Many travelers have a romanticized view of Egypt, and it's not hard to see why. Linking Africa with the Middle East, the country is breathtakingly diverse—see its ancient ruins, windswept desert, overflowing antique markets, lush delta, and stunning beaches. Given its unique customs and culture as well as the heightened travel advisory, it's worth thoroughly researching a trip before traveling to Egypt. We tapped George Morgan-Grenville, CEO and founder of award-winning bespoke travel company Red Savannah, to find out the important travel tips to ensure your trip to Egypt is a truly memorable one.
You will need a visa to enter Egypt, but the process is fairly straightforward: Morgan-Grenville says it can be obtained on arrival. The renewable single-entry tourist visa lasts for 30 days and costs $25, or $35 if you plan on entering multiple times.
Red Savannah offers four tours of Egypt, and in Morgan-Grenville's experience, Old Cairo is a must. His recommendations? The Church of Abu Serga, aka the oldest Coptic church in Egypt, dating back to the fifth century A.D.; the Hanging Church; and the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, which Morgan-Grenville says once contained a copy of the Old Testament and is believed to be the site where Moses was found in his crib.
"Preparation of food and drink (including ice) in five-star hotels and Nile cruise boats is generally of a high standard these days," our expert tells us. "However, always take a packet of Imodium just in case."
If you plan to visit religious sites, be mindful of dressing appropriately. "For nonreligious sites, dress is relaxed, but when visiting any Islamic place of worship, ensure you have suitably modest clothing (covering arms and legs), and ladies should additionally cover their hair," he says.
Schedule a checkup with your doctor for various vaccinations before you leave. "Typically, most doctors will recommend tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, and typhoid vaccinations," he says.
If your trip only includes the mainland, you're missing out. "It's well worth taking one of the longer Nile cruises that include the temples at Dendera and Abydos," he says. "The Temple of Osiris at Abydos was built by King Seti I and completed by his son, King Ramesses II. The wonderful relief work featuring gods and pharaohs on the walls are among the most beautifully preserved in Egypt." Beyond the Nile, Pharaoh's Island in the River Thames (pictured) is one of Taba's main attractions. Travelers can snorkel, explore the reef around the island, and swim in the turquoise water.
The Valleys of the Kings and Queens are also on Morgan-Grenville's must-see list. "The Valley of the Kings is a vast city of the dead on the west bank of the River Nile in Luxor, where magnificent tombs were carved into the desert rocks, decorated richly, and filled with treasures for the afterlife by generations of pharaohs," he explains. "In the Valley of the Queens, see the tomb of Nefertari, the great wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II, as well as the stunning Queen Hatshepsut temple."
When you're not visiting religious sites, he recommends casual, light clothing. "Take loose, light clothing, a good sun hat, sunglasses, and a sweater for early mornings/evenings in winter. A good pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential."
We'd be remiss to discuss a trip to Egypt without spotlighting the Great Pyramid of Giza. "The bases of the three Pyramids of Giza together cover more than a million square feet, or roughly nine Midtown Manhattan blocks. To put the pyramids in perspective, they were ancient even before the Greeks or Romans had a word for ancient," he explains. "When the Chinese first started laying the Great Wall, the Great Pyramid of Khufu had already stood for 800 years."
The nearby Grand Egyptian Museum should also be on your itinerary if you plan to visit after December 2018, when it opens to the public. "For the first time ever, the entire Tutankhamun collection will be able to be viewed under one roof." Ready to go? Here's what MyDomaine editors pack in their carry-ons.