Is it safe to travel to Egypt? Isn’t it dangerous?!
I have been asked these questions quite a lot recently and the fact is that I have no idea what to answer. How could I know? I haven’t yet set foot in the country, so can’t vouch for its safety, or its overall ambiance.
All I know is tourism has been down ever since the revolution and protests of January 2011 as the Arab Spring started in full force. Egyptians are still desperate for jobs, with a catastrophic 13% unemployment rate, and tourism being down 40% since 2011. With 1 out of 9 jobs in this industry, it’s only understandable that tensions are rising and that tourists are, now more than ever, being incessantly hassled. It is a reality of travelling to Egypt (and, I must say, to North Africa in general) and I have this in mind as I trouble-shoot my way through my itinerary.
In light of the recent findings on the Metrojet 9268 crash on October 31st, likely to have been a terrorism act, times are now more unstable than they were a few weeks ago, when tour companies were slowly starting to resume their operations in the region. With Russia ceasing all its flights to the country, it is a staggering 3 million tourists a year the Egyptian Tourism Authority is losing.
So in the midst of all this turmoil, what are two doofus Canadians doing travelling to such an unstable country?! Well, for my part, I have a knack for the roads less-traveled and don’t fear travels in riskier countries. We’ve travelled to Jordan, El Salvador, Turkey and Morocco
I am fully aware that there are no waste bins in the Cairo metro to prevent a terrorist from hiding a bomb. That the only way to go to Abu Simbel, on the Sudanese border, is by way of police convoy, and that to travel from Cairo to Aswan by train has to be done at night time, on a 13-hour sleeper train, as foreigners are still not allowed day travel on the railways.
I know perfectly well which areas to avoid, especially since I had to let go of a dream of mine to visit the Siwa Oasis near the Libyan border. Now a very uncertain militarized zone where armed groups roam, Siwa is a no-go and I am not one to argue with that. I might be a bit reckless when I travel, but I am not stupid. However, I’m also not a psychic and cannot predict what could happen in a country that is deemed unstable. This could convince me not to leave the country, or even not to leave my house.
Am I scared? Of course, I always am. But I tend to want to focus on my excitement for the marvels I’ll be discovering and trying hard not to be distracted from the magic that is a trip to Egypt, especially one that I’ve dreamed for so long.
My title was inspired by reporter and war correspondent Diego Buñuel and his great series created for Canal+ titled “Ne dites pas à ma mère…” in which he travels to war zones and countries deemed dangerous.
Images courtesy of Getty Images and www.wallsoffreedom.com