Egypt Planning - Should I Drink the Water????

May 6th, 1999, 09:01 PM
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Egypt Planning - Should I Drink the Water????

I am accustomed to drinking bottled water, but it really bothers me to plan a trip to a country where I am advised not to eat the salad, fruits and vegetables. Are Egyptian fruits and vegetables really that dangerous, or is it like in Central America and southern Europe, where you will probably get the bug, but won't die from it? I know this sounds stupid, but traveling throughout these latter countries has provided a certain immunity, and our MDs always send us on our way with plenty of ammunition.

Another question, children in Egypt. Please don't bother to tell me to leave my kids at home. We travel alone, we travel with kids. Our kids are sophisticated travelers. They know heat, flies, jetlag, odd food, dirty cities, smelly hotel rooms, and beggars. They know the joys of travel, unexpected scenery, foods that surprise the taste buds, the accidental palace hotel, photos and memories, time with the family, and yes beggars. And yes we frequently forego the overseas trip for Disney World.
My question is this: What is the best way to go to Egypt for two parents and three kids? Cairo, Luxor and a beach resort? Is independent travel okay, or for this trip is the security of a tour advised? I have struggled with this question now for 4 years - took the kids to Italy and France last month instead of Egypt, but boy would they like to see the sands of the desert.

May 14th, 1999, 01:10 PM
Martin Conneely
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I drank local water once as I wanted to experience a coffee house (rather glum looking all male place; didn't bother with any more - but it was strange to pay such low prices). Didn't do anything to me but that was Aswan and the metropolitan areas are supposed to have okay water. Kept imagining, though, that I *was* getting ill even though I wasn't. Also had plenty of salad in the kind of hotels the tours put you into and there were no problems. Nor for my wife or 8 year old son. If you get local water for 1.75 Egyptian pounds in shops, you're doing well.

Children seem very welcome in Egypt but tourists get a lot of attention from people trying to sell things, taxi drivers, etc. (No thieves or violence, though, even in the jostliest of situations, in our experience) that I think a tour is best. Even if you went independently, you'd find yourself comvering much the same places. Very very different to Italy and France.

And the children will love Egypt.

May 14th, 1999, 09:51 PM
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I went to Egypt in February and had a truly wonderful experience. If your children have already been exposed to various GI microorganisms, and you have antibiotics and antidiarrheals, why not try it? Except, do you really want to give up a day with each of you in the hotel waiting for the next trip to the bathroom. I was moderately cautious, ate no fruit I did not peel myself, ate only cooked food and had no ice cubes! And, of course, only drank the bottled water which is as ubiquitous as sand. I think the children wil have a fantastic vacation, the Etyptian people are kind, gentle, and very interesting. They do though have economics at the heart of things, they expect tips for everything and they are always after tourists to buy, buy, buy! I became very adept at
"lo-schrukin" (phonetic spelling)ie: No, thank you. Spoken firmly and it worked.
I would suggest a tour because it will make everything easier in a place where you can not hope to speak, read or write the language. The tour guides are very professional and get you in and out easily. Be sure you have at least 4 days on the Nile, do the Sound and Light Shows for the children, go in a pyramid and ride a camel. It is SO foreign, So exotic and the trip of a lifetime.
May 18th, 1999, 05:21 AM
Tony Hughes
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I think everyone's stomach will react differently to Egyptian/African food. I ALWAYS get ill in places like that, always. My experience was that almost everyone I spoke to was ill in some fashion, however small.

I would say Cairo should be a must BUT only for a few days. Break up the trip with some time down in Luxor and/or the Red Sea.

I would say if you are a first timer to Egypt then a tour would be better. Just my opinion, of course.
Jul 1st, 1999, 10:50 AM
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Hi Joanne,

I was in Egypt for 3 weeks about 2 years ago. I would not recommend drinking the water or eating the salads etc. I was on a tour and they served us a salad in the water and almost the whole tour was sick except for me and my friend because we were very paranoid about getting sick and missing any time. It is definitly a third world country and I think people forget that. They have bottled water at all the restaurants and places you go.

Also you shouldn't have any problem taking your children, but I would suggest a tour since there is so much to see and do in Eygpt and getting around could be a problem where a tour elevates that.
Jul 1st, 1999, 03:24 PM
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This is a really tough question. My wife and I toured Egypt and Jordan in May and we dilligently avoided salads etc and only drank bottled water. Even so, my wife had one "bad" day and was laid up in bed whilst the rest of the group went exploring. Other people we met made some sort of compromise by eating whatever but still sticking to the bottled water with no ill effects. In any case, bottled water is quite cheap, readily available and quite useful to carry around with you when you're out exploring in some of the more remote areas. We bought a bottle sling at our local hiking shop in which we placed these bottles.
I guess it depends on your constitution and how much time you can spare if you do happen to be struck down.
Note: our tour guide recommended the local remedy: a really strong short black coffee combined with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon. My wife resorted to this when the medical remedies failed to work quickly. From the look on her face, it must have tasted disgusting but by lunchtime she was traipsing around the Pyramids.

I agree with some of the other authors, because of the infrastructure, I would definitely take a tour for your first visit. We hate guided tours so we chose a company that wasn't too intrusive; just handled the logistics and let us get on with enjoying the scenery.
good luck
Jul 25th, 1999, 06:35 PM
Richard Newton
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Find someone whose advice you trust and take it.
It might help if you learned why it's unsafe to drink the water and eat the vegetables.
The Cairo water system was installed by the British nearly a century ago. The pipes are in such bad shape that surface water leaks into the pipes. You can imagine what's in the surface water in a country with very poor sanitary conditions. You're going to spend $200 to $300 a day touring Egypt it doesn't make much sense to jepradize your well being to save five dollars a day.
Aug 1st, 1999, 04:14 PM
Decent Tropical
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I agree with the last poster. Why borrow trouble? Drinking only bottled water and avoiding raw food is a small price to pay to avoid getting sick!

Also, Israel has a lot of beautiful desert and I believe that the sanitary conditions are much better, although when I was there I avoided tap water. The Dead Sea is a must see!

If you live in or close ot the U.S. why not consider the great deserts we have in CA , Arizona and New Mexico? The Anza-Borrego State Park and Borrego Springs in CA are extremely appealing to me. Look into them!
Aug 1st, 1999, 04:20 PM
Decent Tropical
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Actually, I was wrong to merely say that "I believe" that the sanitary conditions in Israel are better.

I was in Isreal three times and my father goes to Isreal several times a year. There is no question that the sanitary conditions in Israel are far better than in Egypt.

It is still wise for foreigners to drink only bottled water as they may not have the immunity to many of the indigenous microbes.

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