We all have been fascinated with the idea of discovering Egypt. Most people shook their heads in disagreement when I said I was traveling to Egypt. Traveling there raises questions in everyone’s head- Is it a safe place? How would you travel alone? Is there any unrest? They worried about my safety. As a very environmentally-conscious person, most people “in the know” wondered why I would want to travel to a place that had been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The answer, for me anyway, was simple. Egypt’s history which is one of the most impressive and of course the geography of the place -The ancient rivers, the deserts, lagoons, the beautiful valleys, and the elegantly designed cities were all fodder for my hungry lens.
But if I've learned anything from traveling the world, it's that the news media makes most places sound a lot scarier than they actually are.
I know Egypt isn't regarded as one of the safest places to travel right now. And it's true that terrorist groups are active in certain parts of the country. But the main touristy sites in Egypt are no more dangerous than popular places you might visit in the US or Europe.
There are certain parts of Egypt that are no-gos right now (like most of the Sinai and the Western Desert), but they aren't places that most tourists would go anyway. (In fact, all tour operators in Egypt have modified many of their itineraries to ensure that they're not taking anyone to any of these places.) You should know this the locals and the military really try to ensure that the tourists are safe at all times.
Yes, there have been recent terror attacks in Egypt that have claimed lives – but there have been terror attacks in places like London and Las Vegas in recent months that have been deadly, too. I'm not saying Egypt is 100% safe but it's definitely safer for tourists than you probably think.
Here are some tips I would like to share if you are traveling to Egypt solo:
· I think Egypt is definitely a place to visit with a local guide. I know many people like myself prefer to travel independently, but this is a country where you get a lot more out of the experience when you have someone with you who is knowledgeable about the history, the religion, and the present-day culture of the country. Plus, it will be a great experience to be able to talk to someone who's lived his whole life in Egypt and has such a passion for showing his country to other people.
· 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.
· 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.
· Keep your passport with you always - Security at some sites have asked visitors to produce their passports and entry can be refused if you don't have it.
· If you have any allergies, 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. Be very wary about medications you might be asked to bring into Egypt as some medications are illegal in Egypt and drug trafficking carries a prison sentence.
· Don't go looking for excitement in the middle of a big crowd, regardless of what is going on. Don't go off the beaten track looking for the 'hidden Egypt' and don't go walking along the Nile at night or darkened streets away from the main streets.
· Don't agree to take something out of Egypt for a "friend" you have just met. Remember that antiquities smuggling merits the death penalty
· Avoid all travel to within 50 kilometres of the border with Libya, the Siwa Oasis, the Western Desert, including the oases of Bahariya, Bawati, Dakhla and Farafra, and the White and Black deserts, due to smuggling, terrorist activities, the presence of armed groups and ongoing military operations.
Lastly, 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.