North Africa Discovery Trip Notes

North Africa Discovery

Last Modified: 11 Oct 2012
North Africa Discovery
Trip code: XESP
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Experience a truly unique and epic adventure crossing North Africa from coast to coast - from Cairo to Casablanca. Follow in the footsteps of great rulers and their mighty civilisations as you forge through Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Discover the rich cultures, dramatic histories and awe-inspiring natural beauty of these five fascinating countries, from modern Arab cities through the majestic Hoggar mountain ranges and the immense and desolate Sahara. Enjoy visits to Berber and Tuareg settlements and explore ancient ruins. Pack a bold spirit and an open mind, as this captivating continent awaits the adventure of a lifetime.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
We also recommendSingle travellersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationSafety
Culture shock rating Meals introductionTravel insurance
Physical ratingMealsResponsible Travel
Physical preparationTransportA couple of rules
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency contact
  • 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.
North Africa Discovery
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.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Alexandria
Depart for the journey north to Alexandria (approx 3hrs).
Egypt's second largest city and main port, Alexandria was built by the Greek architect Dinocrates in 331 BC under the orders of Alexander the Great. The city, immortalising Alexander's name, quickly flourished into a prominent cultural, intellectual, political and economic metropolis.
It was the renowned capital of Ancient Egypt's last royal dynasty, the Ptolemies, and the site of the Pharos. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this lighthouse acted as a beacon, guiding sailors away from this notoriously treacherous stretch of coastline.
Alexandria is also the city of seafood, so be sure to indulge in some fresh ocean produce during your stay here.
Included Activities
  • Catacombs of Kom Ash-Suqqafa
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Marsa Matruh
Stop en route to trace some of Rommel's footsteps and visit the Commonwealth War Cemeteries of El Alamein.
After Rommel made his big charge across the desert, defeat of the Allies and the prize of Cairo looked certain to fall to the Germans. Some clever tactics and the length of the Nazis' supply routes eventually saw them undone by Montgomery and the Allies. Today Matruh is a popular resort town and the site of a museum established in Rommel's former headquarters by his son.
The beach of Marsa Matruh is famous for its soft white sands and calm transparent waters, as the bay is protected from the high seas by a series of rocks forming a natural wave-breaker, with a small opening to allow light vessels in. This beach dates back to the days of Alexander, the Macedonian, when it was known as 'Paraetonium' and also as 'Amunia'. It said that Alexander the Great stopped here during his historical expedition to pay tribute, and sacrifice, to the god Amun so that he would become Amun's son and his rule be a historical continuation of the pharaohs. There are ruins of a temple from the time of Rameses II (1200 BC) in Matruh.
Included Activities
  • War cemeteries and museum
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Apollonia
Cross the border into Libya today as we travel to Tobruk, one of the finest seaports on the coast, a centre of trade and transportation and the site of important World War II battles.
With a naturally protected, deep harbour, Tobruk was once an ancient Greek colony, a Roman fortress and a caravan route waystation. Considered an important and strategic military location, Tobruk became an Italian military post in 1911. Captured by the Allies in World War II, it was defended by the Australian 'Rats of Tobruk' against a siege by Erwin Rommel's previously undefeated Afrika Corps. It fell to the Germans in June 1942, but was recaptured by the British in November in an offensive launched from El Alamein.
Visit the World War II cemeteries including the Knightsbridge & Commonwealth cemeteries. Wander the site of the Australian Fig Tree Hospital and the town square where you can see Rommel's operations room, a small tank, cannon and anti-ship gun.
We drive via the Green Mountains to the port of Apollonia, stopping off to check out the dramatic scenery of Ras al-Hillal, in the Jebel Akhdar Mountains. The scenery in this area is stunning - with the mountains overlooking the Bay of Ras al-Hillal (depending on timing this may occur the next day when travelling between Cyrene and Appolonia).
We set off on the morning of Day 5 to spend the whole day exploring the most important ancient Greek city in North Africa, Cyrene. Founded in the 7th century BC by immigrants from the island of Thera in the Aegean Sea, it was taken over by the Greeks until a Jewish revolt in 115 AD destroyed most of the city. Rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian, Cyrene prospered until a destructive earthquake in 365 AD, and subsequent reconstruction. Today, Cyrene is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The ancient city remains are on a number of levels and we begin with one of the highlights, the Temple of Zeus, which is currently being restored. We wander in the Sanctuary of Apollo, which holds the Temple of Apollo, the Sacred Fountain and the Fountain of Apollo. In the Agora, we see the Capitoleum, the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore (where there are statues representing the goddesses of fertility), the Tomb of Battus and the Naval Monument. During our exploration of Cyrene we also take in the Acropolis, the Forum, the House of Jason Magus, the Nine Muses and the Necropolis.
Apollonia, 'The City of Churches', was established in the 7th century BC as the port for the ancient city of Cyrene, remaining so for more than a millennium. Its importance was such that it remained autonomous of Cyrene during the Roman period and even surpassed it as the major city of the region in the 6th century AD.
On arrival in Apollonia, we can wander around the Byzantine churches, the Roman and Byzantine baths, the Byzantine Duke's Palace, one of the largest in the area, and the remains of the Greek theatre. The Apollonia Museum is small and friendly, and worth taking a look inside.
Included Activities
  • Tobruk war cemeteries
  • Apollonia
  • Cyrene
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 6 Benghazi
We have a chance to visit the Qasr Libya (mosaics museum) on our way into Benghazi.
We take an orientation walking tour of Benghazi, the second-largest city in Libya, starting in Freedom Square in the old city. In the square we see the Great Mosque and the Old Town Hall. Other sights include the Osman Mosque and the Souq al-Jreed.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Tripoli
For thousands of years Tripoli was considered one of the most important commercial centres in the region because it is set in one of North Africa's best harbours. Tripoli was founded in approximately 500 BC by the Phoenicians, but since then, the Romans, Turks, Italians, Spanish and Arabs all have left their mark on the city. Today, it is the capital of Libya and is also a modern, cosmopolitan city known as 'The White Bride of the Mediterranean'.
Enjoy a walking tour of the old city and medina. We see a number of souqs, including the Souq al-Mushir and Souq al-Rabaa. We see the Ottoman Clock Tower, which was built in the 19th century and was once part of the gates to the old city. We visit the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, built in 163 AD, and the Ahmed Pasha Karamanli, the largest mosque in the medina.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 9 Gharyan
Visit the stunning former Roman retreat of Villa Sileen. Set atop a cliff overlooking the sea, this Byzantine-era private residence is filled with frescoes and mosaics and surrounded by private gardens and a bath complex.
Make an excursion to the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, the archaeological highlight of a visit to Libya.
With our Roman history explorations complete for the day, we head into the Berber region of the Jebel Nafusa (Western Mountains), where the spectacular landscape varies from rocky outcrops to agricultural land, and the air becomes distinctly cooler.
Gharyan sprawls across the top of a plateau, where you are able to see some of the Berber troglodyte dwellings, which were built to provide an escape from winter cold and summer heat, and to hide homes from invaders. Gharyan has some of North Africa's best examples of these unique structures but, as prosperity has made many inhabitants leave for modern houses with air-conditioning, a large part of the cave system has been left uninhabited. Some cave houses still present the true and impressive living conditions people managed to create just a few decades ago, and we will have a meal in one of those.
Gharyan is also famous for its pottery and we should be able to see some pottery-making and perhaps even some carpet-weaving demonstrations.
Included Activities
  • Leptis Magna
  • Villa Sileen
Cave house (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Ghadames
Leaving your troglodyte hotel in Gharyan, move onto Qasr al-Haj to see Libya's finest example of Berber architecture, the fortified Berber grain castle of Kabaw, en route to Nalut.
The oasis city of Ghadames is known as 'The Jewel of the Sahara' and the old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Go on a walking tour of one of the best-preserved and largest of Libya's old cities. Entering from the main gate of Bab al-Burr, wander into the heart of the old city, passing through Jarasan Square, Tingazin Square, Intelewan Square and Ghazar Square before arriving into the main square. Visit the Atik Mosque, the oldest in Ghadames, built in 666 AD. Have lunch in a traditional Ghadames home in the old city, before continuing your exploration to Ain al-Faras (Well of the Mare, or Horse Fountain). Spend some time in the museum that houses artefacts from the Roman period and items from Ghadames' past.
Late in the afternoon there is an optional opportunity to board 4WD vehicles to travel out to Ras al-Ghoul (Mountain of Ghosts). There is an ancient fort here that is said to be haunted by the ghosts of Islamic soldiers who died during a siege of the fort in 668 AD. From Ras al-Ghoul we can see Algeria and Tunisia. You can ride out to the sand dunes to see one of the area's legendary sunsets. Before you return to Ghadames, you may be able to enjoy a Tuareg cultural show of singing and dancing in the desert.
Included Activities
  • Kabaw Castle
  • Ghadames tour
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Sabratha
Take a long, 8-hour drive through the desert and mountain ranges, from Ghadames back up to the coast to Sabratha.
The ancient city of Sabratha was built in 600 BC, and was a centre of trade for the Romans. One of Sabratha's most impressive ruins is the theatre. Thought to have been constructed around 190 AD, it houses a magnificent stage with floral carvings, marble slabs and various carved figures, including Hercules, Mercury, the Three Graces and the Nine Muses.
Visit this wondrous Roman ruin on the morning of Day 13 before crossing into Tunisia. See the Seaward Baths and their beautiful mosaics, and the Temple of Isis. We visit the Mausoleum of Bes, which has been reconstructed and is thought to be Punic in origin. Other sites in Sabratha include the Antonine Temple, the Judicial Basilica, the Forum, the Capitoleum, the Temple of Liber Pater, the Temple of Serapis and the Temple of Hercules.
Included Activities
  • Sabratha tour
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 13-14 Jerba
Departing Libya we cross the border into Tunisia and reach the island of Jerba.
Known as the 'land of the lotus eaters', Jerba lives in legend as the port where Ulysses and his men were detained on their return from Troy. Jerba's island location has always provided its people a simple and peaceful lifestyle, which continues today. Jerba is very flat, and heavily reliant on agriculture. The economy is based upon the production of dates, figs, olives and olive oil, the fishing of sponges, oysters and octopuses. Small industries produce pottery, jewellery and clothes.
Although predominantly Muslim, Jerba is also the home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Set off on local bus and visit the Ghriba synagogue, and get a glimpse of this ancient community.
The afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy the easy-going pace of the island. You may choose to spend time exploring the souqs or relaxing on the beautiful Sidi Mahres beach, a short bus ride away from our base in the town of Houmt Souq. Houmt Souq itself has plenty to offer the traveller, with its stunning whitewashed buildings, bustling old town and lively fish market.
Included Activities
  • El Ghriba Synagogue
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 15 Desert Safari
Travelling by private van we'll reach Tataouine, in the heart of the Ksour district. This weird and wonderful landscape is dotted with ruined villages perched on hilltops and evocative ksours (fortified granaries). Departing in 4WD we'll see the best examples of these at Ksar Ouled Soltane, Chenini & Ksar Haddada.
Its easy it see why much of the movie 'The English Patient' was filmed here. We travel through spectacular scenery and set up camp amid towering dunes. After watching a desert sunset we'll feast on a tasty stew and be entertained by our Berber hosts with music and traditional fables. Spend the night camping in some of the Sahara's most impressive desert scenery.
In the evening there is the option to sleep out under a blanket of stars, a stunning experience indeed!
Desert camp (1 nt)
Days 16-17 Mahdia
This morning we visit the remote, but magical, little oasis of Ksar Ghilane, an amazing spot with a desert ksar surrounded by the stunning dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental.
Afterwards we travel through more beautiful desert scenery and reach Matmata, famous as the site of Luke Skywalker's home in 'Star Wars'. The barren, eroded landscape surrounding Matmata and the harsh climate led to its inhabitants making their homes underneath the ground. We have a full day to explore this fascinating region's hilltop Berber villages, including a visit to one of the famous 'pit' homes and a stop off at the famous Hotel Sidi Adriss, which is spread over five pit courtyards, all connected by underground tunnels. Bits of the set are still in place from the original movie. In the afternoon we'll explore underground homes in nearby village of El-Haddej, used in the movie 'The Life of Brian', and if were lucky have a cup of tea with some of the locals to learn about their underground camel-powered olive presses.
Later in the afternoon we take a private van to the ancient Roman amphitheatre of El Djem. El Djem is one of Tunisia's most dramatic sites. Built in 1 century AD, it was once part of the ancient trading town of Thysdrus.
Continuing on, we reach the delightful fishing village of Mahdia. Mahdia is home to a interesting old town, picturesque backstreets and a reminder of what many Tunisian towns were like in years gone by. Our time here is at a relaxed pace, so take the time to recharge and enjoy the fresh Mediterranean air.
Included Activities
  • El Djem
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 18 Kairouan
The morning is free to relax in Mahdia and explore more of the town. In the early afternoon we move on by local bus and arrive in Kairouan.
As one of the seven holy cities of Islam, Kairouan is a fascinating reminder of the past. With its charming blue and whitewashed medina, which is home to the oldest mosque in North Africa, the city has a wealth of religious monuments and elegant old merchant houses. We visit an ancient mansion that once belonged to the former pasha of Kairouan, amongst other interesting mosques and monuments. Take the chance to try the local speciality, makhroud (honey-soaked, date-filled semolina cake), at a local bakery. Kairouan is famous for the quality of its carpets and the skills of its salesmen. See if you can escape without making a purchase!
We visit the famous mosque. The rest of the day is free for you to explore.
Included Activities
  • Great Mosque of Kairouan
  • Kairouan tour
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 19-21 Tunis
Leaving early, we reach Monastir.
Visit the incredibly well-preserved ribat. Built in the 8th century AD, this fort complex is regarded as the country's finest example of Islamic military architecture, and was made famous throughout the world when it featured in the Monty Python film, 'The Life of Brian'.
There is also time to visit the Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba, the former president known as the father of modern Tunisia. After a 3-hour train journey we reach Tunis.
The modern but fascinating capital of Tunisia, Tunis is a delight to explore. If you arrive early you may wish to visit all the main sights of the medina district and the extraordinary Bardo Museum - the finest collection of Tunisian artefacts in the world and a must for anyone with an interest in the ancient world.
Visit the ruins of the ancient capital of Carthage, only a short hop away on the metro. Home of the famous Hannibal, Carthage was one of the finest cities in the ancient world. Although it may involve a little imagination, the evocative ruins do give you some idea of what this city may have been like at the height of its power.
Moving on we'll take a short taxi across to the picture-perfect, whitewashed village of Sidi Bou Said. With its cobbled streets and soaring sea views it is the perfect place to relax.
Included Activities
  • Monastir Ribat
  • Bardo Museum
  • Carthage
  • Sidi Bou Said
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 22 Ain Draham
Leaving Tunis early we travel westward to the coastal village of Tabarka, before heading through thick, dense forests to the typically Tunisian resort village of Ain Draham.
This French-built hilltop station is the perfect place to catch your breath and relax.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 23 Le Kef
Moving on we reach Le Kef, our base for the night. Set high in the hills, Le Kef is one of Tunisia's hidden secrets. With its cobbled streets, narrow alleys and stunning views, it is a great place to relax with a glass of chai and watch the world go by. Wash off the day's travel by taking a bath in a 2nd-century Roman thermae.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 24-25 Tozeur
A long day's drive (approx 9 hours) brings us to the oasis of Tozeur.
With its extensive palm groves, traditional architecture and delightful old quarter, Tozeur is a great base to explore some of the beautiful and ancient Berber villages in the surrounding area.
Day 25 we take off on bikes to explore Tozeur's palmerie, the second largest in the country. The rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Why not take a walking tour around the old souq or head off of a 4WD excursion to the Berber mountain villages of Chebika, Tamerza and Mides and finish by watching the sunset over the sand dunes near Ong Kamel.
There is also opportunity to take the famous Red Lezard train ride through the Seldja Gorge. An experience not to be missed!
Included Activities
  • Tozeur's Palmerie
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 26 El-Oued
Crossing the border, we drive 2 hours through stark desert scenery to the oasis town of El-Oued.
Known as the 'town of a thousand domes', El-Oued is the major town of the Souf region in the Grand Erg Oriental. Most of the buildings have domes, built to alleviate the summer heat. The town is famous for its carpets, which often bear the traditional cross of the Souf.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 27-28 Ghardaia
Our 4WD takes us on a long drive (approx 7 hrs) through to the river valley of the oued (dry river bed) to Ghardaia, a town whose sand-coloured houses stand on a curious heap, with a single minaret sticking out on top like a birthday cake. The town is famous for its carpets and for its massive daily souq in the old town.
One of the most culturally unique towns in Algeria is tiny Beni Isguen. Located 3km from Ghardaia in the stunning M'Zab valley, Beni Isguen is a fascinating place. Constructed in the 14th century, traditional ways are strictly adhered to and outside influence is kept to a minimum. Local women, who are draped in white shawls from head to toe, are allowed to have only one eye showing. Men and women lead completely segregated lives, and each gender has its own council. Due to its ultra-conservatism, photos and smoking are strictly prohibited.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 29 Djanet
Leaving early we take our 3-hour flight from Ghardaia deep into the Sahara, arriving in the southern town of Illizi before transferring to Djanet.
After flying over the dark brown rocks and deep canyons of the Tassili N'Ajjer plateau, landing in Illizi is like landing in the middle of nowhere. Moving on we reach Djanet.
Djanet is situated at the foot of the Tassili N'Ajjer, on the edge of Erg Admer, a vast plain of sand dunes. It is exactly what you imagine an oasis village to be: pleasant and calm, with large, shady palm trees where daily life follows the slow rhythm of the desert. This rhythm has adapted to the desert temperatures, and most activities take place in the early morning or in the late afternoon. In the centre of the village there is a small but lively market where people wearing traditional boubous and cheches (turban) buy and sell fresh vegetables, fruit, tea, sugar and, of course, fresh dates. Djanet is home to the Tuareg people, instantly recognised by their blue robes and headscarfs. The small shops around the market sell beautiful Tuareg jewellery and colourful cheches, and are worthwhile rummaging about in. Djanet also has a museum that shows examples of prehistoric relics from its surroundings. Our walking tour of the town will see us visit the old souq, medina and the extensive oasis.
Please note: while in the south of Algeria, from Djanet to Tamanrasset, it is strictly forbidden to collect any kind of stones and/or prehistoric artefacts. Bag checks are common and foreigners have been jailed and fined very heavily in recent times for breaking this law.
In the afternoon we will join our 4WDs and travel eastward to the great sand-sea of Erg Admer. Crossing these vast dunes you will notice how the sunlight plays with the constantly changing shadows and contrasts with the geometric lines and the colours of the sand. Here we will camp for the night.
Desert camp (1 nt)
Day 30 Tadent
Travelling along this scenic shallow riverbed we'll reach the more mountainous Oued Tadent and visit a typical Tuareg settlement to learn about their way of life. Moving on we'll look for a place to set up camp.
Desert camp (1 nt)
Day 31 Tin Agoula
Through a landscape of low rocky mountains, piles of rock and small rolling sand dunes we head for the mountain range of Tin Agoula. With a bit of luck we'll run into some camels, gazelles or one of the very rare leopards that live here. Although it seems that not many animals live in the Sahara, the tracks you'll find in the sand around the camp in the morning may prove otherwise.
Desert camp (1 nt)
Day 32 Youfihakit
The beautiful landscapes of Youfarlal and Youfihakit await us after two days of driving through barren oueds. In Youfarlal, huge rock formations and mushroom-shaped boulders are surrounded by softly rolling sand dunes. This is a great area to explore with lots of stunning photo opportunities. The spectacular needle-shaped rocks pointing to the sky can be seen from far and are clear landmarks in a landscape of mostly round boulders. Here, we also visit a pretty little arch that somehow manages to stand on two little feet. In Youfihakit, we inspect some rock engravings before setting up camp for the night.
Desert camp (1 nt)
Day 33 Tamekrest
Following an oued, crossing a vast plain and a lunar landscape with piles of dark rock, we arrive at the miraculous guelta (natural spring) of Tamekrest. It is a small waterfall that runs down polished pink and purple granite. The Tuareg from the surrounding camps bring their goats and camels here to drink. On top of the granite rocks you will find a small oasis with surprisingly lush, green vegetation. The best time of day to take pictures is early in the morning, when the sun glitters on the polished granite. We'll set up camp next to the spring of Tamekrest.
Desert camp (1 nt)
Day 34 Hoggar Mountains
Passing through Tamanrasset we continue to the Assekrem, one of the highest peaks in the spectacular Atakor Mountains in the Hoggar mountain region. It's a rough and impressive landscape. Our cars will take us to the Refuge de l'Assekrem, where we'll take a 20-minute walk to the top. The view over the volcanic landscape with its chaos of black and forbidding rocks, basalt peaks, cliffs and mountains is breathtaking. On top of the Assekrem we find the Father Foucault Hermitage, named for the French priest who built the chapel in 1911. Father Foucault came to the Hoggar to study Tuareg culture, but was killed in Tamanrasset in 1916 during a revolt against the French. Because of the altitude the nights at the Assekrem are cold, so this night we will spend in a dormitory in the Refuge de l'Assekrem, a mountain refuge just under the top of the Assekrem.
Dormitory (1 nt)
Day 35 Tamanrasset
Finishing our desert safari we return to the charming town of Tamanrasset in the early afternoon. Tamanrasset is often called the red city because of it red mud-brick houses. It is a city full of life and character. Situated in the heart of the Sahara , it has a population of only 40,000. It is the biggest of all Tuareg cities and is regularly visited by the camel caravans of these 'blue men of the desert'. Tamanrasset used to play a key role in the trans-Sahara trade between northern and sub-Sahara Africa. Nowadays it is still a meeting point for Tuaregs that traverse the Hoggar, truck drivers on their way to Niger and Mali, and tourists. Every day there is an afternoon market and in one of the many restaurants you can try local food, like roast meat and couscous with a vegetable sauce. In the centre of the town you will find many artists' shops selling all kinds of Tuareg artisan work.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 36-37 Algiers
Departing Tamenrasset in the early morning (3.30am) we take a flight to Algiers (3 hours). Once famed as one of Arabia's most beautiful cities, Algiers still retains its old colonial charm, with faded facades and grand buildings. The French labelled it 'le blanc Algiers' and you can see why through the city's abundant white colonial buildings.
Spend the day exploring the city, including the famous Kasbah with its narrow winding alleys, Turkish [alaces, medieval houses and courtyards. Continue on to the Museum of Popular Arts, the Botanical Gardens, the Monument of the FLN and the Bardo Museum.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 38-39 Casablanca
Departing Algiers, we take an early afternoon flight from Algiers to Morocco, arriving in Casablanca in the late afternoon.
Modelled after Marseille in France, the bustling port city of Casablanca is now the undisputed economic capital of Morocco, with one of Africa's largest ports. The architectural style of the city is curious - famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings and Mauresque governmental institutions, an old medina and the phenomenal modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque.
A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous - the new medina full of shaded squares and narrow streets, lined with arcades that lead from one souk to another. This is a great place to enjoy a Moroccan coffee and maybe start improving your bargaining skills. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals enjoy sunset football on the beach.
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.
We'll finish our wonderful adventure over a farewell dinner and reflect on our magnificent journey together.
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    • 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:
    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.
    Parts of this trip will be demanding and suitable for the open minded and/or experienced traveller. There are long days of travel over extremely rough roads, accommodation will vary in quality down to very basic. This is definitely not a trip for the armchair traveller.
    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
    Some of the archaeological sites and activities included involve a fair amount of walking.
    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.
    Money Exchange
    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 Morocco is Dirham (MAD).
    Moroccan Dirhams cannot be purchased outside of Morocco, but it is easy to get cash on arrival.
    The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is by Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Check with your bank for information on international fees. There are now ATMs (which accept both Visa and MasterCard) throughout all Moroccan cities.
    There are few problems changing money. There are many banks, all operating with equal exchange rates, and without commission. Cash in EUR, GBP and USD dollars are favoured for exchange. Please note that Australian Dollars (AUD) are not accepted in Morocco.
    Travellers' cheques are not recommended in Morocco. While some banks and 5 star hotels will change travellers' cheques this is rare and the process is very time consuming, and commissions can be high (up to 10%).
    For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothing.
    The official currency of Libya is the Libyan Dinar (LYD).
    Please bring plenty of hard currency (USD or EURO) with you as Libya has very few functional ATM/Visa Cards or places where you can change travellers cheques. Libya does not accept credit cards.
    Carrying cash is the only realistic option. The main banks and larger hotels provide money-changing facilities. It is a requirement of the Libyan government that all travellers entering the country are carrying at least US$1,000 each, or the equivalent in other major currency. This cash may be checked when crossing the border from Egypt.
    The official currency of Algeria is the Algerian Dinar (DZD).
    Please bring plenty of hard currency (USD or EURO) with you as Algeria has very few functional ATM/Visa Cards or places where you can change travellers cheques.
    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.
    Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry. 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.
    We recommend that any group tips are collected in a envelope and handed directly to the intended recipient as a collective 'thank you' by the group. The below amounts are suggested figures in USD for ease of calculating budgets, but should always be offered in local currency.
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants, we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 per person per day for local guides.
    Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however US$1-2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
    Public toilet attendants: When using public toilets there will most likely be an attendant that will expect a tip. 20-50 cents is appropriate.
    Felucca captains: If you are travelling in Upper Egypt many of our itineraries spend a night on a felucca. US$1-2 per person per day for felucca captains is appropriate.
    Desert Camp hosts: If you have a night camping included on your itinerary, US$2-3 is appropriate for the camp hosts.
    Your Group 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
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    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.
    Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Algeria and Libya and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country.
    Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials.
    Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do occur.
    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:
    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.
    Hotel (29 nts), Desert camp (6 nts), Cave house (1 nt), Dormitory (1 nt)
    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.
    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.
    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.
    When we have three single female travellers or three single male travellers on a trip we occasionally make use of triple-share rooms.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    32 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 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 1500.00
    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).
    Plane, 4x4, Boat, Bus, Private Bus, Taxi
    There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. High passes, windy roads and rough surfaces 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. The best part about all of these long drives are the spectacular views and fun stops en route such as mountain passes, kasbahs, palmeries, sand dunes, goats up trees etc.
    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
    Hotel Pharaohs
    12 Lotfi Hassouna St
    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
    Hotel Guynemer
    2, Rue Mohamed Belloul (Ex Pegoud)
    Centre Ville
    Phone: 212 52227 5764
    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 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.
    Libya, Tunisia and Algeria have very specific regulations regarding who can be issued a visa. This can change with short notice. Please investigate if your nationality is eligible to apply for visas or gain entry into these countries, before booking. Refusal of entry into any country for any reason is beyond the control of Intrepid and we have little recourse to pursue either approval of entry, or information as to why a visa has been denied.
    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.
    Australia: Yes - in advance
    Belgium: Yes - in advance
    Canada: Yes - in advance
    Germany: Yes - in advance
    Ireland: Yes - in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - in advance
    New Zealand: Yes - in advance
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: ***VISA NOT AVAILABLE***
    United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
    USA: Yes - in advance
    Intrepid will help with organising your Libyan visa. The actual visa is obtained on the border into Libya and arranged by our Libyan agent. In order to process your Libya visa we require a clear scanned (no photocopies or faxes) copy of the photo page of your passport.
    Please provide your scanned copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the trip departure. You need to email both of these to and
    For Australian clients we can recommend the following translator who is authorised by the Libyan Embassy:
    Ms. Khawla Alkhazraji
    17 Weavers Crescent
    ACT 2905
    Ph: 040 220 7983
    For UK clients we recommend the Arab British Chamber of Commerce translator service:
    43 Upper Grosvenor Street
    London, W1K 2NJ
    Tel: 020 7235 4363
    Fax: 020 7245 6688
    We also MUST have both your age and your occupation and this information must be provided to our sales staff after you make the initial booking.
    The visa is then organised within Libya and you are not required to send your passport on to any embassies to get the visa organised. Our Libyan operator will meet the Intrepid group at the Egyptian/Libyan border and arrange for your visa to be stamped into your passport there.
    Please note that it won't be possible to enter Libya with Israeli stamps in your passport or any other evidence of having visited Israel such as departure stamps from Jordan/Egypt from borders with Israel.
    IMPORTANT: As of Feb 2010 Libya no longer issues visas to citizens of Switzerland.
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: No - not required
    Canada: No - not required
    Germany: No - not required
    Ireland: No - not required
    Netherlands: No - not required
    New Zealand: Yes - in advance
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: No - not required
    United Kingdom: No - not required
    USA: No - not required
    At the time of writing all Western European countries, Americans, Canadians, Irish and Japanese can get a free 3 month visa at the Libyan/Tunisian border crossing of Ras El-Jedir. Australians can also get a 3 month visa at this border without any trouble but must pay a fee of $6 US. New Zealand citizens are required to apply for a visa before arriving into the country as visas aren't available at the border. They should check with their Tunisian embassy to ascertain the most recent requirements.
    Please note that it won't be possible to enter Tunisia with Israeli stamps in your passport.
    Australia: Yes - in advance
    Belgium: Yes - in advance
    Canada: Yes - in advance
    Germany: Yes - in advance
    Ireland: Yes - in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - in advance
    New Zealand: Yes - in advance
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - in advance
    United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
    USA: Yes - in advance
    Everyone needs a visa to enter Algeria. Nationals of Israel, Malawi and Taiwan are not allowed into the country, and if you have a stamp in your passport from any of these countries your application will be rejected.
    You must provide your address and your occupation at the time of your booking.
    To apply for an Algerian visa you will need a letter of 'invitation' to visit the country from an Algerian contact or tourist agency. Intrepid will help with this invitation. We will use the same information provided for your Libyan visa to process the Algerian invitation letter from our local operator in Algeria. We will provide you the Algerian letter of invitation 30 days prior to the trip starting, and you will then need to take your passport to your Algerian Embassy and have your visa stamped into your passport.
    Visa's CANNOT be obtained on the Algerian border and you must arrive with a visa prior to arrival.
    Algerian visa's can only be applied for in the country of that passport holder.
    Please note that you must enter Algeria within 90 days of the visa being issued.
    Australia: No - Not required
    Belgium: No - Not required
    Canada: No - Not required
    Germany: No - Not required
    Ireland: No - Not required
    Netherlands: No - Not required
    New Zealand: No - Not required
    South Africa: Yes - in advance (in general, visa processing can take approximately 20 working days)
    Switzerland: No - Not required
    UK: No - Not required
    USA: No - Not required
    Those who do not require visas to visit Morocco as a tourist, are stamped in on arrival for 3 months.
    Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international/administrative border crossings for this trip
    On day 4 we cross the border from Egypt into Libya
    On day 14 we cross the border from Libya into Tunisia
    The border crossing is Ras El-Jedir
    On day 26 we cross the border from Tunisia into Algeria
    The border crossing is Hazoua.
    On day 38 we depart Alergia, when we fly from Algiers to Casablanca
    To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website to be very useful -
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Some western governments advise you to reconsider your need and recommend the deferral of non-essential travel to Algeria because of the volatile security environment in the region. If you do decide to travel you should exercise extreme caution. You should also closely monitor the media and other local information sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.
    Our itinerary is currently running as normal. We continue to monitor the safety situation on a regular basis and if any changes occur to the running of the trip we will notify you immediately as changes to the itinerary may be necessary.
    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 Morocco include:
    * Project Handicapped Horizon has assisted with the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of more than 3,000 disabled people. With two major departments, one is dedicated to the design, building and fitting of prosthetic limbs and other orthotics, footwear and mobility aids. While the other focuses on training local artisans and selling their products.
    Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisations:
    * Kasbah Myriam is a carpet and embroidery workshop run by Franciscan nuns with the aim of providing sustainable employment and healthcare to local Berber women.
    * The SPANA animal hospital in Marrakech cares for the health and welfare of donkeys, dogs and cats.
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 1269.00 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.