Last Modified: 21 Feb 2013
Trip code: XESI
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Discover Egypt's stark desert beauty, home for centuries to the monumental legacies left behind by the great pharaohs. Explore its bewitching history and captivating culture by journeying down the Nile, across the remote contours of the Sinai Desert and along the sun-swept beaches lining the Red Sea. Shop in an Egyptian bazaar, climb Mt Sinai and see one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
**AMMENDMENT TO ITINERARY**
The safety of our passengers and leaders is our major priority and we have been closely monitoring the events in Egypt. We are particularly mindful of the recent events in the Sinai Peninsula involving the kidnapping of foreign tourists.
Therefore, based on the advice issued by Foreign Affairs Bureaus and frequent communication with our local operations team and leaders on the ground we have decided it's best to avoid the Mt Sinai/St Katherine area.
St. Katherine's is located a further 400km inland and accessed by another road, which we believe to be still too remote and risky to travel on. We will be avoiding the area until further notice and rather than spending the night in St Katherine on Day 11 our group will be staying in Dahab.
We understand that this may be disappointing for all but trust that you will appreciate the reason for this small adjustment to the Itinerary.
Your tour leader will provide you with more details of the new itinerary and answer any of the questions you may have at your welcome meeting in Cairo.
Day 1 Cairo
Day 2 Cairo/Train to Aswan
Day 3 Aswan
Day 4 Aswan
Day 5 Felucca/Home stay
Day 6 Felucca
Day 7 Luxor
Day 8 Luxor
Day 9 Luxor/Train to Cairo
Day 10 Cairo
Day 11 Dahab Instead of Saint Katherine.
Day 12 Sawa Camp (Nuweiba)
Day 13 Sawa Camp (Nuweiba)
Day 14 Cairo
Day 15 End
Table of Contents
- 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.
Days 1-2 Cairo
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Egypt.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
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.
There are plenty of things to see and do with free time in Cairo. Travel along the river by felucca, head out to explore the markets or If the crowds and the noise of the city are too much, catch the metro into the oldest part of the city, the Coptic Christian sector - with its narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches, it's a haven of peace and quiet.
A private van will take us to Giza, location of the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
Our final approach to the Pyramids will be across the surrounding dunes by camel, allowing stunning panoramic views of this iconic sight.
Explore the Pyramids up close: the Pyramid of Khufu (The Great Pyramid of Cheops), the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus). From a distance Khafre's pyramid looks larger than Khufu's, but this illusion is due to the structure being built on higher ground. When they were built they were covered in gleaming white limestone - now most of the casing stones have been removed but you can still see some on the apex of Khafre's pyramid.
There is time for an optional entrance inside a Pyramid, please ask your group leader to assist. The inside thoroughfares of the Pyramids are very small and very warm, so for those suffering from claustrophobia it is not recommended.
The statue of the Great Sphinx still retains the mysteries that have puzzled scholars, tourists and scientists for thousands of years. Made from an outcrop of stone left behind from the quarrying for the Great Pyramid, it has been buried by desert sands, excavated and repaired many times. The body of the Sphinx is almost 60 m long and 20 m high. It was known as 'Abu Hol' or Father of Terror to the Arabic people. We don't know who first built the statue - this is one of the mysteries of the colossal monument.
Please note that you'll be required to walk around the Pyramids complex. It can be very hot in the summer months so be prepared for some hot and sweaty walking with little relief. Don't forget to take some water with you.
Transfer back to central Cairo for a visit to the Egyptian Museum.
With thousands of exhibits, it's easy to lose yourself in the Egyptian Museum's many corridors - but don't miss the Tutankhamun rooms, where the famous golden death mask of King Tut and his gilded sarcophagi are displayed.
Your leader will designate a meeting time at our Cairo hotel to travel together to Giza station.
Travel to Aswan aboard a sleeper train with fold-out beds (approx 13 hrs). The two-berth cabins are comfortable and air-conditioned. All bedding is provided onboard by the porter. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but as toilet paper isn't always available it's advised to carry some of your own. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. An included dinner and breakfast are served on board. You may want to purchase something extra beforehand to supplement your meal, particularly if you're a vegetarian as only a single type of meal is served for dinner, which always includes meat. In rare circumstances you may be paired in your cabin with a group member of the opposite sex, depending on the group configuration. On other occasions you might have the opportunity to share with another traveller of the same sex who may not be part of our group, again determined by the group configuration.
- Pyramids and Sphinx
- Camel ride at the Pyramids
- Egyptian Museum
- The Citadel - EGP60
- Cairo Tower - EGP70
- The Great Pyramid of Cheops - EGP200
- The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre - EGP40
- Pyramid of Saqqara - EGP80
- Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids - EGP75
- Mummies Hall at Egyptian Museum - EGP100
- Solar Boat Museum - EGP50
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Aswan/Abu Simbel
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan. This Nubian city is Egypt's southern gateway to Africa and an important market town - take time here to check out one of the country's best bazaars.
Head out to enjoy the spectacular scenery around Aswan - where the Sahara meets the Nile. Take a motor boat ride to a nearby beach where you can climb a sand dune for a rewarding view. Then take a walk around the magical Elephantine Island for our first taste of Nubian life.
Take a minibus to Abu Simbel (approx 3 hrs each way).
Explore the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel. Built by Ramses II, it was the gateway to Egypt for Southern Africans and its imposing facade clearly delineated the line between what was the Pharaoh's land and what was not.
- Aswan boat tour
- Abu Simbel temples
- Philae Temple - EGP50
- Boat to Philae Temple - EGP10
- Sound & Light Show at Philae Temple - EGP75
- Unfinished Obelisk - EGP30
- Monastery of St. Simeon - EGP25
- Kalabsha Temple - EGP40
- Nubian Museum - EGP50
- Tomb of the Nobles - EGP30
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Nubian Homestay/Nile Felucca
Sail to a Nubian village on the west bank where you'll spend a night with your homestay hosts.
Board feluccas to spend a day out on the river and then a night under the stars. Our Nubian sailing crew provides all the meals, which are hearty and delicious.
A felucca is a traditional wooden boat with broad canvas sails. The boat has a canopy that offers shade and protection from the elements, however there is no cabin or enclosed section. Please note that conditions are basic during our felucca trip but if you are prepared to rough it a bit you are sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Sleep outside on the deck of the felucca on mattresses. While blankets are provided, a sleeping sheet is recommended. During the colder months (October to March) it can get very cold at night (as low as 5C) so a sleeping bag is highly recommended for this period. Sleeping bag hire is not available.
There are no toilets on board our Nile felucca, but while sailing we'll stop at your request on the riverbank for toilet stops with nature. At the completion of the day's sailing we'll assemble a western-style toilet and tent close by on the riverbank. Any assistance from the group in building the toilet tent is always much appreciated.
Please note that we may need to make slight alterations to our Nile itinerary throughout the year, depending on winds and currents. As the felucca is a sailing craft without any outboard engine, if there's no wind - we won't travel very far.
Nonetheless, watching the sun setting across the Nile in the evening is a sight you'll remember. This is the absolute highlight of the trip for many of our travellers.
Homestay (1 nt), Felucca (1 nt)
Days 7-9 Luxor
After farewells to the felucca crew, take a private van to Luxor (approx 3.5 hrs). There's an option to visit either the Temple of Kom Ombo or the Temple of Edfu on the way.
From the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs.
Take a private van to the west side of the Nile.
Visit the Colossi of Memnon - two 17 metre-high statues on Luxor's west bank. Carved from granite blocks they represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Hop on to donkeys (in the winter months of October-May only) for a ride of a different kind through the local villages and fields of sugar cane (approx 30 mins).
Continue on to the spectacular royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings to visit three of the most interesting tombs. Here your group leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people.
Please note that a visit to King Tutankhamen's tomb is not included in our visit, but can be arranged as an option with advance notice. Ask your leader for details if you're interested.
Be treated to lunch at our local guide's house - a fantastic chance to experience life in Luxor. The women on the trip are welcome to visit the ladies of the house.
Head out to our Intrepid Foundation Project - Animal Care in Egypt - to check out the great work they're doing here for local animals.
Explore the magnificent Karnak Temple, perhaps the most impressive of all the ancient Pharoahs' monumental works.
Some options for your free time in Luxor include:
Hire a bicycle to ride out into the surrounding countryside.
Visit the Luxor Museum.
For a more upscale experience, check out the Winter Palace, a lovely five-star historical building with wonderful views over the Nile - a great place for a refreshing cocktail.
If time allows, balloon flights are offered from the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. There are many companies who offer these flights. While we can arrange the balloon experience with our preferred operator, who has provided good and safe service in the past, we must advise that you are free to choose your own balloon flight operator if you have specific safety concerns. Please note this is an optional activity so any balloon flight is taken at your own risk.
Generally the activity is advertised as a flight over the Valley of the Kings. No matter what any agent says, this can't be guaranteed as the flight is entirely dependent on the direction of the wind. From our experience, very few flights actually go over the Valley of the Kings and instead fly close to Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon. While you may have booked a 'sunrise' balloon flight, please be aware that this doesn't always eventuate in time for the sunrise due to logistical reasons and weather conditions.
Catch an overnight sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo (approx 10 hrs).
- Colossi of Memnon
- Valley of the Kings (3 tombs)
- Donkey ride (seasonal - not in summer)
- Home cooked traditional meal with local family
- Intrepid Foundation Project visit - ACE (Animal Care in Egypt)
- Karnak Temple
- Kom Ombo Temple - EGP30
- Edfu Temple - EGP60
- Tomb of Tutankhamun - EGP100
- Hatshepsut Temple - EGP52
- Medinat Habu Temple - - EGP30
- Ramasseum Temple - EGP30
- Valley of the Queens - EGP35
- Tombs of Nobles - EGP30
- Luxor Temple - EGP60
- Luxor Museum - EGP90
- Mummification Museum - EGP50
- Sound and Light Show at Karnak - EGP100
- Bicycle Hire - EGP10
- Hot Air Balloon - USD125
Hotel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 10 Cairo
Walk through Coptic Cairo where some Egyptologists believe there has been a settlement since the 6th century BC. The Romans built a fortress here, of which some walls still exist today. After the Romans, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as 20 churches built within a small area. There are only five remaining today and during our tour we'll visit the following: the Hanging Church (Church of the Virgin Mary) built into the walls of an ancient Roman fortress; the Monastery and Church of St. George; the Church of St. Sergius (Abu Serga) which legend says was built atop a site where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus rested on their flight from Herod; the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is Egypt's oldest and dates to the 9th century; and the peaceful Greek Orthodox cemetery.
Visit Islamic Cairo and the frenetic backstreets of the local bazaar - Khan el-Khalili. A labyrinth of narrow streets and passageways, Khan is one of the biggest and oldest markets in the world.
- Islamic Cairo and Khan al-Khali bazaar visit
- Coptic Cairo walking tour
- Coptic Museum - EGP50
- Islamic Art Museum - EGP50
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 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 Catherine'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.
It's possible to hire a camel for the first two thirds of the journey. Camels can easily be located at the foot of the mountain - ask your leader to help you negotiate with their handlers.
Please note that the St Catherine's 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.
- Mt Sinai climb with local guide
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 12-13 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).
Travel by van to our Red Sea beach camp, close to the town of Nuweiba (approx 2 hrs).
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.
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's 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. Enjoy!
- St. Catherine's Icon Museum - EGP25
- Red Sea scuba diving (approx for 2 dives) - USD75
- Red Sea snorkel hire (per day) - EGP20
Beach hut (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Cairo
Cross under the Suez Canal and return to Cairo (approx 8 hrs).
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Hotel (1 nt)
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.
- XESI Single supplement (XESI)
- XESI Single supplement (XESI)
- XESI Single supplement (XESI)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Egypt Adventure (XESB)
- Iran Adventure (HPSN)
- Middle East Adventure (XESXC)
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.
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.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
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 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.
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.
HOT AIR BALLOONING IN LUXOR:
There is a possibility of an optional balloon flight on the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor. There are many companies who offer flights. While we can arrange the balloon experience with our preferred operator, who has provided good and safe service in the past, we must advise that you are free to choose your own balloon flight operator if you have specific safety concerns. Please note this is an optional activity so any balloon flight is taken at your own risk.
You may notice other local agents around Luxor selling balloon flights at varying prices. You are free to choose your own options. Balloon rides organised through our preferred operators are sold at a fixed rate throughout the season. Ask your Group Leader to assist on arrival to Luxor.
Generally the activity is advertised as a flight over the Valley of the Kings. No matter what any agent says, this can not be guaranteed as the flight is entirely dependent on the direction of the wind. From our experience very few flights actually go over the Valley of the Kings and instead fly close to Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon. While you may have booked a 'sunrise' balloon flight, please be aware that this does not always eventuate in time for the sunrise due to logistical reasons and weather conditions.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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.
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:
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 refer to your booking agent for further information. On the following nights the Single Supplement is NOT available:
- Day 2 Overnight train
- Day 5 Nubian Homestay
- Day 6 Felucca
- Day 9 Overnight Train
- Days 12-13 Red Sea Beach camp
Hotel (8 nts), Beach hut (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Felucca (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.
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.
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.
When we have three single female travellers or three single male travellers on a trip we occasionally make use of triple-share rooms.
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.
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.
8 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 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.
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).
Overnight sleeper train, Van, Camel, Felucca
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.
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.
20 Abdel Rehim Sabry Street
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.
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.
20 Abdel Rehim Sabry Street
Phone: 202 333 59455
Finish 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.
Finish point instructions
Checkout time is 12 midday. Taxis can easily be hired from the street in front of the hotel. Bargain for the fare and aim to pay approx EGP80. Only the new White taxis have working meters. The drive can take between 45 minutes and 1 hour depending on the time of day and subsequent traffic conditions.
We can offer a pre-arranged private transfer service. Inform your agent at the time of booking if you are interested.
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 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.
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.
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.
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, we recommend bringing your own sleeping bag if your itinerary includes camping over the winter months (approx. Dec-Mar). During desert camping your luggage may be exposed to sand and campfire smoke, a backpack or luggage cover would be useful if this is a concern.
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
Please bring two (2) copies of your passport. These may be used to assist with hotel check-in, and sometimes at road security points.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Carbon Offset C02-e 488.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.