The thoughts of both young and old is reflected only in a few geographical locations, as in Egypt having dry desert lands separated by a timeless river – The Nile. Past Egypt’s southern perimeter, this river flows about 1500km through high precipices and prairies prior to splitting into various offshoots of the Estuary.
The ‘Red Land’ or ‘deshret’ as was called by olden Egyptians, refers to the extensive desert lands on both sides of the river which served for centuries as a natural fence against an assault. The river basin, ‘Black Land’ or ‘Kemet’, is a stretch of developed land bound within a few kilometers from the river. It was enriched by the annual blizzard up until the 1960s with the erection of the Aswan High Dam.
In olden times, the Nile Valley was the most inhabited region and as such the majority of residual Egyptian memorials are situated there. It is also the location with the highest tourist activities.
With an upgrade to the airports in its major cities (Cairo, Luxor and Aswan), air travel has been a prevalent method of entry to Egypt. A diver’s heaven, the Red Sea coast with its coral reefs and wide sandy beaches is gaining widespread popularity with resorts like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.
Scheduled tour bundles are available to meet every desire and expense. It should be noted that the Nile Valley is not the only epic location, and ‘expert trips’ to the Oases of the Western Desert as well as the Eastern Desert and Sinaiare now being put together.
Visitors who desire a cruise are provided with flat-based riverboats commonly called ‘floating palaces’. These simply deluxe or obviously flashy riverboats move from Luxor to Aswan and back through the Nile weekly. After being delayed due to security reasons, the long cruise from Cairo to Aswan has resumed. A range of 9 to 15 day scheduled trips are available to visitors. These cruises are typically escorted by Egyptologists to provide guidance around the sites in a rapid tour of knowledge and humor. On shorter cruises, visitors have the chance of combining about three weeks’ worth of holiday into one week. You can observe the Nile river banks, unchanged since olden times, silently float by while in-between visiting memorials and enjoying large meals. There are now also cruises available on Lake Nasser which takes in the Nubian memorials.
For solo travelers or a holiday with friends, inter-city travel is made easy by air, train or air-conditioned coaches. There are also many lesser pocket-friendly local hotels and larger five-star tourist hotels.
Egypt is a hot and dry country with varying temperatures from North to South. Its ‘high season’, October to March, holds the highest number of tourist visitations. Extremely high temperatures are prevalent in the summers, especially in Upper Egypt having up to 50oC (122oF) in June and July. Right after the sunset in the winter, the contrast in temperature presents a very cold feeling. During this period in Aswan, temperature averages about 25oC (77oF) and in Cairo, 10oC (50oF). The winter period might present a little rain in Cairo and the Delta, despite the rarity of rainfall in Upper Egypt.
Khamsin (literally ‘fifty’) is a heavy dry wind which blows from the Western desert for about 50 days in March or April, scattering fine sand particles everywhere.
Time Zone and DST
Egypt is ahead of Greenwich Mean Time by two hours (GMT +2).
The major populace in Egypt is Muslims by religion with Arabic as its lingua franca. Standard Arabic is used in writing for newspapers and other literature. However, Egyptian Arabic is quite different from that of other Arab nations.
Though typically understood in most regions, there is an informal language known as ‘street Arabic’ which is different all over Egypt. For instance, the variance in speech between Cairo and Luxor is very obvious and as such, knowledge of some fundamental Arabic words would be very useful while on tour in Egypt. However, Egyptians are quite proficient in languages and most of the locals you will meet will speak English and/or several other European languages. Also, your nationality will be precisely predicted from your attire even before you utter a word.
The government is recently encouraging the inclusion of foreign languages in school curriculum, and older kids love to practice their skills. In the heavily inhabited tourist regions kids from 2 years old and above will already know how to say ‘welcome to Egypt’, ‘what’s your name’, ‘baksheesh’, ‘pen’, and ‘give me money/sweets/cigarette’ in various languages!
By Plane through Cairo
Cairo International Airport (CAI) is the main international center for Egypt. EgyptAir, which has a practical domestic domination, uses it as its focal point for internal flights. Two other airports exist in Cairo, thought they are both used solely for private internal and government flights
Various huge European and Middle Eastern airlines have customary flights into Cairo International. These include Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Air, British Airways, Czech Airlines, Emirates, Gulf Air, Iberia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kuwait Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysian Airlines, Maley, Olympic Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Saudi Arabian, Swiss International, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines. The Egyptian national carrier, Egypt-Air, also operates flights to most major European centers and has a daily direct flight to New York.
By Plane through Sharm El Shiekh (SSH)
Sharm El Shiekh International Airport (SSH) at present receives international flights worldwide from major airlines such as Alitalia, Austrian Air, British Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Royal Jordanian, and Swiss International, as well as many discounted operators such as Air One, Condor, Eurofly, and Transavia. This is a great entry point to the Sinai. Dahab, St. Catherine, and Taba are a few hours’ drive from Sharm, and Egypt-Air flights are inexpensive and realistically consistent. On rare occasions, this airport is also referred to by its Israeli name “Ophira”.
By Plane through Alexandria Burg al Arab (HBE)
At the outpost of Alexandria further than Al Nozha, having more contemporary facilities and a longer runway, this airport is utilized by EgyptAir, Emirates, and Lufthansa/United Airlines. A transport is available from the airport into the middle of Alexandria; any of the express trains from Ramses are a more enjoyable way to arrive, at around two and half hours, quicker considering the transfer time.
By Plane through Alexandria al Nozha (ALY)
In close proximity to the city than the Burg al Arab facilities, Al Nozha has an awkwardly short runway and is only utilized by Egypt-Air. Airfare from Cairo is the same as for Burg al Arab. Except you are one for exciting touchdowns, you would be better off using the trains from Ramses.
By Plane through Luxor International (LXR)
This airport is used mostly by local Egypt-Air flights and international discounted charter carriers such as My Air, TNT, and Transavia (which runs popular direct flights to Amsterdam). Flight time from Cairo is about an hour, making this an exceptional substitute to the tiresome and often bumpy 12-hour train ride from Cairo.
By Plane through Aswan (ASW)
Egypt-Air makes use of this small but astonishingly new little airport. If you are going to fly through here, confirm that the flight is direct since many flights from Cairo necessitates a 2- to 3-hour overlay in Luxor, even more than the flight duration. Return ticket from Cairo costs about LE 3,400 equating $185/£135.
By Plane through Abu Simbel (ABS)
This airport is entirely for Egypt-Air tourist flights. It is more reasonable to fly instead of driving, as there is nothing to see on the way, and it can be tiresome waiting for the convoy.
By Plane through Hurghada (HRG)
This undersized, contemporary airport efficiently serves Gouna, Hurghada, Makadi Bay, Soma Bay, Safaga, and Quseir. It is used directly from Europe by inexpensive operators such as Condor, Thomas Cook, and Transavia, as well as locally by Egypt-Air. Airfare from Cairo is abound LE2500 ($136/£105), and will save you a tiresome and obnoxious bus trip.
By Plane through Marsa Allam (RMF)
At the time of writing, Egypt-Air was flying to Marsa Alam twice weekly (Sundays and Wednesdays). However, as demand is sure to increase noticeably here, the frequency of flights should as well. A return ticket costs about LE3,500 which is $200/£140.
By Plane through Marsa Matruh (MUH)
Egypt-Air usually has a few flights a week here during the summer, providing the only services here.
By Plane through Taba (TCP)
This airport is at present only being used by direct charters from European centers.
By Plane through Kharga (UVL)
This airport services one Egypt-Air flight a week, on Sundays. Ticket costs LE1750 which is $98/£70. As this is officially used by the government you may have booking difficulty, but it can be progressed by the Egypt-Air office in Kharga. Should you run into problems in Cairo, call their agents at the Kharga office.
Flying to Cairo for Less
Various economical airlines in Europe are now famous for their cheap flights to Egypt. You can anticipate jam-packed planes, little leg space, and low, low prices. For instance, Dutch-based Transavia (tel. 20/4060406; http://en.transavia.com/en) has collected business markets from major airlines with its discounted flights to Sharm El Shiekh and Luxor from Amsterdam.
Updated on 16 March 2020