Egypt: Is it safe?

I travelled in mainland Egypt along the Nile not in the Sinai Peninsula Region. I have no experience of how tourists are treated there.

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Standing on the Great Pyramid. Nearly a year later I’m still in awe.

Egypt especially its tourism and tourists are not having the best time of it lately. 224 dead from a plane crash the likely cause of which seems to be a bomb, multiple countries suspending flights there and government travel warnings that are less than encouraging. These are things that the country with the oldest tourism industry doesn’t need.

I visited Egypt in March 2015 and I had been indecisive about going there while planning my trip. The images of Tahir Square and it’s protesters came to the forefront of my mind when I  thought of Egypt. Then the pyramids would float into my mind and my childhood love of the Mummy movies and Egyptian god and goddesses fables. I went back and forth between going there or else Tunisia, the seemingly safe option. The later attack on tourists there showed me how wrong I was for falling into the trap that there isn’t inherent risk in everything you do.

Honestly maybe I compartmentalise things but I felt safe throughout my time in Egypt. Our hotels had airport level scanners for going in and out. We had an armed tourism guard forced to join our group bus journey from Alexandria to Cairo and sniffer dogs circle the bus before we parked at each hotel. These things might unnerve some but I never felt in danger even while going through such checks. The guards never seemed that concerned in fact our armed escort fell asleep for most of the journey back to Cairo. Were we really in danger? I just didn’t think so.

A lot of the unrest in Egypt and instability in recent times is internal directed towards their government and its faults and not towards tourists. I never felt personally unwelcome and the further I travelled south along the Nile and away from chaotic Cairo I felt more relaxed. The side effect of tourism dwindling there so much at the moment is that you can see some usually crowded sights – the Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, Abu Simbel – with nowhere near their normal crowds. We arrived at the Pyramids for their opening but after being there two hours there was little over a hundred people there; considering the vastness of the sight this felt sparse. Getting there early meant we had beat the midday heat as it seems there i not tourist throngs to beat in Egypt currently. In fact there were greater crowds further south in Luxor and Aswan but nowhere pre 2010 standards.

If you’re thinking of going to Egypt go, seeing such iconic sights like the Sphinx in person is surreal. Rather than unwelcome you might feel too welcome as the there’s a novelty to western tourists so you may be asked to have your picture taken. For all my nerves and worrying the payoff was well worth it. I’m nothing but glad I went to Egypt and there’s no guarantees that going somewhere else will be safer. Paris and Tunisia use to be places you  would never have security concerns about and unfortunately now you do. But that’s the nature of the world. Belfast use to be a no go area and bombings were a common concern. Now people of my generation have no first hand experience of such fear of the North. Fear will get you nowhere, literally. Egypt isn’t as dangerous as it is portrayed and the potential sights and experiences are worth it.

 

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