are asked about issues that seem to come up time and
again so we thought a comprehensive list of FAQ might
help - if you have any other questions please do not
hesitate to send them to us.
Does the price you
quote include everything? E.g. drinks, food?
Where applicable, it does, yes. It will say so in
the pages for the individual trips. Basically, any
trip longer than half a day usually has the meals
and most drinks included. But when you (are thinking
of) book(ing) with us, all this information will be
supplied to you in detail for your particular trip.
How safe is Egypt to travel around? Are the more remote
areas safe for me to travel in?
Egypt is very safe to travel around, but it is still
part of a volatile region. The government recognizes
that, however, and tourist safety is the highest item
on their agenda. This is one of the reasons why a
lot of the transportation between cities takes place
in police-escorted convoys.
Having said that, there are some very remote villages
where the presence of a tourist can cause quite a
stir, and there are areas that tourists are advised
not to go, such parts of Middle Egypt. For the most
up-to-date information on this, consult the general
information given out by your own Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. Obviously our tours dont go to such
areas, or if they do, they do so guided by the aforementioned
police convoys. The only one of our tours this applies
to is the trip to Amarna. All the other areas are
The main touristic areas are quite safe and incidents
of theft and other unpleasantness that can be rife
in other tourist destinations are actually quite rare
Can I bring my children on a tour with HiddenEgypt.com?
Is there stuff for kids to do?
Yes of course! But do keep in mind that our tours
are not specifically designed for children
although they can enjoy them a lot, and have done
so in the past. But there is a lot of sightseeing
involved, granted some adventurous as well, but children
do tend to get bored with it more quickly. So keeping
that in mind, it may be better to take a less heavy
programme and leave some pool time in, as well as
add things like camel and horse rides etc.
The parts of Egypt that are designed for kids are
mainly the resorts on the Red Sea, although some of
the bigger hotels in our area, such as
the Movenpick Jolie Ville in Luxor, do have swimming
pools, kids clubs and even a zoo.
What is the minimum age of a member of a party? Why?
We do not really work with a minimum age but do consider
that your kids will enjoy Egypt more if they are a
little older, i.e. old enough to understand and appreciate
the monuments and the history at least a little bit,
something like 6 or 7.
If I can't get to our meeting point in time
to start the tour, do I get a refund?
I like to drink alcohol... is that OK in Egypt?
Egypt is a Muslim country, so alcohol is not something
that is part of daily life. It is available in all
or most tourist places as Egyptians do realise it
is something tourists like to have. There are also
some shops run by Christians that sell local alcoholic
beverages. It is not, however, acceptable to be drunk
in public, but in what country is that acceptable
I need to see some really 'out of the way'
places bordering on the Sudan - is it OK to travel
At the current state of affairs, we would not recommend
What do I need in terms of a visa? How much
are they? Where do I get mine? Can you do all of that
We cannot do it for you, but getting the visa is easy.
You can get it at all of the major airports at arrival:
you need to go into the bank there before getting
in line for the passport control. You buy the visa
at the bank for about 15 euros (you have to pay in
USD$dollars, sterling or euros). It consists of stamps
that will be put in your passport, and then you can
get in line for passport control. This type of visa
is valid for 30 days. If you need one for a longer
stay, you can either get it through the Egyptian embassy
in your country, or extend it here in Egypt at the
passport office in the major towns.
Do I need travel insurance?
Absolutely, yes. You are responsible
for that yourself. The insurance culture
that we have in the West does not exist in Egypt,
and a lot of the times the transport that you use
on your own here is not insured (see our warning with
our balloon trips). Also, it is important to check
what is and what isnt covered by your travel
insurance some very strange things have been
classed as dangerous sports by the insurance
companies and excluded from their policies.
Do I need health insurance?
Again, absolutely yes. Make sure it includes
a repatriation clause, just in case.
What about healthcare in Egypt - is it close
to where we would be?
Egypt is rife with doctors, clinics and pharmacies,
stocking almost everything, even lots of drugs that
we would normally need prescriptions for. The standards
of hygiene in some of these places leave a lot to
be desired, however.
A lot of the bigger hotels have doctors on call, and
some of the more up-market cruise boats have doctors
Do remember that this is a Third World country to
some extent, and pack your own first-aid kit accordingly.
If you are on medication, do remember to bring adequate
medication for the entire trip (preferably a month's
supply split into two areas of your luggage) with
a prescription slip or a doctors letter explaining
that you need this medicine. Some medicines are impossible
to get or even illegal here.
What about malaria or other local diseases?
As far as we are aware, malaria only occurs in the
area of the Fayoum, and if you intend to visit that
area, you should take precautions. Isolated incidents
have occurred elsewhere but there is no malaria epidemic
in Egypt again, as far as we know. You have
to protect yourself against mosquito bites, however,
so do make sure you bring some strong stuff for that
Hepatitis is something you should be cautious of
pack some syringes in your first-aid kit to make sure
that should you need an injection, you can be sure
it can be done with a needle that is absolutely clean
and safe. If you want to be vaccinated before you
come (and please do check this with your local
health professionals and/or travel clinic), you need
to start at least three months before you come here
(Hepatitis A and B). Your tetanus injections and 'boosters'
should be updated and again, check locally with your
doctor or healthcare centre if any other vaccinations
are advised before coming to Egypt.
Another illness that can occasionally cause problems
here is bilharzia, or schistosomiasis. It is caused
by a parasite that occurs in some areas of the Nile
(mainly the parts close to the shores) and the local
canals feeding off the Nile. It can often be treated
quickly and decisively but it is obviously better
to avoid possible problem areas and limit your swimming
to well-chlorinated pools.
A good website to check for all of these things is:
How about STDs in Egypt? Are condoms easy to
get and reliable?
STDs do occur in Egypt, as in any other country. Therefore
safe sex should always be practiced, again, as everywhere
else. Egyptian-manufactured condoms have been reported
to be unreliable. This is an area where you should
exercise caution and discretion, as the social morals
in this country are vastly different than in the West.
Have respect both for yourself and for the country
that you are visiting, that is all we can say
on this subject.
What kind of medicines should I bring?
This is a Third World country to some extent, so pack
your own first-aid kit accordingly (add syringes and
disinfecting agents if needed). If you are on prescribed
medication, do remember to bring adequate medication
for the entire trip (preferably a month's supply split
into two areas of your luggage) with a prescription
slip or a doctors letter explaining that you
need this medicine. Some medicines are impossible
to get or even illegal here.
Bring what you would normally bring on any holiday,
plus pills to combat stomach upsets and diarrhoea
and add oral rehydration sachets the heat here
can get to you and your digestive system, and travellers
do suffer from what is called the pharaohs
curse sometimes: stomach upsets, headaches,
Also bring plenty of sunscreen and something to cover
your head and skin with the sun here is so
much stronger than what a lot of us are used to.
A very strong mosquito-repellent is also strongly
A good website to check for all of these things is:
What kind of shots/injections should I get?
Your routine injections should be up to date, and
you should also have Hepatitis A and B vaccinations.
For some travellers, typhoid and rabies vaccinations
may be indicated. In some cases your healthcare advisor
may recommend Yellow Fever vaccine - please check
with your doctor or healthcare provider before travelling
to Egypt as we cannot be held responsible for your
A good website to check for all of these things is:
What happens if our tour is late and causes me to
miss my flight home?
We will endeavour to make sure this will never happen.
What is the longest period of time I can be
on tour with you?
The longest pre-arranged tours we offer are two weeks,
but of course you can lengthen your stay on a tailor-made
basis. After years in Egypt, we are still not
done exploring this country, so who can say what the
If I need accommodation for a longer period
(after or before a tour) can you arrange that for
In principle yes, but it does depend on where you
want to stay. Our best contacts for these things are
in the Luxor area, although we can facilitate accommodation
elsewhere, and have done so previously.
What type of foods can I expect to be eating?
Is the food safe?
All types of food, from traditionally Egyptian to
more Western fare. On our tours we only take people
to restaurants that we know serve good and reliable
food. And it is part of the fun of travelling to taste
new and different foods! But you can always react
strongly to foods that you are not accustomed to,
so do eat with some caution, especially when it comes
to traditional foods. Always look at how things are
refrigerated in restaurants, as this is a hot climate.
You should never buy food from stalls in the street,
thats a given!
I'm allergic to some types of food - can you
make sure I'm safe?
No, your safety in such respects is, of course, your
own responsibility. But if you tell us what you are
allergic to, we will of course assist you in finding
the right foods as best we can!
I love Egyptian food but if I fancy something
more 'western' can I get that too?
Of course! Especially in the touristic towns, there
are many restaurants that serve Western type food.
Do take into account that these places can be a bit
more expensive, as a lot of them are connected to
the four- and five-star hotels.
On our desert tours it will be more difficult to go
western as these places are not yet as
geared towards tourism, which is, after all, part
of their charm.
Is the water safe?
We do not recommend drinking the local water unless
it is well-boiled (so the ubiquitous cup of tea, a
social ritual almost, is okay to accept). Mineral
water, bottled and with safety caps, is available
almost everywhere you go, and you should stick to
that. And drink lots of it to stay hydrated.
Also be aware that swimming in the Nile is not recommended
because of the bilharzia parasite that occurs there
Can you tell us about the monuments, temples and sites?
Of course! This is our life-long passion and we love
to talk about it. Just click on our excursions for
the basic info about these places and to get a feel
Do we need to hire a guide?
If it is your first time in Egypt, we would always
recommend doing sites with a guide. Otherwise, these
awe-inspiring monuments can quickly become nothing
more than a heap of very impressive old stones. The
culture of Ancient Egypt is a mysterious one, and
you need help in lifting that veil of mystery.
Be aware that officially, it is illegal in Egypt for
foreigners to guide, unless they also have an Egyptian
guide with them. This is why we are facilitators,
I only speak English what other languages
do the people speak in Egypt?
You can usually get by very well with only English,
especially in the more touristic areas. Most of the
people who work in tourism speak English quite well,
as well as a plethora of (bits of) other languages,
especially the guides and tour-leaders.
The official language of Egypt is Arabic, and especially
in the more remote locations that is all people speak
with any fluency. But the Egyptians are very friendly
and hospitable people, and they will do their best
to communicate with you using whatever smattering
of foreign languages they possess.
Ive heard about baksheesh,
what is it and how does it work?
Baksheesh (tips) is a typically Egyptian phenomenon,
and it takes some getting used to. Especially when
youve come to be on friend-like terms with the
person involved, then it feels awful to us to give
it, like were demeaning our friend. But it is
part of the system of payment in Egypt, and it is
calculated into the price that you are quoted (that
is to say, it is not part of that price but expected
to be received at the end) and doing it correctly
and with a smile will earn you the best service ever!
So, a small lesson right now: baksheesh can be given
for any service that you are happy with. It is an
integral part of the system here as basic salaries
are extremely low, and baksheesh are expected to make
up the difference. It is not required to give baksheesh
for nothing (that is begging and violates the system,
begging is only allowed when you have a genuine physical
disability or something like that which would preclude
you from working for a living), but for (good) services
you are supposed to tip. A good rule of thumb for
general services (like the bell captain who carries
your suitcase to your room, the cleaners etc.) is
tip small (3-5LE etc.) but often. For a driver, something
like 10-20 percent depending on your happiness (not
for a short taxi ride, mind you). For a felucca captain
and his boy, the same. For a waiter, about 10 percent.
For a boy who guides your horse or camel on a ride,
about 10LE. And so on and so forth.
What is the climate like?
Egypt basically has two seasons, summer and winter,
and very little in between. The summers are very hot
during the day (around 40 degrees centigrade and up)
and bearable at night (ranging between 25 and 30 degrees
centigrade), and the winters are nice during the day
(ranging between 18 and 27 degrees centigrade), but
it can get cold at night (to about 5 degrees centigrade).
The best times to travel here are the in-between periods:
basically between September and early November, and
between late February and mid-April (but beware of
the sandstorms that can strike at any time during
this period!). But you can travel in Egypt all year
round, just take the weather into consideration and
pack accordingly. A nice site to get some information
about temperatures before you come is: http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/Egypt/Luxor.htm
(and you can also check other Egyptian cities from
Do I need to bring a lot of cash or travellers
cheques or can I get money from ATMs etc?
You will find ATMs in all major towns and tourist
spots, such as Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada,
Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab.
Most cash machines accept Cirrus and Maestro debit
cards as well as the major credit cards, like Visa
Also, you can change money in every bank, and a lot
of them will also give credit card cash advances.
A lot of the bigger hotels have a branch of a bank
or an exchange desk inside.
What is the currency in Egypt and how much is it worth?
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, abbreviated
to LE (from the French, Livre Egyptienne). It does
tend to fluctuate, so use this site to check the current
Can I check my emails etc; is there Internet
You will find internet cafes in all tourist towns,
in a lot of hotels and also outside of them. Going
online is not usually a problem but the equipment
in the cafes can be, well, thoroughly used to say
the least. Some of the more remote areas tyat we go
to do not have Internet access; that is part of their
charm. So if you are going into the Western
Desert Oases, onto the Dahabeeya or set sail on
Lake Nasser, expect to be cut off from the Internet,
and some times also out of mobile phone coverage.
Is there a dress code because it is an Islamic
There is no official, enforced dress code; Egypt is
a secular Muslim country. Especially in the cities
the dress is mainly Western. When you travel in the
south of Egypt (Upper Egypt) however, you are entering
a more rural, traditional part of Egypt, and it is
courteous to dress accordingly. Usually you can get
away with any kind of dress in the more tourist places,
but as a matter of respect, we do advise our travellers
to tone it down. That means for both men and
women no sleeveless shirts or tops, and preferably
no shorts (and definitely no hot pants!). But it is
your choice of course.
Apart from the respect issue, it is also common sense:
this climate is hot to us, and the sun is very strong.
It is simply smart to cover your skin when you go
around the monuments or cities, as well as your head.
We protect our eyes from the glare of the sun with
sunglasses, so why not our skin and heads?
Is the shopping good; what kind of souvenirs
should I get?
There is something for everyone in Egypt, it is not
difficult to spend your money here on anything from
nice knick-knacks to beautiful tapestries or jewellery
(to name just a few items). Big sellers are statues,
papyrus, gold and silver, perfume oils, water pipes,
and so on and so forth. What you should get is a matter
of personal taste and budget, of course, but we
will be glad to advise you when you get here about
where to get the good stuff!
How can I be sure Im getting a good price
Well, you cant, really. Egypt is the kind of
country where you can get anything at any price
the main difference being in the quality of the goods
or services concerned. There is always someone who
will tell you that you could have gotten it cheaper
or better or bigger or whatever. That isnt really
the point. The point is whether or not you were happy
with the price you paid for it. If you were at the
time, then stay so, no matter what people say!
Having said all that, there are of course guidelines
for prices and we will be glad to share our knowledge
of that with you when you get here! And remember,
you have to bargain here!
How do I avoid being ripped off?
Again, you cant always. Even after years here
and with a lot of experience in shopping (and we do
mean a lot!), we still get ripped off
occasionally. It does happen. As tourists, we are
an opportunity for the people here to make some money
however friendly they may be, make no mistake
about that! And there is nothing really wrong with
that, especially when you consider how poor people
often are here. It is also, culturally, considered
a game: if you beat them at bargaining, you win, and
if the other way around, they win. And there is usually
a lot of amateur dramatics involved. You can thoroughly
enjoy the process if you take it in that spirit. And
as we said before, if you were happy with the price
you paid for something at the time you bought it,
then stay happy, no matter what other people say!
That is our advice anyway and we try to stick
to it ourselves, it saves a lot of frustration!
A feeling of being ripped off always and only arises
afterwards, and so the other solution is to get your
information before you buy or book. Take your time,
look around, ask around and compare quality and price.
Think about things and if any particular item or activity
is worth that to you, then make your mind up and go
for it. If not, dont. No matter what any shopkeeper
or tour company tells you, the thing youre looking
at will usually still be there if you give yourself
some time to reflect. And if you have people you trust
who can recommend activities, places or people to
you, by all means follow their advice, but still,
and always, use your own best judgment before committing
What if I forget to bring something like batteries
or memory cards or beauty products or something, is
it easy to get?
Most basic things are easy to get in the touristic
places, but the quality may not always be as good
as at home, and the choice will usually be less, especially
when it comes to luxury items. All the big hotels
have shops that cater to their guests for such things,
but again, some things are just not available in Egypt,
and others have to be imported and are therefore expensive
(and expensive hotels always have expensive shops).
Basic things are not a problem, but if you are quite
particular about the kinds of equipment or beauty
products (etc) that you use, then we advise that you
check and double check before closing your suitcase!
Can I stay in touch with people at home? How?
Your mobile phone may allow 'Roaming' to use it in
Egypt but beware - the costs are often high regardless
of which mobile operator you subscribe to! You need
to enable 'Roaming' before you leave home - it's unlikely
that it can be done when you get here. Phone insurance
If you have an 'unlocked' mobile phone, you can buy
a SIM card in Egypt's tourist spots - these are very
good value and the credit top-up (pre-paid credit)
is very reasonable indeed. Please also be aware that
for some tours the network coverage is poor or limited
and you just might not get a signal but most areas
close to the river Nile have good coverage. Please
don't forget to bring your mobile phone charger with
you. Just don't forget to make a list of your favourite
numbers to call and we would request that you bring
a sheet of paper with a list of emergency numbers
- just in case the worst should happen and we need
to contact someone at home on your behalf.
There are also phone booths on many streets in the
more densely populated areas such as Cairo, Alexandria,
Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab.
These booths are fairly poor and it is difficult to
hold a reasonable conversation (due to background
noise) but can be used fairly cheaply and efficiently
by purchasing a phone-card within many shops in areas
where tourists are to be found.
often offer phone, fax and Internet services but please
be aware that these can be costly. If you choose to
sit in your room and talk to your family and friends
as you watch the sun set over the Nile from your hotel
room then be prepared for a rather large bill!
How do I pay my hotel bill?
Many of the three, four and five-star hotels insist
upon payment in foreign currency (USD$, EUR€,
GBP£ most often) but the major hotel chains
are equipped with credit card facilities so that should
not pose a problem. If you have booked and all-inclusive
tour with us, you will only have to pay for your drinks
and other extras. the bill for the room will be taken
care of us by is.
hope that we have answered the majority of commonly
asked questions but if not please don't hesitate:
contact us for more information.
the Magic and Mystery of Egypt... www.HiddenEgypt.com