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 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)
- Extra pair of shoes--can be sandals, but comfortable (surfaces are uneven)
- 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)
- 3 casual short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts
- 2 dressier shirts, blouses or sweaters for evenings
- 1 pair dressier pants or skirt for dinners
- 1 fleece jacket or pullover or sweater
- 1 warm, wind proof rain jacket (rain is unlikely, but desert nights can be chilly)
- lightweight down sweater or similar
- 3-4 long-sleeved shirts (hiking shirts are great) for hiking, sightseeing in the sun or cooler evenings
- (women) scarf to cover your head if we go into a mosque
- small flashlight
- bathing suit
- underwear and socks
- all your standard medications
- Imodium or similar in case you get a stomach bug (I take both over-the-counter and prescription strengths)
- standard toiletries (hotels and boat will have hair dryers)
- hand wipes and hand sanitizer
- mosquito repellant
- several zip lock plastic bags
- sun hat for sightseeing
- camera with extra disk and batteries and battery charger
- adaptor kit (see below in electricity section for what plug adaptors you'll need)
- whatever you like to read (e-readers are best if you use them)
- small travel pillow (optional)
- copy of information page of passport
- 2 passport photos (just in case)
- phone and charger (check with your mobile provider about international packages)
- iPad or tablet if you use them for internet access
- spare pair of prescription glasses if you use them (optional)
- day pack
The Buried: The Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution, Peter Hessler, 2019
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
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.
Israel: A concise History of a Nation Reborn, Daniel Gordis, 2016
Comprehensive history of the state of Israel from its beginnings to the present day.
My Promised Land: the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Ari Shavit, 2016
Comprehensive book written about the Jewish State and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by one of Israel's leading columnists and writers. Shavit describes with great empathy the Palestinian tragedy and the century-long struggle between Jews and Arabs over the Holy Land.
The Story of Israel: A Short History of the Land and Its People, J. Carl Laney, 2019
History of Israel from Biblical times to the present.
Israel -Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture,Jeffrey Geri , Marian Lebor, et al., 2018
A guide to Israel's customs and culture, part of a series for countries all over the world.
Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel's Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny, Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, 2019
One of the foremost experts on the Middle East, Dennis Ross, and his co-author, David Makovsky, detail the principles and dreams of Israel's founding fathers. Israel needs their courage and character now.
Israel / Palestine (Hot Spots in Global Politics) 4th Edition, Kindle Edition,4th edition, Alan Dowty, 2019
History of the founding generation of the modern Middle East, post Ottoman Empire.
The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East, Michael Provence, 2017
Provence explains the history and evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict up to today.
A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East,David Fromkin's and David de Vries, 2018
Updated version of David Fromkin's 2009 history explains how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that remade the geography and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all seemed possible, he provides his account of this defining time, showing how the choices narrowed and the Middle East began along a road that led to the conflicts and confusion that continue to this day. A new afterword includes his updated assessment of this region of the world today, and what this history has to teach us.
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 3 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.
For those of us going to Israel, you'll see a very wide range of customs, dress and culture.
Egypt uses the 2-pronged plugs, so you'll need a 2-pronged adaptor. Note the slight difference between C and F:
Visas and Passports
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.
We do not need visas for Israel, but, coming from Jordan, we may (or may not) have a significant security screening upon arrival.