Yes Virginia, It’s Safe To Visit Egypt (And Cheap Too)
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Who says travel bloggers aren’t journalists? Okay, lots of people, but that doesn’t stop a few of them (us) from putting boots on the ground and getting some real reporting done, outside of listing out our top 10 favorite places to drink around the world, or how you can get paid to travel the world (Answers: #1 Matt Torrey’s in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and land a lucrative job as a travel show host, respectively).
In an effort to get some insight as to what travel is like right now in Egypt, and whether it is in fact safe given the recent political turmoil and much-publicized detaining of three Americans (one of whom is Transportion Secretary Ray LaHood’s son) who were working in Egypt for a U.S.-funded pro-democracy group, friend of The Expeditioner DowntownTraveler.com enlisted the help of local Italian Giulia Cimarosti to give us the skinny.
In response to the question of whether the tumult in Tahrir Square is indicitive of the rest of the country, Giulia pointed out that “[e]veryone must know that whatever happens in Tahrir Square, the rest of Cairo and — most of all — the rest of Egypt is perfectly safe. This doesn’t mean that the protests are not important, but tourism-wise there are no complications at all.”
Good to know, but what about deals — has the bad publicity and decrease in visitors translated into travel bargains for the cheap traveler and are all the sites still open? “Nothing has changed regarding visiting ruins, museums etc . . . The ticket fares are probably still the same (they’ve always been cheap anyway!), but I saw great deals on organized trips with tour operators. The touristic sites operate normal hours and are less crowded now . . . I would definitely take advantage of that.”
Anecdotally, I recently spoke with my colleague/Jenga opponent Aaron of AaronsWWAdventures.com who recently returned from his own six-week jaunt through the Middle East, including a stay in Egypt. Despite the presence of a few groups of lingering protesters in Tahrir Square, and the noticeably aggressive (even by Egyptian standards) hawkers at the major sites as a result of the drop in tourists, life and the sites seem to be back to as normal as they’ve ever been. Deals were aplenty he noted, as all of the guides and others whose livelihoods are dependent on foreign visitors have been forced to slash prices to compete with the few visitors at the near-empty sites.
So in a nutshell: Ogling tourists are at a minimum, prices have never been cheaper (and this is in what is otherwise a very cheap country for visitors) and safety is about as much as a concern as any other time. What are you waiting for? Now seems to be as good as time as ever.