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Visiting Sites

Many tours start early in the morning and there is a good reason for this: the sun! Some sites, like the Giza Plateau, offer very little shade and so it is best visiting them before noon, especially if you happen to be someone that cannot bear a lot of heat. The tombs in the Valley of the Kings are also best seen pre-noon due to the sun heating up the mountains throughout the day, causing the tombs to get hotter and hotter as the day progresses. Because of their architecture, temples offer good shading and so are tolerable in the morning or in the afternoon.

You may encounter delays when entering some sites, but do not be alarmed. Access to these is only granted after the visitor has passed through a security screen and has had their personal belongings x-rayed. Though it may be annoying, it is for your security and safety, so please be patient. Some sites will also ask you to hand in your photographic items, whether they are ordinary or video cameras. This is because many visitors have ignored the requests about not taking flash photographs (especially in the Valley of the Kings) and have bribed the guards to allow them to do so! This has made the authorities bring in a more stringent method of safeguarding the delicate paintwork. Do not worry, your belongings will be safely returned to you as you exit the site.

If you do encounter a sign that says “No Flash Photography”, please respect it and do as it says. Apart from you running the risk of being ejected from the site, with your photographic gear maybe even being confiscated, you will cause damage! Remember, the sign is there for a reason.

A very handy item for you to have is a small flashlight: the ones that are not much larger than the AAA battery that power them. It can be quite difficult to see some of the reliefs in the darker tombs and temples, and the illumination from the uplighting just does not work well enough. These little flashlights do the job nicely, without causing any damage to the delicate artwork. But please do not use the brighter halogen lights: they do cause damage!

You will very rarely encounter reliefs that depict male genitalia, but if you do please do not feel offended. It is not pornography and the reason for the depiction will be explained to you by your guide (or look for the reason using your favourite Internet search engine). The occurrence of these types of relief in Egypt are very few and far between, showing that there really had to be a specific reason for it happening (the fully mature pharaoh showing himself as a child offering to his favoured god being one reason).

Admission prices to sites are in Egyptian Pounds and the vast majority will not accept any other currencies (including £UK, $US and €), so always ensure you have sufficient LE with you. Also try to ensure they are in lower denominations (20LE or 10LE) as no one ever seems to have change of 200LE or 100LE notes and will expect you to tell them to just “keep the change”.

If you are with a guide, get him/her to negotiate a camel or horse ride for you as you will have less chance of being cheated. If you do not have a guide, try and find one who will do this on your behalf. This is especially true on the Giza Plateau.

None of Egypt’s ancient sites employ their own guides. If someone says otherwise, they are trying to scam you.

Be especially careful of people who say they are guides that may approach you once you have entered some of the tourist sites, or even the Egyptian Museum, and make sure you ask to see their credentials. Many of these are unlicensed and will try to scam you by saying things like you have to have a guide as you cannot go around the site without one: which is totally and utterly untrue.

There are some guides who will offer their services inside the garden of the Egyptian Museum. They are NOT employed by the Museum, even though they say they are, and care must be taken if you want to pay for their services. Ensure you get a low price, even teaming up with other visitors to share the cost.

Ensure you have plenty of water with you. Many sites do have vendors, inside, selling water but it does tend to be more expensive and the water can, sometimes, be warm. This is especially true on Luxor’s West Bank as you will be away from the city for many hours.

If you feel that someone is cheating you, or being too aggressive, contact a policeman as soon as you can. They are plentiful and one of their duties is to protect you.

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