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Insights into Egypt

The idea is creeping into my head: Egypt in winter 2019.

Anyone have any insights, ideas, suggestions, or information to help me turn this idea into a trip?

I travel solo, if that makes any difference.

Posted by
4578 posts

We went 2 girls 2guys in January 2010. The weather was perfect. We toured Cairo and the Pyramids ourselves. Our hotel in Cairo arranged our trip to Luxor, Aswan, and then Abu Simbel after we planned out trip using the Lonely Planet guide.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/egypt

Personally I would not do this solo (2 heads are better as you will attract touts everyday and that can be annoying ) and would try to get someone to go with you or buy a group tour; group tours tend to be too expensive for my taste. If you buy a tour it is cheaper to do it in Cairo than from the USA.

Posted by
444 posts

I had a close friend that was a hard core traveller, he and his wife backpacked around the world for a year for their honeymoon, he used a guide and said it made life easier. He has been back since the Arab spring and said there have been no change in his safety.

Posted by
2308 posts

I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years and visited Egypt twice. It was relatively safe when I visited in the 80s.

A lot has happened in Egypt since then. The Arab Spring put the radical Muslim Brotherhood in power, however the MB President was so bad that most Egyptians were very unhappy with the MB running the country, when the military threw out that President, most Egyptians were happy.

The MB still operates in Egypt, and attacks Christian Churches and Christians. 10% of Egyptians are Christians. The Sinai Desert region is very dangerous, with HAMAS and al Qaeda operating there as well.

There are still risks to visiting Egypt, but if you go with a tour group, you will have armed guards escorting you.

I strongly advise against doing Egypt on your own or wandering around places like Cairo on your own.
This is especially true for women.

Posted by
1138 posts

I am an older woman solo traveller. In late 2010, I had plans to visit Egypt on a tour as an add on to a tour to East Africa for November 2011. Jan 2011-Tahrir Square and the shake up of Egypt. I read a destination specific forum daily learning what was happening on the ground. In March/April, Europeans started to return to Egypt (mostly Hergada area). Then they announced elections would be in November 2011 - and I knew I had to change my plans. Early May North American tours started returning to Egypt and I decided to go for it. It was a short turn around time of 2 weeks, but I felt that was the best plan. I took a Trafalgar tour. Normally 35+ people on a big bus, this time 5 people on a mini van - no armed guards required. I arrived before the tour and stayed after the tour to do my own thing. I did use a guide my first two days to get me to Alexandria, then her driver to walk with me around the Pyramids. After the tour, I got myself around, but as we stayed near the Museum and Nile, I didn't go far. During the tour, there was an optional trip to Abu Simbal. There was no guide and I was the only person from the group to take the flights and do the site. I had no qualms about this.
However, I would be less likely to do this now - as a woman. Speaking to some younger women experienced travellers, at times they had to leave areas like Luxor due to harrassment.
My advice:
- check whether there will be elections close to your travel dates
- visit other travel websites - those catering more to the backpack traveller and those with strong destination specific forums - I believe you need feedback from various areas and most crucially; feedback from people on the ground
- plan on being part of a group for at least the first day or two until you get your feet wet. Culture shock and jet lag can be overwhelming and leave the best person more vulnerable
- if you can swing it, a Nile cruise would be a great way to see part of the country
- instead of train to Luxor, might be safer to use flights
-know when sunset is.....grab a seat near the Nile and listen. Listen to the sounds of the call to prayer as it pops up from the various mosques in the area. The cadence of the call with its up and down, deep and quiet. Watch the sunset as the colours change to dusk and then dark. This is a time of peace. This is the basis of a religion - not the fundamentalists that take things to the extremes (no religion or faith is free from radicals)
- keep planning until you decide - either way

Posted by
36 posts

You didn't mention where in Egypt you might be interested. If Cairo then do the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx. Sounds corny, but ride a camel while you're there.

If you're interested in shopping then there are lots of bazaars. I did Khan Al-Khalili.

You can do the pyramids by yourself, but I'd highly recommend a guide if you're doing the bazaar thing. That would be an intermediary between you and the vendors who are good at getting you to pay way more that something is worth.

Posted by
293 posts

Going there with my husband in Feb 2019. Taking an escorted tour with Odyssey Unlimited. This is our first tour. We travel on our own. Will be in Egypt for 15 days then onto Jordan for 5 days.
Excited about the adventure. Might have some nerves, but I feel that if we are polite, not loud and obnoxious, follow the local customs- head scarf and modest clothing, and learning a few useful phrases will make things fun. Everything that I mentioned, we also use when traveling to any country.

Posted by
9 posts

I went earlier this year during Ramadan, some of my tips for your trip:
- Absolutely do a Nile River cruise. Some of the best scenery and beautiful moments I experienced were going down the lazy river
- In Cairo, it's worth getting a tour guide for the Pyramids. There's so much history in it and you will learn a lot more from a human guide than a guidebook (just don't forget to tip at the end)
- Splurge a bit on your accommodations in Cairo. It's a very cheap city and you can get luxury hotels (like Conrad) for around $100-$150 a night. It's also such a chaotic city that you'll appreciate the escape from it all every night
- As others have already mentioned, dress modestly. You'll be fine not covering your hair (I've seen other female tourists not doing so), but cover your shoulders and wear long pants
- Get a SIM card at the airport and set up Uber on your phone. Best way to get around Cairo

Posted by
12 posts

We went earlier this year, we did an Insight tour that was mostly just the two of us plus our guide and driver, it was a fantastic trip, we felt safe and saw so much.
Our Cairo hotel was the Marriott, an ex palace with quite a number of restaurants with quite fabulous food.
We may go again when the new Egyptian Museum is finally finished, it is huge.
Insight contract their tours to a company called Spring Tours, they were just so good and efficient I probably would use them when we go back. We did use them to do a private tour to El Alamein, which had family connection.

Posted by
47 posts

I used Egypt and Beyond Travel in May 2018. Tarek and his company are phenomenal! I have only great things to say about this company, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again! Egypt was amazing itself, and you should definitely go!! Please PM if you have any specific questions or want more details. Actually visited Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. This made a great combo :)

Posted by
1 posts

Has anyone used Indus or SmarTours recently for the Egypt tour? I am looking for something safe but economical and would prefer airfare from USA included.