We are booked on a tour to Egypt/Jordan with Odysseys Unlimited Nov 2-20. They had to cancel our March 2013 tour because of unrest, so they don't travel if it's unsafe. Have any of you been there lately or know anyone who has? Any concerns or ideas??? I really want to get there, so hope it's a go! Thanks for any advice.
I wouldn't have any concerns about the tourist areas in Jordan but some of the areas in Egypt may be dicey at any time. If the tour operator is as reliable and responsible as you say, then you are in good hands. If you're asking to predict the future, Egypt is volatile, and violence can flare up at any given time in any part of the country.
My wife and I were in Egypt this year (2015) from Sep 18th through Oct 2nd. We had an incredible time and never had any issue with security or feeling unsafe during our visit. We booked a 15-day cruise (our first cruise; and we were told could include up to 26 people but when we arrived ended-up only being the two of us!) with Right-Travel (in NY, but our agents and Egyptologist were all local contractors) that included Cairo, Giza and 7-day Nile ship cruise and added other sites including, Abu Simbel, Abydos and Dendura (all 3 HIGHLY recommended, even though Abu Simbel requires a very short flight).
Tourism was visibly - depressingly, really - low, and, we were often the only visitors - or, among very few others - at some sites. This generally worked to our advantage, relative to the visit, but left us exposed to the sometimes large groups of vendors that are at EVERY site regardless of time of day. This still wasn't much of an issue as you could walk past all without being blocked, etc.
The antiquities are fabulous (would also recommend paying extra to access the inside of the Great Pyramid so you can practice your 'Om' - the acoustics are incredible.
There are two types of temples and burial sites in Egypt: pre-dynastic and dynastic (before Greco-Roman times, roughly 350 BC-550 AD) and the Greco-Roman times that included the Cleopatra/Ptolemaic eras of the final dynasties. The newer sites have in many cases been defaced by the early Christians that painstakingly chipped away at much of the carved interiors and exteriors. THe ancient sites were mostly buried under hundreds of feet of sand for thousands of years before being discovered in the 1800's. Among the early sites are the Giza Pyramid area, Valley of the Kings Tombs (along with Valley of the Queen), the Karnak Temple complex, Abydos Temple and Abu Simbel.
These sites have incredibly retained most of their color and inscribed interiors and exteriors. The Greco_Roman sites, while definitely impressive, have, in some cases, suffered much damage from being defaced.
We stayed twice at Mena House Hotel, which is one of those 'must-do' visits, since it is directly across from the Great Pyramid (our room faced the 2 largest). This was once a palace, then the greatest hotel in Egypt, and has a rich history enjoyed by many historical figures (the hotel even has a tv channel dedicated to it's history). The place is fading, but still sumptuous, and the British influence is obvious - and, welcome - and the folks who work their make your stay delightful.
Egypt has 90 million people living in it and they all seem to be in Cairo and appear to be out driving or walking around 24 hours a day. (though, you will likely never see a woman at night) Do not attempt to drive here under any circumstance - the Egyptians do not use their headlights at night for fear it runs their batteries down, so there is ALWAYS much horn-honking, light-flashing and passive-aggressive maneuvering of vehicles at checkpoints, intersections, stop signs. Also, the stripes separating lanes mean nothing to an Egyptian driver except a convenient way to aim their vehicle! Somehow it all works.
You will have a lovely time and be among lovely people who will all wave back at you and smile if you smile. These are truly gentle people and are very grateful that you would visit their country.
Before leaving, we continually checked the US State Dept. website for Travel Advisories as well as the British Foreign Office, and both maintain travel in the Nile Delta region to be safe. There is plenty of cheap, great-tasting bottled water (and, I'd advise using it to brush your teeth); ask before getting ice in your drink if the water was bottled/filtered and not tap. The food was awesome (we ate at the hotel and on the ship for 7 days/nights, mostly buffet-style on-board; once, at a restaurant for lunch in Cairo).
Hope your visit is as great as ours!
I was in Jordan this year at the end of August felt perfectly safe. Tourism is done around 80% which meant that even in Petea the crowds were very small. No one but my group in any of my photos. Loved Jordan great place to visit
Robert Wheeler, what a fine trip report! Thank you. I have been to Egypt and your description brought back vividly all the things I enjoyed. I did not get to Mena House, though, but we did stay at a hotel, name of which escapes me, that was originally a palace built for the Empress Eugenie's visit for the opening of the Suez Canal. Such splendour.
Excellent report Rob, can you tell me if you still can get a tourist visa at the airport. Look forward to visiting the places you mentioned.
Great to see replies. Thanks so much. We have a total of 5 nights (3 and 2)iin Cairo, 3 day cruise of Lake Nasser, 4 days on the Nile, 1 night in Luxor. Post trip is 4 days in Jordan. Seeing all the great sights. I'm so excited!!!
We have just returned from the Egypt/Jordan trip. It was an wonderful trip and we DID feel safe. Tourism is down 90% so people were so glad to see us. We had armed guards and police escort in Egypt, but not in Jordan. The sites in both countries are amazing. We had first-class hotels, excellent guides, and the sites to ourselves. Good for us , but not for Egypt. Go when you have the chance.