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Egypt - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Egypt

Cobblers at work in Luxor Visas: All visitors to Egypt, except nationals of Malta, South Africa and Zimbabwe are required to have a visa and a passport(which must be valid at least one week beyond period of intended stay). Visas can be arranged through Egyptian embassies worldwide. Visitors from the US, Canada, EU and GCC countries may be able to purchase a visa stamp upon arrival at many large airports if the visit is for tourist purposes. One-month visitor's visas can be extended.
Health risks: Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) (Don't paddle in the Nile!)
Time: GMT/UTC +2
Dialling Code: 20
Electricity: 220V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go to Egypt

Deciding when to come to Egypt depends a lot on where you want to go. Everywhere south of Cairo is uncomfortably hot in the summer months (June-August), especially Luxor and Aswan, so winter (December-February) is definitely the best time to visit these areas. Summer is also the time when the Mediterranean coast is at its most crowded, but winter in Cairo can get pretty cool. March to May or September to November is the best time to enjoy the warm days without the crush of bodies on the beaches and the midday heat of high summer.

Egypt Events

The Islamic (or Hejira) calender is a full 11 days shorter than the Gregorian (Western) calender, so public holidays and festivals fall 11 days earlier each year. Ras as-Sana is the celebration of the new Islamic year, and Moulid an-Nabi celebrates the Prophet Mohammed's birthday around May. These celebrations include parades in the city streets, with lights, feasts, drummers and special sweets. Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calender (presently around November). It was during this month that the Quran was revealed to Mohammed, and out of deference the faithful take neither food nor water until after sunset each day. At the end of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr) the fasting breaks with much celebration and gaiety.

Eid al-Adha is the time of the pilgrimage to Mecca, and each Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage (haj) at least once in a lifetime. Streets are decorated with coloured lights and children play in their best clothes. The ritual of Mahmal is performed in each village as passing pilgrims are given carpets and shrouds to take on their journey. The upcoming dates for Eid al-Adha are January 21 in 2005, and January 10 and December 31 in 2006.

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