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Country Guides for Africa

Egypt

Egypt

Land of the pyramids, the Sphinx and the Nile, Egypt offers the traveler a look at the ancient past and life in the desert. From the busy city of Cairo with its open-air bazaars, museums, and noisy, crowded streets, to Luxor's amazing Valley of the Kings, and from the beautiful sunsets and scenery of Aswan, to the beach resorts of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, those willing to overlook the heat will be well rewarded. Note: The air in Cairo can be fairly smoggy.

Language: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes

Major International Airport:

City

Airport
Airport
Code
Distance
From City
CairoCairo Int'lCAI15 miles NE

The preventive measures you need to take while traveling to North Africa depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region.

Food and Waterborne Diseases

Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers' diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout North Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage ( hepatitis).

Diseases found in North Africa (risk can vary by country and region within a country; quality of in-country surveillance also varies)

Malaria
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness.

Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. A limited risk of malaria exists in parts of Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco. Taking an antimalarial drug is not recommended as the risk for travelers is considered to be extremely low. However, travelers should use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

Yellow Fever
There is no risk for yellow fever in North Africa. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa.

Other Disease Risks
Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are other diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against from insect bites will help to prevent these diseases. Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region, including the Nile River. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries. (For more information, please see Swimming and Recreational Water Precautions.) Other infections that tend to occur more often in longer-term travelers (or immigrants from the region) include tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C (prevalence > 15% in Egypt). Polio is also still endemic in Egypt.

Other Health Risks

Injuries
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.

Routine Vaccinations

Check with your healthcare provider: you and your family may need routine as well as recommended vaccinations.

Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.

See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Recommended Vaccinations

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to North Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
  • typhoid vaccine. typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.

Required Vaccinations

  • None.
  • All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

    • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
    • In developing countries, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
    • Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
    • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
    • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito and insect bites.
    • Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
    • Do not drink beverages with ice.
    • Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
    • Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
    • Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
    • Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.

    After You Return Home

    Although the risk of malaria in North Africa is limited, travelers who become ill with fever or flu-like illness while traveling in North Africa and up to 1 year after returning home should seek immediate medical attention and should tell their health care provider their travel history.

    Those traveling to Egypt are at risk from malaria, West Nile fever, filariasis, and leishmaniasis as well as other insect-borne diseases. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

    Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

    With the exception of some first-class hotels, the water supply in Egypt is highly contaminated with viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.

    Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

    While Egypt has a low crime rate, it is located in the heart of the Middle East. Thus, the Embassy urges Americans to be vigilant and exercise good security practices. Americans may contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for the most up-to-date information concerning the security situation in Egypt.

    Terrorist bombings targeting tourists in Taba and Nuweiba, Sinai, in October 2004 killed and injured many people, including several Americans. Prior to these blasts, there were no terrorist incidents involving tourists since an attack by extremists in Luxor in November 1997. Heightened security posture throughout Egypt, particularly since September 11, 2001, has generally made it more difficult for extremist groups to conduct terrorist operations. The threat, however, has not been eliminated.

    There have been occurrences of instability or public disorder in some areas of Egypt, most notably in the Nile Valley governorates of Assiut and Sohag, located between Cairo and Luxor. These governorates, along with the adjacent governorates of Minya and Qena, have been areas of extremist activity in the past. U.S. Embassy personnel traveling to these areas require advance approval. Egyptian authorities also restrict the travel of foreigners in these governorates. Americans citizens planning to travel in these areas should contact the Embassy prior to travel.

    Demonstrations occasionally occur in areas such as Tahrir Square in Cairo and in the vicinity of universities and mosques such as the Khan el Khalili bazaar area. Public protests are generally accompanied by a heavy security presence, and roads in the vicinity of the demonstrations are often closed. Americans are urged to avoid areas in which demonstrations are planned or where large crowds are gathering.

    Those wishing to visit areas near Egypt's frontiers, including oases near the border with Libya and off-road areas in the Sinai, must obtain permission from the Travel Permits Department of the Ministry of the Interior, located at the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Nubar Streets in downtown Cairo. In addition, travelers should be aware of the possible dangers of off-road travel. Land mines left from previous conflicts remain buried in several regions of the country and have caused several casualties, including deaths of Americans. As a rule, all travelers should check with local authorities before embarking on off-road travel. Known minefields are not marked by signs, but are sometimes enclosed by barbed wire. Therefore, travelers should avoid areas enclosed by barbed wire. After heavy rains, which can cause flooding in desert areas and the consequent shifting of land mines, travelers should avoid driving through build-ups of sand on roadways.

    For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, and other Public Announcements can be found.

    Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). A recording of the most recent Embassy message to American citizens in Egypt concerning security can be heard on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo's number, 011-2-02-797-3000.

    The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

    CRIME: The crime rate in Egypt is low. While incidents of violence are rare, purse-snatching, pick-pocketing and petty theft do occur. Travelers are strongly cautioned not to leave valuables such as cash, jewelry, and electronic items unsecured in hotel rooms or unattended in public places. Unescorted women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

    INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. The Embassy consular staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.



    Source: U.S. Department of State

    Egypt is a desert country with hot, dry summers and warm, dry winters. To the extreme north, the climate is slightly moderated by the Mediterranean, and the weather is a little cooler with more precipitation. Desert nighttime temperatures can drop fairly significantly in the winter, often as much as 25 degrees F. In the spring the hot, high velocity khamsin winds blow across Egypt, often carrying large quantities of desert sand.


    City
    Annual
    Precip. Days
    Annual
    Precip. Totals
    Alexandria297"
    Cairo51"

    Egypt's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in these countries provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

    To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

    For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

    Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

    A passport and visa are required. Travelers can obtain a renewable, 30-day tourist visa on arrival at Cairo International Airport for a $15 fee, payable in U.S. dollars . Visitors arriving overland and/or those previously experiencing difficulty with their visa status in Egypt should obtain a visa prior to arrival. Travelers arriving from Israel at the Taba border crossing without an Egyptian visa may be granted a 14-day visa valid for travel within Sinai only. Military personnel arriving on commercial flights are not exempt from passport and visa requirements. Proof of yellow fever immunization is required if arriving from an infected area. Evidence of an AIDS test is required for everyone staying over 30 days. Visit the Embassy of Egypt web site http://www.egyptembassy.net/ or the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website http://www.mfa.gov.eg for the most current visa information.



    Source: U.S. Department of State

    The time zone for Egypt is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Egypt would be 7:00 pm

    The unit of currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP).

    Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

    Traveled to Egypt?

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    Other Travelers' Experiences in Egypt

    "I found dressing conservatively gained respect from locals. For me this meant long sleeves and a hair covering to visit mosques and churches. Skirts are nice and cool, but looser fitting pants are fine as are short sleeves (not tanks or sleeveless) for most touring. An indelible place to visit!"
    - JL Kelbaugh, Petoskey, MI,