I have never received as many concerned messages as I did on a recent trip to Egypt.

The nation has made headlines lately, and few have been positive. Realities on the ground in Luxor, though, were different.

On my first morning in the ancient Egyptian capital, I went for a run. Every block or two I encountered Tourist Police. I greeted each with salaam alaikum—“peace be upon you.” All replied with a heartfelt “peace.”

Other locals gave me a thumbs-up. Eight-year-old Akhmud shook my hand with joyful ferocity as he exclaimed, “Welcome to Egypt!”

Few Western tourists are visiting Luxor; I had some of the world’s top archaeological sites—the temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut, the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings—almost to myself.

Yes, visitors should be aware that Egypt is undergoing political change; there is turmoil. But should we stay away?

Travel fosters the exchange of ideas, finds common ground, bridges cultural differences. The conflicts in parts of the Middle East are real, but Egypt has a sophisticated tourism infrastructure, a high level of security, and, based on my visit, a great desire to move forward.

I’m already planning my return; I like being welcomed with open arms. 

This piece, written by Andrew Evans, appeared in the June/July 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine

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Comments

  1. glenn oelker
    san luis obispo, california, usa
    March 5, 11:08 pm

    We just got back from our second trip to Egypt, the first being in 2008, before the 2011 revolution. This most recent tour was with Viking. To us, the security situation seems similar to 2008. Since a 1997 European tourist bus attack in Luxor, the Egyptian government has taken tourist security very seriously, as tourism is 15% of their economy. As in 2008, tour buses have an armed guard riding within the bus, and each bus is followed by a tourist police car containing 4 armed officers. There are numerous armed police check points on all roads, more frequent near and around tourist areas. Tourist sites, such as the Egypt Museum in Cairo, have concrete barriers surrounding building entrances and several layers of scanners, with a large police presence. Larger hotels have this level of security with explosive sniffing dogs and vehicle trunk and undercarriage inspections and limited ability of vehicles to approach the building. The security rivals US embassies. These measures were in place in 2008 and are not new since the revolution. There was essentially a military dictatorship in 2008, as there is today. We felt very secure during our entire trip. I walked for an hour through Aswan and felt very comfortable. I would not recommend independently traveling through Egypt today or in 2008, as only rare signs are written in Latin script and few Egyptian speak any English unless they are involved in the tourist industry. I would advise using a tour group, and our experience with Viking was excellent. Any visitor to Cairo, Paris, New York, or Copenhagen needs to have “situational awareness”. One needs to be aware of their surroundings and who is approaching them. Eyes open and brain turned on. Don’t wait, go to Egypt. See the most ancient of civilizations. Be overwhelmed by the age, size, and grandeur of the temples, tombs, and pyramids. We have been to many interesting places all over the world. Egypt is number one on our list. GO TO EGYPT, NOW!!

  2. elaine scott
    Wiltshire
    October 4, 2014, 10:55 am

    I have just come back from Egypt and loved the place with friendly people and amazing history. I took a visit to Luxor and it was breathtaking to say the least, I loved every part of it and it was one of the best holidays I have ever had. I will go again as I would love to also visit Ciaro

  3. Selma Sahirah
    September 9, 2014, 7:52 am

    Yes Egypt is very safe and good place for travel. Egypt is the oldest tourist destination on earth. Egypt could be said to have six different tourist super-sites. Each has its own flavor, and mostly each serves a different purpose. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, most of these tourist areas do not depend on ancient monuments to sustain them. In fact, only Luxor is completely dependent on this trade. You can find Egypt travel information from Complete Egypt to plan out your itinerary for a fantastic holiday plan. Make sure to select such travel plan, which is according to your choice and taste.

  4. Doug Baum
    Giza, egypt
    August 6, 2014, 12:31 am

    Was in Luxor two days ago and experienced the same thing. My current Mideast trip, 6 weeks total, is just over halfway through and has been as uneventful as any I’ve taken here over the last 14 years.

    Doug Baum
    texascamelcorps.com

  5. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon
    http://talesfromoverthehorizon.com/
    August 5, 2014, 11:07 am

    Thanks for your comments. I have been to Egypt before all the trouble and I loved it, but would be nervous about going back again with all the media reports. It is always hard to tell how much of the picture they are presenting.

  6. Jose Simbana
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    August 4, 2014, 3:44 pm

    I agree completely with your comments. Egypt is a safe place to visit. The people are friendly and helpful in Luxor and Aswan. The media is the worst enemy of Egypt. I stop listening or paying attention of the media. Congratulations for your comments.