Egypt Advice

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Jul 20th, 2005, 11:45 AM
  #1
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Egypt Advice

I am considering a trip to Cairo next year -it's a lifelong dream and one that I am finally ready to fulfill. I, of course, have concerns about safety while travelling, particularly in Egypt. Does anyone have information or recent personal experiences about travel in this area? Thanks.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 03:38 PM
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In March/April 2005 my wife and I traveled in Jordan and Egypt, including a river trip as far south as Aswan and the Sudanese border. At all times our group was accompanied by a member of the tourist security police, a requirement set by the Egyptian and Jordanian governments, I believe.

We felt completely safe, once we overcame the natural mental hurdle of having with us a silent, well-dressed, and dignified young man who carried a machine gun or pistol under his sport coat. Day or night, he was always there.

We simply are not accustomed to having an armed presence travel with us. That said, we were completely at ease once we became used to this man (and others). We recommend the trip heartily and would be happy to make the same trip again, following the same procedures. After all, it was for our own protection.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 07:45 PM
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The Egyptian governement wants to protect its tourism industry, hence the armed police with all tourists. The Egyptian people are very nice and will enjoy talking to you.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 08:46 AM
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The armed police is new to me.
We've traveled to Egypt very often (last time was March of this year) and although there is a lot of security, we never had an armed policeman with us during our various excursions, be it in the Sinai desert or along the Nile. I've heard from people who had to travel in convoy. We didn't either.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 10:06 AM
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If traveling independently, you're not likely to have an armed guard. With a group, you will. However, even though we were traveling independently, while on the cruise, there was security provided for all travelers regardless. We also found there were "unmarked" or "unidentified" (in street clothing) security personnel mixed in with the crowds (whether groups or individual travelers) at all sites.
 
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Jul 21st, 2005, 11:01 AM
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We were with a small group of 8 people (2 4WD vehicles) in the Sinai and with a fairly large group on our Nile cruise! There were lots of checkpoints with armed policemen in the Sinai but we traveled without escort all the time.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Thanks for all your responses. I'm am going less and less anxious - in fact I just booked our trip!
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Jul 22nd, 2005, 09:56 AM
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everthingtravel - I'm so glad you decided to book the trip. You will have a great time.

For what's it's worth, I took a package tour to Israel and Egypt and while crossing the Sinai into Egypt, we traveled in a convoy with armed escorts. We never had a problem, not on that bus trip, nor in Egypt.

Have a great trip!
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Aug 1st, 2005, 10:42 PM
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I have been told by multiple US tour companies that if the US State Department puts our a travel warning for a country they are no longer able to sell the tours that visit that country...Thought you may find this interesting
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 12:21 PM
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I'd be curious to know the names of these companies, because this is the first time I've ever heard this, and I've been writing about travel for a long time. There may be a kernel of truth to your statement, but it's incredibly misleading. There is, for example, a "Travel Warning" on Indonesia (and a strong one), but many companies still offer tours to Bali, and I wouldn't hesitate to go there tomorrow. Most of the countries for which the U.S. issues travel advisories and warnings are places you probably wouldn't go for vacation (Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen). Many of the travel advisories that the U.S. State Department issues are public statements that carry expiration dates. That's actually the kind of advisory that's been issued for Egypt, and many companies are actively selling tours to Egypt.

While it's possible that tour companies have policies that prevent them from selling tours to countries that have travel advisories or warnings, it's absolutely not the case that there is a U.S. law that prevents them from selling those trips. Certain travel warnings (such as that for the Philippines) aren't so strong, rather asking Americans to "consider carefully" travel to the country. That's a lot different than a warning that says the security situation in Algeria is "dangerous".

There are warnings and then there are warnings, and many companies sell safaris, tours, and other trips to the countries under travel warnings and public statements, including Kenya, which is still under a Travel Warning.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:18 AM
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Dear Doug, thanks for the clarification. This matter concerns us greatly as we are still headed to Egypt this September (I seem to recall that you are as well). I must say that certain recent events have dampened my enthusiasm a bit, but we are still going. Have you altered your plans at all or are you taking extra precautions that you wouldn't normally?
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:34 PM
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If you wait for total peace in that part of the world you will never go - one country or another has been mad at some other country for thousands of years.
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Aug 11th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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Thyra and others -
We just returned from a fabulous 22-day Egyptian trip. It was 'independent' in that it was just a family of 6, but the organization was done by Aladin Tours and Nefertiti Hotel (Aswan). For our wishes (extremely diverse and adventurous), state of mind (flexible), energy level (high), and budget (low), it was absolutely perfect! I recommend them to like-minded travellers without hesitation. We had a personable and capable tour guide with us the entire time who took great care of us, helped us make contact with Egyptians, and even played games with the kids!

Our trip included an overnight camel trek, pyramid & temple visits with Egyptologists, a sunrise donkey trip to the Valley of the Kings, 2 nights on a felucca, city tours, souks, lots of snorkeling, 4 oases and desert camping, rooftop swimming pools, dinner with a Nubian family, and sunrise atop Mt. Sinai. Fantastic to experience all this with the kids!

We were amazed at the number of security checkpoints, though they didn't really make us feel more secure. Many times the tourist police insisted on accompanying us as far as the next checkpoint. Though we weren't crazy about this, they did it when they had their own car. A few times they wanted to ride in our car and stay with us for a few days, but we didn't have enough extra room (and were not at all eager to have the machine gun sharing our minivan) so after long discussions we were able to talk them out of it. I don't know what the situation would be for a large tour bus; I assume there would be at least one armed guard with a large group at all times. Personally, I was glad that we were a small and unobtrusive group.

Our general impression was that Egyptians truly went out of their way to make us feel welcome, particularly after the Sharm bombings. The warmth and helpfulness was everywhere.

I hope your trip is just as great as ours was!
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Aug 11th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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Thryra, I missed your post last week. Sorry I never came back. I'm leaving for Egypt in late September, and I haven't really changed my plans at all. We had talked about cancelling the trip after the first bombings in Cairo but not very seriously. After the Sharm El Sheik bombings, we were a bit nervous but aren't going to that area. I'm going with a small group of people, and we are taking an OAT tour together. I have bought an insurance policy with CSA Travel Protection, which allows me to cancel if there is an act of terrorism 30 days or less before my departure date, but that's really the only precaution. Since I live in New York City, I figure I'm as likely to run into some kind of problem here as anywhere, so my honest feeling is that there is that the relative danger is the same to me whether I stay home or go somewhere. I have never bought travel insurance, but as I get older (and so do my parents), I am starting to plan for problems more, but I'd have been doing that whether I were going to Egypt or not.
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Aug 11th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Thanks Doug, interesting what you say about insurance, yes this is the first time in two decades of travelling that i have sprung for trip insurance.. well I just turned 40 and I think that has something to do with it.. I hope that you and your OAT group have a wonderful wonderful time. Please share your experiences upon return, we can all compare notes~Bon Voyage
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