Guide to a Perfect trip in Egypt!
For anyone interested in visiting Egypt, know that the best time to come is from October to May. Though this is when most travelers arrive, the temperatures are much more palpable for those unaccustomed to the heat. Within these 8 months, there are 2 periods known as “High Season” (the Christmas / New Year period and the Easter Period) when hotels and cruises hike their prices, though you will find that special events like Gala Dinners are also available for customers. This means that some hotels become really expensive and so making your reservations very early, even for the budget hotels, is strongly advised.
The other 4 months, May to October, are the Egyptian summer, and the temperatures can often be sweltering, especially in Upper Egypt (Luxor and the southern parts of the country). However, this is when you can see Egypt in virtual peace and quiet without the hassle of school children, or from the crowds of tourists. Just imagine the peace and quiet at the various sites, allowing you to take photographs without strangers obscuring the view!
Some Cairo hotels will fill up with many Arab visitors in the summer, who are taking advantage of the slightly cooler conditions here compared to their own countries, and early reservations are very rarely required; in fact, many discounts are often on offer, to entice those who are willing to brave the heat.
The Egyptian springtime is another good time to visit. The weather is fairly moderate at this time of year, but you are advised to try to avoid the “The Khamsin wind” season that runs between March and April. It does only last for a few days, which can easily be coped with. The Khamsin wind is a warm wind that blows in from the desert, carrying sand and dust; it really is quite an adventure, for those who wish to discover it.
Many travelers avoid traveling to Egypt during Ramadan, mainly because they feel that alcohol and food are not available, but this is not always true. Though Egypt is primarily a Muslim country, the people recognize that the majority of their visitors do not follow Islam and so, whilst alcohol is not freely available during the day, most of the restaurants and cafes are still open. To be honest, the only thing that is really different during the Holy month is that the sites close two hours earlier than normal, which is done to allow the people that work there enough time to get home in time for the sun to set when they can break their fast. It can also be noticed that the local people are generally slow during the daytime, but this changes after sunset when they become very active after their fast is broken. Ramadan is a month-long festival in Egypt; all through the night, coffee shops remain open and are often overfilled with people who stay up until the early morning hours. This is one time of year when Cairo, as well as the rest of the Muslim world, never sleeps; the time when all of the people go out to have some fun.
The end of Ramadan is called “Eid Al Fitr”, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, and is a day which cannot be missed. It is a holiday, though touristic sites still remain open, and it is a very festive and joyous one. In the morning Muslims will wear their best clothes and perfumes to attend a special congregation at their local Mosque (masjid). After the completion of these special prayers, as well as a special sermon, they will rise, hug each other, and exclaim “Eid Mubarak” which means “holiday blessings”; it is a phrase will be heard many times during this day. This is a day when families will travel miles to visit one another and have special meals together, and some of these meals have treats which are not savored at any other time of the year. The houses and streets are lit with a huge variety of lamps, lights, and other types of ornamentation, with the children being given sweets, money, or gifts as a reward. If you ever get invited to one of these special parties, it is an experience you will never forget.
When traveling through Egypt, you should avoid certain areas, particularly sites located in the center of the Nile Valley! About 20 years ago, there were rising tensions at these sites; Islamic fundamentalists had targeted tourists in order to destroy the tourist industry and the economy. This was part of a larger plan to bring down the government, seize power themselves, and install the political ideas of their own vision, a vision which no more resembles the rules of the Qur’an than the Inquisition resembled the Christianity of Christ.
Certain incidents occurred during the '80s and the '90s, a handful of events took place again targeting the tourist industry. Without for a moment trying to deny the reality
of these events, the situation has been blown out of all proportion by the world's press, while the situation in other countries with flourishing tourist industries is far worse, their incidents rarely make headlines. But in Egypt, if anything happens, it becomes front-page news! In the mid-'90s, a widespread, and harsh, government crackdown campaign was implemented to try and stop any threats to tourism and visitors.
A trip to Egypt still entails far less danger than a trip to anywhere else in the world. In the realm of the violence in the mid-'90s, there were certain areas appointed as not good for tourists. These areas are located in the center of the Nile Valley, particularly El Minia, Asyout, and Sohag. Unfortunately, these places happen to have some of the most beautiful monuments in Egypt, like the beautiful tombs at Bani Hassan in Minia, the marvelous monasteries of Asyout and the Temple of Abydos in Sohag. In time, all of these sites will be fully re-opened for tourists.
If you still think that you would like to visit these places as an individual traveler, you can! However, be prepared for a police escort with you, as the local police will not let you travel alone in these areas!
I would suggest that the safest, cheapest and most informative way to visit these sites is through a reputable travel agent.