Egypt, a dream destination?
Egypt has always been a beautiful country. In this northern part of Africa, mysterious pharaohs were in power for millennia. At the same time, we, in most other parts of the world, were still living in prehistoric times.
This region has been high on my wish since I was a child. So when I finally went, I naturally visited the most famous sights. However, before we went we took some safety precautions. I read up about health, travel insurance and visa. Below my recommendations for your trip to Egypt.
Sightseeing in Egypt
Of course, I followed the Pharaoh’s trail. First, I looked at the pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza, which frankly were a bit disappointing.
I had imaged them a lot more refined. In real life, the pyramids looked like they were roughly stacked. The Sphinx also appeared a lot less elegant than in my youthful imagination. Of course, I realize that building these mega constructions was still a hell of a performance for people that lived more than four thousand years ago.
Fortunately, other attractions did live up to expectations, such as my tête-à-tête with the late Tutankhamun who died too young. The visit to the young Pharaoh at the Cairo Museum was all I had imagined. Including his golden death mask and the many other tourists who gazed at him.
Another highlight in the capital was the Khan El-Khalili souq. This is the largest souq in the world, a covered market where one can wander around for hours while enjoying exotic scents and admiring flying carpets.
In short, we did what most tourists do.
- We sailed in a felucca (Egyptian sailboat) over the Nile. Which is truly a mesmerizing experience.
- Deep-sea dived at Sharm el-Sheik. The Thistlegorm Wreck is one of the highlights of the Red Sea.
- We viewed the Aswan Dam, a small wonder of engineering.
- And the temple of Abu Simbel, an unimaginable feat of engineering.
- In Luxor, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, it was dusty and warm. Above all, it was nice and quiet because shortly before our visit in 1998, on November 17, 1997, a terrorist attack had taken place here at the Temple of Hatshepsut.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt?
A lot has happened in Egypt after this attack. During the Arab Spring, riots broke out in various Egyptian cities and with it the revolution;
The Dutch government, therefore, provides the following travel advice:
“There is an increased risk of political unrest and violent actions throughout the country. And an increased risk of terrorist attacks. Also, on foreigners and foreign goals.
Limit your presence at government buildings. Especially those of the security services. Also, limit your presence at churches and monasteries. Avoid public places where many foreigners come.”
What the government is actually saying here is: do not go to Egypt because the locations that you should avoid are precisely the places where many tourists come.
A visit to Egypt is, therefore, not without risk.
Family Holiday to Egypt
I would certainly not travel with children to this country, but if you are willing to take a certain risk as an adult, this is the time to visit. Because of the (not imaginary) danger, you have, as during my visit in 1998, the most sights for yourself.
Yes, now that the country is slowly picking up again and during the World Cup, Egypt finally gets positive news coverage through Mohamed Salah, the Messi of North Africa. As a promoter and most important export product of Egypt, he lets the sunshine again over this beautiful destination.
So if, despite the security risk, you decide to visit Egypt, keep in mind the local population and religious sensitivities, if only for your own safety. Dress conservatively. Indeed, as a woman avoid wearing shirts and shorts or skirts.
Practical Advice for a holiday to Egypt
To visit this North African country, you probably need a visa for Egypt. Note that this also applies to minors and children. They must apply for their own visa. But as I mentioned above, I would leave my children at home for the time being or, in fact, as a parent with young children, I would not go.
- As an EU citizen, you can purchase this upon arrival in the country if you plan to stay in Egypt for a maximum of 15 days. It costs 25 USD at the time of writing. It seems that nowadays you can pay with Euros, in the past only with US Dollars. You cannot pay with a credit or debit card. You must buy the visa before you report to customs.
- It is easier to apply for an e-visa. For such an electronic visa to be able to apply, you must meet certain conditions:
- Your passport must be at least eight months valid upon arrival in Egypt
- If you visit go with family or friends, you will need a letter of invitation from them.
- If you are going on a business trip to Egypt, you will need an invitation letter from your Egyptian business partner.
- Your stay lasts a maximum of 30 days.
If you do not meet these requirements, you will need to apply for a regular visa.
Single or multiple entry visas?
The e-visa for Egypt is, therefore, valid for a maximum of three months. This can be a multiple entry or single entry. Which means a visa that allows you to enter and leave Egypt more often or a visa that will enable you to enter the country once.
You can apply for the e-visa with the Egyptian government up to 30 days before your trip.
Click here to apply online for your visa.
Food and drinking water
Do not drink water from the tap, but only from bottles. Always peel fruit and eat only cooked food.
In the unlikely event that you get into diarrhoea, make sure you have ORS and Imodium with you.
It can get quite hot in Egypt. Therefore, ensure proper sun protection even in the winter.
Wear a hat or cap, rub your skin in with sunscreen with a high SP factor (+30). Stay out of the sun in the early afternoon whenever possible and drink plenty of water.
Flights to Cairo Egypt
Most flights will land in Cairo. If you prefer to fly to one of the other airports, such as Aswan, Luxor, Abu Simbel or Sharm El-Sheikh, you will have to make a stopover.
Health in Egypt
Your holiday could be ruined because of ill health. Therefore, take precautions. Ensure that you have travel insurance, which covers emergency treatments and repatriation.
Click here to obtain a quote.
Start your vaccinations in time. At the time of writing, the Dutch authorities recommend the following immunizations: DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) and Hepatitis A.
Always check the latest travel advice from your country.