Sites, Monuments and Desert Code
Although the desert is vast and seemingly barren, it has a delicate ecology that can be damaged. Therefore, because of the increase in desert tourism, a code of ethics should be followed to protect this balance of nature and for self-preservation. When visiting sites and monuments there is also a code of conduct to follow, which if respected will help preserve Egypt's cultural heritage for future generations.
When Travelling in the Desert:
- Always make sure that you have sufficient water for your journey, at least ½ litre per hour during the hot sun of the day.
- When planning a vehicular journey, always make sure that the vehicle has been fully serviced, and that you take sufficient water, food and petrol for the entire trip. It is better to over calculate, than under. It is also better to travel in a convoy of at least two cars, especially to the more remote places, such as the Gilf Kebir. Make sure that you have up-to-date maps and take a GPS with you. An air-conditioned vehicle is preferable for long desert trips. A satellite phone is also a necessity, so that you can phone for help if required. Tell the authorities your planned route and expected duration of your journey. An Egyptian guide conversant with the area you intend to visit is also recommended. Take a desert survival guidebook with you. Although most travel companies will make the above arrangements for you, it is worth asking about the above points.
- Seek shelter from the mid-day sun and avoid if possible doing any strenuous activities between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. Take a siesta or lunch during this period of the day, as the heat is very tiring.
- Cover your head and body when out in direct sunlight, especially when first exposed to the sun. Sturdy boots are recommended for rugged or mountainous terrain.
- Be alert to the fact that snakes and scorpions frequent the desert and take some anti-venom with you.
- Keep re-applying high factor sunscreen to the exposed parts of your body, regularly, usually every hour.
- Make sure that you have the correct medical supplies - a first-aid kit is essential in case of accidents. Also ensure that your vaccinations are up to date.
- When Visiting Sites and Monuments: 8. When visiting monuments, remove your rucksack and carry it in your hands. This will stop you inadvertently rubbing up against the delicate surfaces, which may contain wall paintings or reliefs.
- Never touch the monuments, either paintings or reliefs, as this will leave traces of moisture, grease and salts behind. The paints the ancient Egyptians used were water soluble, and although one person rubbing a monument may not harm it, when magnified thousands of times over this will eventually wear away and destroy the beautiful reliefs and paintings.
- Although it is tempting to pick up the odd potsherd, lithic artefact or fossil, please refrain from doing so, as this may be the only means that an archaeologist has of learning more about the people that made them or dating the site or monument. It is also classed as antiquities theft and is therefore illegal.
- Do not scribble graffiti on the monuments or on any other sites because this is vandalism, damages the Egyptian heritage and detracts value from sites and monuments. In addition, it is an offence under Egyptian law.
- When walking through the sites and monuments stick to the authorised pathways. This will prevent inadvertently stepping on and damaging delicate archaeological remains.
- Do not leave your litter to blow around the desert or sites, take it away with you and dispose of it thoughtfully or bury it in a pit if this is not possible.
- Do not buy any artefacts from hawkers if you have even the slightest doubt they may be authentic antiquities, for this only encourages the tomb robbers and fuels the illicit antiquities market.
- Purchase a good guidebook to the sites and monuments of Egypt, for it is always helpful if you know the history of what you are looking at.