INFORMATION ABOUT EGYPT ECLIPSE TOUR 2006 MARCH – APRIL Please Read Carefully Dear Eclipse Chaser,
Here is lots of useful information about our trip to Egypt. It was provided by our tour operator. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. I will need $20/person (check only)for the visas as outlined below. If you are not arriving on our group flights, this service will notbe available.
I am looking forward to traveling with all of you very soon. Marian P. Cohen Continental Capers Travel Center, Inc. 5522 NW 43rd Street, Suite A Gainesville, FL 32653-3301 (352) 378-1406 (800) 446-0705 Fax: (352) 378-0937 E-Mail: email@example.com URL: www.flycapers.com ______________________________________________________________________________ Getting Ready to GO!
We know everyone is just dying to get going for their upcoming eclipse trip. We know everyonehas questions and worries. We know everyone wants to know everything they can before it getstoo late. We call this condition, “Gettin’ ready Itis” We hope this information helps everyone intheir preparedness for travel. Understand that documents will be send out approximately 2 weeks prior to travel.
We can not issue those documents any sooner, as the supplier does not provide them to us anysooner. This is an industry standard because details and travel plans may be subject to change. Exchanging vouchers at the last minute is very complicated.
You will not be required to bring a suit and tie or ball gown on any of our tours. Therefore, wear what you are comfortable in. If you are most comfortable in jeans, wear jeans. If you prefer slacks and a polo shirt, do. If you’re dying to wear your new dress, do. However, knowing that there are no expectations, please feel free to wear what you are most comfortable in. Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 2 of 11 Egypt is a Muslim country and maintains a conservative culture. Be considerate of yoursurroundings in “modest” dress. This means it’s better to avoid bare shoulders, bare midriffs andshort shorts. In beach, pool and swimming environments, feel free to wear typical swim wear. Mosques have propriety rules also. Shorts are not allowed. A lady may not enter a mosque withbare shoulders. See the segment below on customs and culture below.
The weather will be moderately warm. Remember that “Upper Nile and Upper Egypt” meanUpper Temperatures. Luxor and Aswan will have the highest daytime temperatures with mildertemperatures on the coast and in Cairo. The humidity is very low, so it will not likely feeluncomfortably hot.
You will have a lot of walking, so be sure your walking shoes are comfortable and broken-inbefore you leave home.
Average Lows 55–60 degrees F, Average Highs 85–90 degrees F. Alexandria: Average Lows 53 degrees F, As to immigration and visas: A Visa is required for entry to Egypt. These are typically accomplished at the immigration deskon entry into Egypt for a fee of $20.00.
HOWEVER, our supplier offers a very NICE service for Americans or EU citizens, whereas wepay the visa fee in advance with our passport details. Then, our guide can actually meet usINSIDE immigration right after we get off the plane to put the visa stamp inside our passport. With this service, we bypass the immigration desk entirely. Importing goods and equipment: Egypt wants to be sure we are not importing goods, so they will be watching our luggage forthis. They are looking for large or hard-case bags. All of these bags are pulled to the side andexamined by a customs official. The serial number will be recorded in your passport, thenre-checked on the way out. This is not performed for ALL bags, just those with hard cases orwhich are very large. Therefore, we would like anyone who anticipates a piece of equipment that will go in ahard-case bag to report to us in advance with the description of its prospective contents withserial numbers in conjunction with your passport details.
We will submit this list in advance, then on entry our representative will walk your equipmentthrough customs on your behalf, with your passport to have this process done. This means youneed to give your passport to our tour guide before you leave the airport for the bus. It will bereturned as soon as that process is complete. On exit, remember to send your passport with ouragent to record the exit of the equipment for serial number checking.
Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 3 of 11 Electricity throughout will be 220V AC: Egypt uses the standard European 2 round prong plugs. This means you need an adapter. Notethat most camera chargers, camcorders, laptops and modern electronic devices which use abattery can use 220 vac. To be sure, look at the cord which goes to your device. If it has a squareblock (or cradle) between the wall and the device, it will have a printed card to say what it canaccept. Look for the words, “IN: 110-240VAC” This is the range of current it can accept. If itsays this, you can use it there without a transformer. Things without this, like electric shaversneed a transformer. The transformer looks like a rectangular cube with in prongs and out prongs.
Whether you need the transformer or not; you all need the adapter between slotted and roundplugs. You can buy this almost anywhere. I found them at Walmart, Target, Radio Shack,Walgreens, the Dollar Store, JC Penneys, Circuit City. There are no immunization requirements for this tour.
We always recommend that clients review their immunizations they should have at home. MostAmericans do not have recommended shots just to live in their hometowns. Use this as anopportunity to get caught up on this general health issue. It will increase your general healthbefore you go.
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP): The exchange rate today is 5.75 EGP to the dollar. 1 EGP = $0.175 You can convert into EGPat the airport if you need a taxi or at the hotel when you arrive. You will need a passport toexchange money. Your exchange rates are best at a bank, but you likely won’t visit one. Thenext best is the hotel, airport or cruise ship, the worst.
Traveler’s checks in Egypt are not very helpful: They are not readily accepted by merchants. One must go to a bank or money exchange andthere is a fee to exchange one for cash. On occasion, the fee to exchange a travelers’ check islarger than the traveler’s check itself. We suggest that you utilize the hotel safes in your room,and when traveling, to use a money belt worn inside your clothing for large denominations ofcash. Credit cards are a good tool when traveling. If the card is lost or stolen, you can report itmissing and not be responsible for fraudulent charges. Clients on Group Flights will meet in the airport as follows: We send everyone with color-coded luggage tags for the group. You will know other groupmembers when you see their luggage, as it has the same tags as you do. Please use the tags we send so that we can identify you. In excess of 4 hours before departure,our group will meet across from the check-in counter line for your airline. After this, the groupwill be checking in and move down to the designated departure gate for your flight. It is notpossible to check your luggage more than 6 hours in advance of departure or under 45 minutesbefore departure.
Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 4 of 11 Clients who are on their own flights:
Should you arrive to the airport within 15 minutes of our arrivals into Cairo may find us in theairport to hop the bus for a hotel transfer. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee a specific meetinglocation for our agents, as we don’t know what terminal or time you might be coming in. Ourground operators and busses will be marked with a sign with Astronomical Tours Eclipse orsome combination of these words. Be sure your tags are where we can see them, so we can findyou too.
Getting to the hotel in Cairo:
If you are on a group flight, we are transferring all of you to the hotel on our group bus. Otherwise, the Zoser Partners Hotel is accessible by taxi. Use the address below. We will bechecking clients at the desk and watching our list to be sure everyone arrives, so we will find youwhen you arrive. Because we start our tours in the morning, be sure that you have checked-inwith our agents to let us know you have arrived and know when and where we are meeting in themorning. Food & Drink:
We cover your breakfast and dinner cost meals throughout, save 3 nights. This will give you thechance to try local dining a bit. In Cairo, there are 3 restaurants at the hotel you can try as well asa wide variety of notable restaurants in Giza — you will need a taxi to visit those. Walking inGiza (and crossing that street are so busy it’s a bit treacherous) You will be responsible forlunches if you feel you need them, and alcoholic beverages. It’s easy in Luxor, as the Sheratonhas 3 restaurants inside, and a cozy plaza outside operated by a dozen outside shop-keeps andrestaurants. This is a great time to settle-in with closer friends you have met on the trip for amore private dinner.
FOOD AND WATER SAFETY: Be VERY careful when eating local fruit and vegetables to peel or wash them in bottled waterbefore eating them. We suggest bottled water throughout your trip. Waterborne illness is a bigproblem for tourists, as well as chemical differences of our water. Should you find yourself witha stomach bug please appreciate that Egyptian bugs are different than American stomach bugs. They do not respond to the same medications as well.
PLEASE DO NOT BE SHY to ask your guide for local stomach pills immediately and/or for theassistance of a local doctor.
We have witnessed these symptoms and illnesses first hand and you do not want to rely onself-medicate with American medications — no matter how modern. It is better to ask the guideor call for the doctor so that you can recover quickly and get on with a happy vacation, ratherthan to languish in discomfort on your special holiday. To call for a doctor at any time, just callthe reception desk and ask. They all have fully qualified doctors on-call who are just minutesaway. The doctor will visit your room equipped to help and will either have all the medicationswith him or have a pharmacy deliver them to your room. A doctor visit might cost about $100US. Pharmacy medication might run up to $100 more if the bug has advanced. Your travelinsurance will reimburse you if you have a receipt, but they will not pay the doctor on the spot.
Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 5 of 11 Domestic flights inside Egypt:
You will fly inside Egypt several times. The airport security in these airports is almostexcessive. There is a huge x-ray machine at the entry door of the airport. You must sendeverything including your big bags through it in order to enter the building. Then, you passthrough security again on the way out of the terminal to get to the plane. There are x-raymachines everywhere in Egypt. You are permitted the same carry-on baggage throughout, but ifyou are not careful about its handling, it could get bruised in all these x-rays. Remember also,that you may not be able to get to the other end of the x-ray before your camera takes a bumpdown to the receptacle bin. Use caution.
There will be instances when you and your bags will be separated for a brief time. At the end ofyour cruise, you will fly Aswan to Abu Simbel while your luggage is sent by baggage truck tothe airport until your return. Relax. This is standard and everything will be fine. Supplierstypically have to handle this on one end or the other whenever Abu Simbel is involved. Abu Simbel is reached by flight:
You fly to the little airport there and transfer straight to a bus to go to the monument. You willwalk from the bus down to see the monument by foot and walk back. The walking tour takesabout 3 hours. There is no reason to take all of your carry-on luggage on your flight to AbuSimbel. If you do have items with you, which you don’t want to carry on-foot for this long, thebus has a luggage compartment. We discourage that because clients are prone to forget and leaveitems behind.
Photographing in some places in Egypt come at an additional cost. However, most have either a“do” or “don’t” policy. It is offensive to an Egyptian to photograph in any form of a tomb. Valleyof the Kings, in the burial chamber of a pyramid, you will be required to leave your cameraoutside. Better to leave the camera on the bus in Valley of the Kings & Queens. Other placesyou will not be allowed to photograph are inside indoor museums like in Cairo; also you willfind signs everywhere that indicate no FLASH photography. The excess light from flashphotography truly does fade the paint colors, so please be kind in your photography. Don’tworry. You will have plenty of places (too many) places where you can photograph - and youwill not be disappointed in your opportunities to take pictures. Fluids and Hydration: Let us remember that Egypt is a desert. You will feel the effects of the sun and dry desert if youdo not hydrate yourself and protect yourself from the sun. Please do not underestimate thebody’s need for water, as the dry heat is evaporating off moisture. Keep a hat and sunglasseswith you at all times. Bring or wear sun screen every single day. Bring ample chapstick andlotion for your hands, face and hair. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times while touringand monitor your fluid intake. The dehydration effects are immense . from headache, toheatstroke and susceptibility to illness. Eclipse day will be challenging with so many peoplefocused on the event over so many hours. Please take care of yourself and enjoy a good trip. Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 6 of 11 Shopping will be a big part of your experience in Egypt.
“Where are you from?”, Egyptian shops don’t use price tags. One must ask the price. When you ask the price, they ask “where are you from?” This is a direct effort to determine how much they can get for the goods. And the most inflated pricing goes to Americans. In some markets, the vendors will try to shout and get your attention with American specific phrases to see if you respond, like “okie-dokie yankie-doodle” or “Aloha”. An American tour group is a gold-mine for an Egyptian shop keep. If you want to control your pricing, you must not divulge that you are American. If you’re looking for the best nationality to pretend to be; that would be “We’re Dutch”, for their hard-nosed negotiation skills and market savvy. When you are traveling to a spot by busload, there isn’t much you can do about this, so be prepared to play hard-ball in negotiations. Egypt-specific items and warnings:
There are a certain number of things you’ll get excited to buy in Egypt — and a lot of forgeriesand scams to beware of. When in doubt, ask your guide for guidance. Papyrus: Vendors sell papyrus paintings by the dozen beside your bus. These are fakes painted on Banana tree bark. They can be fun for a child’s novelty, but don’t expect them to have value or last. Your guide will take you to a papyrus museum where you can look at some real works of art. This place will blow your doors off with the quality and quantity of design styles. You are safe to buy here and the prices are usually marked on the artwork. They take credit cards. Jewelry: Egypt is known for its gold and gemstones. We have seen very reputable-looking stores sell fake stones in expensive jewelry first-hand. We really can’t offer any advice on each store beyond the input from your tour guide on safe and un-safe locations. LET THE BUYER BEWARE. Alabaster Factory: You will stop at one — guaranteed. Alabaster isn’t made in a factory. It’s carved by 3 guys under a lean-to shade tent. The process of watching them make it is fascinating and a good photo op. The “factory” is a store beside the guys where the vases and sculpture is sold. You are an American here, so be prepared to negotiate. They take credit cards. Rug Factory: You will stop at one. They will show you how the rugs are made and show you their showroom. You’re an American here, so prices will be high, but these rugs are not likely to be forgeries. The rug shop will even arrange for it to be shipped home if you so desire. The Cartouche: Everybody thinks about buying one. They’re cool. Be patient and wait until your guide can help you sort this out. There are 100 shops who cook these out in high quality within 24–48 hours. You have the right to shop around. We have watched a lady pay $2000 for an item she could have paid $45 for if she had waited. Before the trip is over, your guide will pass around the brochure and ordering information from his/her source. They will run $30–$150 at the most with lots of variety, depending on the lettering. - and they will be ready for you before it’s time to go home. The catalog looks a lot like a class-ring ordering catalog. Antiquities:It is illegal to purchase or export an antique. Camel Rides: Riding a camel is fun, but be sure your guide sets up the transaction first. This is another nifty scam. Get the guy on the camel, then don’t let him down until he pays more. Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 7 of 11 Esna:This is a stop on your cruise we need to warn you about before you go. This town’s entire revenue source is dependent on you, the Nile cruise visitor. You will be hosted to the temple, via a market-alley full of very, very hungry vendors. You will wait in line in the street with them trying to lure you in. It’s unfortunately the only way it can work. When you are finished, you will walk back through the same vendors and may want to stop to buy something here. Be sure to follow these precautions: These vendors frequently do not take no for an answer. They will do anything, holding you at-bay for hours if it takes to get your business. DO NOTstep into the store. They often close the doors to ‘trap’ you inside. Do not imply being American. Do not try anything on. Do not sit and take tea, or “step over here where it’s cooler”. Thevendors will not steal from you, but rather lure you into isolated situations where you arepressured to buy at hugely inflated prices in order to “escape”. It is common for them toencourage you to borrow from a friend to buy the inflated items. We have never seen anythingfor sale here that wasn’t available elsewhere for much less price and hassle. In general for shopping: when in doubt, ask the guide’s advice.Customs, Culture and Propriety. Egypt is a Muslim state. However, 99% of the population is conservative Muslim, with the otherconservative Jewish or Coptic faith. It is appropriate to be considerate to customs and norms asinappropriate behavior can be offensive to many. Your reaction might be an uncomfortable glareor a turned up nose. Nobody will throw paint on you to cover your legs. In Mosques, pay closerattention to dress. You will be asked to take your shoes off and carry them throughout. Thousands of pious Muslims will be praying daily with their noses touching the carpet you arewalking on. Do not drag dirty shoes across them even after you have taken them off. Ladies inshorts or sleeveless tank tops will be asked to cover up in the mosque. Free shawls are availableto borrow at the entrance to wrap in if you arrive to the mosque underdressed. It is also rude toshow the bottoms of your shoes to others. Even inadvertently, compare it to scratching an itchwith your middle finger. Be aware of your feet when you cross them in public. It is extremelyrude to prop ones feet up on an ottoman strait out in front before another.
Eclipse day: The eclipse site is in a military zone bordering Libya. Our group will not consider flight intoLibya should sandstorm threaten. Sandstorms are regional-wide and crossing the border by a fewmiles will not help our situation. We do not anticipate clouds. Further, the politics between theUS and Libya are very strained today. Entering Libya without a visa is not possible. Visas mustbe acquired in advance, and must be done with a host inside Libya to invite you. At the time ofwriting of this letter, political conditions prevent the issuance of visas to Americans. We do notfeel the political climate is appropriate for cross-over fleeing, nor the odds of success to be muchdifferent on the other side of the border and the obstacles to overcome such a crossing to be toogreat should we attempt it. We do not expect this position to change.
The military zone is a gargantuan fenced-in sand box with a road going through it east/west. Under normal, daily circumstances, there is nothing but sand for landmarks or civilization. Ourcamp will include formal tents erected of colorful Bedowin quilts and carpets for shade andcomfort as well as drinks and snacks for the group at the eclipse site. Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 8 of 11
We cannot confirm having AC electrical service available at this time, but it may change beforethe event. Our hotel in El Alamein is a 1–2 hour drive from the eclipse observing location, so we will betaking out before dawn to arrive to the site with time to set up before first contact. We are notdistributing exact eclipse coordinates at this time. Inside this military zone, we must accept thatour exact positioning may be subject to change.
On eclipse day, we will provide everyone eclipse shades. We cannot include safe solar filters foreveryone’s binoculars and telescopes. We will have a little eclipse film available for those whodidn’t remember to buy a solar filter for your telescope, binoculars or cameras before departing,but not enough for everyone’s big telescopes.
Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 9 of 11 Packing List:
Comfortable shoes Spare pair of shoes Sunglasses and / or hat - sunscreen Chapstick Long pants Dinner clothing of choice Long and short sleeved shirts Fanny pack /or day-pack Watch Camera, lots of film and lots of chips More film and camera chips. Water-bottle and/or water-bottle strap for day-trips Money wallet for cash kept inside clothes Passport (bring an extra photocopy or have one available at home) Cash — $100 minimum per person — include small bills for tips, taxis
. PLUS what you can afford to spend on souvenirs.
Credit cards and/or ATM cards Luggage tags sent by Astronomical Tours GPS (if so inclined) Telescope/binoculars Solar filter for telescope Prescription medicine Non-prescription medicine like aspirin, antacid, imodium, sinus medicine, Personal Toiletries - shampoo, toothbrush, hairbrush, toothpaste, hair ties, washcloth, Hair dryers are provided throughout. Remember to check your nail clippers and pocket knives/ multi-tool in checked luggage. Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 10 of 11 Emergency Contact Information: March 25–27 March 30–31 April 05–06
Cairo Zoser Partners Hotel252 Pyramids Road, GizaCairo, Muhafazat al Qahirah, Egypt
Movenpick Hotel El Alamein140 Km, Alexandria Matruh Road,Alexandria, Egypt
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE HOTEL IN EL ALAMIEN: We held space for our group more than 1 year before the event. They sold out quickly and we could not get any more rooms. However, after our bookings were nearly complete in June, the hotel announced that it would not accept single supplement rooms. They feel the hotel is in too high of public demand; and that all the available beds should be offered to clients. We tried to appeal this position, but could not. Those clients of ours who are paid to be single sup clients will unfortunately, be forced to share a room with another single-sup client for the nights at El Alamien before and after the eclipse. This will NOT affect the status of single occupancy throughout the rest of the tour in single occupancy. The tour company is not offering any discount or refund of the SSUP fee in regards to this. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but there is nothing we can do, as the hotel is holding all the cards. March 30–31 Sheraton Hotel Luxor Al Awameya, P.O. Box 43 Luxor 83951 Egypt Phone 011 (20)(95) 237 4544 Fax 011 (20)(95) 237 4941 April 01–05 Presidential Nile Cruise Egypt Eclipse Tour Info Page 11 of 11 ECLIPSE PHOTOGRAPHY FAQ IMPORTANT! You MUST USE a proper Solar Filter (in front of the first, front element) when pointing any telescope at the Sun, except during the Total phase of the eclipse! Q. What equipment should I take? A. Binoculars, a small Schmidt Cass., (like the Meade ETX or Celestron Nextar 5) small (travel sized) dobsonians and small refractors are great for observing. A 6-8 inch travel dob will yield great views and photos, and will work well, as you will be able to move it by hand to position it to the sun. Scopes like this can serve two purposes, in that they can be used for normal nighttime observing before and after the eclipse. Not Photographing the eclipse: Observing an eclipse naked-eye is a wonderful experience. Let others take the photos! Bring along a good pair of binoculars. Not only will they come in handy for wildlife observation, but they will give you great views during totality! Q. To track or not to track? A. Good eclipse photographs can be taken without a motorized telescope mount. With the arrival of fine grain fast ASA film, a simple camera, a sturdy tripod and a long lens can capture great eclipse photos. We recommend using color negative film as opposed to color slide film. The wide range of tones and exposure values for color negative film far outweighs what once was a lower-grain advantage of slide film. Foreground objects add depth to eclipse photos and can easily be done with a wide variety of camera lenses. We have photographed eclipses with great success with everything from an 8mm fish-eye lens to a 2,000mm lens. This really boils down to what you really want to do. carry a bunch of equipment or travel light. Q. Safety and Solar Filters A. Never point your telescope, video camera, binoculars, camera or naked eyes directly at the sun without sun protection. You need to have an industry approved safe solar filter in order to prevent eye and equipment damage. We will be distributing solar viewing glasses. You will want to purchase a solar filter for the FRONT of your telescope that can be removed during totality. If you can’t buy one, Astronomical Tours will help you make a filter for your binoculars and camera before the event so you can observe safely. IMPORTANT! You MUST USE a proper Solar Filter (in front of the first, front element) when pointing any telescope at the Sun, except during the Total phase of the eclipse!
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