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Frequently Asked Questions


We are asked about issues that seem to come up time and again so we thought a comprehensive list of FAQ might help - if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to send them to us. Thank you.

Does the price you quote include everything? E.g. drinks, food?
Where applicable, it does, yes. It will say so in the pages for the individual trips. Basically, any trip longer than half a day usually has the meals and most drinks included. But when you (are thinking of) book(ing) with us, all this information will be supplied to you in detail for your particular trip.

How safe is Egypt to travel around? Are the more remote areas safe for me to travel in?
Egypt is very safe to travel around, but it is still part of a volatile region. The government recognizes that, however, and tourist safety is the highest item on their agenda. This is one of the reasons why a lot of the transportation between cities takes place in police-escorted convoys.
Having said that, there are some very remote villages where the presence of a tourist can cause quite a stir, and there are areas that tourists are advised not to go, such parts of Middle Egypt. For the most up-to-date information on this, consult the general information given out by your own Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Obviously our tours don’t go to such areas, or if they do, they do so guided by the aforementioned police convoys. The only one of our tours this applies to is the trip to Amarna. All the other areas are considered safe.
The main touristic areas are quite safe and incidents of theft and other unpleasantness that can be rife in other tourist destinations are actually quite rare here.

Can I bring my children on a tour with HiddenEgypt.com? Is there stuff for kids to do?
Yes of course! But do keep in mind that our tours are not specifically designed for children – although they can enjoy them a lot, and have done so in the past. But there is a lot of sightseeing involved, granted some adventurous as well, but children do tend to get bored with it more quickly. So keeping that in mind, it may be better to take a less heavy programme and leave some pool time in, as well as add things like camel and horse rides etc.
The parts of Egypt that are designed for kids are mainly the resorts on the Red Sea, although some of the bigger hotels in ‘our’ area, such as the Movenpick Jolie Ville in Luxor, do have swimming pools, kid’s clubs and even a zoo.

What is the minimum age of a member of a party? Why?
We do not really work with a minimum age but do consider that your kids will enjoy Egypt more if they are a little older, i.e. old enough to understand and appreciate the monuments and the history at least a little bit, something like 6 or 7.

If I can't get to our meeting point in time to start the tour, do I get a refund?
Unfortunately, no.

I like to drink alcohol... is that OK in Egypt?
Egypt is a Muslim country, so alcohol is not something that is part of daily life. It is available in all or most tourist places as Egyptians do realise it is something tourists like to have. There are also some shops run by Christians that sell local alcoholic beverages. It is not, however, acceptable to be drunk in public, but in what country is that acceptable really?

I need to see some really 'out of the way' places bordering on the Sudan - is it OK to travel there?
At the current state of affairs, we would not recommend it.

What do I need in terms of a visa? How much are they? Where do I get mine? Can you do all of that for me?
We cannot do it for you, but getting the visa is easy. You can get it at all of the major airports at arrival: you need to go into the bank there before getting in line for the passport control. You buy the visa at the bank for about 15 euros (you have to pay in USD$dollars, sterling or euros). It consists of stamps that will be put in your passport, and then you can get in line for passport control. This type of visa is valid for 30 days. If you need one for a longer stay, you can either get it through the Egyptian embassy in your country, or extend it here in Egypt at the passport office in the major towns.

Do I need travel insurance?
Absolutely, yes. You are responsible for that yourself. The ‘insurance culture’ that we have in the West does not exist in Egypt, and a lot of the times the transport that you use on your own here is not insured (see our warning with our balloon trips). Also, it is important to check what is and what isn’t covered by your travel insurance – some very strange things have been classed as ‘dangerous sports’ by the insurance companies and excluded from their policies.

Do I need health insurance?
Again, absolutely yes. Make sure it includes a repatriation clause, just in case.

What about healthcare in Egypt - is it close to where we would be?
Egypt is rife with doctors, clinics and pharmacies, stocking almost everything, even lots of drugs that we would normally need prescriptions for. The standards of hygiene in some of these places leave a lot to be desired, however.
A lot of the bigger hotels have doctors on call, and some of the more up-market cruise boats have doctors on board.
Do remember that this is a Third World country to some extent, and pack your own first-aid kit accordingly. If you are on medication, do remember to bring adequate medication for the entire trip (preferably a month's supply split into two areas of your luggage) with a prescription slip or a doctor’s letter explaining that you need this medicine. Some medicines are impossible to get or even illegal here.

What about malaria or other local diseases?
As far as we are aware, malaria only occurs in the area of the Fayoum, and if you intend to visit that area, you should take precautions. Isolated incidents have occurred elsewhere but there is no malaria epidemic in Egypt – again, as far as we know. You have to protect yourself against mosquito bites, however, so do make sure you bring some strong stuff for that e.g. 'DEET'.
Hepatitis is something you should be cautious of – pack some syringes in your first-aid kit to make sure that should you need an injection, you can be sure it can be done with a needle that is absolutely clean and safe. If you want to be vaccinated before you come (and please do check this with your local health professionals and/or travel clinic), you need to start at least three months before you come here (Hepatitis A and B). Your tetanus injections and 'boosters' should be updated and again, check locally with your doctor or healthcare centre if any other vaccinations are advised before coming to Egypt.
Another illness that can occasionally cause problems here is bilharzia, or schistosomiasis. It is caused by a parasite that occurs in some areas of the Nile (mainly the parts close to the shores) and the local canals feeding off the Nile. It can often be treated quickly and decisively but it is obviously better to avoid possible problem areas and limit your swimming to well-chlorinated pools.
A good website to check for all of these things is: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationEgypt.aspx

How about STDs in Egypt? Are condoms easy to get and reliable?
STDs do occur in Egypt, as in any other country. Therefore safe sex should always be practiced, again, as everywhere else. Egyptian-manufactured condoms have been reported to be unreliable. This is an area where you should exercise caution and discretion, as the social morals in this country are vastly different than in the West. Have respect both for yourself and for the country that you are visiting, that is all we can say on this subject.

What kind of medicines should I bring?
This is a Third World country to some extent, so pack your own first-aid kit accordingly (add syringes and disinfecting agents if needed). If you are on prescribed medication, do remember to bring adequate medication for the entire trip (preferably a month's supply split into two areas of your luggage) with a prescription slip or a doctor’s letter explaining that you need this medicine. Some medicines are impossible to get or even illegal here.
Bring what you would normally bring on any holiday, plus pills to combat stomach upsets and diarrhoea and add oral rehydration sachets – the heat here can get to you and your digestive system, and travellers do suffer from what is called the ‘pharaoh’s curse’ sometimes: stomach upsets, headaches, the runs.
Also bring plenty of sunscreen and something to cover your head and skin with – the sun here is so much stronger than what a lot of us are used to.
A very strong mosquito-repellent is also strongly advised.
A good website to check for all of these things is: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationEgypt.aspx

What kind of shots/injections should I get?
Your routine injections should be up to date, and you should also have Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. For some travellers, typhoid and rabies vaccinations may be indicated. In some cases your healthcare advisor may recommend Yellow Fever vaccine - please check with your doctor or healthcare provider before travelling to Egypt as we cannot be held responsible for your health requirements.
A good website to check for all of these things is: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationEgypt.aspx

What happens if our tour is late and causes me to miss my flight home?
We will endeavour to make sure this will never happen.

What is the longest period of time I can be on tour with you?
The longest pre-arranged tours we offer are two weeks, but of course you can lengthen your stay on a tailor-made basis. After years in Egypt, we are still not done exploring this country, so who can say what the limit is?

If I need accommodation for a longer period (after or before a tour) can you arrange that for me?
In principle yes, but it does depend on where you want to stay. Our best contacts for these things are in the Luxor area, although we can facilitate accommodation elsewhere, and have done so previously.

What type of foods can I expect to be eating? Is the food safe?
All types of food, from traditionally Egyptian to more Western fare. On our tours we only take people to restaurants that we know serve good and reliable food. And it is part of the fun of travelling to taste new and different foods! But you can always react strongly to foods that you are not accustomed to, so do eat with some caution, especially when it comes to traditional foods. Always look at how things are refrigerated in restaurants, as this is a hot climate. You should never buy food from stalls in the street, that’s a given!

I'm allergic to some types of food - can you make sure I'm safe?
No, your safety in such respects is, of course, your own responsibility. But if you tell us what you are allergic to, we will of course assist you in finding the right foods as best we can!

I love Egyptian food but if I fancy something more 'western' can I get that too?
Of course! Especially in the touristic towns, there are many restaurants that serve Western type food. Do take into account that these places can be a bit more expensive, as a lot of them are connected to the four- and five-star hotels.
On our desert tours it will be more difficult to go ‘western’ as these places are not yet as geared towards tourism, which is, after all, part of their charm.

Is the water safe?
We do not recommend drinking the local water unless it is well-boiled (so the ubiquitous cup of tea, a social ritual almost, is okay to accept). Mineral water, bottled and with safety caps, is available almost everywhere you go, and you should stick to that. And drink lots of it to stay hydrated.
Also be aware that swimming in the Nile is not recommended because of the bilharzia parasite that occurs there (see: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationEgypt.aspx ).

Can you tell us about the monuments, temples and sites?
Of course! This is our life-long passion and we love to talk about it. Just click on our excursions for the basic info about these places and to get a feel for them.

Do we need to hire a guide?
If it is your first time in Egypt, we would always recommend doing sites with a guide. Otherwise, these awe-inspiring monuments can quickly become nothing more than a heap of very impressive old stones. The culture of Ancient Egypt is a mysterious one, and you need help in lifting that veil of mystery.
Be aware that officially, it is illegal in Egypt for foreigners to guide, unless they also have an Egyptian guide with them. This is why we are facilitators, not guides.

I only speak English – what other languages do the people speak in Egypt?
You can usually get by very well with only English, especially in the more touristic areas. Most of the people who work in tourism speak English quite well, as well as a plethora of (bits of) other languages, especially the guides and tour-leaders.
The official language of Egypt is Arabic, and especially in the more remote locations that is all people speak with any fluency. But the Egyptians are very friendly and hospitable people, and they will do their best to communicate with you using whatever smattering of foreign languages they possess.

I’ve heard about ‘baksheesh’, what is it and how does it work?
Baksheesh (tips) is a typically Egyptian phenomenon, and it takes some getting used to. Especially when you’ve come to be on friend-like terms with the person involved, then it feels awful to us to give it, like we’re demeaning our friend. But it is part of the system of payment in Egypt, and it is calculated into the price that you are quoted (that is to say, it is not part of that price but expected to be received at the end) and doing it correctly and with a smile will earn you the best service ever! So, a small lesson right now: baksheesh can be given for any service that you are happy with. It is an integral part of the system here as basic salaries are extremely low, and baksheesh are expected to make up the difference. It is not required to give baksheesh for nothing (that is begging and violates the system, begging is only allowed when you have a genuine physical disability or something like that which would preclude you from working for a living), but for (good) services you are supposed to tip. A good rule of thumb for general services (like the bell captain who carries your suitcase to your room, the cleaners etc.) is tip small (3-5LE etc.) but often. For a driver, something like 10-20 percent depending on your happiness (not for a short taxi ride, mind you). For a felucca captain and his boy, the same. For a waiter, about 10 percent. For a boy who guides your horse or camel on a ride, about 10LE. And so on and so forth.

What is the climate like?
Egypt basically has two seasons, summer and winter, and very little in between. The summers are very hot during the day (around 40 degrees centigrade and up) and bearable at night (ranging between 25 and 30 degrees centigrade), and the winters are nice during the day (ranging between 18 and 27 degrees centigrade), but it can get cold at night (to about 5 degrees centigrade). The best times to travel here are the in-between periods: basically between September and early November, and between late February and mid-April (but beware of the sandstorms that can strike at any time during this period!). But you can travel in Egypt all year round, just take the weather into consideration and pack accordingly. A nice site to get some information about temperatures before you come is: http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/Egypt/Luxor.htm (and you can also check other Egyptian cities from that page).

Do I need to bring a lot of cash or traveller’s cheques or can I get money from ATMs etc?
You will find ATMs in all major towns and tourist spots, such as Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab.
Most cash machines accept Cirrus and Maestro debit cards as well as the major credit cards, like Visa and MasterCard.
Also, you can change money in every bank, and a lot of them will also give credit card cash advances. A lot of the bigger hotels have a branch of a bank or an exchange desk inside.

What is the currency in Egypt and how much is it worth?
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, abbreviated to LE (from the French, Livre Egyptienne). It does tend to fluctuate, so use this site to check the current rates: http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Can I check my emails etc; is there Internet access?
You will find internet cafes in all tourist towns, in a lot of hotels and also outside of them. Going online is not usually a problem but the equipment in the cafes can be, well, thoroughly used to say the least. Some of the more remote areas tyat we go to do not have Internet access; that is part of their charm. So if you are going into the Western Desert Oases, onto the Dahabeeya or set sail on Lake Nasser, expect to be cut off from the Internet, and some times also out of mobile phone coverage.

Is there a dress code because it is an Islamic country?
There is no official, enforced dress code; Egypt is a secular Muslim country. Especially in the cities the dress is mainly Western. When you travel in the south of Egypt (Upper Egypt) however, you are entering a more rural, traditional part of Egypt, and it is courteous to dress accordingly. Usually you can get away with any kind of dress in the more tourist places, but as a matter of respect, we do advise our travellers to tone it down. That means – for both men and women – no sleeveless shirts or tops, and preferably no shorts (and definitely no hot pants!). But it is your choice of course.
Apart from the respect issue, it is also common sense: this climate is hot to us, and the sun is very strong. It is simply smart to cover your skin when you go around the monuments or cities, as well as your head. We protect our eyes from the glare of the sun with sunglasses, so why not our skin and heads?

Is the shopping good; what kind of souvenirs should I get?
There is something for everyone in Egypt, it is not difficult to spend your money here on anything from nice knick-knacks to beautiful tapestries or jewellery (to name just a few items). Big sellers are statues, papyrus, gold and silver, perfume oils, water pipes, and so on and so forth. What you should get is a matter of personal taste and budget, of course, but we will be glad to advise you when you get here about where to get the good stuff!

How can I be sure I’m getting a good price for something?
Well, you can’t, really. Egypt is the kind of country where you can get anything at any price – the main difference being in the quality of the goods or services concerned. There is always someone who will tell you that you could have gotten it cheaper or better or bigger or whatever. That isn’t really the point. The point is whether or not you were happy with the price you paid for it. If you were at the time, then stay so, no matter what people say!
Having said all that, there are of course guidelines for prices and we will be glad to share our knowledge of that with you when you get here! And remember, you have to bargain here!

How do I avoid being ripped off?
Again, you can’t always. Even after years here and with a lot of experience in shopping (and we do mean a lot!), we still get ‘ripped off’ occasionally. It does happen. As tourists, we are an opportunity for the people here to make some money – however friendly they may be, make no mistake about that! And there is nothing really wrong with that, especially when you consider how poor people often are here. It is also, culturally, considered a game: if you beat them at bargaining, you win, and if the other way around, they win. And there is usually a lot of amateur dramatics involved. You can thoroughly enjoy the process if you take it in that spirit. And as we said before, if you were happy with the price you paid for something at the time you bought it, then stay happy, no matter what other people say! That is our advice anyway – and we try to stick to it ourselves, it saves a lot of frustration!
A feeling of being ripped off always and only arises afterwards, and so the other solution is to get your information before you buy or book. Take your time, look around, ask around and compare quality and price. Think about things and if any particular item or activity is worth that to you, then make your mind up and go for it. If not, don’t. No matter what any shopkeeper or tour company tells you, the thing you’re looking at will usually still be there if you give yourself some time to reflect. And if you have people you trust who can recommend activities, places or people to you, by all means follow their advice, but still, and always, use your own best judgment before committing to something.

What if I forget to bring something like batteries or memory cards or beauty products or something, is it easy to get?
Most basic things are easy to get in the touristic places, but the quality may not always be as good as at home, and the choice will usually be less, especially when it comes to luxury items. All the big hotels have shops that cater to their guests for such things, but again, some things are just not available in Egypt, and others have to be imported and are therefore expensive (and expensive hotels always have expensive shops).
Basic things are not a problem, but if you are quite particular about the kinds of equipment or beauty products (etc) that you use, then we advise that you check and double check before closing your suitcase!

Can I stay in touch with people at home? How?
Your mobile phone may allow 'Roaming' to use it in Egypt but beware - the costs are often high regardless of which mobile operator you subscribe to! You need to enable 'Roaming' before you leave home - it's unlikely that it can be done when you get here. Phone insurance is recommended.
If you have an 'unlocked' mobile phone, you can buy a SIM card in Egypt's tourist spots - these are very good value and the credit top-up (pre-paid credit) is very reasonable indeed. Please also be aware that for some tours the network coverage is poor or limited and you just might not get a signal but most areas close to the river Nile have good coverage. Please don't forget to bring your mobile phone charger with you. Just don't forget to make a list of your favourite numbers to call and we would request that you bring a sheet of paper with a list of emergency numbers - just in case the worst should happen and we need to contact someone at home on your behalf.
There are also phone booths on many streets in the more densely populated areas such as Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab. These booths are fairly poor and it is difficult to hold a reasonable conversation (due to background noise) but can be used fairly cheaply and efficiently by purchasing a phone-card within many shops in areas where tourists are to be found.
Hotels often offer phone, fax and Internet services but please be aware that these can be costly. If you choose to sit in your room and talk to your family and friends as you watch the sun set over the Nile from your hotel room then be prepared for a rather large bill!

How do I pay my hotel bill?
Many of the three, four and five-star hotels insist upon payment in foreign currency (USD$, EUR€, GBP£ most often) but the major hotel chains are equipped with credit card facilities so that should not pose a problem. If you have booked and all-inclusive tour with us, you will only have to pay for your drinks and other extras. the bill for the room will be taken care of us by is.

We hope that we have answered the majority of commonly asked questions but if not please don't hesitate:
contact us for more information.


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