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Health During your Egypt Tour

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Many tourists have health concerns when travelling in other countries and these usually revolve around the cleanliness of the water, the safety of the food, potential illnesses and the standard of hospital care.  Keep reading and I will give you the facts on these as well as some conclusions I have come to in my 14 years of working in tourism as a tourist guide.

In Egypt, everything is quite safe except, sometimes, the tap water, which you can drink as the water in Egypt is highly chlorinated. However, this water is only safe to drink if you are used to it, and if you are willing to live in Egypt for a long time; this doesn't mean that the tap water is polluted, it simply means that you are not used to it.  The same thing happened to me when I was in the UK once and attempted to drink the tap water, I got stomach cramps!! I was simply not used to the agents in the UK water. So, my dear traveller, it is the same situation for you in Egypt. It is much better to stick with the bottled water. It is much safer and easier for your system during your trip. That is why I would advise strongly that you don't drink the tap water, and use it only for washing and brushing your teeth.

Tourists are often advised not to eat the many fresh fruits or vegetables; but this means missing out on some of the best taste sensations you will ever have! In Egypt, it is safe to eat fruit and vegetables, as long as the food has been washed correctly! You will find that any good hotel or cruise boat will wash them before cooking, so don't worry!  Avoid eating in really cheap places, if you wish to eat local food, stick with Falafel, or what we call Tamia, preferably from a known place such as the restaurants on the streets of Downtown. Tamia is very cheap, very safe and a very tasty food. 

 In Upper Egypt, while conducting a cruise tour, diarrhoea would sometimes affect some the group a few days into the tour. This was simply because of the change in weather, and in many cases, the change in the eating habits of the people!

When I meet my tour groups in Cairo, we usually spend a few days together, visiting the many sites, and then we fly to either Luxor or Aswan, where we begin our cruise up, or down, the Nile. Two or three days into the cruise I often find that the numbers, who join the daily visits with me, are dwindling! When I ask about those who are missing, I am told that they have a bad tummy, or have spent the night with cramps and diarrhoea! Well, this is not the ideal way to spend your holiday.

In the beginning it was confusing to still find sickness, despite the fact that I always took time to fully brief the guests on the tips and tricks of a successful Egyptian holiday, before the cruise; but some would still get sick!

 ...How come????

At this point, most people would assume that it was the food causing the problem; others would say it was the water! But I was always convinced that it was neither! Since we all ate the same food and only drank bottled water, and a few of them still caught this "bug", I decided to start to monitoring the eating habits of the groups more closely! Eventually I was able to find the real reasons for these illnesses, and they were:

1. The accommodation on the cruise boat is of a full board basis, and most of the time the meals are presented in an open buffet manner. I noticed that some of the passengers ate each meal as if it was their last! What they were doing was completely changing their eating habits, causing total overload on their stomach's capacity. Not to mention that at least 5 to 7 items on the buffet are types of food totally new to them. I advised them to remember that the food, on the boat, is actually never ending, and they should be aware not to change their eating habits and take it easy.

2. Whenever we come back to the boat, after finishing a visit, some passengers would rush to their fully air-conditioned cabins and "crash" on their beds to rest. They forget that the air conditioning is on full power, and they are wet from walking. Here comes the danger! They easily catch cold, get back pain and their natural immune system becomes vulnerable, hence the sickness, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.

So the solution was simple! I stressed to them that they should not rush to their cabins after each tour, but to try and acclimatize first, by sitting for a while in the lobby before going to their cabins, and once in their cabin, they should turn the air-conditioning off immediately, turning it back on whenever the cabin became warm.

The results were amazing!  In the following weeks, most of the time, none of my group members had any illnesses.

So, dear traveller, please remember the following if you go on a cruise boat:

Exposure to extreme heat and cold is bad for your immune system! Please take the time to acclimatize your body before going into your cabin!

You know what your stomach is like! Just because you are on holiday don't treat it differently, if you have a sensitive stomach and tend to stay to a certain type of diet, try and do the same when you are Egypt. Err on the side of caution; you do not want to ruin a great holiday because you have eaten something you would never have tried at home. Some people are lucky, they seem to be able to consume anything and everything, others are ill by looking at a different food. You may feel brave by trying something different, but sometimes you are better by being a coward and enjoying your stay.


There is no malaria in Egypt!  Egypt hasn't had a malaria case in the last 80 years. Some travelers take these tablets during their stay and don't realize that one of the many side effects of the tablets is diarrhea.

So, don't take malaria tablets! I have often seen people ruin their whole trip because they were taking these tablets. They get diarrhoea and end up staying in bed, or at best their hotel, while the rest of their party are enjoying themselves! Some tourists come to Egypt taking these tablets, because their doctor advised them to do so! Unfortunately too many doctors don't check the health situation here before giving advice, panicking when they realise that Egypt is a country located in Africa! So they immediately advise their patients to take these tablets, two weeks before commencing their trip.

To cure many types of diarrhoea, there is an excellent antibiotic called Anitnall or Entoseed, which works -You can buy them at any pharmacy without a prescription!

I would advise you to bring a supply of any medicines that you take regularly, and bring the prescription too. Feel safe in the knowledge that in the unlikely event of serious trouble, your hotel or cruise boat staff will find, and provide, a doctor for you instantly.  

It is always a good idea to bring mosquito repellent for open-air night events, just to minimize the annoyance factor. Very fast on removing the worst of the symptoms, and putting you back on your feet.

HELPFUL TIP: Once developed for cleaning the parts underneath a babies nappy / diaper, "Wet Wipes" (the small, damp, tissue usually bought in a plastic tub) are becoming more and more popular with adults. They are also very useful when travelling in Egypt. When you have felt the relief's in a Temple, touched the hieroglyphs in a Tomb, caressed the stones on the Pyramids etc., you only have to take one of these wipes out to instantly clean your hands. No more looking for a washroom!


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