Walk like an Egyptian
August 17, 2018 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Looking to take a cruise and see all the sites in January or February. It’s for my 40th birthday so I want it to be special. I travel a lot and would prefer to this time pay someone else to organize everything except my flight. Food, excursions, getting to/from airport. I don’t want to think about it. Questions about if this particular tour company is ok and other assorted first time Egypt questions.

I live in Europe and my best friend is coming over from US for this trip. I would want about a week in Egypt to not feel rushed. We’re happy to dodder about museums and markets.

I want to go on a camel ride. I want to go inside a pyramid shaft. I want to relax and not have to think too much about where I’m eating or how I’m getting somewhere or how we’re paying. The cruise idea seems silly and extravagant and we’re both aware there are more authentic ways to see the country. We’re ok with being silly and extravagant. I only turn 40 once after all!

- this cruise (
) seems to have everything I want. All the major and not so major sites, museum stops, planned lunches, etc. Hot air balloon over Luxor. Small boat size. Does this seem like a good one? What questions should I ask them?

- two very pale women. Do we need to wear head coverings? How the hell do they stay on? Are bare arms ok? We’re happy to do whatever is considered polite.

- I am used to leaving my passport in my hotel safe if I travel. Should we carry ours with us? Or would it be safe to leave in the room? I thought about getting the small PacSafe bag as it can be easily locked and secured to something in the room.

Any other suggestions or things we’re not thinking of ? We basically want to relax, take a bunch of ridiculous tourist photos, see all the tourist things, and if possible even interact with local folks. And buy some silly souvenirs.
posted by sio42 to Travel & Transportation around Egypt (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In Egypt you absolutely do not need to cover your head. However, the general rule of thumb is to wear long sleeves and pants. To be honest though, in tourist-y areas, you see plenty of women not doing that. But if you want to wander around on your own or just straight up be more respectful, go with long sleeves and pants. (Also with long sleeves, be careful about bra straps showing). It will be hot, so seem about finding some linen clothes or other stuff that will be more comfortable. I understand that at Sharm there is the possibility of wearing bathing suits on private beaches, but otherwise no.

With regard to your passport, go with what your travel company tells you to do. I generally lock up my passport but I have ID on me.

Another thing to be aware of in Egypt - there is a strong norm of men tsking (hissing sort of) at foreign women. It can be quite disconcerting. I suspect that it is less in more tourist-y areas, but undoubtedly you will experience this, even if you cover your body. I also found that I was groped in any crowded area that I walked around in. I also experienced taxi drivers masturbating in the car and a small boat tour captain masturbating while a group of foreign women were in the boat. I know of lots of other foreign women who experienced all of this stuff.

I don't want to discourage you at all, but just FYI.
posted by k8t at 1:36 PM on August 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Some female travel to Egypt links.
posted by k8t at 1:38 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

This blogpost I read a year or so ago made me want to go on an Egyptian cruise so badly! She includes lots of details about travelling as a lone woman as well!
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 3:01 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

You will see a lot of female tourists not covering their limbs, but you should definitely do so anyway. You don't need to cover your head, but bring a scarf to use when you go into mosques. I wore a lot of long breezy skirts or linen pants when I was in Egypt. I did not experience any groping or masturbation issues, but I was traveling with a man (who looked as if he might be Egyptian), which probably made a difference. I DID get a lot of catcalls, but they were honestly pretty genial and it didn't bother me. (A lot of it felt like a schtick put on for the tourists, and none of it made me feel unsafe at all.) I also wore a wedding ring, even though I am not married. I suspect you'll especially be fine with your tour group, as far as that goes. (And it's smart to do a tour; in Luxor, anyway, you basically need a guide anyway.) I did not take public transportation alone.

Egypt is the most amazing place I've ever been. You will love it.

One note: if you're claustrophobic, think twice about going in the pyramid. I am, and I did do it because I felt like it was a bucket-list item, but it was difficult for me and once you're in there, you basically cannot change your mind -- you have to go all the way to the top, and it's TIGHT the closer you get. Once you get to the top, it's just a dark room -- there is nothing in there to see. I am glad I did it, because it is cool to have been inside in pyramid, but honestly I could have skipped that part and been perfectly happy because really the outside is the best part.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:59 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks for these answers. This is the kind of stuff I’m looking for. Guess I have some motivation to get back in shape before scuttling through pyramids haha!!

How long did it take to go up through? This is definitely something I’d want to do and would take some Xanax to help with because every time I saw a pyramid for ever I’d be like “I was INSIDE it”.
posted by sio42 at 3:32 PM on August 18, 2018

Not to threadsit but that blog post Sweetchrysanthemum linked has a section near the bottom specifically about how the poster planned her trip. She went through a travel agent (and names who they are) who arranged absolutely everything including guides and cars outside of the cruise, which is exactly the kind of “pay a professional to do this” advice I was looking for. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!
posted by sio42 at 3:44 PM on August 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

How long did it take to go up through? This is definitely something I’d want to do and would take some Xanax to help with because every time I saw a pyramid for ever I’d be like “I was INSIDE it”.

We did the first one of the day, and it took about...jeez, this was awhile ago so I don't wholly remember, but about an hour? They rotate which ones are open to go inside, and we were in the largest one. But it probably also depends on how slow the rest of your group is, as you can only go up the shaft single file. I basically held it together until we were on the way down and some people were kind of dawdling near the entrance -- I could SEE daylight and I just wanted OUT.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:39 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

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