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Turkey and Egypt

I usually take two or more trips a year. Like most people, I could not travel in 2020 so, on my last birthday in January, I discounted one year off my life; as it was a whole wasted year. I was planning four trips for 2020 (I turned 84 and I need to finish my bucket list). By the way, I don't look or act old (never been in a hospital for operations in all my life, thank God). What is your opinion of the chances we have to travel to Turkey and Egypt in Sept/Oct. 2021? I'm already vaccinated and feel strong enough. Thanks for your valued advices.

Posted by
6092 posts

We recommend Odysseys Unlimited’s tour to Egypt and Jordan. They have dates listed for fall 2021. Give them a call to discuss what they think the possibility of those trips happening is.

Posted by
1735 posts

I traveled to Egypt with Egypt and Beyond Travel in 2017. https://www.egyptandbeyondtravel.com

It was an absolutely spectacular trip. It was just the two of us with a guide for Cairo, a guide for Aswan and a guide for Luxor. We had a private driver for the entire trip. We did 3 days on a Nile cruise as well. It was less expensive than taking a tour with a group. If you email the company to get travel ideas, you will be corresponding with Tarek, the owner. I found him on the Rick Steves' site. Rick Steves used Tarek and Egypt and Beyond Travel when he did a couple of shows on traveling Egypt.

This was an awesome way to see Egypt. If you want to see more detail, my travel blog of this trip is linked in my bio. The blog itself is searchable by date - look for a trip in January 2017.

As to whether you can travel? James E has linked you to the site for information. Tarek from Egypt and Beyond will surely give you his thoughts on fall travel.

Posted by
103 posts

My wife and I missed our 2020 tour last year to Portugal and had plans for Turkey in 2021. So we hope to do both this summer. Plan in on the Best of Turkey in Mid September with a follow on Best of Portugal in late Sept through early October.

Posted by
4273 posts

It’s far too early to say what will be possible in September/October yet.

Just because a country is open doesn’t mean that it’s safe to travel. Vaccination rates in Turkey and particularly Egypt are low compared with other countries such as the U.K. and USA. This will obviously change over the summer, but so may new variants which may or may not be resistant to existing vaccines. Just because you are vaccinated, it doesn’t mean that you are 100% safe and you could spread the virus. I would have regard to the proportion of the population in any country I was to visit before making any decisions.

Ensure any bookings are refundable just in case.

Posted by
279 posts

For whatever it's worth, I am tentatively planning to return to Egypt and Turkey in October 2021. Even with a vaccination, I anticipate that I will have to have negative PCR test results 72 hours before entering each country. It's a logistical hurdle, but doable. There are curfews in Turkey right now, but hopefully that will ease up by the fall.

Of course, it's still too soon to be sure that we will be able to travel by fall. When we start making firm plans, I will make sure that everything is refundable.

A couple of recommendations for tour companies:

  • Odysseys Unlimited was excellent when I took their tour of Turkey in 2015. (I am sure that Rick Steves' tour is excellent, too.)

  • When I went to Egypt last year, I traveled with Djed (https://www.djedegypt.com), a small Egyptian company, and I a highly recommend them. Essentially, they offer private tours, tailored to whatever you want. They offer a Classic Egypt Tour, but that's just a starting point. You can arrange the itinerary, including accommodations, however you want to suit your needs. We opted to stay a couple of extra days in Luxor. When I casually mentioned to the owner that I was interested in seeing the tomb of Nefertari, he immediately added it to our itinerary. Our tour guides and drivers were all amazing. The highlight is that they own a small fleet of dayabiyas --- sailing vessels that can accommodate up to 10 passengers. If you are interested in cruising the Nile, I would highly recommend a dahabiya over a big cruise ship. Unfortunately, we were half way through a trip with Djed last March when the whole world started shutting down for Covid. We were on a dahabiya in the middle of nowhere on the Nile when we got word that all of the airports and hotels were shutting down. Djed was awesome at doing whatever it took to help us get out of the country on time. Anyhow, we are planning to go back to Egypt to finish the trip, and we are absolutely looking forward to working with Djed again. (If you are interested, pictures are here: https://mariematthews.smugmug.com/Egypt)

Posted by
307 posts

At 84 you are an inspiration! I see no reason to stop traveling due to an age number. I know guys who are ancient at 62 and others who are still zipping about at 80. Some is heredity, but a lot is basic stuff such a diet, exercise, keeping the weight down and the laughter up.

Turkey and Egypt are interesting choices. I remember several years ago RS published an open letter encouraging Arab/Moslem countries like Egypt to be more like the modern Moslem country of Turkey. I wonder if he would still write the same letter given all that has happened in Turkey over the last few years. Maybe, maybe not.

I do consider Turkey one of the most interesting countries I have visited. The culture is rich, the food is great, and the people are wonderful.

Posted by
11990 posts

Turkey has been allowing American's in since June of last year; Egypt since July of last year. COVID numbers are getting better in general, while economic indicators (bankruptcy, poverty, starvation) due to lockdowns are getting worse world wide. The fact that vaccinations are progressing more slowly in these countries would be a good reason to stay open; since if they wait till heard immunity day, there wont be anything to open.

Our OP is vaccinated so he will be safe, within some margin of error. These two countries require PCR tests, so they will be safe from our OP within some margin of error. Sounds like time to put food on the table.

In my very uneducated, humble opinion, the odds of Turkey or Egypt requiring more than a PCR test this Fall is about the same as the odds of volcanic activity keeping one out of the Northwest US this Fall.

alvarcorp, you might consider first Turkey, then Egypt as I know the PCR test is easy and convenient at the Istanbul airport. I have been in Istanbul recently and enjoy it very much. I was in Egypt many years ago and it still reminds me of the place where I met the nicest kindest people of all of my travels.

Happy Trails .....

Posted by
7 posts

Marie-
Your private tour of Egypt sounded wonderful. Just wondering is something like that cost prohibitive compared to group Egypt tours like Vantage or Viking?

Posted by
1008 posts

I would highly recommend Scenic USA for a tour of Egypt. They are an Australian company with branch offices here in the US. We have traveled with them twice and their service is excellent. We were very well looked after. The tour group will be mainly Australian (wonderful people) but you will also probably find some Americans in the group. Odysseys Unlimited is also an excellent choice and we have traveled with them a number of times but we liked the Scenic itinerary better.

Posted by
279 posts

Mboggs --

Your private tour of Egypt sounded wonderful. Just wondering is something like that cost prohibitive compared to group Egypt tours like Vantage or Viking?

It was quite affordable because there is no middleman. Originally we were looking at Road Scholar or Odysseys Unlimited, and stumbled across Djed by accident. As soon as we saw the dahabiya, we knew that was what we wanted to do. By the time we finalized plans and added in tips and some extra meals, we came out a little bit cheaper than Road Scholar. However, I think we got a much better trip from Djed --- 19 days with Djed vs 12-14 days with Road Scholar. We picked a mix of accommodations -- from places like Mena House in Giza and the Old Cataract in Aswan, both very pricey, to a small but lovely hotel on the west bank of Luxor that cost almost nothing. We used the money we saved with modest accommodations in Luxor to go visit the tomb of Nefertari (very expensive) as well as Abydos and Dendera. Abu Simbel and Alexandria were on the itinerary, too, but Covid hit before we made it to those locations. The dahabiya cruise was so calm and relaxing. We just loved it.

Posted by
6092 posts

When visiting Egypt , insider the short flight over to Jordan for foir to seven days.

Posted by
14173 posts

I like Istanbul a lot and I have used Turkish Air for half a dozen trips in the last few years. The RS Turkey tour was one of my favorite trips.

I don't know what conditions are right now, but it was reliably reported here that last summer Turkey was only counting symptomatic Covid cases. Last month we saw the South African variant (the one that seems to be pretty resistant to vaccines) appear here. Cases were traced to Israelis who had visited South Africa and who had visited Istanbul. Just sayin' . . . .

Posted by
82 posts

We are considering coming to Turkey April 2021 (as we will have had both doses of vaccine and assume we will get negative PCR test going and coming). So would be interested in recommendations for "how much time" to spend in Istanbul and then we are considering adding on Ephesus after that. As to Egypt guide, one year ago (before Covid started) we had an excellent guide for Egypt that I could not recommend more. He set us up every step of the way and was probably one of the best trips we have ever taken (because of the guide). He is not a "company" but pretty much him and some local guides he arranges. He also has an excellent podcast series about Egypt (that I found really interesting before the trip). His email is as follows if anyone wants to reach out to him: john@egypttravelblog.com; john@egyptelite.com

Posted by
1 posts

Hi, has anyone taken the Viking Cruise to Istanbul with pre-trip to Cappadocia?

Posted by
118 posts

I suggest having a Tour Guide for Istanbul. I am a frequent traveler to Turkey (pre-Covid) and usually hire a tour guide to take my visiting friends around. Good tour guides tell you all the history of the sights, which is why I hire them. A few years ago I met a fantastic tour guide in Istanbul and have hired him a few times since then. I also recommend him to tourists, who agree he is excellent. The tour guide’s name is Metin. His email address is: metinkoca@gmail.com. You will be so glad you hired him. Metin’s English is excellent, he is very honest, and funny.

Besides Istanbul, where else would you like to go in Turkey? There are so many wonderful sights to see. Ephesus has several ancient sights to see, Pamukkale is amazing, and Cappadocia is excellent. The Rick Steves Best of Turkey tours go to all the best sights. Having said that, if you were to take a RS tour (when they start up again), I suggest arriving in Istanbul a good 3 or 4 days early to get used to the time change and slowly start to see Istanbul.