Istanbul to Cairo Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 18 Sep 2012
Istanbul to Cairo
Trip code: EERVC
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Travel through lands suspended in time. From bustling bazaars in Istanbul to bizarre rock formations in Cappadocia, experience the diversity of Turkey. Crossing the border into Syria, learn of its tumultuous history. Then moving on into Jordan, grab the chance to see the rock-cut facades of Petra and follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia through Wadi Rum. Finally, in Egypt, climb Mt Sinai for an incredible panorama and relax at a Red Sea beach camp before the adventure comes to an end.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
MapYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
We also recommendAccommodationHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionSafety
Culture shock rating MealsTravel insurance
Physical ratingTransportResponsible Travel
Physical preparationGroup leaderA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel projects
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsCarbon offset
TippingArrival complicationsFeedback
Departure taxEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Istanbul to Cairo
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Istanbul
Hosgeldinz! Welcome to Istanbul.
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.
Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surprise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west. Originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, then Constantinople when the Romans made it the capital of their eastern empire. Today, intriguing Istanbul is a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people and a rich history and food scene waiting to be explored.
Start your explorations in the old town. The Grand Bazaar is a paradise for souvenir hunters and you may well find yourself drinking tea with the shopkeepers whilst haggling over prices. Then there's the Topkapi Palace and harem, Istanbul's iconic Blue Mosque and the incredible ancient church of St. Sophia. The Archaeological Museum containing the tomb of Alexander the Great is also worth a look. After all that sightseeing, take a stroll down to the waterfront and hop on a boat up the Bosphorus, leaving the minarets and towers that give the city its distinctive skyline in your wake.
You have a free day to explore the various gems of Istanbul.
You might like to visit an authentic Turkish bath, where you move from a 'warm room' to a 'hot room', lying on a heated marble slab, before being treated to a full-body wash and massage and recovering in the 'cool room'.
Catch a comfortable overnight bus to Denizli. The seats are recline airline-style, and the bus stops every few hours at rest stops.
There are currently engineering works on the equivalent overnight train journey for this leg (the 'Pamukkale Express'). As soon as the train line re-opens we will start taking the train.
Optional Activities
  • Aya Sofya - TRY20
  • Istanbul - Basilica Cistern - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Chora Church - TRY15
  • Topkapi Pakace (including harem) - TRY35
  • Istanbul - Turkish Hamam (incl. massage) - TRY100
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Whirling Dervish show - TRY50
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight bus (1 nt)
Day 3 Pamukkale/Selcuk
Arrive in the morning to the incredible vision of travertines and springs in Pamukkale.
Visible for miles, the gleaming calcium terraces of Pamukkale are a spectacular sight. Created from limestone deposits formed when water from the hot springs loses carbon dioxide, these layers of white calcium carbonate have earned Pamukkale the nickname 'Cotton Castle' and the pools, now off-limits, have been famed for their medicinal qualities since Roman times.
There is also an opportunity to grab a shower and sample some great home cooking with our friends near the travertines.
Take a public bus from Pamuk to Selcuk (approx 4 hrs).
Optional Activities
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis Museum - TRY3
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis Cleopatra pool - TRY25
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Selcuk
Selcuk is our base for discovering Ephesus, former capital of the Eastern Roman empire and the best-preserved ancient city in Turkey.
Selcuk is steeped in culture and retains many Turkish traditions. The town itself is usually undisturbed, which gives the opportunity to experience the 'real' Turkey. On the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings, including the Isa Bey Mosque and the Grand Fortress. Selcuk is also home to one of the ancient world's Seven Wonders – the Temple of Artemis – although, sadly, only a single pylon remains.
Ephesus Museum contains a wonderful display of artefacts that completes your visit to the ancient city. Exhibits include finds from the famed terraced houses of the Romans, medical and cosmetic tools from Ephesus' important school of medicine, and impressive busts and statues of both emperors and Artemis.
St John is said to have travelled to Ephesus at the end of his life in AD 100 and written the Book of Revelations on top of Ayasuluk Hill. Emperor Justinian built a massive basilica upon a 4th-century tomb and church which were believed to house St John's remains. Although destroyed by earthquakes and invasions, the site is still impressive.
Hop on a dolmus over the hills to Sirince to see a village that time forgot. A photographer's dream, the village is famous for its vineyards and a good spot to sample some wine.
Optional Activities
  • Selcuk - Archaeological Museum - TRY8
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Terrace houses - TRY15
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY5
Accommodation
Pension (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Antalya
A fantastic mix of city sophistication and old-world charm makes Antalya a great place to explore. The relatively unspoilt and restored Kaleici, the old city area, is now a historical zone and protected from modern development. With its palm-lined boulevard, internationally-acclaimed marina and old castle, Antalya is a popular destination.
Kayakoy was once a ghost village, its ancient stone houses abandoned after their Greek inhabitants left Turkey during the great population exchange of the 1920s. Now protected by the Turkish government, it provides the opportunity to enjoy a quiet, traditional Turkish lifestyle. This small village is a good base to explore the many attractions of this scenic section of the Mediterranean coast, including the resort town of Fethiye and the famous Blue Lagoon.
The Antalya Museum offers a fascinating glimpse of history and life in this region, the Suna and Inan Kirac Kaleici Museum is located in an Antalya mansion and set up to show life in an Ottoman house. Karaalioglu Parki, with its lovely flowers and great sea views, is a popular park for locals to go for a stroll. Or ask your tour leader about the ancient Hellenistic cities that are near by.
Optional Activities
  • Island boat cruise - TRY40
  • Kayakoy Ghost Village - TRY8
  • Salikent George excursion - TRY40
  • Antalya Museum - TRY20
  • The Suna and Inan Kirac Kaleici Museum - TRY10
Accommodation
Pension (2 nts)
Days 7-9 Goreme
A long day's travel by public bus brings us to the region of Cappadocia, where we'll find some of the most unusual and dramatic scenery in Turkey.
In the heart of Cappadocia, the town of Goreme lies in a fantastic region of cones, needles and columns, fashioned by nature from the soft volcanic tuff rock. It's honeycombed with caves scooped out to make churches and dwellings that are known as fairy chimneys and castles. In times of peace, the people in this region lived on the land but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground.
Cappadocia's main attraction and the customary starting point for an overview of what the region has to offer, the World Heritage-listed Goreme Open Air Museum is a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings, and one of the earliest centres for religious education. The practice of monasticism was developed by St Basil the Great in the 4th century as a reaction to his increased disillusionment with the materialism of the church. St Basil's definition of monastic life, based on the idea that men should live in small, self-sufficient units with an emphasis on poverty, obedience, labour and religious devotion, took root in Cappadocia, later becoming the basis for the Orthodox monastic system. There are at least 10 churches and chapels in the museum area, dating between AD900 and 1200, each one named after a prominent attribute by the local villagers who were exploring these caves long before there was an entrance fee. The best of the churches are the Chapel of St Basil, Apple Church, Sandal Church, Chapel of St Barbara, the nun's convent and the Buckle Church.
Enjoy a folklore night showcasing traditional Anatolian cultural dances, costumes and music, including a Whirling Dervish and belly-dancing show. Dinner included.
It's also possible to hire a bicycle and discover some of the small villages nearby, especially Avanos which is famous for its pottery and ceramics. You never know - you may be asked to try your hand at throwing a pot! Or if you feel up to it hike in one of the many nearby gorges, say from the Valley of Love to Uchisar Castle or from Red Valley back to Goreme. A little further away try Ilhara Gorge with its amazing frescoed churches (best to take a local guide with you).
No visit to Turkey would be complete without learning something about Turkish rugs. There are many carpet shops in Goreme. The owners will explain the ancient traditions of weaving and you will soon be able to tell the difference between a carpet and a kilim, and a warp and a weft.
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Balloon flight (deluxe) - EUR230
  • Goreme - Balloon flight (standard) - EUR165
  • Goreme - Open Air Museum - TRY15
  • Goreme - Anatolian folklore night - TRY47
Accommodation
Pension (3 nts)
Day 10 Nemrut Dagi
Time to head into the more remote areas of Turkey as we drive into the ancient lands of King Antiochus. Transfer via bus and dolmus to a village just below the summit of Nemrut Dagi. The road today is very steep and winding, so if you suffer motion sickness you may wish to consider travel sickness medication.
High on a man-made mountain, the colossal stone heads of Nemrut Dagi look out across the world and at dawn are a sight never to be forgotten. They adorn the tomb of King Antiochus, a war lord and king with amazing visions of grandeur and what some may call megalomania.
You have the opportunity to explore the mountain and your group leader will help facilitate this for those interested. You can spend as much time as you desire at this incredible site and enjoy either sunrise (season permitting) or sunset as you gaze out over the arid Anti Totos mountain ranges. Please note that as this is a Basix trip the entrance fee to the temple area is not included.
Please note: during the months of March, April and October inclement weather may influence our itinerary. It is very cold on top of the mountain in all months other than June, July and August, so make sure you pack some warm clothing.
Optional Activities
  • Nemrut temple - TRY6
Accommodation
Pension (1 nt)
Day 11 Sanliurfa/Homestay
Today we travel on to Sanliurfa (Urfa) (approx. 5 hrs).
Legends abound in Urfa, the Prophets' City. Abraham of Bible fame was born in a cave here, and pilgrims flock to Dergah to visit both the cave and the Throne of Nimrod fortress, where Nimrod threw Abraham into the fire. Here you will also find a scared pool filled with well-fed carp. Keep an eye out for a white one, as legend states you will go to heaven if you see it. You might also like to explore the Urfa Museum, or the wondrous medieval bazaar where villagers make their way to daily to sell their local produce.
In your free time wander the meandering alleyways to discover some of the fine old Urfa houses. An interesting blend of Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic influences intertwine here to make your visit a magical one.
Tonight we are guests of a local family in a small village outside of Urfa.
Have a wonderful Intrepid opportunity to enjoy fantastic local food and sleep on traditional Urfa mattresses beds made of soft wool. If it is hot you may choose to sleep outside on the roof under the stars, as many people in the area do in the summer months.
Our hosts prepare our feast themselves and it's sure to be spiced with the legendary local red pepper isot.
Important note: Both men and women are required to dress very conservatively during their stay here due to the traditional values of our hosts. Females are required to wear a long ankle-length skirt and men must wear long ankle-length trousers.
Alcohol will not be available for purchase or consumption.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Aleppo
Today we cross the border into Syria bound for the ancient city of Aleppo (approx 5hrs).
Architecturally diverse Aleppo, is called Halab (meaning 'milk') by the locals, originating from the ancient story that Abraham gave out milk to travellers as they journeyed through the region. The fabulous and vibrant covered souq is Aleppo's main attraction. Parts of the Souq date back to the 13th Century and little seems to have changed, it is still very much the centre of local commerce, yet to be displaced by tourists. Check out the Al-Jamaa al-Kebir, the younger sibling of the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus or wander through the Christian quarter, admiring the 15th-century houses and equally old churches.
The Christian quarter of the old city is certainly one of Aleppo's highlights. Take time to discover some of the 15th-century houses and equally old churches. One of the finest bath houses in Syria is at the foot of the Citadel, the Hamam Yalbougha an-Nasry, where men and women are admitted on alternate days.
Optional Activities
  • Grand Mosque - SYP150
  • Jdeideh area - SYP100
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 14 Hama
Take a public bus from Aleppo to Hama (approx 2 hrs).
Attractive Hama is a peaceful spot in which to relax, with the Orontes River flowing right through the city. A modern city occupying the ancient settlement of Hamath, Hama is renowned for the grand norias that sit on the river. Norias are waterwheels used to lift water from wells or rivers into aqueducts. Dating back to Byzantine times, Hama's 17 waterwheels are no longer in use, but create a spectacular picture of ancient life in the city.
Mingle with locals in one of the many open-air coffee houses, or visit the Hama Museum.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 15 Palmyra
Travel by public bus from Hama to Palmyra (approx 2 hrs).
The oasis city of Palmyra ranks as one of the world's greatest historic sites. Settled in Neolithic times, the ruined city dates to the 1st century AD, when it flourished as an Assyrian caravan route, then became a Greek trading post before being annexed by the Romans. Home to Queen Zenobia, who set her armies against the Roman Empire in the 3rd century and conquered Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, before being captured and taken hostage by Emperor Aurelian, Palmyra means 'the city of palm trees' and is still known locally by its pre-Semitic name, Tadmor.
There will be time this afternoon to explore the splendour of these remote and extensive ruins.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 16-17 Damascus
Take a van from Palmyra to Damascus (approx 3 hrs).
The Persians, Greeks and Romans all played their part in the history of Damascus, called ash-Sham by the Arabs, until the Muslims and Mongols took over, only to give way to the Ottomans and finally the French, before Syria finally gained independence in 1946.
Here you are free to explore the old city or maybe take a day trip to the surrounding sights such as the impressive crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers.
In Damascus take time to delve into the ancient alleyways and bustling bazaars of the capital's old city, including the beautiful Umayyad Mosque. Spending most of your time in the old city, you can easily find your way around on foot, even though it's a city of 6 million residents - that is, provided you use a map and stay off the main thoroughfares (where it's easy to get run over). Catch up on the story behind the greatest Arabic hero ever, Sal-uh-din, and visit his mausoleum. You'll find other important Islamic figures buried in places nearby, and hopefully, by the end of your visit, you will better appreciate a different perspective on the Crusades.
Optional Activities
  • Azem Palace - SYP150
  • National Museum of Damascus - SYP150
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 18 Amman
Amman has served as the modern and ancient capital of Jordan and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a 1994 excavation uncovering homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age (circa 7000 BC). Check out sites such as the 6,000-seat Roman theatre built in the 2nd century, or the Citadel, offering panoramic views over the city from the highest hill in town. Within the Citadel is the museum that contains the Dead Sea Scrolls, and also the excavated ruins of an Umayyad palace.
Visit the Citadel with its amazing sweeping views of Amman, then explore the Archaeological Museum where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed.
Check out the Roman Theatre, right in the middle of downtown Amman.
Explore the beautifully preserved ruins of Jerash, one of the largest and best-preserved Roman cities left on the planet. These ruins were re-discovered in 1806 and continue to be one of Jordan's most amazing sites. The ancient walled town that survives today is a remarkable evocation of life 2,000 years ago.
Excavation and restoration of Jerash has been ongoing since the 1920s. Recent excavations show that the area was inhabited during the Bronze Age as far back as 3200 BC. Conquered by the Romans and then the Persians, Jerash was destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century. Monuments of note in Jerash include the Corinthium column, Hadrian's Arch, a circus/hippodrome, two temples (to Zeus and Artemis), the oval Forum surrounded by a colonnade, a long colonnaded street, two theatres, baths, small temples and an almost complete circuit of city walls.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Optional Activities
  • Roman ruins - JOD8
  • Citadel and National Archaeological Museum - JOD2
  • Roman Theatre - JOD1
  • Bethany Baptism site - JOD8
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 19-20 Petra
Travel by minibus to Mt Nebo (approx 1.5 hrs).
Mt Nebo is the spot where the prophet Moses is said to have seen the 'promised land' and is supposedly buried. Explore this sanctuary and view the remarkable mosaics of the 4th-century church. On a clear day, the views over the Dead Sea to Israel are spectacular.
Transfer to the Dead Sea (approx 30 mins).
A Dead Sea float is a must do of any trip to Jordan. Here at the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level) the water is seven times saltier than a normal ocean at 30% salinity - making it the second saltiest lake in the world after Lake Asal in Djibouti. This means that you are extremely buoyant and seem to float on top of the water rather than in it.
The mud here is supposed to have healing properties and many visitors like to cover themselves from head to toe for a beauty mud bath. We stop at a private beach with pools and a gentle slope to the water. Towels are available for hire. Don't forget to pack your swimwear for today.
Make a stop at the crusader castle of Kerak where we have time to explore the evocative ruins and to discover the legends of the 12th-century battles between the Crusaders and the Muslim armies led by the Arab hero, Saladin (Salah ad-Din).
Continue on to Petra (approx 4.5 hrs).
Hewn out of the rose-coloured rock face, the ancient Nabataean city of Petra is one of the Middle East's most spectacular destinations, and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
You have a full day to explore this stunning site. We have a morning together which starts early with the exciting walk through the narrow Siq to the Treasury. After admiring the iconic view, continue through the site along the Roman road, past impressive rock-cut tombs, temples and the amphitheatre ( entrance fee is not included ). In the afternoon you have the opportunity to explore the rest of the site at your own pace. For those with the energy, there's the challenging but highly rewarding walk up the steps to the stunning Monastery (approx 1 hr).
Please note that there is a complimentary horse ride included with the entrance ticket for all travellers visiting Petra. Intrepid recommends that you don't ride the horse due to safety and insurance liability.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer. It was once described as 'a rose-red city half as old as time' in a sonnet by John William Burgon and UNESCO has described it as 'one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage.' In 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage site. So you know you are in for an amazing experience here.
It's difficult to determine exactly when the history of Petra began. Evidence suggests the Horites, probably cave-dwellers, inhabited the area, lending their traditional habits such as burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves to the next wave of inhabitants - the Nabataeans.
Evidence of the earliest Nabataean settlement is also sketchy. Some of the characteristics of the site appear partly Egyptian and partly Greek in style. Strangely, few inscriptions have been found at Petra making dating the civilization a real challenge for historians. We do know the Nabataean settlement doesn't go back farther than the 6th century BC.
In 106 AD, Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire and the native dynasty came to an end but continued to flourish for a century after. Eventually the building of tombs ended and trade moved away from Petra, which fell into steady decline over the centuries. Over time many of the tombs' treasures were stolen by treasure hunters and their glory and whereabouts are unknown.
According to Arab tradition, Petra is the location where Moses struck a rock with his staff and water came forth.
Optional Activities
  • Mt Nebo - JOD1
  • Dead Sea - JOD8
  • Kerak Castle - JOD1
  • 1-day pass - JOD50
  • 2-day pass - JOD55
  • Petra by night - JOD12
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 21 Wadi Rum
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a short drive (approx 2 hrs) to the extraordinary desert scenery of Wadi Rum.
A 4-hour jeep safari takes us through some of the most beautiful and sublime desert scenery on the planet, a true highlight of this trip.
Wadi Rum is full of weird and beautiful lunar-like rock formations. Traces of ancient civilisations can be seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the Wadi Rum area, from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum, however, are those carved by nature - the natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks.
Sleep in a simple desert camp where you'll have the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the stars. A mattress and blankets are provided. Please be aware that while the desert may be very hot during the day, it will still be cool at night and warm clothes and a sleeping bag is highly recommended when travelling outside of the summer months. A dinner cooked in a local earthen oven is included. Western-style toilet facilities are available. Conditions are basic at our desert camp, but the company of our Bedouin hosts is warm and you'll treasure the memory of sleeping beneath the twinkling desert night sky.
Included Activities
  • 4WD jeep safari and desert camp
Accommodation
Desert camp (1 nt)
Days 22-23 Red Sea Beach Camp
Board a ferry to cross the Gulf of Aqaba and continue your journey to Egypt (approx 2 hrs). Please note that you'll be travelling on this ferry unaccompanied by a group leader. You'll be met by your Egyptian leader on arrival in Nuweiba.
The fast ferry can be cancelled without notice. On some trips we have to take the slow ferry which can take anywhere between 3-5hrs.
The ferry crossing can be rough on occasions and those who suffer from sea sickness may want to prepare themselves. Please note this ferry crossing sometimes experiences delays and patience is required. Due to adverse weather conditions there's a possibility the ferry will be cancelled, forcing us to stay an extra night in Aqaba. The ferry itself is modern with western-style toilets on board.
Travel by van to our Red Sea beach camp (approx 30 mins).
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.
Optional Activities
  • Red Sea snorkel hire (per day) - EGP20
  • Red Sea scuba diving (approx for 2 dives) - USD75
Accommodation
Beach hut (2 nts)
Day 24 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 2 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.
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).
Included Activities
  • Mt Sinai climb with local guide
Optional Activities
  • Camel ride - EGP125
  • St. Catherine's Monastery - Free
  • St. Catherine's Icon Museum - EGP25
Days 25-26 Cairo
Travel by private minibus to Cairo (approx 9 hrs).
Wonderfully chaotic and always colourful, Cairo is a fascinating mixture of modern city and ancient wonders.
As this trip doesn't include time to explore the sights of this fascinating city, we strongly recommend that you spend a few extra days in Cairo or join one of our Egypt-specific trips.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Egyptian Museum - EGP60
  • Mummies Hall at Egyptian Museum - EGP100
  • The Citadel - EGP60
  • Coptic Museum - EGP50
  • Entrance to the Giza site - EGP60
  • The Great Pyramid of Cheops - EGP200
  • The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre - EGP40
  • Pyramid of Saqqara - EGP80
  • Solar Boat Museum - EGP50
  • Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids - EGP75
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
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    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Turkey and its eastern neighbours are a fascinating mixture of East and West, as Europe and Asia come together. This can, and often does, mean that you will discover a region which is different to those you have experienced before. There are strong Islamic influences throughout the region, becoming more orthodox the further east you travel. There can be very different attitudes to time-keeping, public cleanliness and service, calls to prayer at 4.30am, lack of hot water and little English spoken. Naturally, this can all test the patience but if you can see this as an exciting new challenge rather than a setback, and 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 everything that Turkey and the Middle East has to offer.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Physical preparation
    Itineraries that travel to the Sinai usually include a trek to the summit of 2285m, Mt Sinai. A good level of fitness is required to make the ascent. There are opportunities to hire a camel to take you 70% of the way up, but to get to the top everyone must take the last 700 or so 'stairs'. This is a challenging climb. Note that you should not make this ascent if you have scuba dived in the preceding days. The descent is made in the darkness so don't forget to bring your torch. Sturdy footwear is essential.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
    The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.
    A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
    SHOPPING:
    There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip. Popular purchases include: gold and silver jewellery, perfume and Pyrex perfume bottles, essential oils, papyrus art, alabaster statues and silver including cartouches (hieroglyphics).
    While we do not make arrangements for specific shopping excursions due to our passengers feedback, there may be opportunities where your local guides can offer services if you are particularly interested. Please note it's customary for local guides (not Intrepid group leaders) to accept commission from the factory or shop in exchange for their service.
    You are under no obligation to purchase anything from local guides and we do encourage you to enjoy shopping in the markets to compare prices and quality.
    Please note that in Egypt, silver is a common souvenir in the form of jewellery and other items. The silver in Egypt is generally stamped with '800' meaning that it's 80% silver and 20% other metal. This is a reduced quality to the silver you may be more familiar with which is '925'.
    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.
    Tipping
    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
    Departure Tax for Syria is SYP550 (Syrian Pounds)
    You are responsible for your own visas and taxes. Please have these amounts available prior to departing the various countries.
    Important notes
    RAMADAN & THE EID UL-FITR FESTIVAL 2014:
    In 2014, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 27 June through until 27 July, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
    FAST FERRY CANCELLATIONS: Fast ferries between Jordan and Egypt are being cancelled without notice during 2011. On some trips we may be required to use the slow ferry which can take 3-5 hours.
    WEATHER DISRUPTIONS:
    Due to inclement weather, trips operating in April, May and October may be prevented from visiting Nemrut Dagi. Snow and wind storms can occur at this time, resulting in the roads and tracks leading up to the summit of the mountain be rendered too dangerous for travel. It is also very cold on top of the mountain in all months other than June, July and August so make sure you have a warm head covering!
    Group size
    Maximum of 14 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
    www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (12 nts), Pension (7 nts), Beach hut (2 nts), Desert camp (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt), Overnight bus (1 nt)
    CAMPING:
    Nights spent camping can be in recognised camps or wild camping in the desert. Some campsites do have facilities but are usually not to the same standard as you would find in western countries, often toilet paper is not provided. Wild camps obviously have no facilities at all, and the toilet is simply a hole dug into the sand. Some nights can be spent in a tent whilst other nights will be under the stars. Mattresses and blankets are often provided, however some trips will require a sleeping bag. Please see 'What to Take' for more information.
    AIR-CONDITIONING:
    Some hotels charge an extra YTL5 for air-conditioning, however fans can be provided free of charge.
    TRIPLE-SHARE ROOMS:
    When we have three single female travellers or three single male travellers on a trip we occasionally make use of triple-share rooms.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    4 Breakfasts, 3 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 290.00
    Breakfast is generally a very simple affair. It typically consists of bread, jam and tea/coffee, and on occasion tomato, cucumber and juice (or similar).
    Transport
    Minibus, Ferry, Van, Bus, Jeep, Dolmus, Overnight bus
    Public buses in Turkey don't have toilets on board. Breaks are normally scheduled at rest stops every 2-3 hours.
    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
    Grand Mark Hotel
    Cifte Gelinler Caddesi No: 10
    Sultanahmet - Kumkapi
    Istanbul
    Istanbul
    TURKEY
    Joining point description
    Grand Mark hotel is located a short walk from the Grand Bazaar, in a vibrant area of restaurants, markets and shopping. The Grand Mark Hotel is a modern and clean hotel with private bathrooms. Safe deposit boxes, internet access and 24 hour reception are available.
    http://www.grandmarkhotel.com/eng/index.html
    Joining point instructions
    Ataturk International airport is situated 25 km west of Istanbul's city centre. The airport has several banks & ATMs. The quickest and easiest way to the hotel is by taxi of which their are ranks outside the arrivals terminal. Insist they use the meter. The fare during the day should be approx. 40TL but up to double that for a night time journey. Airport buses leave every 30 minutes between 6.00 and 23.00 but only go as far as Aksaray (10TL). From here you could catch the Tram into Sultanahmet or you could hail a taxi.
    Private airport transfers are available for pre booking through Intrepid. Contact your agent for details. Be sure to advise which of Istanbul's two airports you will be flying to at the time of booking. Sabiha Gokcen is on the Asian shore, while Ataturk Airport is on the European side, and closer to our hotel.
    If you have pre-purchased a transfer, our local operator will await you holding a sign with your name as you come from immigration out the sliding doors. There are often large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer representative. If you cant find him please ask information to page 'Mr Murat Yarim'.
    Failing this please call our Intrepid Istanbul Office on one of the following numbers:
    Office: +90 212 512 7144
    Mob: +90 532 641 6514
    Mob: +90 532 405 2687
    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.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local Cairo-based ground representative for the Middle East can be reached on Tel: +2 01096811067. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    TURKEY (ALL TRIPS):
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: No - not required
    Ireland: Yes - on arrival
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: No - not required
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: No - not required
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visa costs can change depending on the political climate of the region. For Turkey, an entry visa is required for citizens of the following countries (not limited to this list):
    - USA (US$60),
    - Canada (US$60 on arrival; CAD$75 for advance application)
    - U.K. (US$60; GBP45 for advance application)
    - Australia (US$60 on arrival)
    - Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Portugal & Spain (varies from US$10-100)
    The visa costs can change at any time and with little notice depending on the political climate of the region.
    A valid passport is sufficient for citizens of most other countries including New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland for stays up to 3 months. All other nationalities please check with your nearest Turkish embassy.
    Generally visas can easily be attained on arrival although sometimes the lines for these can be quite long. Visas obtained on entry must be paid in cash in US$ or EUR so ensure you have some on hand. It is also possible to pay by Credit Card however passenger feedback suggests this is not very reliable. Depending on your nationality, visas are either valid for 3 months or 1 year.
    SYRIA:
    Australia: Yes - in advance
    Belgium: Yes - in advance
    Canada: Yes - in advance
    Germany: Yes - in advance
    Ireland: Yes - in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - in advance
    United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
    USA: Yes - in advance
    Only when there is no Syrian embassy or consulate in the passport holder's country may an entry visa be issued at the border, such as New Zealand & Dutch passport holders. Depending on your nationality getting a visa at the border is often difficult and problematic.
    Please note that it won't be possible to attain a visa or enter Syria with Israeli stamps in your passport.
    JORDAN:
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - on arrival
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visas are required by all visitors entering Jordan. Single entry visas valid for 14 days and can be obtained, by most nationalities, on arrival at the airport in Amman or at the Jordanian border for approx. JOD20. It can be significantly more expensive to acquire your visa from the embassy in your home country. If you require a stay longer than 14 day, a visa obtained from the embassy in your home country will be valid for 2 months.
    Please note that although there are ATMs in Amman airport, there are currently no ATMs in the immigration halls of Amman airport (but there are currency exchanges), so ensure you have some foreign currency on hand if you do not have your visa in advance.
    EGYPT:
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - required in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - required in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visas are easily attainable on arrival at Cairo airport or Aqaba ferry port for most nationalities for US$15 to be paid in cash, but please check with your travel agent or embassy before departure. On arrival to Cairo airport you buy your visa at any of the banks before proceeding to immigration. You will be given a stamp that you then need to put into your passport yourself. A single entry visa is valid for three months from date of issue and entitles the bearer to one month in Egypt. Multiple entry visas are not available at the airport or any border crossings.
    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:
    Temperatures are highly variable depending on the time of year and the region you are travelling in. Winters range from freezing in the central and eastern areas, cold in Istanbul and relatively mild on the west coast. Summer (June to August) can be extremely hot all over the country. Spring and autumn tend towards warm days and cooler nights. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential. You will always need a towel.
    IMPORTANT:
    On this trip we are privileged to visit, and be hosted in, a homestay, in a small rural village close to Sanliurfa. Both men and women are required to dress very conservatively on this day due to the traditional values of our hosts. Females are required to wear a long ankle-length skirt and men must wear long ankle-length trousers.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    DRINKING WATER:
    As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    BALCONIES:
    Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    SEAT BELTS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
    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.
    WATER SAFETY:
    Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
    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 Turkey include:
    * Mavi Kalem provides the children of rural immigrants, in the poorer areas of Eastern Turkey, with additional weekly classes through its Children's Education Program. These lessons, by trained teachers in all areas of formal education, give unprecedented educational opportunities in a region where the uneducated face limited prospects.
    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
    Carbon Offset C02-e 928.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    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.