Cairo – Giza pyramids    


The weather in Egypt and Jordan should be pleasant in March. Please look at these websites to plan your packing (see the detailed list below). I will update you on weather as we get close to our departure date.

What to pack

Most of you have heard this before--we encourage you to pack lightly.We will probably have to haul our own bags through airports or at least through customs, though we will, of course, have help with bags at hotels and on and off buses and the Nile boat. You can get laundry done in all the hotels. We will mostly dress casually, though you can be slightly dressier for dinners. Don and I will be taking only carry-on suitcases and day packs.
IMPORTANT: These are Muslim countries where dress should be modest. Please do not bring sleeveless blouses, shirts, dresses or tank tops (you will see some tourists wearing these, but not Egyptians or Jordanians, and they are inappropriate for and offensive to the culture). Shorts should be the longer variety, if you're going to wear them (at the Oberoi resort, which may be the only place we wear them).
The sun will be intense, so please plan for that.
Please do NOT bring any expensive or flashy jewelry. These are very poor countries where expensive jewelry puts you and your possessions at risk.

Here is a suggested list of what to take:

  1. 1 pair casual, very comfortable, shoes for sightseeing--closed toes as we'll be walking on rocks and sand some of the time--that will also be good for longer walks to the tombs, Pyramids and through Petra (which is all walking)
  2. Extra pair of shoes--can be sandals, but comfortable (surfaces are uneven)
  3. 3 pairs hiking pants or similar (I'll take 1 pair of zip-offs so I can use them for shorts in the unlikely chance I'll wear shorts)
  4. 3 casual short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
  5. 2 dressier shirts, blouses or sweaters for evenings
  6. 1 pair dressier pants or skirt for dinners
  7. 1 fleece jacket or pullover or sweater
  8. 1 warm, wind proof rain jacket (rain is unlikely, but desert nights can be chilly)
  9. 3-4 long-sleeved shirts (hiking shirts are great) for hiking, sightseeing in the sun or cooler evenings
  10. sleepwear
  11. (women) scarf to cover your head if we go into a mosque
  12. small flashlight
  13. bathing suit
  14. sunglasses
  15. underwear and socks
  16. all your standard medications
  17. Imodium or similar in case you get a stomach bug (I take both over-the-counter and prescription strengths)
  18. standard toiletries (hotels and boat will have hair dryers)
  19. hand wipes and hand sanitizer
  20. sunscreen
  21. mosquito repellant
  22. several zip lock plastic bags
  23. sun hat for sightseeing
  24. camera with extra disk and batteries and battery charger
  25. adaptor kit (see below in electricity section for what plug adaptors you'll need)
  26. whatever you like to read (e-readers are best if you use them)
  27. small travel pillow (optional)
  28. copy of information page of passport
  29. 2 passport photos (just in case)
  30. phone and charger (check with your mobile provider about international packages)
  31. iPad or tablet if you use them for internet access
  32. spare pair of prescription glasses if you use them (optional)
  34. day pack


Egypt, the World of the Pharaohs, Matthias Seidel and Regine Schulz, 2015
Egypt's history from the Predynastic Period through the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms, to the Late Period and Greco-Roman times. Provides overview of Egyptian society and culture including daily life, festivals, military, politics, gods, deities and more. Generally good reviews. Lots of photos and oversized.

Ancient Egypt: Everyday Life in the Land of the Nile, Bob Brier and Hoyt Hobbs, 2013
History of the lives and activities or ordinary people in ancient Egypt. Well-reviewed.

Modern Egypt: What Everyone Needs to Know, Bruce Rutherford and Jeannie Sowers, 2018
The book begins with the 2011-2012 revolution before turning to an overview of modern Egyptian history. It discusses present-day Egyptian politics, society, demography, culture, and religion and analyzes Egypt's core problems, including deepening authoritarianism, high unemployment, widespread poverty, rapid population growth, and pollution. The authors cover Egypt's relations with the United States, Israel, Arab states, and other world powers. Important book for understanding Egypt today. No reviews yet.

A Revolution Undone: Egypt's Road Beyond Revolt, H.A. Hellyer, 2016
Blends analysis and narrative, charting Egypt's journey from Tahrir to Sisi from the perspective of an author and analyst who lived it all. H.A. Hellyer brings his first-hand experience to bear in his assessment of Egypt's experiment with protest and democracy. By scrutinizing Egyptian society and public opinion, Islamism and Islam, the military and government, as well as the West's reaction to events, Hellyer provides a much-needed appraisal of Egypt's future prospects.

Culture Shock! Egypt: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, Susan L. Wilson, 2011
Just what the title says.

Generation Revolution: On the Front Line Between Tradition and Change in the Middle East, Rachel Aspden, 2017
Aspden has lived and visited Egypt off and on since 2003. She found a country of young people (2/3 of the population was under 30) governed by old men who were desperately out of touch with them. She focuses on a handful of young adults, five men and four women, and records their aspirations in the years preceding 2011, when it seemed impossible to imagine any change in government; to the unexpected overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in the spring of 2011. By the end of the book, which follows events through 2016, all of these young people are dispirited. Many are leaving their country. The goal of those who stay behind is to stay below the radar of a repressive, military-dominated government. As to hopes for enlightenment of the condition of women in this increasingly reactionary society, all hopes are gone.

Circling the Square: Stories from the Egyptian Revolution, Wendell Steavenson, 2015 2011
Circling the Square is the story of the recent Egyptian Revolution as experienced by Cairo's citizens. Wendell Steavenson, a New Yorker writer, paints indelible portraits of ordinary Egyptians grappling with hope and change amid violence and bloodshed.

The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street, Naguib Mahfouz and Sabry Hafez, 2001
Three novels by one of Egypt's premier writers about one very traditional, middle class Egyptian family in Cairo, the public and secret lives of a husband, wife, their children and extended family. A fascinating look into family ties, a patriarchal society, hypocrisy, and the centrality of Islam in a family's life.

The White Nile, Alan Moorehead, 1960
One of the great adventure books about Africa. Fascinating history of the exploration of the Nile in the second half of the nineteenth century, which was at that time the most mysterious and impenetrable region on earth. Capturing the larger-than-life personalities of such notable figures as Stanley, Livingstone, Burton and many others, The White Nile remains a seminal work in tales of discovery and escapade, filled with incredible historical detail and compelling stories of heroism and drama.

The Blue Nile, Alan Moorehead, 1962
In The Blue Nile, Alan Moorehead continues the classic, thrilling narration of adventure he began in The White Nile, depicting this exotic place through the lives of four explorers so daring they can be considered among the world's original adventurers -- each acting and reacting in separate expeditions against a bewildering background of slavery and massacre, political upheaval and all-out war.

Jordan History: Islam and Arab Rule, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, The Guerrilla Crisis, Jean Marc Bertrand, 2016
History of Jordan. No reviews.

The Making of Jordan: Tribes, Colonialism and the Modern State, Yoav Alon, 2009 by Yoav Alon
The history of Jordan from its beginnings as a loose collection of tribes to its independence in 1946 when it had the most firmly embedded state structures in the Arab world. Describes how the disparate clan networks of Jordan were integrated into the Hashemite monarchy, with the help of the British colonial administrators. Alon shows how the monarchy co-opted the structures of tribal society, and produced a distinctive hybrid between modern statehood and tribal confederacy which still characterizes Jordan to this day.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: A Peace Corps Publication, Peace Corps pubication, 2014
Book about Jordan for Peace Corps volunteers, including history, culture, customs and more.


The Middle East does not have clean water, so it's very easy to get sick. DO NOT drink the water or even brush your teeth in the water at the hotels or anywhere else. Use only bottled water. Eat only cooked vegetables and fruits or fruits you can peel. You need to be exceptionally careful about food. DO take prescription strength Imodium or Lomotil or similar in case you get a stomach bug.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the usual vaccines for travel, such as Hepatitis A and B (which are always good to have). They also recommend a typhoid vaccination. This isn't essential as we will be staying in five star hotels, but is worth asking your doctor about.
Please read the Centers for Disease Control health pages and advice on travel to Egypt and Jordan on the websites below.

Culture and Customs:

Below are some websites that will give you information about the 2 countries and their customs and culture. Please do look through these as the customs are very important in this part of the world. The countries are quite different, Egypt being more liberal and, in Cairo and Alexandria, cosmopolitan in terms of culture (not political control). Jordan's culture is heavily Bedouin and quite conservative, while Egypt's revolves around the Nile and its ancient civilization. Jordan has millions of Palestinians, who are more secular, if Muslim. Many Palestinians are Christians. Egypt is primarily Arab and, of course, Muslim, but with many Coptic Christians as well. Both countries are primarily Sunni Muslim. Both governments are very autocratic and intolerant of political dissent.




Egypt uses the 2-pronged plugs, so you'll need a 2-pronged adaptor. Note the slight difference between C and F:


Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after our date of departure from the region. Both countries require visas. We will get our visas for Jordan when we land at the airport in Amman. We will be met before customs in Egypt by a representative of our travel agency with our visas for Egypt.

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