Egypt & Morocco Traveler Information

Egypt & Morocco Traveler Information

If you have booked or are considering The Egypt & Morocco Meetup Tour, this is where you will find the practical information you need from travel insurance and safety protocols to a sneak peak at what you can expect at your various accommodations, including that night aboard a felucca on the Nile. 

Is this trip right for you?

  • In both Egypt and Morocco, July and August can be extremely hot with potential spikes during the surrounding months too. It is a dry heat, however, and easier to manage than heat with humidity. Whenever possible, we will organize our days and site visits around the heat, escaping to restaurants and air-conditioned vehicles during the hottest hours.
  • At major sites in both countries, you can expect to be exposed to the elements at length, so be prepared with a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. Comfortable shoes are a must for visiting sites with uneven and dusty terrain.
  • Cairo and many of the cities and medinas of Morocco have a high level of pollution and a lot of traffic, so you may want to be prepared with a light scarf to cover your nose and mouth when walking in the city.
  • We will be in some remote corners of both countries where public bathrooms are not always very clean, may not have Western toilets and may require a small fee to use. The facilities in our accommodation are clean and use western toilets, but it won’t always be the case when we’re on the road. We’ve scouted out the best stops for long drives, but they still won’t be ideal conditions. Consider it part of the adventure!
  • Morocco is a large country with limited public transportation and airport access. This means that in order to see the best parts, there are going to be some long drives. Fortunately, the views are incredibly beautiful and there are things to see on the way that will break up any long drives we have to make.

Arrival

For most countries, a visa is not required to enter Morocco for trips under 90 days, while Egypt’s can be obtained easily upon arrival in the Cairo airport.  

For Egypt, all you will need is your passport with at least two blank pages, $25USD in cash (must be in USD and must be in cash), and your negative COVID test. With the VIP airport pick up included in your Meetup Tour, the escort will walk you through the process. If you prefer to get a visa beforehand, although we recommend getting one upon arrival, you can do so here.  

For Morocco, all you will need is your passport with at least two blank pages and your negative COVID test. If you are from a country that requires a visa to enter Morocco, please contact your local Moroccan Embassy or consulate for more information on the visa application process. For more information, go to Morocco’s official website: https://www.visitmorocco.com/en/travel-info/covid-19-news

Ultimately it is every travelers responsibility to have the proper documents and visas for travel. We are not responsible and there will be no refunds if you are unable to enter a country due to lack of preparation.

As rules and restrictions are constantly changing, please check your government’s foreign travel advisory and visit the following websites: 

Egyptian Tourism Authority: http://egypt.travel/covid

Moroccan Ministry of Health: https://www.visitmorocco.com/en/travel-info/covid-19-news

Requirements in Egypt currently include a paper copy of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival or official documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Requirements in Morocco for onward travelers from Egypt (us!) currently include a negative PCR test taken in the 48 hours prior to arrival, a health form completed and signed, and a vaccination certificate.

Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers you for travel to and from Egypt and Morocco as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country.

On the final day of the Meetup Tour, we can arrange for testing to be conducted on site at the hotel. Our team will ensure that results will be available before you depart for the airport. This is payable in cash to your tour leader or medical professional. Our team will handle the logistics and be sure your results are in on time and printed before you depart Morocco. 

Before exiting Egypt for Morocco, we’ll arrange the same process if PCR testing is still required for entry. 

Upon arrival we have an escort meeting you at the airport in Cairo. Just look for the sign with the SoFe logo! He will lead you through the visa and immigration process and bring you to your driver waiting outside. The driver will take you directly to the hotel where you will meet your leader.

You need a valid passport to travel internationally. Most countries require that your passport does not expire for at least 6 months after the date you enter. We require your passport details 45 days before departure. When booking your Meetup Tour, please enter your name as it appears on your passport and contact us immediately if there are any errors.

Optional Activities

For this tour, we offer a selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travelers. We recommend to pre-book these activities, to be sure there is availability. It’s rare that only one person signs up for an activity, but you will never have to go alone. A leader or our guide will go with you if no one else has signed up. Last minute booking of optional activities is possible, but depends on availability. Should you choose to book an optional activity while on the tour, we will charge the card we have on file.

We have worked with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed, especially those that are medium to high risk. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator, and therefore, we are unable to help book these activities. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Health

We do not recommend drinking the tap water, even in the hotels. All accommodation will have drinkable water, sometimes for purchase and sometimes provided with your room.

Your tour leader will do their best to accommodate any dietary restrictions, but sometimes gluten free and vegan can be a little trickier in every meal, especially breakfast. We suggest bringing supplemental snacks like protein powders and bars just in case. It is ultimately your responsibility not to consume anything to which you are allergic. You may wish to speak to your tour leader at the beginning of the tour to make your requirements clear and ask your options throughout the tour. 

As of April 1, 2021, we have updated our policies to require all travelers to show one of the following upon meeting the group on day 1:

-Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or
– Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip

Egypt has some foodie options that many travelers choose to try. Dishes like camel, camel liver, and pigeon, as examples, are common among locals and available in some restaurants. Please be careful when consuming this food, as some travelers have gotten sick in the past. We do not include these dishes on our tour, and our tour leader can direct you to the most reputable restaurants locally, but we do not take responsibility for any illnesses caused by food.

Many locals swim in the Nile and have since childhood. You are welcome to choose to follow suit, but be aware that there is a moderately common parasite found in this river, especially in still water. This parasite can make you very ill and necessitate a hospital visit. Swim in the Nile at your own risk. 

Accommodation

Egypt: 7 nights in hotels, 1 night on an Egyptian sailboat, 2 nights in guesthouses

Morocco: 10 nights in hotels or riads*, 1 night at a desert camp. 

*Please Note: Riads used to be people’s homes, so rooms are not always equal in size or view. We do our best to keep it equitable throughout the trip, but some may get luckier than others. Rooms are chosen at random.  We guarantee twin beds, but sizes may vary between roommates. We encourage everyone to go with the flow and appreciate the special details that can be found in every room.

Rooms in both countries are twin share with an ensuite unless you upgrade to a private room, based on availability.

The accommodation indicated on the webpage is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to lack of availability. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

In the base cost of the tour, a shared room is included. You may choose to upgrade to a private room for an extra charge as long as there is availability. 

*Please Note: There is no private accommodation option when camping on the Egyptian sailboat (1 night).

Upgrading to a private room once in Egypt or Morocco is more difficult and may result in a higher cost than advertised on the webpage.

Our Egypt & Morocco tour is considered premium accommodation including some local stays in riads and guesthouses, plus one night camping on a sailboat on the Nile and a night camping under the stars in a Bivouac Camp in Morocco. 

When we stay in 5 star hotels, the standard may be less than what you are used to in terms of design, facilities, and inclusions. If there is a problem with your accommodation, always alert your tour leader so it can be remedied if possible. We will also stay in more rural areas where 5 star hotels are not available, and instead we will experience warm Egyptian and Moroccan hospitality, home cooked meals, and very photogenic lodging that is always clean and comfortable, if not a little simple. 

Do be prepared with bug spray and comfortable, warm clothes for sleeping on the Egyptian sailboat and under the stars at the Bivouac Camp. We will provide additional bedding on the sailboat and there will be a bathroom on board.

Sometimes it is not possible to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels, especially if you arrive before check in time. We can store your luggage and you can explore the surrounding area.  Standard check in time is 4:00pm.

Check out is at 11:00am on the last day. 

Extra nights at our hotel are available. You may have to switch rooms at the beginning or end of the tour.

All of our accommodations have air conditioning, with the exception of the sailboat and desert camp, where it is not usually needed. Should it not work, we will attempt to replace your room or the unit, dependent upon availability. Some evenings are cold in Egypt and Morocco in the winter, and most accommodations in both countries do not have heating. Bedding is always provided and light bedding is provided on the sailboat, however if you are extra sensitive to the cold, please be prepared with extra layers or thermals.

 

Transportation

Private air-conditioned vehicle, commercial airline domestic flight, commercial airline international flight from Cairo to Casablanca, sailboat in Egypt, camel ride to desert camp (if you are unable or do not want to ride a camel, we can arrange alternate transportation to the desert camp for you)

Occasionally, you may experience a Tourist Police Escort in your vehicle while in Egypt. We do not have warning of their inspection, and sometimes they will ride with us between destinations. This practice has been implemented by local authorities to ensure the safety of tourists.

For one night, we will sleep on a Felucca, or an Egyptian sailboat. During the night, the boat is docked on shore. There are no private rooms and there is one bathroom on a second boat attached to ours. We’ll sleep in the open air with a covering overhead. We provide light bedding, so please bring anything else you think you need to be comfortable. This is a unique accomodation and most travelers find any discomfort worth the experience. However, there are no other options for this night should you not want to camp on the Nile.

Money and finances

Spending money is a personal choice, and everyone will have different spending habits and needs. It is best to budget a reasonable amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping, and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Please have a thorough look at the itinerary and at what is included so you will be prepared for what isn’t included. Our Meetup Tour is very inclusive, however some meals, tips, and extras are not included. This guide should make budgeting a little clearer.

Many meals are included in this tour, but some are purposefully left out so you can experience different restaurants and dishes to your liking.

Lunch at a local restaurant could cost between $10USD to $20USD. However, local street food is relatively safe to eat and is normally much cheaper.

Your leader and guide will help you find local options. Meals will cost between $15USD to $30USD, depending on the restaurant.

Food prices in Egypt and Morocco range widely from cheap street food to fine dining. If you have a strict budget, be mindful of your choices and let your tour leader know the type of food you are looking for, so she can direct you to the best places.

ATMs are widely available in major cities and towns. We recommend always having a small amount of cash with you for small purchases at places that do not accept credit card. Credit cards are usually accepted in tourist shops and restaurants, but American Express, Diners, etc. are not usually accepted at all. Bring a Visa or Mastercard if you want to use credit cards. Smaller venues take cash only. Alert your bank that you will be traveling before departure to avoid being locked out of your account while abroad, as they may suspect fraud. 

If you want to bring cash from your home country and exchange it, the best place to do this is at the airport. We can not guarantee that there will be time to visit a money exchange place on the tour. The best way to get local currency is by using an ATM with a debit card.

Tipping is a large part of Egyptian culture. Wages are extremely low in Egypt, and tipping is an important means of supplementing income whether you are a tourist or Egyptian. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be a part of your customs at home, it is very valuable and helpful to the people who will be taking care of you on your trip through Egypt.

In Morocco, tipping is not mandatory but always appreciated. 

While tipping is frequent in Egypt and less frequent in Morocco, the amounts are small. Please budget about $7USD per day on average for small tips. If you are worried you may not have small change or feel uncomfortable tipping yourself, your leader might suggest the idea of a group tipping kitty, where everyone contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all money spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your local guide, but tips for your driver and porters at hotels are included in your tour price.

To help you understand tipping culture, we have provided some ideas for amounts. These are suggestions, as tipping is always a personal choice and at your discretion. Keep in mind that tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes is considered an insult. 

Restaurants: rounding up to the nearest dollar is fine in most restaurants. In upscale eateries look for a 10% service charge. If there is a service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% in Egypt and 10-15% in Morocco of the total bill amount is appropriate.

Felucca boat trips: $3USD per person, per day for the boat staff.

Drivers: Our drivers’ tips are included in your tour cost.

Your Tour Guide:  You may also consider tipping your tour guide for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is completely at your discretion, however as a guideline $5USD per person, per day is standard practice. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

It is not necessary or expected to tip your Tour Leader, but small, sweet gifts, even handwritten notes, are very appreciated if you feel that your Tour Leader improved your experience.

The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (LE) or (EGP). Currency Subunits are called Qirsh (Piastre) and are equivalent to 1/100 of a Pound. Denominations come in notes of  5, 10, 25, and 50 Piastres and 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Pounds. Coins come in 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 Piastres. 

The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). Denominations come in notes of 20, 50, 100 and 200 dirhams.  Coins come in 5, 10 and 20 centimes (1/100 dirham) and 0.5, 1, 2, 5 and 10 dirhams. 

We recommend always having small denominations for tipping and small purchases.

Packing

Our tours are comfortable and very inclusive with premium accommodation, and in the case of both Egypt and Morocco, one night camping. This means you can pack a little lighter. In fact, you will be carrying your own bags to the lobby or at the airport, and you will need to be able to manage. Also, our domestic flight in Egypt has a maximum luggage allowance of 15kg or 30lbs.

This is a general list to be used as a guideline. If you think you need more items, pack them.

  • Sunglasses
  • A towel for random dips in the Nile
  • Copies of your travel documents- passport, flight itinerary, travel insurance policy and contact info.
  • A hat for the sun
  • A light wind or rain jacket for winter months
  • Bug spray
  • A pair of breathable, solid walking shoes like Keens or Teva, our favorites.
  • Loose-fitting pants 
  • A casual dress or nice outfit you can dance in
  • Short sleeve tops, tank tops, at least one shirt that totally covers your shoulders
  • A lightweight scarf to cover your head
  • A sports bra, especially if you are riding the ATV
  • A swimsuit and bathing suit cover-up
  • Don’t forget underwear 
  • Earplugs and an eye mask
  • Sunscreen
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush
  • Body wash
  • Period essentials
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

Both Egypt and Morocco have similar climates. It is generally hot, and in the winter, there could be some rain and cold evenings. During the summer months, the heat can be extreme, especially from June through August. December to March can be cold, especially at night. If you are particularly sensitive to the cold, we suggest considering bringing thermals, a scarf, gloves and a warm jacket, especially for camping on the felucca and at the desert camp.

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. We recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

Drones are absolutely illegal in Egypt unless you have approval in writing before arrival, and you could be detained at the airport if they are found. Please do not attempt to bring them into the country. 

For Egypt, there are two associated plug types, C and F. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type F is the plug which has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. Egypt operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz. 

For Morocco, there are two associated plug types, C and E. Plug type C is as described above (two round pins) and plug type E is the plug which has two round pins with a hole for the socket’s male earthing pin. Morocco operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz. 

We always suggest bringing a universal adaptor.

Phone and internet access

There is wifi available in most of our accommodations in Egypt and Morocco, but it is not always the most reliable, especially in the more rural areas. We suggest purchasing a prepaid sim card at the Cairo Airport and at the Casablanca Airport. This option only works on unlocked phones. 

In the Cairo Airport, just outside of the arrivals hall, you’ll find booths on the left for the three mobile phone providers in Egypt: Vodafone, Etisalat and Orange. Plans and prices can change but expect to pay between 100-165 EGP for a plan that will provide you 3-4GB of data. You will need your passport to purchase and register your new sim.

In the Casablanca Airport, just after baggage claim in the arrivals hall, you’ll find booths for  the three main mobile providers in Morocco: Inwi, Maroc Telecom and Orange. Plans and prices can change but expect to pay between 100-200 dirhams for a plan that will provide you 5GB of data. You will require your passport to purchase and register your new sim.

Alternatively, ask your home service provider for international plans. 

Group leader and guide

All tours with The Solo Female Traveler Network are accompanied by a guide who is with the group for the whole trip. The guide’s role is to be the local expert of the destination and coordinate a lot of the on-the-ground logistics. They are not always a native of the country, but they are always experienced expert guides. 

Most of our tours also include a leader, whose role is to enrich the experience socially. She will help bridge any cultural differences, manage group expectations, and capture the tour in photos and videos for marketing purposes. Some tours will not include a Tour Leader, and in this case, our local guide will act as both guide and leader.

Traveling as a woman

We believe that every woman should dress as she chooses and should feel free to experience the world without extra worry for her safety. Unfortunately, the rest of the word does not practice gender equality as we wish. It’s important to adapt to local customs to be safer and to respect not only the locals, but also your fellow travelers. The likelihood of anything happening on your trip is quite low, but we recommend being aware of the following safety tips:

Street harassment such as cat calls, stares, invitations to get in a car/bar/restaurant/home are common. These are our tips for responding to this unwanted attention:

  • Ignore. Don’t even bother smiling. Just keep about your business.
  • Wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact.
  • Ignore. We mean it, so we said it twice! Ignore them but also ignore your internal commentary on it all. Let it roll off your back and walk on focusing on all the amazing things around you.
  • Dress respectfully and you will find both men and women will respond to you in a more respectful manner.
  • While it very unlikely to happen, do feel free to stand up for yourself if you feel threatened. Egyptian men you do not know should not be touching you at all and if you’re in public, people will come to your aid if you make a fuss.

For both modesty and to better manage the heat, we suggest loose fitting clothing that protects your skin from the sun. Long flowing skirts are comfortable and respectful to the culture. In mosques, we will be required to cover our knees, shoulders, and our heads. Swimsuits are, of course, appropriate when participating in water activities. Short skirts, plunging necklines, and tight clothing should be avoided, however, there are places during the tour, like at the hotel in Cairo and the Red Sea resort, where you can feel free to dress however you’d like.

When not with your guide, we recommend the following:

  • Do not walk in isolated areas or at night by yourself
  • If hotel staff need to enter your room, arrange to be either on tour or in the lobby, so you are not alone.
  • Respect the local customs, which may mean dressing more conservatively than you do at home.
  • Do not hire a driver or guide for tours from the street. Always go with a reputable company or ask us to help you arrange any pre or post experiences. 
  • Do not accept any invitations for anything from random people on the street.
  • Always carry your tour guide’s contact information and hotel address with you during solo time.
  • Alert your guide of any inappropriate behavior or perceived risk to your safety.

Safety

We recommend that you stay up to date on travel safety updates on your home country government website. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, but they are not required to accompany you on solo time, where you can relax, choose an optional activity, or explore on your own. During solo time, we do not vouch for the safety of the experiences you choose, even if our guide or leader recommends them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Our team on the ground is always monitoring the safety situation and reserves the authority to cancel or change experiences at their discretion if deemed unsafe.

Seat belts are always provided and must be worn in accordance with local law. 

Cars may drive on the opposite side of the road than you are used to. Practice extreme caution when crossing the street. Also note that traffic may be much heavier and road rules may be very different from what you are used to. Be careful and aware that pedestrians do not have the right of way.

While most of the tour, especially in major cities, will be with your guide and the group, petty theft is common in any tourist area. Do not walk around alone at night if it can be avoided and hold your belongings close on public transportation. Your local guide will give you some safety tips throughout your tour, and we suggest heeding this advice.

Please do not enter the water without a life vest and a buddy if you are not an experienced swimmer. Alert the leader and guide to your ability level before participating in water activities. Lifeguards are not on duty and our staff are not trained in water rescue. 

We suggest checking your government’s advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory on all our Meetup Tours. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance, your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank’s name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

You can find a list of our favorite tried and true travel insurance companies.

Group rules

With almost all of our travelers coming on the Meetup Tour solo, we have women from different countries, backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions. This is part of what makes our tours so special and what often leaves our travelers with couches to crash on around the world and even long time friendships. Like any group, especially one consisting of people of different ages coming from all corners of the world, this can also cause clashes in culture and disagreements. We promote an environment of kindness, empowerment, and communication, so certain behaviors will not be tolerated for the benefit of everyone’s experience. 

A great group dynamic takes effort, patience, and compassion from every member. Bullying, threatening, and violence of staff, locals, and fellow participants will not be tolerated on our trips.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while traveling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The group guide and leader have final say on all matters that affect the safety or well-being of any traveler or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund.