In the 5th century BC Herodotus wrote of Egypt that 'nowhere are there so many marvellous things...nor in the world besides are to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness'-and not too much has changed. The Sphinx, the Nile, ancient Luxor, the pyramids-Egypt's scope is glorious. Read more...
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Cities and Destinations in Egypt
In the 5th century BC Herodotus wrote of Egypt that 'nowhere are there so many marvellous things...nor in the world besides are to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness'-and not too much has changed. The Sphinx, the Nile, ancient Luxor, the pyramids-Egypt's scope is glorious.
Lower Egypt-containing the northern Nile delta, and the Mediterranean coast; Cairo, AlexandriaMiddle Egypt-the area along the Nile where the historical Upper and Lower kingdoms metUpper Egypt-a string of amazing temple towns located on the Nile from Luxor to Aswan and Lake NasserWestern Desert-location of the Western Oases: five pockets of green, each with their own unique attractionsRed Sea Coast-luxury beach resorts, diving and marine life Hurghada is the most famous city there.Sinai-rugged and isolated peninsula, with fascinating relics of the past and diving in Sharm el-Sheikh or Dahab
Egypt has several international airports:
Cairo International Airport — the primary entry point and the hub of the national carrier Egypt Air.Alexandria Nozha Luxor International Airport — now receiving an increasing number of international scheduled flights in addition to charter flights.Aswan International AirportHurghada International Airport — receives a number of charter flightsSharm El-Sheikh International Airport — receives a number of charter flightsBurg Al-Arab International Airport
Gas is rather inexpensive in Egypt. According the the CNN/Money Global Gas Prices in March 2005, the Price in USD Regular/Gallon is $0.65. So if you decide to rent a car, you will not be digging through your pockets looking for a lot of money to fill your cars tank! Car rental sites require you to be at least 25-years-old.
Egypt can be accessed by bus from Israel (from the bus stations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ).
A car ferry runs between Aqaba in Jordan and Nuweiba in the Sinai, tickets $50. A weekly ferry also runs between Wadi Halfa in Sudan, and Aswan in Egypt. There are also ferry boats available to and from Red Sea to ports in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
A ferry running between the Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm-El-Sheikh is also available for a journey time of 90 minutes and 400 LE (approximately £40 sterling).
The trains in Egypt are all run by Egyptian National Railways cs/index.html, a state-owned and-run company.
Train tickets can be bought at most major railway stations' booking offices once you are in Egypt, (although a great deal of patience is often required...)
Ramses Station in Cairo has several booking windows, for example, one for each class and group of destinations, so be sure to check with locals (usually very helpful) that you are joining the right queue. Train tickets can be paid for in Egyptian currency, except for the deluxe Abela Egypt sleeper which must be paid in foreign currency (dollars, euros or pounds sterling). An alternative to self-booking, if you don't mind paying a little commission to avoid the inevitable hassle and frustration, is to a local travel agent to buy tickets on your behalf (preferably at least the day before you intend to travel).
First Class tickets are relatively cheap and a good choice though Second Class is also completely tolerable. Travelers probably won't want to experience anything below Second Class (the condition and provision of toilets, for example, drops away quickly after this level). If you must travel at a lower class than desirable, look for the first opportunity to upgrade yourself into an empty seat-you may pay a small supplement when your ticket is checked, but it's worth it. Note that toilet facilities on Egyptian trains are at best rudimentary, even in first class. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare toiletries for long journeys.
Busy holiday periods excepted, it's not normally difficult to get 1st class tickets on the day of travel or the day before. To avoid complications, however, book as far ahead as possible.
Egypt has an extensive long-distance bus network. Buses are operated by private companies. Their names are Pullman, West Delta, Golden Arrow, Super Jet, East Delta, El Gouna, Upper Egypt Bus Co. Popular routes are operated by more than one company. Some bus companies allow you to book seats in advance, others are hop-on based upon availability of seats.
In the cities taxis are a very safe, cheap and convenient way of getting around. It has to be noted that while they are mostly safe there are sometimes fake taxis going around so make sure they have official markings on the dashboard or elsewhere. They are also always painted in special colors, in Cairo they are black and white and in Luxor they are blue and white. In Cairo and Luxor it is often much more interesting to use the taxis and a good guidebook instead of traveling around in a tour bus.
All the taxis have meters but they are calibrated using a law from the 1970s before the oil crisis and are never used. Generally the best way is to ask at your hotel for the prices from point-to-point prices. Or ask a pedestrian or policemen for the correct price. It is sensible to state your price when you get in to reduce the possibilities of arguments after arriving at your destination.
Some believe that the best way is to that you to tell the driver where to go and not mention a price. At the end of the journey you step out of the car and make sure you have everything with you and then hand out reasonable money. If the driver shouts, it's probably OK, but if he steps out of the car you almost certainly paid too little. The definition of reasonable seems to be variable but examples are 20 LE from central Cairo to Giza, 10 LE for a trip inside central Cairo and 5 LE for a short hop inside the city. Do not be tempted to give them too much except for exceptional service, otherwise ripping off foreigners will become more common and such practice generally tends to add to the inflation. Note that the prices listed here are already slightly inflated to the level expected from tourists, not what Egyptians would normally pay.
Taxis can also be hired for whole days for between 100-200 LE if going on longer excursions, for example to Saqqara and Dashur from Cairo. Inside the town they are also more than happy to wait for you (often for a small extra charge but normally they say it's free), even if you will be wandering around for a few hours.
English is often spoken by taxi drivers and they will double as guides, announcing important places when you drive by them. Of course they expect to be paid a little extra for that. This is not always the case and if you get your hands on a good english speaking driver it is wise to ask him for a card or a phone number, they can often be available at any time.
Very recently, a new line of taxis owned by private companies has been introduced to Cairo as a pilot project. They are all clean and air-conditioned. The drivers are formally dressed and can converse in at least one foreign language, usually English. These cabs stand out in their NYC-yellow. They can be hailed on the street if they are free or hired from one of their stops (including one in Tahrir square, downtown, across from the Museum). These new cabs use current meters which count by the kilometer but it starts from 3.50 pounds. In general, they are not more expensive than the normal taxis you can call this number from Cairo 16516 to ask for cap if you couldn't find it where you are looking.
The domestic air network is fairly extensive and covers most major towns in Egypt. The national carrier, EgyptAir, has the most regular services and is the easiest place to start looking before you go. From Cairo there are services to quite a few towns and places of interest around the country, the most common being Luxor, Aswan Abu Simbel, Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Alexandria, Mersa Matruh and Kharga oasis.
The previously employed two-tier pricing structure, which made fares more than four times as expensive for foreigners than locals was changed at the beginning of 2007 to a system in which everyone pays the same fare regardless of nationality. Fares are still relatively cheap — for example a return day trip to Luxor is about $170. It is wise to book early as flights fill up quickly in the peak season. Local travel agencies have internet web pages and can sometimes squeeze you in last minute, but booking in advance is recommended. Travelers can also check prices and book flights on EgyptAir Express's website.
When to go
Scams and hassle Travellers often complain about being hassled and attempts at scamming while in Egypt. While irritating, most of this is pretty harmless stuff, like attempting to lure you into a local papyrus or perfume shop. p Typically, you will be approached by a person speaking fluent English who will strike up a conversation under social pretenses. He (and it will always be a he) will then attempt to get you to come along for a cup of tea or similar at his favourite (most-paying) souvenir shop. This could also happen outside museums etc. where the scammer will try to make you believe the museum is closed or similar. p Hassling, while never dangerous, could also be annoying, especially in the heavy touristed areas. There is no way to avoid this, but a polite la shukran (no thanks) helps a lot. Apart from that, try to take hassling with a smile. If you let yourself be bugged by everyone trying to sell you something, your holiday won't be a very happy one. p Potentially more annoying are taxi drivers or others getting a commission fee to lead you to their hotel of choice, of course paying commission fees for each guest they receive. Firmly stand your ground on this. If they insist, just ask to be dropped off at a street or landmark close to the place you are heading to. This scam is especially common among taxi drivers from the airport.
Egypt is generally a safe and friendly country to travel. Egyptians on the whole are very friendly-if you are in need of assistance they will generally try to help you as much as they are able.
As in most Middle Eastern countries associated with large numbers of overseas travellers, recently there have been security concerns for Western travellers. Tourists from these areas have been targeted sporadically by militant groups, sometimes with tragic results.
The usual warnings for prudent behaviour apply, but are not the same as in New York or London. In the latter, the anxiety is highest with respect to bombs. In Egypt, the bloodiest terrorist attacks have involved groups shooting at tourists. As for casual crime (muggings and robberies), Egypt is quite safe. As for pickpocketing, the problem is probably greater than it is in most Western cities. The danger in Egypt comes less often from violent attack than it does from the less dangerous problem of cheating and scams.
The security situation in Egypt (as in many Middle Eastern countries) is frequently exaggerated by Western media outlets, creating a negative impression that is somewhat amplified by the heavy-handed policies of Egyptian authorities in keeping tourists safe. The reality is that travelling in Egypt is probably no more hazardous, with regard to terrorism, than visiting most Western capitals (and probably a lot safer!) Egypt relies heavily on foreign tourism for its national income and both Egyptians and their government are extremely keen to prevent any occurrence that might create a bad impression and keep tourists away. For example, if you take a taxi from Cairo to Alexandria, you will be stopped at a checkpoint before leaving Cairo. They will ask where you are going, and communicate with the checkpoint at Alexandria to make sure you reach your destination within a certain time period. The same goes for most trips into the desert. During different branches of your drive, you may be escorted by local police. They will travel to your destination with you, wait around until you are finished, and usually stay behind at one of the next checkpoints.
Ensure that you drink plenty of water: Egypt has an extremely dry climate most of the year-a fact aggravated by high temperatures in the summer end of the year-and countless travelers each year experience the discomforts and dangers ofdehydration**. A sense of thirst is not enough to indicate danger-carry a water bottle and keep drinking! Not needing to urinate for a long period or passing very small amounts of dark yellow urine are signs of incipient dehydration.
Egyptiantap wateris generally safe, although it does sometimes have an odd taste due to the high chlorine content added to make it so. It is not recommended for regular drinking, especially to very local differences in quality.Bottled mineral watersare widely available--see #Water Drink:Water section. Beware of the old scam, however, whereby vendors re-sell bottled water bottles, having refilled with another (perhaps dubious) source.... Always check the seal is unbroken before parting with your money (or drinking from it) and inform the tourist police if you catch anyone doing this....
Be a little wary with**fruit juice', as some sellers may mix it with water. Milk should also be treated carefully as it may not be pasteurized.... Try only to buy milk from reputable shops. Hot beverages like tea and coffeeshould generally be OK, the water having been boiled in preparation, though it pays to be wary of ice as well.
Wear sunscreen, wear a sturdy hat and bring good sunglasses-it's bright out there!
In order to avoid contracting the rightly dreaded schistosomiasis parasite (also known as bilharzia), DO NOT swim in the Nile or venture into any other Egyptian waterways (even if the locals are doing so.....) It is also a good idea not to walk in bare feet on freshly-watered lawns for the same reason. Although the disease takes weeks to months to show its head, it's wise to seek medical attention locally if you think you've been exposed, as they are used to diagnosing and treating it, and it will cost you pennies rather than dollars.
The Nile's fertile banks-the source of economic, social, political and religious life-gave birth to the world's first nation state and a powerful civilisation that invented writing and erected the first stone monuments. Around 5000 years ago the independent riverfront states were unified under Narmer, giving rise to the first dynasty of pharaohs.
The pharaohs were considered divine and they ruled over a highly stratified society. The first pyramid was built in the 27th century BC; over the next 500 years the monuments grew increasingly grand. Monarchical power was at its greatest during the 4th dynasty, when Khufu, Khafre and Mycerinus built the Pyramids of Giza. Through the 6th and 7th dynasties power was diffused and small principalities began to appear. A second capital at Heracleopolis (near present-day Beni Suef) was established and Egypt plunged into civil war.
An independent kingdom was established at Thebes (present-day Luxor) and, under Montuhotep II, Egypt again came under the control of a single pharaoh. From 1550 to 1069 BC, the New Kingdom bloomed under rulers such as Tuthmosis I, the first pharaoh to be entombed in the Valley of the Kings; his daughter Hatshepsut, one of Egypt's few female pharaohs, and Tuthmosis III, Egypt's greatest conqueror.
Amenhotep IV renounced the teachings of the priesthood, took on the title of Akhenaten in honour of Aten, the disc of the rising sun, and established a new capital called Akhetaten devoted solely to the new god. Soon thereafter, Egypt was ruled by generals: Ramses I, II and III, and Seti I. They built massive monuments and temples, but following their reigns the empire was in disarray, allowing the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great to arrive in 331 BC and establish a new capital.
Under Ptolemy I, Alexandria became a great city. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt for 300 years, but their reign was plagued by great rivalries amongst the nobles. Meanwhile an expanded Roman Empire began taking an interest in Egypt. Between 51 and 48 BC, Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra VIII, and Julius Caesar sent his rival, Pompey, from Rome to watch over them. Ptolemy had Pompey killed and banished Cleopatra. Caesar came along, threw Ptolemy into the Nile, appointed another of Cleopatra's brothers, Ptolemy XIV, as joint leader, and became Cleopatra's lover. In 47 BC Cleopatra gave birth to Caesar's son and two years later had her brother killed. When Caesar was assassinated the following year, Marc Antony-one of the new ruling triumvirate-came to Egypt and fell in love with Cleopatra. An unhappy Roman senate sent Octavian to deal with Marc Antony 10 years later. Following the defeat of their naval forces at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide, after which Egypt became part of the Roman Empire.
When the empire fell apart Nubians, North Africans and Persians invaded, although Egypt remained relatively stable until AD 640 when the Arabs arrived, bringing Islam. They established Fustat (on the site of present-day Cairo) as the seat of an unstable government until the Fatimids took power, building the prosperous city of Al-Qahira (Cairo).
Western European Christians seized much of the weakening empire in the Crusades of the 11th century, but in 1187 the Syrian-based Seljuks sent an army into Egypt and Salah ad-Din (Saladin) fortified Cairo and expelled the Crusaders from Jerusalem. Salah ad-Din enlisted Mamluks (Turkish mercenaries), but they ended up overthrowing his dynasty and ruled for two and a half centuries before Egypt fell to the Turks in 1517. Since most of the Mamluks were of Turkish descent, the Turkish Ottoman sultans, based in Constantinople, largely left the Mamluks alone, as long as they paid their taxes. This state of affairs continued until Napoleon invaded in 1798, only to be ousted by the British in 1801; they were in turn expelled by Mohammed Ali, a lieutenant in the Albanian contingent of the Ottoman army. Said Pasha, Ali's grandson, opened the Suez Canal in 1869.
Crippling national debt enabled British and French controllers to install themselves in 1879, and the British terminated the suzerainty that Turkey had over Egypt. During WWI Egypt aligned itself with the Allies, and shortly afterwards the British allowed the formation of a national political party-the Wafd. King Fuad I was elected head of the constitutional monarchy and for the next 30 years the British, the monarchists and the Wafdists jockeyed for power. The Arab League was founded after WWII by seven Arab countries, including Egypt, but the war had left Egypt in a shambles, and its defeat in Israel's 1948 War of Independence saw the chaos escalate. In 1952 a group of dissident military officers, led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, orchestrated a bloodless coup. The British and French were loathe to relinquish control, so they invaded. The USA and the Soviet Union joined the United Nations-deployed peacekeepers and insisted that the invaders should leave. Nasser became a hero, particularly among Arabs.
Nasser attempted to unite Egypt, Syria, Yemen and later Iraq in the late 1950s, emphasising Arab unity and demonising Israel. Following months of heightening tension between Egypt and Israel, the Jewish state attacked on 5 June 1967, starting the Six Day War. Israel destroyed the Egyptian air force, captured Sinai and closed the Suez Canal.
Anwar Sadat, Nasser's vice president, took over from Nasser when he died in 1970, and set about improving relations with the West. On 6 October 1973, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Egypt launched a surprise attack on the Israeli occupiers of Sinai. Its army initially beat back the much better armed Israelis; although these initial gains were later reversed, the ceasefire agreement favoured Egyptian interests. In 1977 Sadat began making peace with Israel, leading to the 1978 Camp David Agreement. Israel agreed to withdraw from Sinai, and Egypt officially recognised Israel. Many in the Arab world felt Sadat had betrayed them, and he was assassinated on 6 October 1981.
Husni Mubarak, Sadat's vice president, was sworn in and has been the country's leader ever since. Mubarak has surprised many with his deft political footwork in the troubled region, improving relations with Israel and other Arab states. With the rise of fundamentalism in the Arab world, Mubarak's position has at times been precarious and he has suffered numerous attempts on his life. He sent 35, 000 troops to fight against Iraq in the Gulf War, and although the war was seen as Western imperialists fighting Arabs, Egypt's commitment proved useful in improving its relations with the West.
In 1992 Islamic fundamentalists began a campaign of violence and intimidation against tourists and Egyptian security forces. The mid-1990s were characterised by tensions with Sudan over the contested Halaib territory, severe flooding in 1994 and a series of conflicts with fundamentalists culminating in an assassination attempt on President Mubarak in 1995. In 1997, the massacre of more than 70 people, most of them tourists, by Islamic militants shocked Egyptians and caused thousands worldwide to rethink their holiday plans. The subsequent government crackdown contained but a rapidly growing population, coupled with high unemployment and increasing poverty undermined economic and social reforms.
President Hosni Mubarak was elected to serve his fifth term as president in Egypt's first contested presidential race in 2005. Although he won by a large margin, allegations of voting irregularities and heavy-handed policing have contributed to ongoing criticism that Egypt is far from democratic. Periodic attacks on tourists resumed in Sinai in 2005 and 2006 but are generally assumed to be one-off events rather than a sustained terrorist campaign, and Egypt remains relatively stable. A growing worry for the future is who will succeed the aging president—he's never appointed a vice-president—and whether or not this successor can continue to withstand the intense economic pressure and regional instability.
Articles and Stories about Egypt
Quick Facts about Egypt
78,887,007(July 2006 est.)
Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated people
Country Dialing Code
Egyptian pound (EGP) (LE / £E)
All Lodging in Egypt:
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A haven of luxury and pleasure, Sharma Resort lies in front of a long sandy beach in Al Pasha Coast. But, that's not all. Eleven pools, the Sheraton Sharm Thalasso Center, the 7 restaurants and the 5 bars guarantee that you will spend your time well in this spoiling hotel & spa.
Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria, Hotel in Alexandria, Egypt
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Four Seasons Hotel in Alexandria is a super luxury hotel with many services and amenities. Located within the Grand Plaza complex, it overlooks the San Stefano beach. On the premises, there is a European style spa, a fitness center that is open 24 hours and eight (!) venues for food and entertainment.
Hotel Iberotel Lamaya Resort, Hotel in Marsa Alam, Egypt
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Within the resort Madinat Coraya, directly on the beach with a fascinating coral reef. To protect the corals along the shore access into the water is only possible in certain areas. Situated about 70 km north of Marsa Alam, 67 km south of El Quseir, 5 km to Marsa Alam airport.
Swiss Inn Taba, Hotel in Ţābā, Egypt
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The 5 Star Hotel was created for exclusive comfort. The 260 rooms with junior suites and family rooms have splendid views over the azure waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and the neighbouring countries of Saudi Arabia Jordan and Israel. All rooms have private balconies and terraces spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers handheld hairdryers and bathrobes air-conditioning flat-screen Sat TV mini bar coffee making facilities dial-up...