The department of foreign affairs recommends to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt, most likely due to the events that took place over there in 2011, but is it really necessary?
We left with the intention to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh, which is a region on the coast of the Sinai peninsula, between mount Sinai and the Red Sea, which to me was a disappointment right off the bat, as it was blue :). We planed to do many different excursions, including a day trip to Cairo. The weather was between 25 and 30 degrees almost the whole time, except for when we went to Cairo where it was pretty bad, but luckily, even there, it picked up later in the afternoon. The resort we picked was Radisson Blu Resort in Nabq Bay, which was, for the most part, pretty great.
The people that live in Sharm seemed very friendly. That’s probably because it’s a very touristic region, so they know that this is their bread and butter. That being said, don’t expect not to be approached by seller left and right.
Right after we arrived in Sharm, we found a small agency that did many different excursions at very good prices. If you ever do go to Sharm el-Sheikh I can warmly recommend them. They are called New Dawn Tours and the owner is Mahmoud el-Sayed.
Through this agency we enjoyed camel riding, beduin dinner, quad biking and star gazing. All these in one single day.
After this we went to a show called 1001 Nights where there was belly dancing, folklore story telling and a snake show where I managed to somehow, very unexpectedly, get a cobra in my underwear. For more about that click here.
We then chose to travel to Cairo through the very same agency.
Unfortunately this was all we had time for, but in case you are in the area and you are wondering what else there is to be done:
- dolphin show
- swimming with the dolphins
- day trip to Jerusalem
- day trip to Mount Sinai, where Moises got the 10 commandments
- trip to Ras Mohammed
- coloured canyon safari
- aquatic sports
- diving & snorkling
- many others
All in all I think Sharm el-Sheikh is more than safe to visit, so you shouldn’t be worried at all.
Here things are completely different. I want to specify right off the bat that we only had a single day trip to Cairo, so the experience is somewhat limited by that. We also spent the full day accompanied by a guide and going only to places that were pre-approved. By pre-approved I mean they told us they were government protected and safe. Not sure how true that was, but anyway.
The atmosphere in Cairo is still very much full of tension. In the big square, where the revolution took place, there are tanks and APC’s filled with soldiers 24h/day. The national museum, the one we were scheduled to visit was in this square.
When I asked our guide about this situation she said that they are there to protect the square and to make the tourists feel safe.
I am not sure if I felt safe, but then again I have no idea how it would have been without the military and police there.
Later we drove a lot through the city and the rest of it seemed more or less like a normal city with people going to work, to the market or simply doing some other regular things. Our guide told us that walking through the city is completely out of the question as it’s simply not safe for tourists. Frankly, because of the way things looked, I believed her.
The museum was very interesting, but we didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked there. I did however get to see a mummy and the solid gold mask of Tutankhamun.
After the museum we went for a short boat ride on the Nile and then for lunch.
We finally get to the pyramids, the main reason why we went to Cairo in the first place. We got to take quite a few pictures and walk around a bit, but not nearly as much as we would’ve wanted, which was silly since everybody knows the pyramids are the main attraction there.
In fact this leads me to my biggest complaint about the way the agency in Cairo organised the day. They tried to bring us to three different shops, one of which was called a papyrus museum, but it was nothing more than a common shop. In fact all 3 shops were very common and since we already we shopping the previous day in Sharm el-Sheikh, we already bought all the usual things you buy much cheaper.
This will be reflected in my review on TripAdvisor very soon.
Very important to note that at the pyramids site there are many hustlers which will try to get your money, your camera or anything else they can rob from you. Do not engage with them at all, don’t even register their presence.
Other advice that I think is worth knowing for a trip to Egypt
- only use the ATMs that are located at the bank or in the lobby of the hotel
- try to always have cash on you in their local currency: EGP – egyptian pound
- haggle for anything you want to buy, they expect this
- be very careful if you are in an area that is not full with tourists
- if you go outside the hotel to a small agency the prices will likely be half of what you would pay in the hotel for trips
- same applied to taxi’s
- buy or rent a 3G modem. Having internet could prove very useful. It should be around 200 EGP to rent it
I hope you feel at least as good as I did in Egypt. It’s a very nice country and, for the most part, the people are very friendly.
If you’ve already been please feel free to leave a comment telling me about your experience. If you plan to go, I hope this post will help you somewhat.
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