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Egypt Travel Tips for First Time Visitors

Updated on December 28, 2019
ogrote profile image

I am a part time writer, part time traveler, full time IT professional loving the adventures that life offers us each day.

Are you planning to visit Egypt in 2020?

If your answer is yes, then this Hub will provide you with the necessary tourist information to make your visit to this exciting country very pleasurable. I've visited Egypt a couple of times and all advice I provide, is based on my own experiences. The past seven years have been a turbulent period in the "Land of the Pharaohs" causing the tourism industry to take a serious beating.

Please always review your country's own travel advisories for Egypt, before making any booking.


The Mighty Nile

Felucca on the River Nile
Felucca on the River Nile | Source

Egypt, land of mystery. Green treasure in the harsh North African desert. For millennia this mysterious land has drawn visitors to its shores, to experience the magic that is Egypt! The mighty Nile, bringer of life and key to the very survival of the Ancient kingdoms of Egypt and Nubia, has been the magnet, which has lead visitors down to Upper Egypt (Southern) and sometimes as far south as Nubia.

— ogrote

Egypt, Why Egypt?

Alley of Rams at Karnak Temple, Luxor.
Alley of Rams at Karnak Temple, Luxor. | Source

So the question that might be asked is, "What makes this country and especially the Nile so captivating?" The answer lies in the human search for adventure and discovery. In Egypt, you will discover something new around every corner and if you plan your visit correctly, you will experience an adventure like nothing before. Most people visit Egypt to go to the Pyramids and to experience a Nile Cruise. I've decided to create the following Hub to share my opinion on what I feel are the most important places to visit in Egypt. I'll be focusing on a couple of areas of interest:

  • General Egyptian Travel Advice
  • Safety Precautions
  • Cairo and surrounds
  • Aswan and surrounds
  • Luxor and surrounds
  • Nile Cruise and the sites you might encounter

Travel Advice for Egypt

Do your research and homework before you leave home!

The Importance of planning, prior to your visit.

Sunset in Cairo, Lower Egypt
Sunset in Cairo, Lower Egypt | Source

The first rule before visiting Egypt, or any foreign destination for that matter, is to do the necessary research to ensure you have a pleasant and enjoyable trip. This can however be quite a stressful exercise. So let's first get the stressful questions addressed, before we start focusing on the fun part of the planning.

Map of Egypt

Location of the Great Pyramid:
Giza Egypt

get directions

Luxor Egypt

get directions

Aswan Egypt

get directions

Magical Egypt! - The People of Egypt makes every visit worthwhile!

Local Egyptians in the vicinity of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara.
Local Egyptians in the vicinity of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. | Source

Be Careful. Watch all news channels. Post MetroJet plane explosion and Cairo church attack, extra care needs to be taken.

Is it safe to travel to Egypt?

Egypt, as a Middle Eastern country, has gone through a lot of public unrest in the past couple of years (since late 2010), due to the popular uprising against the government of Hosni Mubarak. The tourist industry has suffered a lot due to these uncertainties. There is currently a couple of bad reports coming out of Egypt, relating to tourists being impacted. The best rule would be, to do various searches on the Internet relating to violence and uprisings in Egypt. You can also go to the British or American Governmental websites where the necessary travel alerts are posted. Your tour company will also inform you, if extra care should be taken. The most important thing to remember is that tourism is the lifeblood of the Egyptian economy. A lot of care is taken to ensure that all tourists are being looked after. Hundreds of people visit Egypt every day, having a fantastic time.

The Sphinx in the night sky.
The Sphinx in the night sky.

What is your opinion on the current situation in Egypt?

Will the current political situation in Egypt stabilize?

See results

Do you think it is safe to visit Egypt in 2020?

See results

Health Watch.

1) Visit your local travel clinic, prior to your departure.

2) Take some precautionary medicine.

3) Take bottled water, with you when you go and visit the temples or Pyramids.

Do I need any special Immunisations?

The answer to this question will differ from individual to individual. Best would be to go to your nearest Travel Clinic for information. These clinics will have the latest International health warnings available and they will advise you, on any required medication. Important to always take some precautionary medicine (diarrhea, cold and flu, nausea) with you, when you travel to destinations where doctors or pharmacies might not be easily accessible. In Cairo you will not have any problem finding a doctor or pharmacy, but it will be more difficult in Southern Egypt. Always ensure you have enough chronic and prescription medicine with you. Remember to pack lots of sunblock. Purchase a lot of bottled water at the hotels, shops etc. as you will need a lot of fluid in the Egyptian heat.

Finance Matters


Will I be able to use my credit card?

Credit cards are accepted at most of the hotels and on most of the Nile cruises. It is however advisable for visitors to take travellers checks in U.S. Dollars, as well as, a couple of hundred Dollars in cash. Change bureaus are generally available.

What about Tipping/Baksheesh?

It is advisable to keep a lot of small denomination cash at all times. The reason for this? In Egypt, tipping (baksheesh) is a way of life. No service is carried out without the expectation of a tip. This can be become quite frustrating, if you urgently need the use of a restroom and you haven't got small cash at hand. There might be some frowns if you don't give a tip. Try to also get a feel for the local prices (e.g. the price of a can of 330 ml Coke might be L.E.3 - 3 Egyptian Pounds - but some of the small shop owners might try their luck and charge you more. It is best to question the price, if you do feel comfortable with your surroundings, if not, rather just pay the price asked.

Egyptian Weather Report

What will the weather be like?

Grand Pyramids Hotel, Giza Egypt
Grand Pyramids Hotel, Giza Egypt | Source

Egypt has got a harsh climate, especially in summer. The best time to visit Egypt is in winter (December, January, and February). Spring and autumn are also not too bad, but you must be prepared for still some very hot days during this period. Southern Egypt does get a lot hotter than the North - be prepared!

Dress Code - Religious Respect

Wear cool clothes.
Wear cool clothes.

Are there any special clothing requirements?

Wear cool comfortable clothes for visiting temples and historical sites. Modest clothes need to be worn, if you plan to visit any mosque or church. Long trousers for men and shoulders should be covered. It is all about respect. Take some open and closed footwear with you, as both will come in handy during your stay. Swimming costumes are a necessity if you visit in spring, summer or autumn!

Dietary Precautions

Will I be able to eat the food?

Carvings from one of the many temples in Southern Egypt.
Carvings from one of the many temples in Southern Egypt. | Source

The hotels and Nile cruisers do serve very fine cuisine. It is however advisable to only eat food that has been cooked. This is a general rule, if you want to be careful to not pick up any tummy bug.

Required Travel Documents

Will I require a Visa?

The requirements for a Visa are dependent on your nationality. Please check with your Tour Company or the Egyptian governmental website. Most nationalities can purchase a Visa on arrival at Cairo International Airport.


Keeping in contact with Friends and Family


Will my Mobile phone work?

You should have no problem using your mobile phone in Egypt, if you have roaming enabled. Please however check with your service provider (before you leave home), who their roaming partner network is in Egypt. You could be in for a big surprise when you get your bill, if you just use any mobile network in Egypt on arrival.

Your reason for visiting Egypt?

1) Rest and Relaxation.

2) History and Archaeology.

3) Snorkelling at the Red Sea.

4) Experience the culture.

5) Shopping.

Snorkelling in the Red Sea
Snorkelling in the Red Sea | Source

What tour package should you choose?

Based on your reasons for the visit, you need to start looking for the ideal travel package. There are thousands of tour operators all over the world that market Egyptian touring options. Select one that fits your budget and most importantly fits in with your objective for visiting Egypt. We booked directly on the web with a reliable Egyptian tour operator who has been in business since 1955. Many tour companies operating in Egypt has got the option available for you to let them know which cities, towns and monuments you would like to visit and they would then put a custom tour together, specifically based on your requirements. This is a good option if there are certain places you really want to see. Most Nile cruises have got a fixed itinerary, so you don't need to worry too much about the cruising itinerary. You however will need some knowledge to be able to give a tour operator information to put a tour together for you. This is where your research will come in handy.

Planning a Nile Cruise

What do I need to know about planning a Nile Cruise?

A view of one of the many Nile Cruise boats travelling between Luxor and Aswan.
A view of one of the many Nile Cruise boats travelling between Luxor and Aswan. | Source

The most important thing to keep in mind when you book a Nile cruise, is to try and book a five star or higher rating cruise. The cruise ships are floating palaces. The most important thing to keep in mind is to rest and relax while you are cruising down the Nile. All the ships have got pools, so you can relax on deck while the desert floats pass you. The sights and sounds on the banks of the Nile are magical. You can book all expenses to your room number and pay when you disembark. One thing to take note off is that all drinks that you purchase on board are quite expensive. On some of the cruise ships you are allowed to bring your own drinks on board.

Sample Itinerary for a Nile Cruise Package

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo (Sightseeing)

Day 2: Sightseeing in Cairo (Possible daytrip)

Day 3: Sightseeing in Cairo and Surrounds - leave for Aswan (Southern Egypt) by Air or Train.

Day 4: Arrive Aswan - transfer to Nile Cruiser - Sightseeing in Aswan - Felucca Ride

Day 5: Nile Cruise - Leave Aswan - Visit temple of Kom Ombo

Day 6: Nile Cruise - Visit Temple of Edfu. Visit sites in and around Luxor

Day 7: Disembark Nile cruise. Visit more sites in and around Luxor.

Day 7: Leave for Cairo by train or air.

Day 8: Arrive Cairo - Leave for home

Important note about Nile Cruises

Try and book a five star deluxe or luxury Nile cruise package, if your budget allows for it.

Important Historical sites

It is important to have a broad overview of the towns and monuments that you will be visiting, even if you are only visiting Egypt for shopping or relaxing. You will miss so much of the hidden history of some of the sites, if you visit them, without doing research prior to the visit.

Cairo and Surrounds


The Giza Pyramids area on the outskirts of Cairo.
The Giza Pyramids area on the outskirts of Cairo. | Source

The hustle and bustle, sound of vehicles, smell of smog and throw in a lot of historical landmarks - that is Cairo. There are a lot of historical places in and around Cairo.

The Step Pyramid at Saqqara

The Step Pyramid
The Step Pyramid | Source

This is oldest structure on Earth, built entirely from stone. It was built by the architect Imhotep, for Pharaoh Djoser in the year 2660 BC. Saqqara is one of the biggest burial sites in Egypt. There are also other pyramids in the vicinity, although they are not in such a good condition, as the Step Pyramid or the Pyramids at Giza.

Pyramids at Giza

Giza Complex
Giza Complex | Source

This is without any doubt, one of the top 5 tourist destinations in the world. These structures were built during the 4th Dynasty. The most important of these is the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

Important information about visiting Giza Pyramids.

Confirm with your tour company if the entrance fees to enter at least one of the pyramids are included in your tour price. Many tourists get a surprise when they arrive at the gates of the pyramid enclosure and the tour guide asks them if they want to enter any of the great pyramids, as this will cost extra.

Camel Ride

Camel Ride at Giza
Camel Ride at Giza | Source

Most tourists end up going on a camel ride in the vicinity of the pyramids. This can be a lot of fun. Very important to get a clear understanding from your tour guide, the costs involved. This can vary from very expensive to fairly cheap. Have a look at all the camels waiting to be ridden. It is quite a show and something that will stay with you forever, especially seeing them asleep!

The Great Sphinx

The Sphinx
The Sphinx | Source

The Sphinx is an amazing structure. Have a look at its weathered body. This has caused a lot of controversy about the age of the structure. There is a group of historians lead by Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock that believe the Sphinx is more than 10000 years old, while the majority of Egyptologist will tell you that the Sphinx is probably about 5000 years old. Decide for yourself!

Who do you think was responsible for the construction of the Sphinx?

Cotton Shops, Carpet factories and Perfume shops in Giza

Your tour guide will ask you, if you want to visit any of these while you are in Giza. This might be included as part of your tour as well. It is important for first time visitors to experience these shops. They have got interesting wares, especially the cotton shops. Buy yourself a t-shirt. Don't spend too long at these shops if you have got more sites to visit, as traffic going back into central Cairo could be hectic and it could mean less time at any of the other sites.

The Egyptian Museum

My Son's teddy having a great time in the grounds of the Egyptian Museum!
My Son's teddy having a great time in the grounds of the Egyptian Museum! | Source

This museum has got the biggest treasure trove of Egyptian Antiquities on the planet. This is one place you have to visit, while in Cairo. You however have to be aware that the museum is in close vicinity of Tahrir Square, which is the focus point of any public uprising in Cairo. Your tour company will be up to date on any event that might put you at risk in this part of Cairo.

What can you expect to see in the Egyptian Museum?

Oh glorious things!

Collections not to be missed at the Egyptian Museum.


Queen Hetepheres I Collection.

Tanis Collection.

Khan el Khalili Bazaar

This is one place you need to visit if you are going to Egypt for shopping. Enjoy the atmosphere that makes this Bazaar unique.

Aswan and Surrounds


Aswan dam
Aswan dam | Source

Aswan is the most southern city, close to the border with the Sudan. It is a beautiful city geared towards tourism. Many Nile cruises start in Aswan and sail up the Nile to Luxor. The city is also famous for the location of the Aswan High Dam.

The Quarries of Aswan

The Quarries of Aswan
The Quarries of Aswan | Source

These quarries supplied the ancient Egyptians with most of the granite used in the temples and pyramids. There is an unfinished Obelisk at the site. It provides insight in how these massive structures were carved.

The Philae Isis temple on the Egilka Island.

The Philae Isis temple on the Egilka Island
The Philae Isis temple on the Egilka Island | Source

This well preserved temple dates back to the time of the Ptolemy's (200 BC). The temple is dedicated to the well-known Egyptian goddess Isis. This temple was moved block by block in the 1960s from its original location on the Island of Philae to the island of Egilka, as a result of the construction of the Aswan High dam.

Temples you will see on most Nile cruises.

The Temple of Kom Ombo

Sobek - The crocodile god honored at Kom Ombo.
Sobek - The crocodile god honored at Kom Ombo. | Source

This temple is fairly well preserved and is dedicated to the Egyptian Crocodile headed god of fertility called Sobek.

The Temple of Edfu

Carvings at the Temple of Edfu.
Carvings at the Temple of Edfu. | Source

This temple is one of the best preserved temples in the whole of Egypt and is dedicated to the falcon god, Horus.

Luxor and Surrounds

The Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings | Source

This is one of the most important Archaeological sites in Egypt. There are still active excavations happening in the valley and you might just be lucky enough to see an archaeologist at work. Some of the latest digs centered on tomb KV 63 (which did not have any occupant) and KV 5 which belonged to the sons of the great pharaoh Ramses the second. You can read more about the valley in books written by the well know archaeologist Kent Weeks.

Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon | Source

The Temple of Hatshepsut

The Temple of Hatshepsut
The Temple of Hatshepsut | Source

This temple is at a place called El Deir El Bahary. It is set in an absolute stunning location. The temple has been beautifully restored. Work is still continuing, as at so many other monuments in Egypt. Please note that you do need to be quite fit to walk up the ramp/stairs that lead to the temple.

The Temple of Karnak

The Temple of Karnak
The Temple of Karnak | Source

This is the largest place of worship ever built. For generations Pharaohs have extended the complex adding their own flavor and style. The most important part of the temple to visit, is the “Hypostyle Hall” which looks like a forest of giant pillars.

The Temple of Luxor

The Temple of Luxor
The Temple of Luxor | Source

This is a beautiful temple in the center of Luxor town. It was built for the god Amun. There are huge statues of Ramses the second. You will see an avenue of Sphinxes stretching into Luxor town. This is currently being excavated and will one day join up with the temple of Karnak as in ancient times.


A donkey having breakfast on the outskirts of Luxor.
A donkey having breakfast on the outskirts of Luxor. | Source

This was just a high level summary of some of the important things to look at prior to booking a tour to Egypt. Egypt as a destination is a never ending adventure. The memories of your trip, will stay with you, long after you have left the banks of the Nile.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 ogrote

Please comment on Egypt as a tourist destination. - Did you find this travel advice on Egypt and Nile cruises helpful?

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    • ogrote profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @ideadesigns: Thanks for the visit and the feedback. I'll add more content w.r.t. the guides and how to manage them as they do in some cases have their own deals with the cotton shops and camel owners! The Valley of the Lings is a life changing experience - hot, dry and full of adventure and history!


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love love love this lens! Mostly because I love Egypt, but secondly because of the personal photos and information of your own journey. I like how you have questions and answers, especially questions that are most important like safety, health and what to expect. I like the donkey pic, it puts the traveling in perspective. I'd like to hear a little about the guides and what to expect and what if you get a bad one? I'm sure you'd have to watch your money and know where the safe areas are. (I read "The God of the mountain" and she goes into great detail their travels in Egypt back in the 1990s. I'm sure things have changed politically some.) The valley of the Kings looks promising. Thanks for this really personal and quality lens!!

    • aminebombom profile image


      7 years ago from Doha, Qatar

      Egypt is a very touristic country, you have a good notes here

    • profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      8 years ago

      Your lens was most excellent! I would add: always carry your own toilet paper when visiting the historic sites as attendants sell you little sheets if you have failed to bring your own. Always always always carry water everywhere you go. Take melatonin on the plane to help avoid jet lag so you are not sleeping all day & missing everything. And pre-check to make sure the pyramid you want to visit is open when you go as they do rotate their closures for cleaning.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      if i've got the time and money, i'd certainly go to egypt and experience its ancient mystic wonders. haha! thanks for this lens :))

    • profile image

      mcspocky lm 

      8 years ago

      I would LOVE to visit Egypt sometime... I've always wanted to go there.

    • Mr Criminology profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      I am in Egypt right now and the people are friendly and not exactly what the news says.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      8 years ago

      I enjoyed my virtual visit to Egypt :D

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 

      8 years ago

      Great lens and a nice place to visit. I liked your intro photo and others as well.

    • Ardyn25 profile image


      8 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens, very informative. I hope to visit Egypt one day.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      8 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      It's on my list as a destination. Thank for all the detailed information.

    • Phoenix2361 profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent lens. I'll sending this to my daughter who is interested in visiting Egypt.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent General Travel Tips for Egypt :) thanks for share.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Visiting again because I hope to one day visit there and take a cruise down the Nile with Camden. :-)

    • Rosaquid profile image


      9 years ago

      I wish I could go.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I would love to take a Nile cruise.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 

      9 years ago

      Great lens ! I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      coolmon2009 lm 

      9 years ago

      Nice lens and resource on Egypt.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      9 years ago

      We visited Egypt some ten years ago. Nile cruise, Sharm, Cairo. Very interesting country! Wouldn't mind going back.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      One of the best travel guide lens on squidoo. Really love your nice present. 5 gorgeous stars for you. Have a wonderful time.. always.. dear ogrote :)

    • profile image

      ArthurF LM 

      9 years ago

      A very well detailed travel guide! I am super impressed. I have no plans to travel there anytime soon but I will be back here if I do!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      FAntastic lens, great job!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent lens and great tips for travel! Thank you!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      9 years ago from Colorado

      I would love to visit Egypt. Appreciate the suggestions. Thank you!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Great tips! Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wish can go to Egypt!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice lens, great topic!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      9 years ago

      I would so love to go to Egypt one day.

    • profile image

      orange3 lm 

      9 years ago

      I have never been to Egypt but I hope to go someday.

      Great information and photos here :)

    • HenkWillemse profile image


      9 years ago

      Really nice lens, great photos and information, I'd like to visit Egypt some day. It's one of my bucket list destinations (with Switzerland)

    • Cassidy Wadsworth profile image

      Cassidy Wadsworth 

      9 years ago

      Very interesting and helpful.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      9 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I have never experienced Egypt... I hope I will get a chance to see it!

      Thanks for valuable info.

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 

      9 years ago

      Like your lens very much...Once I visited Egypt, Taba Heights; have to go back to see the pyramids...Thx for you squidlike...

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      9 years ago from Ljubljana

      I just visited lens about Sahara. Now I want to see Nile too!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      You must be from Egypt as you seem to have a lot of first hand knowledge. You would make a great tour guide. I have always wanted to visit there.

    • ChenB profile image


      9 years ago

      What a remarkable lens filled with great information concerning one of the world's oldest civilizations!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great and interesting lens! Thumbs up!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      9 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi great info and tips, love to visit Egypt.

    • PennyHowe profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow! What a wealth of information you have presented for us here. I really like the way, in the middle of your lens, you asked and answered using the question technique. I have always wanted to visit Egypt and it is on my Bucket list--just haven't made it yet, but I will. Thanks once again.

    • DuaneJ profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm sure this will tempt a lot of people to visit Egypt...

    • profile image

      Michey LM 

      9 years ago

      Great informative lens. Thanks

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is one of the places I would love to visit, I have added it to my bucket list.

    • ogrote profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @Keepingscore: Hi keepingscore

      The duration of your trip depends on what you want to go and see. If you only want to experience the Pyramids etc. then 3 days will be enough. If you howeever want to include a Nile cruise the 9 to 10 days will be sufficient. Not sure if you knew, but you can also have fantastic beach holidays in Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea! - this can be great option if you want some different scenery from stuffy tombs and temles etc. Just keep your eyes on the news papers before you book anything - politics can change anything.



    • Keepingscore profile image


      9 years ago

      Have never been to Egypt, prefer to travel on my own. If I went to Egypt I would probably go as part of a tour group as the language and cultural barriers would make solo travel very hard. The pyramids would have to be the site I would most want to visit, without the pyramids what would make Egypt a destination? How long would you suggest a person allocate for a trip to Egypt? Nice work here.

    • profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 

      9 years ago

      Very good work on this lens, it makes one consider Egypt as a travel destination. See you around the galaxy...

    • Spiderlily321 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great pics and info. Thank you for sharing!

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great lens with good advice. You seem to have thought of everything. Blessed by a Squid angel.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      9 years ago

      I have always wanted to visit Egypt.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was just talking about visiting Egypt a few days ago.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great guide to Egypt! Not sure I would ever visit there, but maybe one day to see the pyramids.

    • ogrote profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @JoshK47: thx for the comment. Putting the lens together, did take quite some time.

    • ogrote profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @aurora7: thx for your kind words. Try your best to get to Egypt sometime in the future. You will not be sorry. The memory of the country and its people will stay with you, your whole life!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice lens. This is a great guide to Egypt. I would love to see the pyramids.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice information - thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great site, with lots of useful information.


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