WELCOME TO EGYPT Public Holidays in Egypt are 25 April (Sinai Liberation Day – Sinai only), 1 May (Labour Day), 23 July (National Day) and 6 October (Armed Forces Day). The Coptic Christmas (7 January) and Easter (in 2009 anticipated to fall on 27 April, subject to confirmation) are celebrated by the Christians but are not national holidays. Our Christmas and New Year are celebrated in the hotels. The dates of the Islamic festivals move forward by 10-11 days each year as they are linked to the lunar calendar; these are the Big Feast (in 2008 anticipated to take place around 8-11 December), where animals are sacrificed and the meat shared with friends, family and the poor. If you are in Egypt at the time, particular in more „local‟ resorts such as Cairo, Hurghada, Aswan or Luxor, you should keep in your hotel for these days to avoid seeing animals slaughtered in the streets; the month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset (anticipated in 2009 to take place around 22 August to 20 September) and during which time it is frowned upon to walk around in local areas dressed Welcome to Egypt, one of the world‟s top tourist skimpily or showing too much physical affection to your destinations for the past several thousand years. partner in public. Ramadan is followed by a 3-day Whether you are here to see one of the seven holiday where everyone dresses up and enjoys eating wonders of the ancient world, to marvel at the marine sweets. life and fabulous corals of the Red Sea or simply to Females in particular may find that they get a lot of relax and get a sun tan, you are certain not to be unwanted attention when they go out; try to avoid disappointed in Egypt. striking up conversations, avoid eye contact and keep Sunshine is practically guaranteed throughout the walking if you don‟t wish to get involved in a year, with rain falling in the Red Sea resorts conversation. Try to dress relatively conservatively to approximately once every 6 years. Day time deter unwanted attention. temperatures range from 20 degrees in winter to 45 degrees in the summer, with night time temperatures of around 12 degrees in winter, 30 degrees in summer. Aswan and Luxor, being on the Nile, have higher humidity and therefore can be unbearably hot in summer, but the winter months are the ideal time for a Nile Cruise. The country Egypt – full name is the Arab Republic of Egypt – is a democracy whose President, Hosny Mubarak, has held his post since 1981 and was re-elected with a large majority in 2005. The official religion of the country is Islam, but the country has a large Christian population. Figures vary, but it is estimated that around 8-10% of the population is Christian and the remaining 90-92% Muslim. This is one of the oldest civilisations known to man and dates back many thousands of years, encompassing the Pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, Mamlouks, Ottoman Empire, British Colonial rule and finally independence since 1922. Initially Egypt was a Kingdom but has been a republic since 1952. accepted in the shops; when using your credit card be aware that the amount that is charged to your account in Sterling may be slightly higher than the amount you were originally quoted due to changes in exchange rates and commission charged by your credit card supplier. Rates are usually higher in Egypt so you‟ll get more LE to your Sterling if you bring cash and change it here. Please note that you will have difficulties if you try to change Scottish or Northern Irish notes, or notes that have been defaced in any way (this includes writing on the notes). You will need to buy a visa on arrival at the airport in Egypt unless you fly into Sharm el Sheikh and do not plan to leave the city (eg to go to Cairo or on a boat trip to Ras Mohamed); Sharm is treated as a special zone so if you visit there only you do not need a visa. For all other destinations you need to buy a visa which costs approximately 10 pounds Sterling; get this from one of the tour representatives inside the airport or from one of the banks before you go through passport control. You must have at least 6 months validity remaining on your passport or you will not be allowed into Egypt. Ground Handling Agent & Customer Service We are represented in Egypt by Tarot Tours Garranah, a well-respected agency which was founded in 1979, since which time they have been working to the strictest professional standards to maintain a high level of business operation with outstanding customer service. Due to their efforts, the group has become one of the biggest and most reputable companies in Egypt. The head office premises are located in Cairo, with branch offices in Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. Tarot are pleased to offer a full and Money and Formalities varied excursion programme in each of our resorts. Should you have any problems during your holiday The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (LE), which which need the assistance of one of our reps then is divided into 100 piastres. The rate of exchange please call them on the number which you will find on varies, but as a rough guide is usually around 8-10 LE your accommodation voucher or on the notice board in to one pound Sterling. The notes have writing in your hotel. All are Egyptian nationals, so know the English on one side and Arabic on the other, so you language and local laws/customs, but speak excellent should have no problem understanding the value of English and have many years‟ experience of working the notes you have. The money tends to be pretty old in this field and dirty so many people like to make sure they can wash their hands after handling it, or carry some Handling agent contact information: sanitising gel in your bag to use on your hands after Tarot Tours Garranah: shopping. 15 El Shaheed Mahmoud Talaat, Str. Most hotels have ATMs, or you can use ATMs in Dokki-Giza Egypt towns and at airports on arrival. Travellers‟ cheques Emergency phone: are sometimes difficult to cash or you may have to pay Cairo: 0020 193448084 a commission. Prices are often quoted in Sterling, Sharm El Sheik: 0020 191576557 Dollars or Euros and then converted into LE if you wish Hurghada: 0020 101534767 to pay in the local currency. Credit cards are accepted Luxor : 0020 105053491 in hotels or when booking excursions but not widely Resorts in Egypt Sharm el Sheikh – this is probably the best-known resort in Egypt and it located at the southern end of the Sinai peninsula at the entrance to the Straits of Aqaba. The main industry here is tourism, with people attracted by the breathtaking scenery and the world- famous dive sites, especially in the area of Ras Mohamed. Sharm is split into several areas – Hadaba, Ras Om el Seid, Na‟ama Bay, Shark‟s Bay, Nabq – each with its own shopping centres, nightlife and identity. The most famous bars and shopping though are found in Na‟ama Bay; most hotels run shuttle buses to here on a regular basis or you can go by taxi. Egypt has many different resorts: Taba – this is a small resort on the border with Israel, 20 km from Taba Heights where most of the hotels are to be found (the Hilton, however, is situated directly next to the border crossing). There are also ferries available to nearby Aqaba (Jordan). The sights of the Sinai Peninsula are easily reached, and trips over the border to Israel to visit Eilat and/or Jeruselem are popular. Taba Heights has its own golf course and scuba diving and snorkelling are enjoyed by many. Marsa Alam – the coastline from El Quesir down Nuweiba and Dahab – formerly inhabited solely by towards the border with Sudan is known as Marsa Bedouins, a small town sprang up in present-day Alam, although Marsa Alam itself is a small village Nuweiba after the Israelis occupied the Sinai Peninsula following the 6 Day War. The town has which hardly merits a visit. This area is still largely since expanded, with several ferries a day to Aqaba undeveloped and is popular with the more serious (Jordan). Nightlife is based around the hotels and scuba divers as the reefs here are still unspoiled. This people go here for relaxing holidays or for scuba area is ideal for people wanting to enjoy the scuba diving. Dahab has similar origins and today, as well as diving, snorkelling or just a relaxing, away-from-it-all being popular with divers, is famous for windsurfing. holiday. Hurghada – the major resort on the African coast of Cairo – the capital of Egypt, this is also the largest the Red Sea (the Sinai peninsula is in Asia), Hurghada city in Africa and the 3rd largest in the world. It is home is famous for its dive sites and kiteboarding, together to the Sphynx and the Giza Pyramids (the 2nd pyramid with a vibrant nightlife. It is far less developed than is the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World), Sharm el Sheikh and is an enigmatic mixture of local the Egyptian Museum, the Khan el Khalili shopping life and tourism. It is ideally situated to visit the sites of area and many Coptic and Islamic architectural Luxor, although many people choose not to leave the treasures. It is well worth a visit, not just to see the resort. famous sites but also to see the real Egypt! the reservoir behind it being known as Lake Nassr, and this helps control the flow of water to the Nile and keep it constant; previously the Nile was subject to floods or famines. Many temples were lost when the area behind the dam was filled with water, but others – such at Philae Temple and Abu Simbel – were rescued by organisations such as UNESCO and rebuilt on higher ground. Activities Beaches – Egypt is 97% desert, so you know that you can expect sandy beaches. The sand tends to be dry, but a bucket of water soon makes it great for building those sandcastles that you dreamed off. Most hotels have their own beaches and there are few public beaches. Some beaches are by reefs and access to the sea is across a bridge or walkway and then into relatively deep water, so check before you go Luxor – known as the largest outdoor museum in the if travelling with small children. world, Luxor allegedly has 30% of the world‟s ancient ruins. It has the famous Karnak, Luxor and Hatchepsut („hot chicken soup‟) temples, the Valley of the Kings (where, amongst others, Tutkankhamen was buried) and of course the beautiful, life-giving River Nile. Not to be missed here is a hot air balloon flight over Luxor at dawn. Luxor is also the starting point for the week- long Nile cruises. Food and Drink – most hotels offer international cuisine, but it is fun to get out and see what the locals eat. The local dishes rely on pulses and vegetables, although a lot of seafood is also found in resorts on the Mediterranean or Red Sea coasts. Bread is consumed at all Egyptian meals and the meal of poorer Egyptians will often consist of just bread and beans. Fool, which consist of mashed fava beans, is popular, especially at breakfast and can be served in several Aswan – this very Nubian town is almost exactly on variations such as with tahina (sesame seed paste) the Tropic of Cancer, so in summer can be extremely added to it, or the beans are used to make Falafel, a hot; it is one of the driest inhabited places on earth. A dish found elsewhere in the Arabic world where it is large dam was built here in the early 1960s, usually made from chickpeas. Many Egyptians consider the national dish to be Night Life- the local nightlife is based around the Koshary, which is a mixture of rice, lentils, chickpeas numerous coffee shops, where the men go to drink tea and macaroni and is served with fried onions and a spicy tomato sauce. or coffee (alcohol isn‟t usually served) and smoke shisha (waterpipe). In touristic areas the tobacco for the shisha is available in several flavours, such as apple, strawberry and cappuccino, whereas the Egyptians stick to the hard stuff! Sharm el Sheikh‟s main centre of night life is Na‟ama Bay, which has an abundance of coffee shops, some of which serve alcohol. Also found here are Buddha Bar, Hard Rock Café, Camel Bar and Pacha night club. Hurghada‟s night life is mainly in Sekalla, although there are lively bars in other areas too. The main focal points here are the new Hurghada Marina, which has a few bars; Papa‟s (Ministry of Sound), Hed Kandi Bar and Calypso (popular with Russians). Night life in Luxor is Other popular dishes are kebab and kofta (minced much quieter and based around the coffee shops or meat grilled on a skewer), shawerma (similar to doner hotels. kebab in Turkey), or various vegetables stuffed with spicy rice. Sports – watersports are popular, especially scuba Desserts tend to be sweet and sticky, such as kunefa, diving and snorkelling. On land excursions into the baklava, basbosa and so on. dessert are always fun, whether by jeep, camel or Alcohol is not usually found outside of hotels and bars quad bike. See the section below for more information which specifically cater for international tourists. Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol, although on all of these. some do; during the month of Ramadan no Egyptian is The Egyptians are quite fanatical about football and allowed to purchase alcohol, regardless of his religion. the national team is the current holder of the African Cup. As far as domestic football is concerned, the 2 Shopping – best buys include silver- and copper- big teams in Cairo are Al Ahly and Zamalek, and derby ware, gold and silver jewellery, leather goods, matches always rouse a lot of passion. alabaster ornaments, papyrus pictures, mugs with Horse riding is found at some hotels, but standards pictures of the pharaohs or designs from their tombs, vary. waterpipes and, of course, fluffy camels. Shops in hotels or big cities have fixed prices, whereas in bazaars or where no price is shown it is usual to barter and try to get the price down to a level that is acceptable to both vendor and purchaser. Have a price in your mind before you go and don‟t let yourself be talked into paying more! Most Popular Things To Do Sea – The Red Sea is generally accepted as one of the best areas in the world for scuba diving and snorkelling. The waters tend to be clear, with an Jeep safaris into the desert are also popular and abundance of different species of fish and corals. If enable you to enjoy the scenery in a more comfortable you don‟t want to get wet then it is possible to see the environment. underwater world from a glass-bottomed boat or even a submarine. Most trips into the desert include a ride on a camel and it‟s a great opportunity to see these magnificent creatures at close range. You may also get a chance to see the Bedouin people in their home environment and see how they live. If you go to the desert at night you will almost certainly eat a meal prepared by the Bedouins and see them perform some kind of dancing for you before you go and enjoy the stars at night – an unforgettable experience. Scuba Diving – Whether you are an experienced diver or a complete beginner, the Red Sea is an ideal place to dive. Many people learn to dive here, or it is possible to save time by starting your course at home and finish it by doing the „open water‟ dives in the Red Sea. If you‟ve never done it before, you can do a one- day Discover Scuba course and if you find yourself hooked you can then upgrade to a Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver course. Children as young as 10 Mount Sinai – for something a bit different, walk up years old can become Junior Open Water Divers. Mount Sinai (where Moses is said to have received the 10 commandments) over night and watch the sun rise Qualified divers will love the diving in the Ras across the dessert; this is only for the very fit as the Mohamed national park and Advance Open Water walk takes about 4 hours and is uphill in the dark over Divers can dive the wrecks of the Thistlegorm (from rocky terrain. However, it‟s a unique experience and Sharm el Sehikh) or Abu Nuhas (from Hurghada). on the way back you can visit St Catherine‟s Real affecionados will head for Marsa Alam, where monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world, there is more unspoilt diving and the famous where the Burning Bush is found (this bush is unique Elphinstone Reef, where divers are almost guaranteed to here and no cuttings taken from it have ever grown to see sharks during their dives, or Abu Dabab, where anywhere else). the dugong can be found. Culture and History – the main centres for culture Desert – The most active people will like to try quad and history and Cairo and Luxor. If you say in Sharm bikes in the dessert, but bear in mind that any clothes el Sheikh or Hurghada you can visit Cairo of Luxor on that you wear for this activity will need to be washed a day-trips or on a 2-day visit; Cairo can also be visited few times before they can be worn again! This is great from Luxor. See in our Resort section for details of fun, but be careful and make sure that you follow both Luxor and Cairo. safety instructions and that your insurance will cover you for such activities. Phrases in Arabic Forty Ar-bayn The official languageof Egypt is Arabic. Arabic is spoken widely throughout Northern Africa and the Fifty Kham-seen Middle East, with each country having its own version of the language. Egyptian Arabic is understood Sixty Set-teen throughout the Arabic-speaking world due mainly to its prolific film industry. The alphabet is different to the Seventy Sab-ayn British alphabet so the words below are written Eighty Tem-an-ayn phonetically and split into syllables to help you: Ninety Tes-een One hundred May-ah How much is this? Bee kam? Good morning Sah-bah el kheehr Good morning (reply) Sah-bah el fool Good evening Mas-r el kheer Good evening (reply) Mas-r el fool Yes Ay-wah English Egyptian Arabic No La-a One Wah-hed I would like … Ayz (male) … Two It-nayn Ay-zah (female Three Tah-let-ah Water My-ah Four Arr-bah Tea Shay Five Ham-sah Coffee Ah-wah Six Set-tah I don’t want. Mish ay-zah Seven Sah-bah It’s very expensive Floos kat-eer Eight Tah-man-yah I haven’t got any money Man-dish floos Nine Tes-sah I am ill An-a ma-reed (male) Ten Ah-shah-rah An-a ma-ree-dah (female) Twenty Ash-reen Where is the toilet? Fayn el ham-em? Thirty Tal-a-teen Where is the hospital? Fayn el moos-tosh-fahr? Health and Safety Safety at your holiday destination When you arrive, please take a little time to familiarise yourself with the layout of your accommodation. Flight safety • Please check with the airline with regard to security Balcony & Glass Safety updates and advice as to what can and cannot be packed • Please do not lean over, sit or climb on the balcony. within your luggage. • Children should never be left on the balcony unsupervised. • As a general rule, do not place flammable liquids, lighters, • Keep all balcony furniture away from the wall/railings. matches, gasses or aerosols in your luggage. • Take care in bright sunlight, when exiting to a patio or • Always carry medication in your hand luggage. balcony. It may not be obvious that doors/windows are • Please pay attention to any safety briefings given by airline closed. staff and crew. • To help reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and reducing Pool Safety alcohol consumption, occasionally walk around the cabin • Familiarise yourself with the layout of the pool, the deep and/or do some simple exercises whilst in your seat to keep and shallow ends and any unusual features (i.e. bridges, blood circulating. For further information refer to the underwater features). Department of Health website (http://www.doh.gov.uk). • It is unlikely that your pool will have a lifeguard, so please take care and ensure children and non swimmers are supervised. Safety and Hygiene • Observe all pool safety rules, in particular “No Diving”. • Please use the showers before entering the pool. The health and safety of Youtravel.com customers is of • Do not swim immediately after a meal or when drinking paramount importance to us and we want to make sure you alcohol. have the best holiday possible. Whilst we are working with • Pool surrounds can be slippery, so please walk around the our accommodation suppliers to ensure the highest possible pool area rather than run. safety standards are maintained, please bear in mind that • If you are suffering from an upset stomach, please avoid safety and hygiene standards overseas may vary from those use of the pool. you have come to expect in the UK. Whilst we will do our best to make sure your holiday is safe and trouble free, we do ask for your co-operation in taking Beach Safety extra care while youre away. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with your accommodation on arrival, and, • Familiarise yourself with any flag warning system so that if you are travelling with children highlight to them any areas you understand when it may not be safe to swim. where they need to take extra special care, such as • Be aware of any strong currents or tides. balconies or within pool areas. • It is unlikely that the beach will have a lifeguard, so please The following information has been put together with your take care and ensure children and non swimmers are best interests in mind and we would ask that you take some supervised. time to read through the advice provided. If you should have • Do not swim near or dive from rocks, piers, breakwaters etc. any particular requirements regarding the safety of your • Please ensure that you are aware of any "zoned" areas that group, please contact us for further advice. In the event of are marked out for water sports and do not swim in these any accident or incident during your holiday, please areas. immediately contact our handling agent in resort on the • Never swim alone, at night or after drinking alcohol. contact telephone number provided on the voucher and we • If utilising any beach water sports ensure the organisers are will do our best to assist you and take any corrective action insured and offer appropriate safety advice/equipment. necessary. Sun care Fire Safety • Remember to use a high factor sunscreen initially and to re- • Familiarise yourself with the location of your nearest fire apply it frequently exit. • Avoid laying out in the sun during the hottest time of the • Read any fire safety notices in your room. day • Do not smoke in bed. • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration • If a fire occurs, leave immediately, do not stop to collect • Take a sunhat, sunglasses and lip salve your personal belongings. • Beware, you can still burn, dehydrate and get sunstroke in • Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building. the shade or in the water. Personal safety • Be aware, as you would be at home - stay away from situations where you feel uncomfortable and avoid walking in badly lit and/or unfamiliar areas. • Avoid carrying too much money and/or valuables on your person – please make use of safe facilities provided. • Always lock your room when you go out and remember to close all windows and balconies. • Please try not to leave accompanied young children in your room. Road/Transport Safety • Remember traffic could be traveling on the right hand side of the road - ensure you look both ways before crossing. • Please do not assume drivers will stop at pedestrian crossings. • As at home, do not drink and drive. • Whilst overseas laws regarding mobile phones may not be prohibitive, we recommend not using them while the vehicle is in use. • Four wheels are better that two – many moped or motorbike hire outlets are inadequately insured and do not automatically provide helmets. • Always remember to fasten your seatbelt. • Follow any safety briefing provided by your driver or guide. Working in conjunction with Docleaf Summary There is no better choice for a holiday than Egypt. The hotels are generally to a high standard, especially when comparing price-wise with their European counterparts; sunshine is guaranteed practically every day of the year; the cultural sights to see are unique to this country and second to none; watersports enthusiastics can find no better destination, especially for scuba diving, within a 6 hour flight from their home country; the Egyptians are very service-oriented and will do whatever they can to make your holiday special. As you will hear people say several times during your visit: Welcome home.