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Touring Eygpt in March. Have alot of questions. What to pack? Money and visa questions.

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Aug 18th, 2004, 05:56 PM
  #1
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Touring Eygpt in March. Have alot of questions. What to pack? Money and visa questions.

Hi,

I just booked a Eygpt tour for March, with Overseas Adventure travel. I always seem to over pack, so I am wondering what I should or should not pack? So I have some questions for anyone who might happen to know.

I am a female, and will be taking a 4 night Nile Cruise also. Can I get by with just slacks and a nicer blouse for dinner, or should I pack a skirt?
I know that I should dress with shoulders and legs covered in most areas. Is jeans ok for a woman to wear, or will I look pretty out of place? How about those quick dry/light weight travel pants that places like Travelsmith sale?(I am thinking of saving baggage weight on that one)
Also just how chilly does it get in the evening in March? Should I take a jacket?

Oh, and a shoe question.What is the best for touring the sites? Would good heavy sandals or sling back shoes work ok? If not I would think a good hiker type shoe would be good, except for the fact that they might be a bit warm.

Which is the best way to get a visa? I see that it can be gotten at the airport upon arrival. How long are the lines at the counter for this? I would hate to hold up the rest of the group while I am in line getting that visa. Is it a real pain to get one in advance?

Same questions about money. Can I get some in advance of arrival? Are the lines long to get money changed at the airport? I see that most seem to think it best to wait until arrival to get money changed. But again,I am thinking that it might hold up the group waiting on me.

Thanks a lot, for any information and advice you might have.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 07:05 PM
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Oh My!! I see I can't spell "Egypt". What was I thinking?
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Aug 19th, 2004, 01:41 AM
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I know you will get more comprehensive answers from Sandi here (she always has good info( - but I will give you a start.

Clothing: I packed a lightweight skirt - nice pants would be OK - I was just tired of pants by then. Jeans would be OK for day, but they are hot and bulky to pack - I felt most comfortable in lighter-weight woven cotton pants and capri pants. Your whole arms do not have to be covered - just no tank tops. But for sun protection, you may want some more covering. Bring a big-brimmed hat. Travelsmith used to sell crushable ones - and although expensive solve the packing size problem of a big hat. Travelsmith (and others)) also sell wonderful packable reversible dresses - 2 outfits for the space of one.

I wore very sturdy "hiking" sandals on some days. Feet got very dirty, but comfort was fine. I would avoid the sling-backs. Decent sneakers are OK. Ground at many places is uneven, sandy, hot, dirty.

Visa - since you are on a group, visa is likely to be even more efficient. We were met by some guy holding up a sign with tour company and our names (although we flew JFK to Cairo, we were only people on our tour on that flight). We gave him cash (US cash only), our passports - he disappeared and returned with visas. Took only a few minutes.

We always get some local currency of the country we are visiting before we go. Local big bank ordered it. You can also get any currency on-line at several sites - I think Thomas Cook is one of them. There are ATMs in Cairo. Small demonimations of Egyptian pound or even US singles are good to have for the inevitable and frequent need to tip.

Have a great trip. Ignore your friends who will likely tell you how dangerous it is - they probably have never been there and are wrong.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 03:33 AM
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gail - thanks, but you did just fine with the information you provided.

Dottie - so glad to hear that you booked this trip, which I'm certain you will enjoy. As to answers to your questions, there have been lots of information on this board re travel to Egypt, so let me suggest you do a "search" on the first page at the box up top. Input "Egypt" or "Egypt clothing" and "Egypt Visas" and "Egypt money/currency" - click the GO box to the right, and threads that contain this information will appear in the left column. You can read these and have the information you require. If you have any questions thereafter, just get back to us here.

But OAT will send you a suggested packing list; they might also offer to obtain your visa for you, but they add a surcharge that you don't need to pay. You can just as easily get the visa upon arrival, USD, and it takes a few minutes - the group will have to wait for you, though sure others will get theirs here also.

You're going to have a wonderful time; Egypt is such an interesting historical country with warm and welcoming people. And you will be safe.
 
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Mar 29th, 2005, 10:08 AM
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Dottie: Please let us know if you are back and also how your trip was! We are booked with OAT for a November trip, doing the Jordan 6 day pre-trip and the Alexandria 5 day post trip, and the Egypt trip in between. Did you do the Jordan and/or Alexandria also? Would love to hear how big your group ended up being, what kind of adventures you had, and what you thought overall. Look forward to hearing a report!
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Apr 1st, 2005, 03:45 AM
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Dear wanderlust,
I am not dottie but I just returned from Egypt with OAT. It was really great! we did not do the pre or post trip because - well we still work and it is hard to get off more than 2 weeks at a time. Four of our group did Alexandria and really enjoyed it. We had 13 in the Red Group with our own guide and Van. The Blue group had 15. Many times we came together but most of the time it was just the 14 of us. Things to know:
Forget bringing tee shirts or things for the host family. they are paid to entertain you. Our guide was shocked that we had been told to bring someting. ( only two of us did anyway). If you want to give something to the school children give money. You go to two different places and they are both looking for "donations" you don't have to give anything as OAT makes a donation but they still give you a "presentation" hope this helps. enjoy your trip. M
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Apr 1st, 2005, 05:13 AM
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I did get back on Sunday. It was an awesome trip from start to finish.
Maureenm and I were in the same group, and her account is a good one.

I recommend this trip to anyone. I felt safe and the people in general were very nice.Everyday was so full of new and wonderful discoveries. OAT did a great job.

Maureenm, It is so good to see you here! I want to add that, I really enjoyed you all. My enjoyment of this trip, was in no small part, do to the wonderful people I was traveling with.

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Apr 1st, 2005, 06:14 AM
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Dottie/Maureenm

I'd love to see a more detailed trip report. I'm going on the OAT trip in September, and we're trying to decide whether or not to do some of the optional tours or to go to Alexandria, so I'd be eager to hear anything you have to say on those matters in particular. Glad you had a good time. I'm really looking forward to this.
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Apr 1st, 2005, 09:31 AM
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Dottie/Maureenm

Another request for a trip report. We leave for this trip in May.

The trip we've booked has the Jordan pre-trip which means one less night on the Nile.
Looking forward to hearing from you both!
Katie
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Apr 1st, 2005, 10:19 AM
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Yes, trip report please! We also leave on September 14th for Egypt...
Thanks!
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Apr 1st, 2005, 01:20 PM
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How fun that so many of us have either done this trip - or like me - are aawaiting our departure. Looks like we're last of those of you in this list - we go in November, but Thanks so much to all of you for any reports. Thanks for all the tips and I look forward to more trip reports from the rest of you!!
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 11:15 AM
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Sorry it has taken me so long to get around to posting a review of OAT in Egypt but the 140 Grand Circle people on out flight to JFK "shared" their respiratory flu with me. I am just getting better.
Egypt and OAT were GREAT!!!! I can't say enough about them. The Egypt Air flight was about one hour late leaving JFK due to heavy winds. As soon as we got off the plane (you have to take a bus to the terminal and carry your carry on down the steps with you) we were met by an OAT representative. He showed us where to buy the visas ($15 US each - you paste them in your passport on a blank page - No need to buy them ahead of time) He then helped us line up to go through passport control. Then to find the luggage. Be aware that OAT helps you find luggage. They are looking for the yellow tags. The problem is these yellow tags break very easily. by the end of the trip I think everyone had lost theirs from their luggage. We all waited together and started introductions. But then we were divided into the red and blue group and put on separate buses.
A woman from the blue group lost a piece of luggage and we all waited about 2 hours for it be dealt with. Our PD was in Alexandria with a pre-tour so there was no guide on our bus. We then went to the Mena House.You can see the great pyramid from everywhere. It was VERY NICE and the staff very helpful and friendly. We had a get together the first night and met our PD and all the others in the group. Our PD Ashraf was the best. Low Key, experienced and really interested in making sure we enjoyed ourselves. Breakfasts there ( and at all the hotels we stayed in) were a combination of European and Egyptian with plenty of choices. You will receive an iternary from OAT but it differs from what you actually do on a day to day basis. Cairo traffic is nothing like you have seen before. There is only one traffic light and it is a "suggestion" If you are faint of heart sit in the back of the bus. Most of us wore walking shoes/sneakers and long pants and short sleeves and that was just fine for everywhere we went in Cairo. Aswan and Luxor were warmer and many wore long shorts there.There is a lot of walking but it is interspaced with plenty of stops and time to sit.
My personnel recommendation is to do the basic tour, add on the "religious tour"; Abul Simbel and the balloon ride (if you have never done one) Forget all the light shows. You have one included at Philae ( make sure you bring a flashlight) If you do the Hot air balloon ride they will have you up at 4:00 AM to leave at 4:30 AM and then that night is a light show at Karnak and the next morning a "sunrise breakfast" I got overtired doing all that and I was not impressed with the Hot Air Balloon ride as we went up 1500 ft and basically back down with in walking distance of where we started. Plus they packed 20 people in a balloon only supposed to carry 16. Everyone loved the Hathor -the Nile Cruise boat. We really needed a break by then and throughly enjoyed sitting on deck and watching "Africa " go by. I have been fairly wordy here. If you have anymore questions please let me know. By the way we took about 900 pictures (digital) and are having problems deciding which to print as we want them all. M
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 12:00 PM
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kp
 
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Maureenm--
Thanks for all the information. Hope you recovery is quick!
I do have a few questions that I hope you won't mind answering.
1) How did you spend your free time? Any places we should not miss?
2) Do you have any suggestions for restaurants?
3) Was the optional Cairo dinner cruise offered? Was it worthwhile?
4) I've heard that the Valley of the Kings/Queens has many stairs. Is this correct? I have no problems walking miles but ask me to climb to the top of a European bell tower and I'm in trouble.
5) With so many people in the basket for the hot air balloon was everyone able to get a good view & take photos? How long did the baloon ride last?
6) Other than tips did you find that you used very much US currency? Any problems locating an ATM?
7) Did many of the hotels have a computer available for guests to access the internet? Free?
Thanks for sharing.
Katie
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 02:21 PM
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Maureenm

Thanks so much for posting a more detailed report.

Doug
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 03:46 PM
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Katie,
Yes I am much better - antibiotics are a wonderful thing. Answers to your questions:
1.Free time - What free time? Except for cruising on the Nile when I read one small book there wasn't any real free time. We were so excited when we arrived that we signed up for everything extra. You might have an hour here or there but mostly we used it to take a nap. Don't miss Abu Simbel we almost did because we thought we were going on a small plane. It was a regular plance and very comfortable and quick.
2. Restaurants - We ate at the Mena House - in the coffee shop. Which was fine. quick and cheap. The Oberoi on Elephantine Island. Very good - esp the ice cream and fairly quick. The Winter Palace coffee shop - Fair and definitely not quick. One of the problems with dinner on your own is it is usually after the light show and it is late 9 to 9:30 and you usually have an early morning the next day.So we were in no mood to go looking for a restaurant outside the hotel So I'm not much help there.
3.I don't know about the optional Cairo dinner cruise. Sorry.
4. It depends on what tombs are open. Ashraf said we were lucky because some of the ones you had to hike to were not open. I would guess about 2 flights of steps down with a good railing and lighting. I don't remember anyone not doing them because of the steps.
5.The 5 of us were WEDGED into the balloon basket section meant for 4. No you all couldn't get a good view or photo unless someone got out of the way.It was only 35 minutes long. I really don't recommend it. Unless it is the only place you'll be able to get up in a balloon.
6.We brought 50 US $1 bills and used them all. Most of the time we had no problem using the US $s but many times they wanted Egyptian pounds. The bank in the lobby of the Mena House seemed to be open all the time and gave us small bills in Egyptian. Other Hotel banks weren't open as conveniently. We had no problem using an ATM but someone else in our group did. Once you know where to look for them they are easy to find. But then we had large bills and of course no one had change. I would bring the ones and get money changed at the Mena House and ask for small bills. Sometimes they will only give you 10 one pound notes at a time. Remember you need them to go to the Bathroom.The bus drivers were willing to sell cold water two bottles for $1 US
7. I found cheap, about 3 egyptian pounds for 15 minutes, internet. Never at the Hotel. Ashraf helped us find it. there is one to the right of the winter Palace - Go right out of the new lobby and look for the book store. I found it very quick and very easy to use. On of our best memories is watching 4 veiled young girls giggling while in a chat room with a guy - (he was on the screen). Girls will be girls all over the world.
Oh Yes and don't weigh your luggage. It is not true about the 44 lbs intraEgypt flights. They never weighed our luggage except for the Transatlantic. You don't even check in your luggage. OAT takes care of it all. It is picked up from infront of your hotel room, taken to the van. You make sure yours is there. They take it to the airport. You make sure yours is at the next stop and then they take it to your hotel room. It is great. Many people used the laundry service on the Cruise ship and felt it was cheap and very good. Your luggage will be put on top of the vans as you go to the airport so I guess it shouldn't be too heavy. Any more questions?

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Apr 4th, 2005, 02:09 PM
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kp
 
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Maureenm--
Thank you so much for all the information. It's really helpful.
Our trip will be the reverse of yours with a Jordan pre-trip. Having laundry done during the cruise will be timed very nicely.
I appreciate the information about the hot air balloon trip. We'll still do it (our one chance for a hot air balloon ride) but we won't be disappointed because we now know what to expect.
Thanks for the directions for finding somewhere to use the internet. Sounds like it will be easy to find.
It's good to know that they don't stick too closely to the 44 pounds! I like to pack light (with no carry on) but was a bit worried how I'd manage.
Thanks again--Katie
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Apr 4th, 2005, 04:12 PM
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Sorry I haven't posted sooner. I have had computer problems. It looks like Maureen covered it pretty well however.She is right, we didn't have much free time. On one of our free nights we didn't even bother to eat dinner.It was so late and we had to get up very early for a sunrise breakfast. So we just went to bed.

I would, give up the light shows if I was going to miss something. However the carriage ride,that is offered before the Karnak light show was great. One couple just did the carriage ride and then our guide took them back to the hotel.I was wishing I had done that also.I was just to tired to enjoy the light show.

Abu Simbel is a must see. The balloon ride was fun for me,as I hadn't been in one before. However, the people that had been on them before, were very disappointed.We really didn't see much, mostly just farm land.

I also recommend the optional Spiritual tour in Cairo.I found it very interesting and I learned a lot.

As for the Valley of the Kings. I have a bad knee, and didn't have any trouble with the places we went into. The tombs are beautiful inside.Don't miss having a look at them. You can always turn around and go back out if you think it is to much for you.

Overall this was a wonderful trip. You will love it! The Egyptian people in general were very nice and welcomed us warmly. Oh! and then, there is that Camel ride.
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Apr 4th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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I forgot to mention the money issue. I took $50 in one dollar bills and wish I had taken more. Alot of places do take dollars and I used a lot of $1 and $5 bills. A lot of the time they don't seem to have change so small bills worked best.

Also needed are small Egyptian 1 pound bills. Used a lot for tips ect.Also needed for tipping attendents at toilets.We found the banks don't want to give out to many of the 1 pound notes at one time. It is best to ask for just a few at a time. Go back later and ask for a few more.Most places would take dollars, however small villages that we visited wanted Egyptian currency. They can't get the money exchanged very easy.I came across this for the Camel Ride. The Guides didn't want dollars and that was all I had at the time.I felt bad that I hadn't been more prepared for that.I saw them trying to find someone to exchange the dollars for them.
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Apr 4th, 2005, 06:08 PM
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kp
 
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Thanks Dottie--
The itinerary for this OAT trip indicates more free time than any other OAT trip we've taken. I'm glad to hear that we'll be kept busy.
My trip will be the reverse of yours and the Nile cruise is one day shorter. This means we will have part of a day free in Cairo. Any suggestions for things to do near the Mena House? The tour visits the pyramids the next day.
I'm very grateful that the Valley of the Kings/Queens didn't present any problems. I have a knee which can handle anything but of flights of stairs.
I think we'll follow your suggestions for the optional tours. In reading other posts they agree with what you and Maureenm suggested. This forum is such a valuable resource. I'll check with our guide to get just the carriage ride!
Thanks for the money suggestions. We'll be sure and take plenty of $1's and 5's. I appreciate knowing that there were times when local currency is preferred. We'll be sure and have a nice tip for the camel drivers!
Thanks--Katie
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Apr 4th, 2005, 06:22 PM
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We started our trip at the Mena House,which was very nice. The location right by the Pyramids alone makes this a nice place to stay. We didn't have time to get out on our own however while there. So I am not sure what there might be to do close by. Your guide should be able to give you some ideas. I must say that the traffic there is so bad that crossing the street on foot could be an adventure in it self.
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