs. Later relax on the golden sands watching the mountains of Saudi Arabia light up at sunset, and finish the day chatting with our Bedouin friends over a delicious freshly squeezed fruit juice.
This is a harsh and barren land of sprawling windswept plains and rugged mountains, but it's also home to some fantastic beaches. The tiny settlement of Sawa Camp is reminiscent of its Sinai neighbours, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheik, before mass tourism arrived. Thankfully Sawa Camp is still a hidden gem for Intrepid groups. Set on one of the only stretches of fine golden sand along this coast, this is a place that you'll be raving about to your friends for years to come.
Stay in simple but comfortable beach huts with the water right at our front door. The huts in our camps are made from local palm trees and have a mattress on the floor with sheets and mosquito nets provided. The toilets and showers are in a communal block.
Optional Activities
  • St. Catherine's Icon Museum - EGP25
  • Red Sea snorkel hire (per day) - EGP20
Accommodation
Beach hut (1 nt)
Day 4 Aqaba
Take a ferry across the Gulf of Aqaba to Jordan (approx 2 hours). Your Egyptian leader will help you board the ferry and say good-bye. Please note that you'll be travelling on this ferry unaccompanied by a group leader. You'll be met at the Aqaba ferry terminal by our local representative who will receive and process visas for the group and arrange a transfer to the hotel where you'll meet your Jordanian leader.
The ferry crossing can be rough on occasions and those who suffer from sea sickness may want to prepare themselves. Please note this ferry crossing sometimes experiences delays and patience is required. This is a fast ferry and sometimes it can be cancelled without notice. For some trips we may be required to take the slow ferry which can take anywhere between 3-5hrs. Due to adverse weather conditions there's a possibility the ferry will be cancelled all together, forcing us to stay an extra night in Egypt. The ferry itself is modern with western-style toilets on board.
Stay in the coastal resort town of Aqaba, the country's only seaport.
Due to the ferry timings we usually arrive in the late afternoon but there may be time to have a look at Aqaba Castle or Aqaba Museum.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Wadi Rum
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a short drive (approx 1 hr) to the extraordinary desert scenery in Wadi Rum.
A 4-hour jeep safari takes us through some of the most beautiful and sublime desert scenery on the planet, a true highlight of this trip.
Wadi Rum is full of weird and beautiful lunar-like rock formations. Traces of ancient civilisations can be seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the Wadi Rum area, from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum, however, are those carved by nature - the natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks.
Sleep in a simple desert camp where you'll have the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the stars. A mattress and blankets are provided. Please be aware that while the desert may be very hot during the day, it will still be cool at night and warm clothes and a sleeping bag is highly recommended when travelling outside of the summer months. A dinner cooked in a local earthen oven is included. Western-style toilet facilities are available. Conditions are basic at our desert camp, but the company of our Bedouin hosts is warm and you'll treasure the memory of sleeping beneath the twinkling desert night sky.
Included Activities
  • 4WD jeep safari and desert camp
Accommodation
Desert camp (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Petra
Travel by van from Wadi Rum to Petra (approx 2 hrs).
Hewn out of the rose-coloured rock face, the ancient Nabataean city of Petra is one of the Middle East's most spectacular destinations, and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Visit Petra with a local guide, starting with the exciting walk through the narrow Siq to the Treasury. After admiring the iconic view, continue through the site along the Roman road, past impressive rock-cut tombs, temples and the amphitheatre.
Explore the rest of the site at your own pace. For those with the energy, there's the challenging but highly rewarding walk up the steps to the stunning Monastery (approx 1 hr). Please note a lot of walking is required to see all the sites and viewpoints of Petra. A basic level of fitness will enhance your enjoyment of your visit.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer. It was once described as 'a rose-red city half as old as time' in a sonnet by John William Burgon and UNESCO has described it as 'one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage.' In 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage site. So you know you are in for an amazing experience here.
It's difficult to determine exactly when the history of Petra began. Evidence suggests the Horites, probably cave-dwellers, inhabited the area, lending their traditional habits such as burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves to the next wave of inhabitants - the Nabataeans.
Evidence of the earliest Nabataean settlement is also sketchy. Some of the characteristics of the site appear partly Egyptian and partly Greek in style. Strangely, few inscriptions have been found at Petra making dating the civilization a real challenge for historians. We do know the Nabataean settlement doesn't go back farther than the 6th century BC.
In 106 AD, Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire and the native dynasty came to an end but continued to flourish for a century after. Eventually the building of tombs ended and trade moved away from Petra, which fell into steady decline over the centuries. Over time many of the tombs' treasures were stolen by treasure hunters and their glory and whereabouts are unknown.
According to Arab tradition, Petra is the location where Moses struck a rock with his staff and water came forth.
Please note that when entering Petra as a group, a complimentary horse ride is included in the ticket price from the entrance point down to the Siq. Intrepid doesn't recommend that passengers take this option due to the safety and insurance liability involved.
Our nights here are spent in the adjoining village of Wadi Musa (the Valley of Moses), located a short walk from the entrance to the Petra site.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Petra
Optional Activities
  • Petra by night - JOD12
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Madaba
Travel by van to Madaba, via the Dead Sea and Mt Nebo.
A Dead Sea float is a must for any trip to Jordan. Here at the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level) the water is seven times saltier than a normal ocean at 30% salinity. The Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world after Lake Asal in Djibouti. When swimming this means you are extremely buoyant and seem to float on top of the water rather than in it.
The mud here is supposed to have healing properties and many visitors like to cover themselves from head to toe for a beauty mud bath. Stop at a private beach with pools and a gentle slope to the water. Towels are available for hire. Don't forget to pack your swimwear for today.
Make a stop at Mt Nebo where the prophet Moses is said to have seen the promised land and is supposedly buried. Explore this sanctuary and view the remarkable mosaics of the 4th-century church.
Next we continue the short distance to Madaba.
The historical town of Madaba is famous for its Ottoman-style houses and beautiful Byzantine-era mosaics, including the famous 6th-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land at St George's Church. Other mosaic masterpieces found within the Church of the Virgin and the Apostles and in the Archaeological Museum depict a rampant profusion of flowers and plants, birds and fish, animals and exotic beasts, as well as scenes from mythology and everyday pursuits such as hunting, fishing and farming. If these interest you, you'll be delighted to know that literally hundreds of other mosaics from the 5th to 7th centuries are scattered throughout Madaba's churches and homes.
Take an optional day trip to Amman, the country's capital city, just 25 km from Madaba.
Alternatively you can travel to the Roman city of Jerash, situated in the north of Jordan, 50 km north of Amman and known for the ruins of the important Greco-Roman city of Gerasa. It is sometimes nicknamed the 'Pompeii of the Middle East', because of its size and degree of preservation.
It is possible to combine both Amman and Jerash in a one-day excursion from Madaba.
Amman has served as the modern and ancient capital of Jordan and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a 1994 excavation uncovering homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age (circa 7000 BC). Check out sites such as the 6,000-seat Roman theatre built in the 2nd century, or the Citadel, offering panoramic views over the city from the highest hill in town. Within the Citadel is the museum that contains the Dead Sea Scrolls, and also the excavated ruins of an Umayyad palace.
Explore the beautifully preserved ruins of Jerash, one of the largest and best-preserved Roman cities left on the planet. These ruins were re-discovered in 1806 and continue to be one of Jordan's most amazing sites. The ancient walled town that survives today is a remarkable evocation of life 2,000 years ago.
Excavation and restoration of Jerash has been ongoing since the 1920s. Recent excavations show that the area was inhabited during the Bronze Age as far back as 3200 BC. Conquered by the Romans and then the Persians, Jerash was destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century. Monuments of note in Jerash include the Corinthium column, Hadrian's Arch, a circus/hippodrome, two temples (to Zeus and Artemis), the oval Forum surrounded by a colonnade, a long colonnaded street, two theatres, baths, small temples and an almost complete circuit of city walls.
Included Activities
  • Dead Sea
  • Mt Nebo
Optional Activities
  • Citadel and National Archaeological Museum - JOD2
  • Roman Theatre - JOD1
  • Roman ruins - JOD8
  • Gladiator show - JOD12
  • Bethany Baptism site - JOD8
  • St George Church - JOD2
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Damascus
Cross the border into Syria by taxi and arrive at its fascinating capital, Damascus.
The Persians, Greeks and Romans all played their part in the history of Damascus, called ash-Sham by the Arabs, until the Muslims and Mongols took over, only to give way to the Ottomans and finally the French, before Syria finally gained independence in 1946.
Take a guided walk through the ancient alleyways and bustling bazaars of the capital's old city, including the beautiful Umayyad Mosque and the Souq al-Hamidiyya.
We have some free time to spend here. If you'd like to explore the old city, you can easily find your way around on foot, even though it's a city of 6 million residents. Discover the story behind the great Arabic hero, Saladin, and visit his mausoleum. You'll find other important Islamic figures buried in places nearby, and hopefully, by the end of your visit, you will better appreciate a different perspective on the Crusades.
Included Activities
  • Umayyad Mosque
Optional Activities
  • Azem Palace - SYP150
  • National Museum of Damascus - SYP150
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Palmyra
Travel by bus from Damascus to Palmyra (approx 4 hrs).
Depending on arrival time there may be an opportunity for you to take an optional trip to view sunset from Arab Castle.
The oasis city of Palmyra ranks as one of the world's greatest historic sites. Settled in Neolithic times, the ruined city dates to the 1st century AD, when it flourished as an Assyrian caravan route, then became a Greek trading post before being annexed by the Romans. Home to Queen Zenobia, who set her armies against the Roman Empire in the 3rd century and conquered Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, before being captured and taken hostage by Emperor Aurelian, Palmyra means 'the city of palm trees' and is still known locally by its pre-Semitic name, Tadmor.
Explore the splendour of these remote and extensive ruins. The Temple of Bel is the main orientation point inside the ruins, although there is a rather poorly marked museum nearby if you want to 'do it all'.
We will also spend the morning of Day 13 exploring Palmyra.
Included Activities
  • Palmyra tour
  • Palmyra local guide
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Krak des Chevaliers
Travel by van from Palmyra to what is considered by many to be the greatest fortress in the world - Krak des Chevaliers.
Little has changed in the 800 years since the Crusader knights built Krak des Chevaliers. Reaching the dizzying height of 700 metres above sea level, it commands a view over the valley between Homs and Tripoli. A perfect model of medieval fortification, this castle was never besieged successfully and seemed impenetrable to attack. Held by the Knights Hospitaller, it only fell to the Mamluks in the 13th century when Sultan Baibars tricked the knights into surrendering the castle. Krak des Chevaliers is one of the world's most impressive Crusader castles and we explore it with the help of a local guide.
Please note: the guided tour will take place on the morning of Day 14.
Included Activities
  • Krak des Chevaliers
  • Krak des Chevaliers local guide
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Aleppo
This morning we have a guided visit of Krak des Chevaliers before transferring to Homs on our way to Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo.
Architecturally diverse Aleppo, is called Halab (meaning 'milk') by the locals, originating from the ancient story that Abraham gave out milk to travellers as they journeyed through the region. The fabulous and vibrant covered souq is Aleppo's main attraction. Parts of the Souq date back to the 13th Century and little seems to have changed, it is still very much the centre of local commerce, yet to be displaced by tourists. Check out the Al-Jamaa al-Kebir, the younger sibling of the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus or wander through the Christian quarter, admiring the 15th-century houses and equally old churches.
Optional Activities
  • Grand Mosque - SYP150
  • Jdeideh area - SYP100
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 16 Sanliurfa / Homestay
Cross the border into Turkey by van and travel on to Sanliurfa (approx 4hrs).
Legends abound in Urfa, the Prophets' City. Abraham of Bible fame was born in a cave here, and pilgrims flock to Dergah to visit both the cave and the Throne of Nimrod fortress, where Nimrod threw Abraham into the fire. Here you will also find a scared pool filled with well-fed carp. Keep an eye out for a white one, as legend states you will go to heaven if you see it. You might also like to explore the Urfa Museum, or the wondrous medieval bazaar where villagers make their way to daily to sell their local produce.
In your free time wander the meandering alleyways to discover some of the fine old Urfa houses. An interesting blend of Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic influences intertwine here to make your visit a magical one.
Have a wonderful Intrepid opportunity to enjoy fantastic local food and sleep on traditional Urfa mattresses beds made of soft wool. If it is hot you may choose to sleep outside on the roof under the stars, as many people in the area do in the summer months.
Our hosts prepare our feast themselves and it's sure to be spiced with the legendary local red pepper isot.
Important note: Both men and women are required to dress very conservatively during their stay here due to the traditional values of our hosts. Females are required to wear a long ankle-length skirt and men must wear long ankle-length trousers.
Alcohol will not be available for purchase or consumption.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Day 17 Mt Nemrut
Today we head into the remote and ancient lands of King Antiochus.
High on a man-made mountain, the colossal stone heads of Nemrut Dagi look out across the world and at dawn are a sight never to be forgotten. They adorn the tomb of King Antiochus, a warlord and king with amazing visions of grandeur, and what some may call megalomania! Explore this incredible site and enjoy either sunrise (season permitting) or sunset as you gaze out over the arid Anti Totos mountain ranges.
Please note: during the winter months of March, April and October/November due to inclement weather and frozen roads it may notbe possible to travel to Mt Nemrut and on these departures we will spend 3 nights in Goreme instead
Included Activities
  • Mt Nemrut
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 18-20 Goreme
Take a van from Nemrut to Goreme.
In the heart of Cappadocia, the town of Goreme lies in a fantastic region of cones, needles and columns, fashioned by nature from the soft volcanic tuff rock. It's honeycombed with caves scooped out to make churches and dwellings that are known as fairy chimneys and castles. In times of peace, the people in this region lived on the land but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground.
From our base in the charming village of Goreme we explore these fascinating underground cities, fairytale landscapes and fresco-filled rock-carved churches. We head deep underground into one of the cities that was used during times of invasion and hike through surreal landscapes. Marvel at the wonders of the Open Air Museum just up from the main town or there are lots of sights to see just within Goreme. The nearby Goreme Valley National Park offers plenty of opportunities to stretch those legs.
On the evening of our last day in Goreme we take an overnight bus back to Istanbul ( approx. 12-13hrs ). The coach is air conditioned, stops every 2-3hrs for toilet breaks but please be aware that while the seats recline they are not fully reclining.
This change to the Itinerary for 2012 is due to the unexpected closure of the Istanbul to Ankara train line. Passengers who prefer not to take an overnight bus should speak to their agent or tour leader for information on how to book flights direct back to Istanbul.
Included Activities
  • Goreme - Underground city
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Balloon flight (standard) - EUR165
  • Goreme - Balloon flight (deluxe) - EUR230
  • Nigde Monastery - TRY2
Accommodation
Pension (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 21 Istanbul
We arrive back into Istanbul station in the morning at approx 9am (subject to train delays). We then take a ferry across to the European shore marvelling at Istanbul's breathtaking skyline of domes, minarets, turrets and city walls - so keep your camera close by.
For your comfort and convenience day rooms are provided on this day until 12 noon, for luggage storage and an opportunity to have a shower and freshen up. Once settled consider joining the rest of the group in a farewell breakfast. Otherwise there are no activities planned on this day, and you are free to depart any time after our arrival.
We recommend not booking flights any earlier than 3:00pm to allow for any train arrival delays, time to transfer to the airport, and check in time required at the airport.
If you plan on staying in Istanbul after the trip consider our Istanbul City Break program (trip code: ERAZ) which offers great value, combining accommodation, airport transfer, some great Intrepid activities and entry tickets into some of Istanbul's major sights. There is nothing like being able to jump the queues when your time is limited.
Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surprise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west. Originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, then Constantinople when the Romans made it the capital of their eastern empire. Today, intriguing Istanbul is a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people and a rich history and food scene waiting to be explored.
As there is a great deal to do in Istanbul we recommend allowing a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be able to assist.
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • Istanbul City Break (ERAZ-B)
  • XESV Single supplement (XESV)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Explore Jordan (EESJ)
  • Istanbul to Amman (EERT)
  • Middle East Adventure (XESXC)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
The Middle East is a region which may be very different to anything you have experienced before. Heat, pollution, poverty and the crowds can result in initial culture shock but should be seen as an exciting new challenge. During our time here we have come to love this wonderfully different region but we know that we should always expect to encounter some difficulties along the way. You will come across very different attitudes to time keeping, public cleanliness, privacy and service. If you are able to travel with a lot of patience and a sense of humour, then we know that you - like all of us - will be captivated by the fabulous Middle East.
Physical rating

This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Physical preparation
Itineraries that travel to the Sinai usually include a trek to the summit of 2285m, Mt Sinai. A good level of fitness is required to make the ascent. There are opportunities to hire a camel to take you 70% of the way up, but to get to the top everyone must take the last 700 or so 'stairs'. This is a challenging climb. Note that you should not make this ascent if you have scuba dived in the preceding days. The descent is made in the darkness so don't forget to bring your torch. Sturdy footwear is essential.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.
A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
SHOPPING:
There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip. Popular purchases include: gold and silver jewellery, perfume and Pyrex perfume bottles, essential oils, papyrus art, alabaster statues and silver including cartouches (hieroglyphics).
While we do not make arrangements for specific shopping excursions due to our passengers feedback, there may be opportunities where your local guides can offer services if you are particularly interested. Please note it's customary for local guides (not Intrepid group leaders) to accept commission from the factory or shop in exchange for their service.
You are under no obligation to purchase anything from local guides and we do encourage you to enjoy shopping in the markets to compare prices and quality.
Please note that in Egypt, silver is a common souvenir in the form of jewellery and other items. The silver in Egypt is generally stamped with '800' meaning that it's 80% silver and 20% other metal. This is a reduced quality to the silver you may be more familiar with which is '925'.
Money Exchange
EGYPT
The official currency of Egypt is Egyptian Pounds (EGP).
It's easy to get money when you arrive at the airport through money exchange or from the ATM. The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) which are plentiful throughout all the main cities. Check with your bank for information on international ATM fees.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it's stolen. Keep this in a safe place. When using your debit card, check your receipts and keep them to compare against your statement when you get home.
We recommend that you carry some foreign currency cash for when ATMs can not be accessed, have broken down or run out of cash. There are few problems changing money at the many banks and currency exchange facilities. Cash in USD, EUR and GBP are the easiest to exchange.
Occasionally banks will allow cash advances on your credit card, but it's not recommended to rely on this.
While some banks and five-star hotels will change travellers cheques, the process is time consuming, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and it can be difficult to change on weekends and public holidays. The easiest cheques to change are Thomas Cook or American Express in USD, EUR or GBP. Traveller's cheques are not recommended in the Middle East.
The official currency of Jordan is Jordanian Dinars (JOD).
It's easy to get money on arrival to Jordan. ATMs and money exchange are plentiful.
The official currency of Syria is Syrian Pound (SYP).
ATMs are not common in Syria, but available in the main cities such as Damascus & Aleppo. Please note that Mastercard and Maestro cards are unreliable in Syria. It is recommended you carry extra foreign currency to exchange in Syria.
The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY, although prior to 2005 the currency code was TL).
ATMs are common throughout the main cities and these are a safe and convenient way to withdraw money. Credit cards are also widely accepted. Cash in any of the major currencies (EUR, GBP and USD) is easily changed. Travellers cheques in major currencies (EUR, GBP and USD) can be changed at selected local banks but it can be time consuming and subject to high fees.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The Middle East is often misjudged as being an inexpensive destination. With tourism booming and the influx of cheap flights from Europe, prices for some items are becoming more equivalent to prices you would be used to at home. Eating in local restaurants, roadside stalls and from markets can be inexpensive, but for nights out at tourist-friendly restaurants you can expect to pay much more. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you shouldn't expect the Middle East to always be a budget destination.
Tipping
Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is a is part of everyday life in Egypt and is more then just a reward for services rendered. In a country where wages are extremely low it is an essential means of supplementing income. This practice is not merely reserved for foreigners and Egyptians have to constantly hand out 'Baksheesh' as well - to park their cars, ensure fresh produce and pick up their mail. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
Passenger feedback has shown that this constant need to tip along the way can be both embarrassing and tiresome and to avoid this we have implemented a 'Tipping Kitty' system. At the start of your trip your leader will suggest a set ammount and each member of the group contributes to the Tipping Kitty. This is then used to pay tips to people who provide services to the group as a whole, such as porters, drivers, sailors, housekeeping staff in hotels, and so on. The Tour leader administers these tips and keeps a record of how the tipping funds are distributed. In order to keep this as transparent as possible you are welcome to look over the tipping report at any time.
The below amounts are suggested figures in USD for ease of calculating budgets, but should always be offered in local currency.
The suggested total kitty based on the above is:
XESB - $32USD per passenger
XESI - $60USD per passenger
XERA - $45USD per passenger
XEKI - $48USD per passenger
XESW -$68USD per passenger ( Please note that the Kitty covers Egypt and Jordan)
EERJ - $27USD per passenger ( Please note that the Kitty covers Jordan and Egypt)
Your Group Leader: Please note that the Tipping Kitty does not include a tip for your leader. You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Departure tax
Departure tax of EGP50 is payable when leaving Egypt by ferry.
Departure tax for Syria is SYP550 (Syrian Pounds).
Departure tax of JOD10 is payable when leaving Jordan by land or ferry.
Important notes
RAMADAN & THE EID UL-FITR FESTIVAL 2014:
In 2014, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 27 June through until 27 July, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
FAST FERRY CANCELLATIONS:
Fast ferries between Jordan and Egypt can be cancelled without notice. On some trips we may be required to use the slow ferry which can take 3-5 hours.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
The price of the Single supplement doesn't include the following nights where single rooms may not be available. If a single room becomes available at check in for these nights, there may be the option to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night:
- Day 3 Red Sea Beach camp
- Day 5 Wadi Rum
- Day 12 Palmyra
- Day 16 Sanliurfa Homestay
- Day 20 Overnight train to Istanbul
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nts), Pension (2 nts), Beach hut (1 nt), Desert camp (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
CAMPING:
Nights spent camping can be in recognised camps or wild camping in the desert. Some campsites do have facilities but are usually not to the same standard as you would find in western countries, often toilet paper is not provided. Wild camps obviously have no facilities at all, and the toilet is simply a hole dug into the sand. Some nights can be spent in a tent whilst other nights will be under the stars. Mattresses and blankets are often provided, however some trips will require a sleeping bag. Please see 'What to Take' for more information.
HEATING & AIR-CONDITIONING:
As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter months (approx December to March) can be very cold. All of our hotel accommodation contains suitable bedding, and simple light bedding is provided during camping activities such as an overnight felucca, desert camps or at the Red Sea Beach camp stay. Most Intrepid travellers find the bedding provided here adequate, but for your own comfort and if you are particularly sensitive to the cold, consider bringing your own sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket. Some of our guesthouses / hotels don't supply heating. In many cases this would be a major financial and environmental strain on our hotels and the local towns. Summer (approx June to August) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning.
TRIPLE-SHARE ROOMS:
When we have three single female travellers or three single male travellers on a trip we occasionally make use of triple-share rooms.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Meals
13 Breakfasts, 2 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
USD 350.00
Breakfast is generally a very simple affair. It typically consists of bread, jam and tea/coffee, and on occasion tomato, cucumber and juice (or similar).
Transport
Bus, Taxi, Ferry, Jeep
There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
SECURITY WHILE TRAVELLING:
Occasionally you may experience armed security and convoys between select towns or regions. Convoys are used to ensure all travellers are transported safely and, in many cases, tourists are only allowed to travel in scheduled convoys of buses and jeeps. On rare occasions you may have an armed guard in your vehicle. We want to warn you so you are not alarmed. This is a practice designed to keep tourists safe, although at times it can appear a little overboard.
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
King Hotel
20 Abdel Rehim Sabry Street
Dokki
Cairo
EGYPT
Phone: 202 333 59455
Joining point description
The King Hotel has 90 rooms with en suite bathrooms, television and air-conditioning. Other hotel features include laundry service, roof top bar and restaurant.
Joining point instructions
By far the easiest option from the airport is to take a taxi. Airport taxis shouldn't cost more than EGP100 (be prepared to bargain). The drive can take between 40 minutes and 1 hour depending on the time of day and subsequent traffic conditions.
Alternatively, Intrepid offer a pre-arranged private transfer service. Enquire with your agent on booking. If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer you'll be met in the immigration area by a transfer officer from our local representative in Cairo. Look for the Intrepid logo and your name.
If for any reason you don't make contact with the transfer officer by the time you have cleared customs, as can occasionally occur as many flights tend to arrive at once.
Please call Ramadan Shedid on the following number:
(+20) 12 2100 5565
Give your exact location in the airport (find a landmark) and you'll be attended to promptly.
In the very unlikely event that this process fails, you can find taxis at the front of the airport to take you to your hotel. Please inform your group leader at the initial group meeting if this occurs.
If your flight is going to be early, delayed or cancelled please call ahead on the above numbers to explain the situation and advise alternative flight details.
If this is your first trip to Egypt a transfer is recommended.
Check-in time at our hotel is 2pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Golden Horn Hotel (formerly Best Town Palace Hotel)
Hocapasa Mah.Istasyon Arkasi Sk. No:9
Sirceki
Istanbul
Istanbul
34112
TURKEY
Phone: +90 2125141544
Fax: +90 2125111314
Finish point description
Centrally located in the heart of the Historical Peninsula, the Best Town Palace Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and Basilica Cistern. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, air-conditioning, tv, phone & mini-fridge.
www.besttownpalace.com
**Please note that there is a hotel of a similar name 'Best Town Hotel' located just around the corner. Please check the address carefully if you are making your own way to the hotel.**
Finish point instructions
Taxis can easily be hailed to the airport and cost approx 40TRY.
Private airport transfers are available for pre-booking through Intrepid. Contact your agent for details. Be sure to advise which of Istanbul's two airports you will be flying from at the time of booking. Sabiha Gokcen is on the Asian shore, while Ataturk airport is on the European side (and closer to our hotel).
If you have any problems with departure transfers please contact our Intrepid Istanbul office on one of the following numbers:
Office: +90 212 512 7144
Mob: +90 532 641 6514
Mob: +90 532 641 9056
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local Cairo-based ground representative for the Middle East can be reached on Tel: +2 01096811067. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EGYPT:
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - required in advance
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - required in advance
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visas are easily attainable on arrival at Cairo airport or Aqaba ferry port for most nationalities for US$15 to be paid in cash, but please check with your travel agent or embassy before departure. On arrival to Cairo airport you buy your visa at any of the banks before proceeding to immigration. You will be given a stamp that you then need to put into your passport yourself. A single entry visa is valid for three months from date of issue and entitles the bearer to one month in Egypt. Multiple entry visas are not available at the airport or any border crossings.
JORDAN:
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visas are required by all visitors entering Jordan. Single entry visas valid for 14 days and can be obtained, by most nationalities, on arrival at the airport in Amman or at the Jordanian border for approx. JOD20. It can be significantly more expensive to acquire your visa from the embassy in your home country. If you require a stay longer than 14 day, a visa obtained from the embassy in your home country will be valid for 2 months.
Please note that although there are ATMs in Amman airport, there are currently no ATMs in the immigration halls of Amman airport (but there are currency exchanges), so ensure you have some foreign currency on hand if you do not have your visa in advance.
SYRIA:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
Only when there is no Syrian embassy or consulate in the passport holder's country may an entry visa be issued at the border, such as New Zealand & Dutch passport holders. Depending on your nationality getting a visa at the border is often difficult and problematic.
Please note that it won't be possible to attain a visa or enter Syria with Israeli stamps in your passport.
TURKEY (ALL TRIPS):
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visa costs can change depending on the political climate of the region. For Turkey, an entry visa is required for citizens of the following countries (not limited to this list):
- USA (US$60),
- Canada (US$60 on arrival; CAD$75 for advance application)
- U.K. (US$60; GBP45 for advance application)
- Australia (US$60 on arrival)
- Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Portugal & Spain (varies from US$10-100)
The visa costs can change at any time and with little notice depending on the political climate of the region.
A valid passport is sufficient for citizens of most other countries including New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland for stays up to 3 months. All other nationalities please check with your nearest Turkish embassy.
Generally visas can easily be attained on arrival although sometimes the lines for these can be quite long. Visas obtained on entry must be paid in cash in US$ or EUR so ensure you have some on hand. It is also possible to pay by Credit Card however passenger feedback suggests this is not very reliable. Depending on your nationality, visas are either valid for 3 months or 1 year.
BORDER CROSSINGS:
You may need to provide the following information when applying for a visa:
~ a copy of your trip's itinerary
~ point of exit from Jordan is Jabir
~ point of entry to Syria is Nasib
~ point of exit from Syria is Bab al Hawa
~ mode of transport is a bus
~ Name of Hotel in Syria: Hotel Afamia, Jamwhoriya Street, Damascus. Tel: +963 (0) 11 2228963
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
Please note that as a desert region, the Middle East can have extreme weather. Temperatures are generally hot with little rain. This can become extreme during the summer months of June to August. In the months of December to March it can be very cold, particularly next to the river or the ocean and out in the desert where night temperatures can drop dramatically. Even in the hot months, it can get cold in the desert at night. Consider bringing a sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period, especially on itineraries which include camping such as on a felucca, in a desert camp, or at a Red Sea beach camp. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat is essential.
IMPORTANT: On this trip we are privileged to visit, and be hosted in a homestay, in a small rural village close to Sanliurfa. Both men and women are required to dress very conservatively on this day due to the traditional values of our hosts. Females are required to wear a long ankle-length skirt and men must wear long ankle-length trousers.
SLEEPING BAGS:
All of our hotel accommodation contains suitable bedding, and simple light bedding is provided during camping activities such as: overnight felucca, desert camps, or at the Red Sea Beach camp stay. Most Intrepid travellers find the bedding provided here adequate, but for your own comfort and if you are particularly sensitive to the cold, consider bringing your own sleeping bag if your itinerary includes camping over the winter months (approx. Dec-Mar).
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
PASSPORT PHOTOCOPIES:
Please bring two (2) copies of your passport. These may be used to assist with hotel check-in, and sometimes at road security points.
STUDENT CARDS:
If you are a student and can produce a valid student card you will be able to get discounted rates at some of the historical sites. Entrance prices are clearly posted at the ticket booth entry points.
INSECT REPELLENT:
There can be a lot of Mosquitoes and Sandflies in the Mt. Sinai area and around the Mediterranean beaches, so if you are visiting these areas on your trip we recommend you bring a DEET-based insect repellent. Some camps and hotels will provide mosquito nets in the rooms but this cannot be guaranteed. If you are particularly susceptible to bites or think you will be more comfortable we suggest you bring your own.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
DRINKING WATER:
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
WATER SAFETY:
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing, be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing (3/4 trousers that come to the calf are fine) is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate. As the countries we visit are Islamic nations, women may find a headscarf useful.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Egypt include:
* Animal Care in Egypt is a true friend to Egypt's mistreated animals. They provide free professional veterinary care, food and medication for some 4,000 injured, sick and mistreated animals each month. In addition to rehabilitating the mistreated, ACE also provides local people with education in appropriate animal care.
Donations of second-hand tack/dog collars and flea treatment are always welcomed.
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Turkey include:
* Mavi Kalem provides the children of rural immigrants, in the poorer areas of Eastern Turkey, with additional weekly classes through its Children's Education Program. These lessons, by trained teachers in all areas of formal education, give unprecedented educational opportunities in a region where the uneducated face limited prospects.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 683.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
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