is one of those places that you’ve always wanted to go to since you learned about the Great Pyramids in primary school or watched Brandon Fraser’s The Mummy. As ancient wonders go, Egypt is arguably at the top. Thing is, over this past decade, word on the street is that it’s not a good time to go. Ignoring those warnings, I’ve been to Egypt twice and have a pretty good idea of whether Egypt is safe for travel.
If you’re thinking about travelling to Egypt, it’s smart that you’re doing your due diligence to find out whether you should go or not. Keep reading below to find out what it’s really like and to answer the “How Safe is Egypt to travel? ” question once and for all.
IS EGYPT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO RIGHT NOW?
Tell anyone that you’re going to Egypt and the first thing they’ll ask you is “is Egypt safe to travel to right now?” it’s truly a sign of the times because 15 years ago, they’d be asking if you’re going to see the Pyramids, Tutankhamun, and the Nile.
Egypt is a place that’s high on many people’s bucket lists as a cultural gem, a cradle of civilization, and home to some of the most remarkable ancient wonders. When you go, you’re even more impressed by the fact that what’s been discovered so far isn’t even close to being complete yet.
To answer the very simple question of “How Safe is Egypt to travel? ”, you’ll have to entertain me a bit as I try to explain it and what I’ve personally observed on two separate trips to the country.
Why do people think Egypt is unsafe?
Egyptian Revolution of 2011
Arab Spring of 2011 is what it’s known and the spark was Tunisia with their local uprising and this gave other nations in North Africa inspiration to do the same.
It truly spread like wildfire as most people remember early 2011 as a time when the news was filled with chaos and revolution after another. This came to a head for Egypt on January 25, 2011 when widespread demonstrations, marches, occupations of plazas, civil resistance, and strikes took over.
At the core of it was the public’s anger towards President Mubarak primarily because of increased police brutality but also corruption, civil liberty, political freedom, unemployment, inflation and wages.
Millions of protestors came and what started off as friendly protests quickly escalated into a violent clash where places like Cairo were turned into a war-zone.
The primary demand was for Mubarak to step down and that eventually happened on February 11, 2011. Things didn’t settle down there as there was a period of rule by the military before the Muslim Brotherhood party took power with Mohamed Morsi elected into presidency in June 2012. The government continued to be engulfed in controversy as a coup d’état deposed Morsi because of several unpopular decrees and lack of military support. This lead to an early election and El-Sisi was elected president in 2014.
That’s a lot of presidents in the span of 3 years. A lot of civil conflict. A lot of back dealings. A lot of instability. A lot of work not getting done.
It’s no surprise that with CNN airing all of the violence, tourism took a nose dive, the Egyptian Pound dropped, and infrastructure and archeological projects were put by the wayside.
More events that didn’t help
Following the revolution, there were a few other incidents that made the spotlight that didn’t help.
- May 2 2014 – a bomb on a tour bus in Sharm El Sheikh detonated, killing one and injuring four others.
- October 31, 2015 – a Russian plane bombed leaving Sharm EL Sheikh. As a result, Russia stopped all flights to Sharm El Sheikh and had a ripple effect on tourism as a whole.
- January 8, 2016 – tourists were attacked in Hurghada and again in 2017 when a radicalized German stabbed several tourists.
- December 29, 2018 – 3 Vietnamese tourists and local guide killed by roadside bomb that hit a bus near the Giza pyramids.
- May 19, 2019 – South African tourists on a tour bus injured by a roadside bomb next to the pyramids in Giza.
If you look at the Russian plane incident alone, tourism income dropped from $12 Billion in 2010 to almost half in 2016.
As a result, Egypt is on many nations’ travel advisory list.
- Government of Canada – Egypt travel advisory
- US Department of State – Egypt Safety Warning
- New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Safe Travel
- Australia DFAT Smart Traveller – Egypt Travel Advice
- UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Travel advice for Egypt
What a way to start off an article about safety right? I have to admit that all of these are scary.
I went to Egypt in 2017 and was in Hurghada not long after those stabbings and the Russian plane was still a hot topic. I went to Egypt again in October 2019 only 5 months after the latest incident in Giza.
There’s no hiding it. There’s clearly been uncertainty and instability in the government and Islamic terrorists have targeted tourists but here’s why I wasn’t too worried before deciding to go to Egypt on both occasions:
- Complicated politics rarely involves tourists and usually only means frustrating government shutdowns. Being a foreign citizen actually affords you protection because they don’t want to piss off other countries.
- Terrorist attacks are sadly the kind of world we live in today and it can happen anywhere you go (Nice truck attack, New York Times Square car crash, or Christmas Market stabbing in Strasbourg, France). Is that going to stop you from travelling?
- If you look closely at the travel advisories, it’s primarily for regions that you’ll unlikely visit – the Sinai Peninsula (except Sharm el Sheikh), and the Western Desert bordering on Libya.
How Safe is Egypt to travel?
With everything you’ve read above, there’s no denying that the past decade for Egypt has not been a good one. There are some regions like the Libyan border and the Sinai Peninsula that you just shouldn’t go to and there’s a threat of terrorism that you could say is slightly elevated because of the region Egypt is in.
The honest truth is that Egypt isn’t 100% safe but it’s still a country that can be safely travelled through because there’s still a large part of the country that welcome tourists with open arms. Egypt is very safe to travel as long as you stick to certain destinations, work with a reputable local tour operator, and be a smart traveller.
The only no-go’s in the country are what you see in the travel advisories which is to avoid the Sinai Peninsula (Sharm El Sheikh is safe) and in general do not go into the western desert. In both instances, if you must, make sure you do so with an (armed) escort.
I know the above sounds a bit vague but here’s the deal. There’s will from the government and the people to make tourism a priority. Sure the people still have squabbles with their government and corruption is still abound but everyone agrees that drastic action like 2011 is in nobody’s interest. Now is the time for the country to rebuild and make sure it’s a prosperous time for all.
you can read about some other destinations in Egypt
Hurghada Hotels Offers
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price per night, from||Choose dates|
Sunrise Crystal Bay Resort
Steigenberger Aqua Magic Red Sea
Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Hotel
Albatros White Beach - Families and couples only
Arabia Azur Resort
Hurghada Marriott Beach Resort
Bel Air Azur Resort (Adults Only)
Arabella Azur Resort
Hilton Hurghada Plaza Hotel
Green Garden Resort
Giftun Azur Resort