The Travel Detective Blogs: Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt?
I flew in Cairo stayed at the Four Seasons hotel on the Nile. Occupancy was about 40 percent…in high season. I went to the Pyramids. Nearly deserted. I went to the Khalili bazaar, one of my favorite shopping destinations, which was empty so storekeepers were more eager than ever to make me a deal…on anything. Then I flew to Luxor and boarded Uniworld’s MS Tosca for a cruise on the Nile.
There are currently about 400 ships set up for cruising the Nile, but only about 40 are currently operating. That’s how much tourism has dropped since the Arab Spring began about a year ago.
“We have dropped 85 percent,” Akram, my guide on the ship told me. “And in a country where so many of my fellow citizens depend on travel and tourism to feed their families, this has been a disaster.”
At one point a few months ago, the MS Tosca left the dock in Luxor with only six paying passengers. “We decided to operate anyway,” said one of the ship’s officers, “because we needed to get the message out that we were in business, that Egypt was safe.” The passenger numbers have slowly come back up, but the number of Americans cruising is still hardly registering.
Slowly but surely that word is getting out (emphasis on the word slowly). Not once during my trip on the ship did I feel in any danger. Not once did I feel threatened or compromised. Instead, I, and my other passengers (mostly German, Swiss and French) were showered with service and legendary Egyptian hospitality.
My guides on the ship — Akram and Mohamed — were more than mere tourist guides. They were cutting-edge Egyptologists who didn’t just point things out at the iconic sites like the temples at Karnak, but took me deep inside to explain the granite etchings and the nuances of color still visible on the columns.
The cabins on the 3-year-old ship were surprisingly spacious (and even featured real bathtubs), satellite television and the Internet (connectivity is always a necessity for me). The food was excellent, and there’s even a spa on board (and the top deck features great sun areas and a sizeable pool. And for the moment, plenty of space and no crowds.
The bottom line here: now is the time to go to Egypt. Take that Nile cruise. Bookend your trip with a stay in Cairo. Visit the Egyptian museum on Tahrir Square. (Yes, I went there my first day and…nothing happened). Get out to Giza, and, while you’re at it, try the Japanese restaurant at the Four Seasons. Excellent.
And if you’re friends think you’re crazy for going, look at it this way: Pack some common sense, be willing to immerse yourself in the culture, and then realize that you’d be crazy for NOT going.
Do you feel safe traveling to Egypt after the Arab Spring?
For more information on Egypt, check out:
- news report on Rebuilding Egyptian Tourism
- Peter’s Interview with Jennifer Conlin on Rebuilding Egyptian Tourism
- Despite Recent Revolution, Egypt’s Transformation Tempting Travelers To Return
- Travel Insurance And Egypt: Travel Protection During Civil Unrest
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com
Image Credits: Nina Dietzel