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We found it very hard to really get out on our own and wander around. We were grateful to have a really well educated Egyptian tour guide. He helped us get much more out of the experience and was well worth the money. If you're worried about going with a large tour group, don't -- you can easily hire a private guide before you depart (just make sure you find out what level of education your tour company requires of guides).
When to Visit: For Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Nile River Cruises, December-February are the most comfortable times to visit. For the beaches, March to May or September to November are the best times to go while avoiding the crowds.
Flight times change frequently. Call ahead (or have someone do it for you) before heading to the airport, but realize that even that may not help and bring a book to read and a few snacks (otherwise you'll be limited to soda and poor quality stale cookies)
The food tastes wonderful, but be very very careful about what you eat. Not only is food preparation (even in major hotels) often unsanitary, but the heat makes food spoil quickly. Avoid raw fruit and vegetables that you can't peel yourself & be sure that your meat is served very hot and very well cooked. Food poisoning here is not just a minor inconvenience solved by lomotil -- you may be completely out of commission for several days. The book Shitting Pretty is a lighthearted yet thorough guide to staying healthy on the road. It covers eating, sanitation, and health issues - somehow making them all fun and humorous. We felt well prepared after reading this book. The Lonely Planet Egypt also has a good section on staying healthy in Egypt.
Oral re-hydration salts are a good thing to carry - it gets hot and it's easy to get dehydrated even despite your best efforts. Oral re-hydration salts can be purchased at most pharmacy's in Cairo, your local sporting goods store, or you can make your own by mixing sugar and salt together (a little salt in a soda or juice also works well).
Ginger tea is a great way to settle your stomach if it's a little upset.
As you might guess, Egyptian pastries were wonderful -- laden with honey and nuts there were about a million variations on Baklava alone..
Falafel, Kabobs and Schwarma were also special treats.
You'll be constantly approached by people trying to sell you things. They often start by trying to engage you in friendly conversation and before you know it, you're in their shop buying something you never thought you needed. If you're interested, bargain hard. If you're not, be firm, you may be able to get them to leave you a few minutes peace before the next tout starts trying to sell you something.
by David P. Silverman (Editor)
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A wonderfully illustrated book about Egyptian civilization and architecture. A great primer to get you excited for your trip.
Lonely Planet Egypt (Lonely Planet Egypt, 7th Ed)
by Andrews Humphreys
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Great for practical information, and especially great for independent or budget travel in Egypt, but use Fodor's for restaurants and accommodation
by Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth
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This lighthearted book gives a great overview of how to stay healthy on the road - from preparation and what to bring, to eating, to staying clean and avoiding disease. After reading this book we felt confident that we could follow a few basic rules on our trip and stay healthy.
Fodors Egypt, 2nd Edition
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This guidebook was great for recommending restaurants and accommodations across Egypt - even in less visited areas
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