Jan 2018 - In response to emails coming in from people asking if they should go to Egypt or cancel their holiday.
"Is it safe to go to Egypt?" I can only offer you my personal opinion. My name is Marie Vaughan from Co. Cork in Ireland. I moved to Luxor in 2003 and built Mara House. I have two amazing sons and 4 wonderful, lovable grandchildren. Both before and since 2011 all of them (except one) have been to Egypt (from Cairo to Aswan) several times. One grandson is now 5 years old and has been coming to stay with me in Luxor, Cairo and Hurghada since he was 9 months old....he was born in 2011. Would I bring them here if I felt there was the slightest danger?
Initially, I came as a tourist to Egypt in 200o and returned several times before deciding to move here permanently. I decided to go into the business of offering accommodation and tours because I had found it difficult, frustrating and time consuming to find my own way around as a tourist between 2000 and 2003. Most of all I found it impossible to get straight answers in my search for places to see and things to do. The built-in compulsory shopping trips and side tracking me to places not on the itineraries, for commission purposes, infuriated me,
As a person working in tourism, the bottom quite literally fell out of my world in Jan 2011. When the trouble started in Cairo I moved from Luxor (there was nothing happening here) to our apts in Cairo, which were just 10 minutes walk from Tahrir Square. I wanted to see for myself if the situation was as reported on the TV... it was not. Did I feel unsafe then? Never. I did begin to feel unsafe shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power and proceeded to run the country's economy, services and infra-structure into the ground as well as plunging us into serious foreign debt. Thankfully, that came to an end in June 2013 when President Sisi took control and ousted them. Have I ever felt unsafe since? Never.
"Egypt is as safe as any country in the world and safer than most - and it has always been so for tourists"
I don't ask you to take my word for it that Egypt is as safe as anywhere else, but I do ask you to do some research into the history of Egypt since 2011 - find out how many tourists have been killed or injured, and when you find any - dig deep into the facts of those reports.
I am not a fortune teller so I can't guarantee you anything to do with the future - but the facts of the past that you will discover in your research will tell you that fewer foreigners have met with harm from terror attacks in Egypt since 2011 than in many other countries of the Western World. I am presuming here also that it is fear of terrorism that has you asking this question in the first place.
TRAVEL AGENTS WHO ADVISE YOU AGAINST TRAVEL TO EGYPT - Dig a little deeper when you get this advice. I am guessing that those travel agents have no contracts in place with hotels, transport companies or travel agents inside Egypt - hence they actually don't have anything in Egypt to sell you - BUT they do have contracts with lots of other places so, of course, that is what they want to sell you. Please remember everyone in business has their own products and their own agendas - and your agenda is not their priority.
What NOT to do in Egypt as a tourist (or perhaps anywhere else in the world for that matter):
- Don't go looking for excitement in the middle of a big crowd, regardless of what is going on
- Don't arrive in Egypt thinking it is easy to find a hotel, a guide, or whatever at the last minute once you get here. Do a bit of research in advance. Know who you are hiring.
- Don't go walking along the Nile at night or darkened streets away from the main streets.
- Don't go off the beaten track looking for the 'hidden Egypt'. Anything worth seeing will definitely not be hidden
- If you are a 'party person' it can be tempting to head off to a night club other that the one in your hotel (some, but not all hotels have nightclubs which can go on til 6 am).....if you do, then at the very least make sure you let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back. Allowing yourself to be taken from your intended nightclub etc to a second or third "better party" is a terrible idea in any strange country.
- Don't agree to take something out of Egypt for a "friend" you have just met. Remember that antiquities smuggling merits the death penalty
- Be very wary about medications you might be asked to bring into Egypt for anyone - some medications you may not be aware of are illegal in Egypt and drug trafficking carries a prison sentence.
What to do:
- Plan your trip before you go. I have written posts on the most frequently asked questions as well as advice on a myriad of topics on Egypt. You can find them in my Travel Guide
- Book trusted, recommended hotels and do it before you leave home. Book places that offer internet and phone access. When you arrive take their advice on where to go and where not to go if it is offered.
- Do make sure all your documents are in order - passport valid for minimum 6 months after your departure date from Egypt etc.
- Keep in touch with home. Let someone know your itinerary and arrange with them that you post on FB or message them regularly during your trip. Give them the contact details of your hotels and cruise boats. Most people see for themselves shortly after arriving that they are safe and well taken care of. However, do remember your family at home do not have your new insight and their imaginations can run wild within a short space of time.
- If you have any allergies, are a rare blood type, have medical conditions such as diabetes, peanuts etc or have to take certain medication it is a good idea to have that information recorded and keep it with your passport. Hotels don't ask for this information but at Mara House we welcome the information if you are ok with giving it to us.
- There are a few reasons I mention this - for example if you are on medication for high blood pressure we would be advising you not to take more than one small glass of the hibiscus tea per day that you will be offered everywhere you go as it is the strongest natural product known to lower blood pressure. Drinking too much a few days in succession could drastically lower your blood pressure beyond safety limits - I have seen this happen.
- Apple iPhones have a Health app already installed when you buy it and the icon is a white square with a little red heart on it. This app can be accessed even if your phone is locked and awareness of this is increasing. You can record your medical information and family contact details etc here - it's a good idea to use it.
- If you are a recovering alcoholic be very clear when presented with refreshments - especially free drinks such as at the Captain's Coctail Party on cruise boats - be very clear with the person supervising the drinks table which coctails contain alcohol. There is not a high awareness of alcoholism in Egypt and I have seen a waiter tell someone that all the drinks on a table were the same - they are not.
- Don't pet stray cats or dogs - you have no idea what they may carry and a seemingly lovely, quiet and friendly cat can turn in a moment if you touch a hidden sore etc and you can end up bitten or scratched. In which case you may not have an immediate reaction but may develop a problem within a few days.
- ALWAYS tell your tour leader, tour guide or whatever person is responsible for you if you have received any hurt or scratch from a cat/dog or evn insect bites, have a small accident or feel unwell immediately. At home you may pass these little things off without a thought but when you are away from home the local person will know better if it is advisable to administer a treatment in the situation. Please don't think that you are making a fuss about nothing. The person guiding or hosting you should appreciate that it is better to be safe than sorry and respond accordingly.
- Keep your passport with you always - the slim document bags that hang aroud your neck are a good idea and you can also keep your phone in it. Security at some sites have asked visitors to produce their passports and entry can be refused if you don't have it.
Get the right perspective on safety
In comparison to the risk of street muggings or violence in Chicago, to the risk of the continuous earthquakes in China, or even the risk of the common floods in Gt. Britain, the risk in Egypt is minimal. You are more likely to be run over crossing the street at home than you are to be involved in a terrorist attack in Egypt.
Group Travel is a good option.
Within the last year there has been an increase in group travel in Egypt since the tourism recovery began. Travelling with a group can feel comforting both for the traveller and their families back home. I have once again started taking groups around Egypt on a 10 day trip personally. The following are my current confirmed dates if you feel like joining me.
- 2018 May 1 - 12 - (SOLD OUT)
- 2018 Sept 5 - 16 (almost FULL)
- 2018 Oct 3 - 14 (almost FULL)
- 2018 Nov 7 - 18 (almost FULL)
- 2019 Feb 10 - 23
- 2019 April 7 - 20
- 2019 May 19 - June 1
- 2019 Sept 1 - 14
- 2019 Oct 6 - 19
- 2019 Nov 10 - 23
Other Packages from Mara House
Come to Egypt and have a wonderful time! - Mara, 16 April 2018