Making a difference to the communities of Egypt
Why Volunteer in Egypt?
Egypt, a Mediterranean country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East, dates back to the time of the pharaohs. Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government.
This is your chance to explore the history and iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, alongside the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings; reflecting a distinguished legacy and remaining a significant focus of scientific and popular interest.
Egypt possesses some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with coastlines on both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Not to mention the coastline of Egypt’s lifeline, the Nile River.
Egypt boasts a magnitude of history, culture and scenic attractions. Very few countries have the opportunities Egypt presents.
From the great deserts of the west and rocky topography of the Sinai Peninsula to the lush Nile Valley, Egypt is a land of great diversity and opportunity, with huge appeal to almost everyone. Here are our highlights of the best things to see in Egypt.
- The last remaining wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the enigmatic half lion/half man symbol of the Old Kingdom, the Sphinx, are not to be missed
- Explore beautiful beaches with the crystal clear water of the Mediterranean Sea and stunning coral reefs of the Red Sea, while enjoying world-class diving experiences. Along the Red Sea Coast and the Sinai are some of the best dive sites in the world.
- Wander the busy street markets of Cairo, while engaging in cultural exchange when bartering with local vendors.
- Travel back in time and visit various historical marvels including ancient temples, tombs, mausoleums and monasteries.
- Check out the world’s largest collection of Egyptian artefacts, including the Royal Mummies and Tutankhamun’s gold mask, at the Egyptian Museum
- Experience the Sahara Desert, the world’s largest hot desert, by taking part in our Bedouin Safaris while camping under the stars
Fun Facts about Egypt
- The ancient Egyptians invented the 365-days a year calendar, to predict the yearly flooding of the Nile river.
- The Red Sea is one of the Seven Wonders of Africa, offering some of the best snorkelling and diving spots in the world due to its calm nature with high temperatures allowing for the development of a wealth of undersea life.
- The great pyramids were not built by slaves. Many people believe this, but that was not the case. They were paid labourers who believed this to be a great honour towards the Pharoah and those who died were buried in the tombs near the sacred pyramids.
- The Ancient Egyptians had so many gods that literally every city had its own favourite deity.
- Aswan High Dam is the world’s sixth-largest dam based on water storage capacity, built to contain the raging waters of the world’s longest river, the Nile.
- Egypt has more than 3451 hours of sun each year. Aswan is the third sunniest place in the world with 3863 hours of sun each year, that’s 10 hours of sun a day!
Egypt Volunteer Destinations
Come and explore the historic ruins of one of the greatest, most ancient and powerful civilizations in the history of the world, while contributing to the impoverished communities of Egypt.
Egypt is a beautiful country with a vastly impressive history that demonstrates the capability and fortitude of the Egyptian people. However, over the years, Egypt has experienced a significant economic and social decline. With a population of over 100 million and over 32% living below the poverty line, Egypt has become a worthwhile volunteer destination with ample opportunity for contribution efforts and immense potential for advancement.
Become part of the team and help us achieve our goal of returning Egypt to its former glory by restoring the competence and power of the Egyptian people, through helping to enable local communities to flourish and become sustainable.
Over a quarter of the Egyptian population is illiterate; 18.5 per cent of males and 33.6 per cent of females cannot read or write. With our projects focused on community development, especially education, you will be playing a vital role in alleviating Egypt’s illiteracy and poverty rates.
Go M.A.D. (make a difference) on a mass scale and be prepared to immerse yourself in the culture of this monumental destination, while experiencing the warmth of the local people and sampling the delightful traditional cuisine.
Egyptian Highlights & Excursions
Get the opportunity to explore everything from the banks of the Nile River and the sands of the Sahara Desert to the beaches of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Egypt provides world-class activities and opportunities. You can discover some of the world’s most exquisite landmarks, captivating culture and mesmerising views on offer.
Giza Pyramids, Sphinx and Saqqara
Explore the top three sites in Cairo at ease alongside a knowledgeable guide and engage in the great variety of activities on offer. Come see the Giza Pyramids, the only remaining survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Sphinx, the oldest known monumental sculpture, and the world-famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, an archaeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis.
Luxor and Aswan
The city of Luxor is regarded to be the world’s largest open-air museum, with its neighbouring Aswan also housing some of Egypt’s most significant archaeological sites – explore relics of Egypt’s ancient past like Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Philae temples, while enjoying activities like hot air ballooning and sailing the Nile River on a Felucca.
Nile Felucca Sunset Cruise
Sail the longest river in the world on a Felucca; traditional wooden sailing boat. Watch the sun set over Egypt’s capital and enjoy charming views of the Nile River, as you feel the wind on your face with a refreshing beverage in hand. You will get to see Cairo in a whole new light from the water on a journey, sailing down the same river Cleopatra did so many centuries ago.
Red Sea Sinai Desert Road Trip
This adventure tour allows you to explore the best spots and activities the Sinai Desert and Red Sea have to offer. Visit historical biblical attractions, like St. Catherine’s Monastery, and climb Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Admire the crystal clear waters and stunning coral reefs of the Red Sea, and beautiful rock formations of the Sinai Desert, while enjoying a variety of activities offered, including kitesurfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, sandboarding, quad biking, horse/camel riding, and overnight Bedouin Safari camping under the stars.
Cairo Citadel, Khan El Khalili Bazaar & Egyptian Museum
This comprehensive sightseeing tour allows you to immerse yourself in the rich Egyptian culture and history while admiring the stunning Islamic architecture Cairo is famous for. Come explore the Citadel of Salah al-Din, a medieval Islamic-era fortification, revel in the extensive collection of antiquities on display at the Egyptian Museum, and browse the shops at Khan el Khalili, the busy colourful street bazaar, located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, filled with unique and exotic items from spices and perfumes to jewellery and souvenirs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the official language of Egypt? Do the locals speak English?
The official language used in Egypt is Arabic.
Egypt was a British colony for 70 years, and as a result, most educated Egyptians will learn English in school. Egyptians are very hospitable people. Their English may be broken but it will get the job done.
You will be interacting with underprivileged individuals with limited understanding of the English language on your volunteer project but you will have a community coordinator with you to facilitate communication and encourage cultural exchange.
What is the currency used in Egypt & how can I exchange money?
The currency used in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP or LE). You can exchange money at one of the several currency exchange spots located near your accommodation. We recommend you not exchange too much money at once until you are more familiar with the currency and prices of items in the market.
What is the official religion of Egypt and how influential is it?
Egypt’s majority population is Muslim (mostly Sunni) 94%, with Coptic Christian and other making up 6%.
Religion in Egypt controls many aspects of social life and is endorsed by law. Since Islam is recognized as the official state religion, Islamic law is the basis for legislative decisions in Egypt.
What are some commonly used words and phrases that could facilitate getting by and allow for cultural exchange with locals?
- Hello – Is salam ‘alaykum
- Do you speak English? – Betekkallem ‘engelizi? (to a man), betekkallemi ‘engelizi (to a woman).
- My name is… – Ismee…
- Please – Low samaht.
- Thank you – Shukran.
- Where’s the toilet? – El-hammam fain?
- Goodbye – Ma’is salama.
When is the best time to visit Egypt?
Egypt is a year-round destination – although the summer months can be particularly hot, especially towards the south of Egypt in Luxor and Aswan.
Temperatures in Egypt are generally high, particularly during the summer months from May to August. If you’re coming during this time, take plenty of sunscreens. It’s still fine to visit Egypt at these times of the year and the heat is more dry than humid.
In Cairo and the Nile Delta region, winter (October to February) can be cooler, especially in the evenings and at night, so take a jacket, long-sleeved tops and trousers. The south remains warm during this time but again, temperatures do drop in the evenings. This is the best time to visit Egypt for sightseeing if you want to avoid the hot sun.
The shoulder months of September, March and April offer pleasant daytime temperatures and are considered ideal months to enjoy the Red Sea for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. Scuba diving can be enjoyed year-round.
Are there any special customs I should observe in Egypt?
Yes, most Egyptian customs differ from Western customs due to cultural and religious differences, as shown below:
- Most women in Egypt behave conservatively with strangers.
- Normal contact is quite acceptable, but intimate actions in the public such as kissing and caressing may irritate most Muslims.
- Most mosques require all visitors to remove their shoes, and women to cover their hair, before entering.
- It is inappropriate to discuss religions with Egyptians from an atheistic or similar perspective.
- It is unseemly to take photos of soldiers, tanks or any other military property.
How is it visiting Egypt during the holy month of Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, a lunar calendar marked by the new moon, so it always falls on the same day of the Islamic Calendar but varies from year to year on the Gregorian Calendar, a solar calendar. It is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community, where Muslims become more committed to their religion and abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and immoral behaviours from sunrise to sunset every day, while visiting their mosque more regularly and reading as much of the Quran (the Islamic sacred book) as possible.
During Ramadan, the general pace of life in Egypt slows down compared to that in normal days. Shops, museums, and historical attractions officially close earlier before sunset. Almost all Muslims try to get home or to a restaurant in time for the “Iftar” (meal to break the fast at sunset) with family and friends.
Some restaurants and cafés open only after sunset and most stop serving alcoholic beverages. All hotels will be completely operational, including their restaurants and bars serving meals and alcoholic drinks as usual, because many tourists love to explore this amazing country during this special month.
Visiting Egypt during Ramadan is truly a fantastic way to discover an important part of the Egyptian culture and enjoy the special festive atmosphere pervading throughout the country, with people enjoying live music, traditional dancing and oriental lanterns all night until just before sunrise when they have the second big meal called “Sohour”, which will help them fast the next day. The culture, the prayer and the sharing of food, everything here makes it a very rewarding experience.
What is the most popular sport in Egypt?
Football (or soccer) is Egypt’s most popular sport with a team that competes internationally. The Egyptian national team is the most successful team in Africa, having won the Africa Cup of Nations a record seven times.
Why are weekends different in Egypt?
As Islamic countries are most likely to have their weekends centered around Fridays, which is their holy day, Sunday is the first day of the week in Egypt, with the weekend being Friday and Saturday.
Know Before You Go
Code of Conduct
Volunteering Safety Tips
Despite media portrayal, Egypt is considered a very safe country in comparison to the rest of the world. According to a recent Gallup poll conducted in 2018, Egypt has been ranked the safest country in Africa and higher than both the UK and US.
Egypt has been ranked 16th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th.
You will be staying in one of the safest neighbourhoods in Cairo, so you can comfortably explore the streets. However, there are some safety tips you need to follow:
- Volunteers must be accompanied by at least one other volunteer or staff member when leaving the premises and must notify Volunteer Manager prior to departure.
- For your safety, do not use public transport. We recommend you always use Uber when going anywhere that is not walking distance and share your ride on the app with the Volunteer Manager. Please make sure to save the address or location of the accommodation.
- Sign out and in – when leaving accommodation you must sign out and sign back in before curfew. Even though the volunteer manager is not living on-site, there are staff members and security cameras there to keep track of this.
- Do not leave valuables and money unattended. There is a safe located in your room to store your valuables.
- Do not carry excessive amounts of cash on you.
- Listen to your project manager and respect the local rules and customs at all times! Please remember that you will be working outdoors, in an unfamiliar community and environment.
- Do not enter townships unless accompanied by a local staff member.
- To avoid unnecessary attention in the streets please follow the recommended dress code discussed in your induction and found in the Know Before You Go section.
- Be wary of people who seem too friendly too fast – do not give out your personal contact details to anyone under any circumstances.
- Save your project manager’s number on your phone and make sure to provide us with a copy of your emergency contact at home.
- Only drink bottled water. Tap water is not safe to drink in Egypt.
- Do not swim or drink from the Nile River.
- Local vendors can be very persistent especially in popular touristic spots, it’s best to just dismiss them and keep walking.
Please consult with your private physician or doctor in regards to what immunizations or vaccinations are needed.
Hepatitis A: Recommended
Yellow Fever: Egypt is NOT at risk to yellow fever. You only require a yellow fever certificate if you are arriving from a yellow-fever infected area.
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