At the moment of writing I'm sitting in the hotel lobby in a 5 star hotel in Sharm El sheik, and smoking hookah(shisha) While enjoying the atmosphere of the place. there is a deliciously cool wind from the aircondition, While outside there is 33C and sunny in the deserts outside. This is my 7 th time in Egypt, so I feel like a pretty experienced tourist in this place! , and thought i should share some important information.
Why go to Egypt ?
Egypt has everything one can wish for; just relaxing in the Sun for a week or two, or have an adventure holiday, or indulge in culture and history. Egypt can even be a place to party for young adults, but this only works in the Red Sea towns of Hurghada or Sharm el Sheik.
The alternative to Egypt for most will be different destinations in Greece, Italy, Spain, and the Islands outside of Spain – Mallorca,Tenerife and Lanzarote.
What Egypt can offer as these do not have is;
– a significantly lower price level on most of the food,drinks and sightseeing.
– The Red Sea with its beautiful coral reefs and amazing colourful fish,Turtles and sharks(nice ones)
– Warmer temperatures all year round, more sunny days, and more stable weather in General. The most popular destinations is Sharm and Hurghada, and these towns are in the middle of a desert, so it's almost always sunny. Sometimes a bit windy, but never storms/Hurricanes.
– a completely different culture; different food,traditions,architecture,water pipe/Arabic coffee history. Leave Europe/US for a completely different experience!.
– Ancient history – In Egypt, one has the opportunity to visit the wonderful pyramids, see the mummies and the sarcophagi in the large Museum in Cairo, and take a cruise along the Nile and visit the Valley of Kings and Queens in Luxor and Aswan.
When is the best time to go to Egypt ?
Best time is in the spring or fall. The summer is also good, but may be too hot FOR most people, and in addition most countries in Europe have nice weather in the summer, so no need to escape to warmer places. November to February can be a little colder, but mostly temperatures are around 20 C . December has a lot of rain, so it's probably the worst month to go. July to November has the highest sea temperatures (26-29 C ) so is good for scubadivers. I dived without a wetsuit in september 2016, but in April 2017 It was approximately 5 C lower temperature in the water at that time.
How to get to Egypt ?
From Norway there is only one operator that organizes trips from Oslo Gardermoen – Amisol travels. They usually charter aircraft from Air Cairo. This company is very unreliable. The last 4 Amisol planes I have taken have all been delayed by +/- 2 hours. As long as you know that delays are to be expected it is`nt quite as bad, you just have to plan accordingly.
You can get last minute tickets very cheap; You can get both flight and a perfectly OK hotel for about 2000kroner(200€). . 3-4000 one can usually find 5 star hotel with all-inclusive.
Is there any point in paying extra for All-inclusive? – NO. Most people will be away from the hotel during the daytime, and even if you are just hanging out in the hotel all day you can get a good meal for 30-50 Norwegian kroner(14$) ", and a beer for about 20kroner.
It is also possible to book a flight to Cairo or Sharm from Oslo with Air Cairo, but this will usually cost more than what you pay for a charter journey that include hotel.
Diving/snorkeling and water sports
The reason why I've travelled so much to Egypt is that I'm a scubadiving fanatic. Since the first time I popped my head under water in the Red Sea in 2003 I've just kept going back. Egypt is the closest place to Europe where you can dive in tropical waters. 5 hours flight is much better than 14-15 hours to get to Asia or the Caribbean, or 20 hours to Australia.
The best places to stay by the Red Sea is Dahab, Sharm El Sheik, or Hurghada (or El Gouna). Dahab is more for the younger travellers/backpackers and bohemians, While the other places are mostly for package tourists.
Egypt is currently the cheapest place in the world to scubadive. For about 200-250 kroner(40$), you get a full day on the boat with 2-3 dives included. snorkeling is about the same price since you go with the same boats and get the same food.
I am shocked to see how much of the coral reef that hasdied/disappeared only in the last 5-10 years, but it's still amazingly nice, with lots of marine life. One can see turtles, sharks(White tip and hammerhead), rays and mantas, tuna and napoleonsfisk, and much more fun.
Other water sports on offer is water skiing, bananaboat, glass-bottom boats, stupid tourist vikingship with technomusic, Parasailing etc.
From Hurghada you can easily arrange a trip to the Nile – Luxor and Aswan. I would highly recommended it. Valley of the Kings is a wonderful place where you can get a great impression of the ancient Egyptian civilization. There, one can see the characteristic wall paintings, mummies, and lots of nice ruins.
It is also very fun to rent a sailboat on the Nile. There is some very distinctive boats called Faluka. I hired my own captain to sail me around for very low price.
The pyramids: From both Hurghada and Sharm you can take on the org
aniserte tours to see the pyramids in Cairo. It is quite a long distance to travel by bus (8-10 hours) , so it is easier to fly. It is much more expensive, but is worth it to see one of the world's seven wonders. You should check the security situation before you travel, as Giza and Cairo, at times, may be unstable.
There are a ton of other activities in these areas, but most noteworthy are the quadbike excursions, visit to Bedouin families, and desert safaris. Many also offers camel riding; that can be fun for those who have not done it before.
The Sinai Peninsula is in general not safe, but Sharm is safe. Some of these excursions go to the desert around Sharm, so may be a good idea to check with the operator first, that it is safe.
Naama Bay in sharm is “Neon heaven”. It is a chaotic scene; Typical Arab Coffee store on one side of the street, and massive discos and clubs on the other side. Loud music, dancing in the streets, Egyptians coming at you from all sides to sell drugs,or trying to convince you to enter their club.
Hurghada is much the same, but not quite as crowded. Dahab is more chillout, a lot of young independent travellers, a lot of weed. And a handful of clubs with high partyfactor.
There are all types of alcohol, all of them inexpensive. You can get pretty drunk for 100 Norwegian kroner(14$) ".
The night I went out to party in Naama Bay i experienced that there was about 20 men per 1 Lady, most of them locals. I don`t know how Egypt is for female travelers, but I imagine they might get more attention than desirable, especially if the locals are as intense with their sexual advances as they are when trying to sell stuff. I was there once with a girlfriend, and the second I left her 5 minutes to go to the bathroom, several egyptians tried hitting her up, even though they knew we were together. Luckily I came back before she joined them(unfaithful woman).
Many people in Norway feel it is unsafe about going to Egypt. There used to be many Norwegian tourists, but now there is mostly just Russians there. There is a Norwegian aircraft once weekly(Amisol) with a capacity of 145 tourists, but is usually only around 100 people on this. As long as you take precautions, pay attention to the updated political situation, and check the recent travel advice for Egypt then you should be safe . You have to expect to be cheated. Here's more about security
Egypt in a nutshell: Hot, beautiful underwater life, generally friendly people, cheap, and safe