Egypt, with its 3,000 years of history, is a rich and complex country. Visit the pyramids of Giza (the oldest of the original Seven Wonders of the World and still largely intact), sail down the Nile, stroll through the streets of Cairo, visit the legendary tomb of King Tutankhamun, explore the gigantic Arabian Desert or take a dive in the Red Sea and see the coral reefs and the historic port of Hurghada. Whatever you plan to do in Egypt, find out in advance about the health risks involved and the preparations you need to make.
What are the health risks in Egypt?
Chikungunya, dengue, and zika occur in Egypt. These are viruses that can be transmitted by mosquitoes. A good protection against mosquito bites (such as wearing covering clothes and using DEET) is therefore necessary. Furthermore, in Egypt there can be mammals infected with rabies, so it is important to avoid contact with animals on the street.
The sun in Egypt can be very intense, so avoid prolonged exposure, use high-factor sunscreen regularly and wear light cotton clothing and a hat or scarf to cover your head. In addition, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
From kofta to shawarma and from hummus to falafel, Egyptian cuisine has a lot of dishes to enjoy. However, do so with caution. Avoid uncooked vegetables and peeled fruit that may have been washed with tap water, and ensure that all poultry or egg-based dishes and all seafood are thoroughly cooked. Food in hotels and restaurants is usually safe, but it is advisable to avoid food from street vendors. If you do want to try a street meal, make sure the food is fresh and the vendor is hygienic.
The quality of healthcare is good in Cairo and Alexandria, and most doctors there speak English. In remote rural areas - especially in the western desert and in the wilderness of southern Egypt - healthcare and hygiene are often inadequate. Before you leave, make sure you have health insurance that covers treatment and hospitalisation abroad.
Do I need vaccinations for Egypt?
Vaccinations for travel to Egypt are only required for travellers who have been in a country with yellow fever during the week prior to arrival. This also applies to a transfer of more than 12 hours in a risk country.
There are a number of vaccinations, such as a vaccination against DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio), against hepatitis A and against MMR (mumps, measles and rubella). Depending on your travel schedule and personal situation, further vaccinations may be required. Ask your doctor well in advance.
Coronavirus and travel to Egypt
The government of Egypt was one of the first to lift their travel ban. Since 1 July 2020, international flights are allowed again and the e-visa for Egypt is also granted again. However, there are additional conditions to travel to Egypt because of the coronavirus. For example, you need a negative PCR test result (in English or Arabic) taken at least 72 hours before departure by a recognised laboratory. Upon arrival, travellers have to fill in a health declaration form with the details of their health insurance and their stay in Egypt.
Visa for Egypt
When you travel to Egypt, you have to bring proof of vaccination. You may be asked for it during customs control. If you are not in possession of such a proof, you may even be denied entry to the country. It is also useful to be able to show this proof if you need to go to hospital during your trip.
You also need an Egypt visa. This visa can be applied for online and is usually approved within a week. There are two variants of the e-visa for Egypt, namely the single entry and the multiple entry variant. Both visas are valid for 90 days, but with the multiple entry variant you can make an unlimited number of trips to Egypt during these 90 days, instead of just one. In both cases, travellers may stay in the country for up to 30 days per individual trip. To apply for a visa to Egypt you must have a passport that is valid for at least 8 months after arrival.
Sometimes, on arrival in Egypt, an immigration officer may ask you for an itinerary. Therefore, make sure that you carry in your hand luggage a schedule of all booked flights and hotel accommodation.