Is Egypt safe?
We place the safety of our travelers and staff as our top priority. We are continuously in close contact with our knowledgeable on-the-ground staff, network of in-country partners and the US State Department. We update our site with the most current safety situation. If at any time safety becomes an issue we will alter the trip itinerary or, if absolutely necessary, cancel, post-pone a trip, or end a tour early. Our local guides and American tour director will be closely monitoring the situation while the tours are in-progress to ensure that every tour is safe, though currently we do not anticipate any need to change the itinerary of our upcoming tours.
So is Egypt safe? Yes. Egypt is in fact safer than most big cities in the US. The unrest in Egypt the past few years has been focused on protesting the government and has not specifically targeted tourists or tourism sites. Egypt has an extensive tourist infrastructure, and over the past decade and a half there has been a long tradition in Egypt for sites and tourists to be provided strong protection. Whether in Cairo or other parts of Egypt, if you use common sense you shouldn’t have a problem. Don’t walk down dark alleys by yourself at night. Avoid protests; as a foreigner you may not know which ones are peaceful and which may clash with police. Don’t engage with someone who yells something offensive at you. Be vigilant for scams (Not paranoid, just vigilant. If something is too good to be true, it usually is.). Of course, if you were in New York City all the same rules would apply too.
For most of the tour, you will be with our local guides and American tour director who will help to ensure you remain safe and enjoy your time in Egypt. We have carefully selected appropriate locations for free time, such as in el-Gouna, where travelers can explore the area on their own without much difficulty or concern for any safety issues.
Our savvy local female guides and in-country staff know Egypt and the changing situation very well. They understand how to move through Egypt and travel smoothly within the Egyptian system. Traveling with local women also reduces potential harassment. Harassment, mostly in the form of lewd sayings, does happen from time to time in Egypt. We do our best to limit any possible harassment and our local women guides are knowledge in managing situations to reduce the chance of any possible harassment.
Egypt is a large, diverse country. The following is a detailed explanation of different regions in Egypt and their current situations.
- Cairo. Cairo is Egypt’s capital city and the 11th largest (by population) city in the world. Cairo is BIG and as such what happens in one part of Cairo can seem like three or four cities away to the other part of Cairo. Most large scale protests happen in two places: Tahrir Square and near the Defense Ministry. Most protests are in these parts of Cairo because these are the administrative centers, government centers, and military centers. Tahrir Square quickly became the epicenter of the revolution (its name means Freedom Square) and has remained a focal point of protests. If a protest happens at Tahrir Square it usually stays at Tahrir Square and visitors to the Pyramids at Giza would have no idea it occurred until they turned on CNN that evening. Given Cairo’s networks of freeways ringing the city, it is easy to visit Giza, Islamic Cairo, and Khan el-Khalili and completely miss any commotion from a protest. The Cairo Museum, on Tahrir Square, is the only site impacted by protests (sometimes it closes for large scale protests and sometimes it remains open). Cairo, like any large city, is a place where travelers should use common sense to remain safe. Most crime that does occur in Cairo is pickpocketing or the occasional scam.
- Alexandria (lovingly referred to as ‘Alex’ by locals), located on the Mediterranean, did experience a few protests during the Arab Spring, though these days the town is pretty quiet and back to its mellow Mediterranean nature (at least, mellow by Egyptian standards). Sites have remained opened and were little impacted by the Arab Spring. Alexandria is a pretty safe town, and the cornice is a lovely place to stroll in the evenings.
- Luxor. The largest town in Upper Egypt, Luxor experienced a few occasional demonstrations during the Arab Spring, but the impact as minimal and tourism has continued relatively normally (though visitor numbers are down). The smaller crowds have in fact made it easier and much more enjoyable to explore the sites on the West Bank (especially the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens), as well as Karnak Temple in the East Bank.
- Aswan. The Arab Spring had little impact on Aswan. Tourism continued as normal, except for the smaller number of tourists and Nile cruise boats. Travel to Abu Simbel has not been affected.
- The Red Sea. Resorts along the Red Sea such as el-Gouna, Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh (if you just call it ‘Sharm’ locals will think you’re an ‘in-the-know’ expat) had not been impacted by the revolution and tourism has continued completely unaffected.
- Sinai Peninsula. There have been a few attacks on police and one on a group of tourists on the border with Israel. It has generally been understood for some time not to drive through the Sinai. These attacks seem to be isolated incidents. Still, to be cautious we do not take guests to the Sinai and do not recommend travelers drive through the Sinai or make the Israel-Egypt land border crossing.
- From Cairo to Luxor. Travelers need a police or military escort to visit these areas as there is less of a police and government presence. We fly between Cairo and Luxor and bypass this part of Egypt. If you wish to visit Tel el-Amarna it is uncertain (due to the extremely low number of visitors) whether it will be opened for just a handful of visitors at this time. Special arrangements usually need to be made to visit this area.
- The Desert and Oases. Egypt is known for its beautiful oases and dramatic deserts. Siwa, Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga Oases are all popular spots to visit and have been unaffected by the Arab Spring, except for the decreased number of tourists.