Why I didn’t fall in love with Egypt (and why I was afraid to tell you so)

The reason I feel lukewarm about my trip to Egypt.

This post has languished in my drafts folder for months, and even now I am hesitant about publishing it. But I’ll come clean while I still have the courage: I didn’t love Egypt.

This is hard for me to write because I don’t want to offend anybody with my views, and in the back of my mind I wonder if I perhaps didn’t give Egypt a fair shake. Furthermore, given the state of upheaval in the country, writing something that is potentially critical or damning feels almost criminal, unsympathetic –like a sharp punch to the gut of a long-time ulcer sufferer or a scathing comment made to a sensitive child.


Still, in the months since my trip, I’ve received a number of questions about my experiences in Egypt as a tourist. People have written me with queries about the country’s socio-political climate, and have expressed concerns about their personal safety and security. In truth, I haven’t been entirely sure how to respond. Do I scare potential visitors off with the story of how I was harassed and then mugged in the streets of Aswan? Or do I skip that narrative and simply play up the beauty of a felucca ride on the Nile? Likewise, do I mention the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability that followed me like a bloodhound the whole trip, express my surprise at the level of corruption I witnessed? Or do I stop short at enthusiastically describing my chance encounter with a lovely local man amongst the delicious treasures found in Cairo’s markets?



I think you can begin to understand my dilemma.

Silly as it may seem, I don’t actually want to discourage people from travelling anywhere. Especially since convincing people from some countries to go somewhere out of their comfort zone — heck, to travel at all — can be an uphill battle.

Despite this, the truth — my truth — is that I found travelling in Egypt (at least without a tour/on a self-crafted itinerary) to be difficult. Post-revolution, the struggle is real; people wear their desperation like a coat. Large handmade signs promising “No hassle” or “No buy, no problem” are contradicted by ruthlessly determined vendors who follow you until you patronize their businesses, which have all taken a critical hit as a result of a drastic drop in tourism. When Liebling and I were in Luxor, taxi drivers competed for customers, sometimes stopping their taxis and chasing after potential fares on foot; one driver spotted us from across the street and made a dangerous u-turn across four lanes of traffic to offer us his services. He told us afterward that we were his first fare in three days.



In a word, Egypt was intense. When we promised our taxi driver in Luxor we would hire him following day to take us to the Valley of the Kings, he was so worried we wouldn’t show up he somehow figured out our room number at our hotel and called us directly on the phone in our room to confirm our meet up time. (Imagine our shock: we were staying in a large hotel of 250 + rooms and Liebling had only divulged his first name.) And then, the next morning, as we were enjoying breakfast, our driver suddenly appeared in the breakfast hall and beckoned to us. It was 7:45 am and we were scheduled to meet him at 8:15 outside of the hotel. Who let him inside? How/why did he think tracking us was okay? This was one of several incidents during my stay that made me question my safety (my mugging obviously being another one). While I understand the reason for this sort of behaviour, this security breach and blatant invasion of privacy is infuriating and unsettling.

So this is where I’m at a loss for what to tell you. As mentally and emotionally exhausting as it was for me to travel in Egypt, I can’t actually bring myself to tell anyone that they shouldn’t go. The sights are quite literally old as time; the food is incredible. The buildings, textiles, and people are more stunning that you could ever imagine.



And then… I simply don’t have the words or talent to describe what it feels like to stand in the ruins of Ancient Egypt, walk amongst the tombs of the kings and queens of dynasties that existed many centuries before Christ, and run your finger along neat, neverending rows of hieroglyphs painstakingly etched by someone over 5000 years ago. Egypt is wounded and raw, but it is beautiful. It’s really best for you to go see and experience it for yourself. Just exercise caution and remember that sometimes the most memorable, transformative journeys are the ones that require the most hard work.


Have you been to Egypt? What was your experience? If you haven’t been, given the current situation, would you go?

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  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Wow that does sound intense. Unfortunately, I’ve had situations like that happen to me in India, China, and parts of South America. I try not to let stuff like that effect my feelings about a destination, though it’s a challenge for sure!

  • Reply
    Christina Gmyr
    November 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I applaud you for your honesty…I tend to just avoid talking about a destination at all if I felt unsafe or had serious issues there for the same reason as you: I don’t want to dissuade anyone from traveling there! But I think it’s important to share your experiences truthfully, all the good and bad parts, so people can prepare themselves mentally if they are using your piece to prepare for a trip. I’m going to make an effort to do this as well!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I haven’t been to Egypt yet and it’s mainly for the reasons you outline above. It sounds intense, and I’m worried that will make me not like it as much as I want to (if that makes sense). I don’t like doing tours and try and avoid them like the plague (weird, as I’m a tour guide myself!) but Egypt’s always been the one that’s made me reconsider. At the end of the day, traveling should be fun and shouldn’t feel like work. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Jean| Holy Smithereens
    November 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Wow, this is such a refreshing and honest post. And I am even more encouraged to visit Egypt. Save for the mugging and invasion of privacy, I appreciate raw and real places 🙂

  • Reply
    Melinda M
    November 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for having the courage to share your honest account about Egypt. It’s very important that you share the good and the unfortunate, which allows others to make an informed decision for themselves.

  • Reply
    Carol Perehudoff
    November 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Try going through Egypt on a whirlwind tour with 50 other travel writers (yup, 50). I think I’ll take the fraught-with-danger-tour next time instead. A lovely honest post – there really are two sides to every trip, and it’s always a dilemma regarding what to leave out and what angle to take.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks for your honesty. My parents went right before the fall of the Mubarak government and they their feedback was that they have never experienced as much xenophobia as they did in Egypt. That along with a good friend of mine who lived there for 6 months and complained about how much the men harassed her and leered at her and had no problems feeling her up…. And now yours, so it’ll drop further down for me for now…

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I went to Egypt 13 yrs ago and I didn’t like it then either. I found the hassling to be too much and it wore me down. I’ve been to Africa many times, so it’s not like I’m not used to this, but found it to be excessive here. I won’t be back.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve been to Egypt, but it was back in 2007/2008 when the political situation was stable. However, I wholeheartedly agree that I would never encourage independent travel in Egypt. Part of it is the safety reason, but also, because it is so difficult by design from the Egyptian government. You couldn’t very easily travel around to parts of the country on your own. For instance, to get to Luxor required being part of an armed convoy that left only at certain parts of the day. It was simply easier to be part of a tour group. Thankfully I was never an actual victim of crime in Egypt, but I did experience the most street sexual harassment I’ve ever had (even though I was in a tour group, I was a woman traveling by myself and would often wander around alone). Some of it was laughable, and other times it was uncomfortable. Even back in those days, the hard sell was very common, so I can only imagine how much more it is now that the economic situation is so desperate. I didn’t find that Egypt was a place where people would give directions or do anything out of the kindness of their heart. They always expected to be paid. Maybe it was just my personal experience. But I agree that seeing the sites in Egypt is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Abu Simbel in particular was awe inspiring, and Christmas in Luxor was fun. New Years Eve at Daha and Mt. Sinai was beautiful. The food was very delicious. There really is so much to see and do in Egypt. But there are definite pitfalls.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I loved Caïro. Yes, it’s intense, just as you say, but for some reason, I felt good there. Maybe because I was staying with expat friends which made me feel less of a tourist… I think traveling to Egypt without a group/package tour is not for everyone because it is indeed hard work… You found the perfect words: “wounded and raw”. It’s one of those places where you have to bring out the most assertive part and raw part of yourself. I would go back in a heart-beat!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Something similar happened in kuta, Bali. A woman called me by first & last name in my hotel room early in the morning one day to offer us basically a time share.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I love the last picture. (especially your hair)
    I have a friend who went to Egypt a few years ago and she shared almost an identical story to yours. She also said that when they found out she was from Canada, they said “Canada Dry!” lol

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    This pretty much sums up my experience in Tunisia. I love the country and found the people to be, mostly gracious. However, I was overwhelmed with the aggressive attempts to get us to patronize them. I get it, I really do. This is a country struggling with post revolution rebuilding. Their lives are livelihood are dependent on tourism. However, the level of harassment was surprising and really, off putting.

  • Reply
    Amelia M
    November 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you for your post. I do enjoy reading of your adventures, especially through the eyes of a young woman 🙂 Your words are filled with honesty about your experience while visiting a country and no one should view this post as you being critical in a negative way. In my opinion, a person’s decision not to visit a country (or do anything) should not be because of one review (be it good or bad), people experience things differently. My aunt has travelled to Egypt many times and loves it, but she too has told me about the bad side of her travels… she still loves it.

    However, I have not travelled to the countries you have visited and reading your post is giving me motivation to explore the world. Now, I don’t want to be a young woman just reading other women’s travelling adventure … I want to make my own 😀 😀 Although, easier said than done … so, until I am brave enough to wet my feet and go off alone into the unknown … please continue to write about your adventures … the good, bad and ugly …

    Be safe

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    This is such a tricky one!! I think more than any place in the world I’ve dreamed of traveling to Egypt the most! But, after reading your experience and hearing stories from other travelers and I wonder when the right time for me will come. I know I would not feel comfortable traveling to Egypt now as a solo traveler. The idea of a group tour is kind of annoying! I guess for now I’ll just wait. With what’s going down in the news every day waiting sounds like a good idea. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I WILL go to Egypt…just not now. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I am glad you telling your experiences like it is. I think its important to let people know the true story, especially when security issues are involved. Besides most people can deal with the truth much better then the everything is awesome mentality. In particular Egyptians are very straight out at things, too. 🙂

    Most important is that you guys are safe and hopefully Egypt’s situation will improve for the better.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    It is obvious you’ve put a lot of thought into writing this. I’m glad you did! I think it’s important to understand that several of the “touristy” countries outside of the U.S and Europe are not all indulgence and wealth. These countries are economical and struggling at best and the average man fight to make ends meet.

    It’s amazing that you were able to see the beauty of the country despite the harassment from locals. Thank you for revealing the adventures and mis-adventures of your travels and of this particular trip

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    there is absolutely no shame in not loving, or even liking, a place you travel to. i personally, dont like paris at all. been there like 8 times and have disliked it every time (yet i always end up back….hmmm). we all have different experiences. and one of the best things about travel is that no experience can be duplicated. i know people that have hated traveling to the US and canada. different strokes for different folks 🙂 im just glad you shared your POV and thoughts on your travels there!

  • Reply
    noel morata
    November 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Since I travel to different and exotic places during the off season, you automatically become a target and it’s very difficult to have peace and an enjoyable experience touring or shopping. I usually avoid places where the masses congregate unless it’s photo worthy and not start a conversation with shop owners or they will not stop until you buy something.

    So unfortunate that the only way to tour is with groups with armed guards, that really says a lot about the state of travel and safety. Let’s hope that things can settle down so more can truly enjoy a unique and wonderful experience to share with everyone!

  • Reply
    Jane Meighan
    November 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I had the exact same problems in Morocco with the hard sell, feeling unsafe, and also unfortunately sexual harassment. Unfortunately, whilst I do sympathise about their current economic situation, I have actually been in countries just as poor (such as Bolivia) and been treated with nothing but kindness – so the more I think about it the harder it is to excuse their behaviour.

    • Reply
      November 28, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Funny you say that because I have been to Morocco twice and LOVED it. I never had any problems — just goes to show how different people will have different experiences.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I think it’s important for travelers to share their true feelings about places they visit no matter what. No two people will ever have the same experience or draw the same conclusions about a place, but your experience is still one to be shared for people to take it for what they need.

    I know I personally LOVED Egypt. I went in 2011 a couple months after the initial protesting at the start of what is now known as the Arab Spring and felt completely safe. But your experience sounds similar to my nightmare of a trip in Istanbul. When people ask me about Istanbul I lead with how beautiful it was but do always end up saying I had a bad experience but it was probably unique to me (being a woman and dark skinned) rather than what they would find. Also, reassuring them if it was a trip I have no regrets about.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      As an Egyptian living in the US I feel sad to see someone not enjoying their stay in Egypt. I don’t want to offer excuses or reasons for how people there treat tourists. I just want to offer a bit of cultural context. Egyptian society in general is under a lot of pressure. The amount of instability we have experienced in the past three years us nothing less than traumatic. Under such circumstances people act out of character. My personal view is that once Egypt experiences some stability we would be able to rebuild the infrastructure of the tourism industry. That includes teaching people in that industry the proper way to treat tourists and do business. Harassment is another thing that would hopefully go away when men are taught that this behavior is offensive rather than flattering to women. I apologize deeply for anything bad you have experienced and on behalf of the many Egyptians who feel the same way I invite you to visit us after our country is back on its feet.

      • Reply
        February 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

        Great and delicate touching words Amr. I own a travel company in Cairo and totally live on tourism, although, my heart is bleeding for the nation but there is no excuse for such a nasty attitude towards our guests. Sincere apology Oneika and prayers Amr..prayers !!!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I actually thank you for your honesty. It’s very important to know what we can count on, i am not discouraged to visit Egypt, but i am aware now that i must take extra care, and maybe think of getting a local guide in order to avoid certain nuisances.
    Please keep sharing your feelings about places, no one is obliged to like or feel confortable in every country or to have the same opinion.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I keep hearing the same things about Egypt, again and again. It is a bit off putting but I think I would still visit. I would probably keep it short. I had no troubles with Morocco so I might be alright. Might invest in a burqa?

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 12:06 am

    I had the opportunity to travel to Egypt for Xmas 2008,while a teacher in South Korea. I chose Italy instead. It was great but since I lived in London last year, I could have gone to Italy then. I couldn’t have known that Egypt’s political climate would make a comfortable and safe visit more challenging a few years later. It has always been high on my list. I did however visit Morocco, in which I experienced similar levels of harassment (maybe worse). Someone above said Tunisia was similar. Therefore, it is a regional phenomenon that escalated with recent events. I’ll wait it out! But I’m still going no matter what.

  • Reply
    Colleen Brynn
    November 28, 2013 at 1:33 am

    You did a great job describing how intense Egypt is/was. In all that I’ve read on the topic, intense seems to be a great word to sum it all up. It’s also nice to see a different perspective on Egypt. Absolutely everything I have read lately has been negative, and I think you are right about saying it’s not fair to just call a place down given the circumstances. I do want to see Egypt one day, but it’s just not top priority at this point in time. You DID remind me that I want to go one day. 🙂

    • Reply
      November 28, 2013 at 9:17 am

      I am nodding my head in agreement! People are quick to dismiss Egypt but the social, economic, and political situation are major contributors to the way things are currently. We should be aware of that.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 1:43 am

    I think you wrote the perfect post about your feelings toward Egypt. It’s balanced, but also honest. And, really, that’s what we as readers want to read. You don’t have to love every place you visit; in fact, it gets boring when you do!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Thank you! I don’t think you should be hesitant to post your account of your travels. After all this is YOUR blog and as a regular reader, I love your honesty. I don’t think that you should only post things that are all roses and sunshine, your experience and viewpoint are unique to you and I appreciate you for sharing it.

    • Reply
      November 28, 2013 at 9:15 am

      Thanks, Jelonda!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I am very disappointed in your half hearted review of Egypt. You sound like your shilling for some travel agency and are afraid to tell the WHOLE TRUTH about how terrible a trip you had in Egypt. If your going to be all sunshine and lollipops in your reviews of your travels there is really no reason to bother reading your travel blog. I can just google the damn country and find out basic bland facts. You are traveling to places many many blacks have never even thought of visiting. We need your HONEST opinion of what your experience was like. Especially from a BLACK WOMANS perspective. Now grow a fricking BACKBONE, and give us all the REAL DEAL.

    • Reply
      November 28, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Thanks for the comment, Damien. That was the point of this post — it IS an honest review of my experience in Egypt. The reason I was reluctant to highlight my negative feelings about the country is that many people (usually inexperienced or infrequent travellers) are quick to totally dismiss a place as soon as they find out that their trip wont be all sunshine and lollipops. Some places are “easier” to travel to than others, but the more difficult places are not without their merits. Egypt, with its ancient civilizations, stunning ruins, etc. is one of those places. Given the rampant and unneccessary Islamophobia that comes into play whenever the slightest negative news comes out of the Arab world, I think this my hesitation in relaying my experience is understandable. Some people are so blinded by the bad that they cannot (or will not) see the good.

      • Reply
        December 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        You deserve a BIG HUG. I will Follow U to the End of the Earth. Go get’em Tiger.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I’ve been going to Egypt for years, granted times are hard now but that doesn’t take away from its many historic treasures and the overall safety of the country. Egypt is your typical third world country enduring trying times so typically, there will be people striving for your business but I wouldn’t feel threatened by it. I actually had a similar cab incident take place in Costa Rica which is far from the economic state of Egypt. Privacy rules are not as stringent in other countries as they are in the US. Everyone knows everyone, and the hotel staff is usually familiar with the cab drivers. I’ve been to Egypt over a dozen times and although I agree it’s overwhelming, it’s definitely a must see. Amongst all the ciaos, you find an inner peace buried within the most amazing historical monuments in the world. There is no literally, other place like it on earth. Only way to know is to experience it for yourself.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I got a sense of how intense it was from your story but it hasn’t discouraged me from travelling there – just made me more aware of what to expect. I think that it’s really important to do that in travel writing. Rather than painting a rosy picture of everything, it’s important to be authentic. Thanks for your honesty, Oneika!

  • Reply
    Jon Baker
    November 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Reminds me of the ambivalence I felt after backpacking across India for five weeks.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I have been to Egypt back in the 70’s when Iranians were treated like royalty and Egypt just came out of the October war with Israel victorious and also had a riot in Cairo. Bad things can happen to travelers every where especially if they are traveling alone. You can get mugged in NY or San Francisco too (as it happened to my friends). Egyptians are going through bad times and I hope they can recover soon as I love that country. We also cannot judge something based on just one review.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I always enjoy your posts and had similar feelings myself about Egypt. If I may make a small comment, you describe running your finger along some hieroglyphs. As travelers, we must always “take only photographs, and leave only footprints”. The oils in our hands alter these relics when thousands upon thousands of people touch them. I saw that in Egypt a few times. I am so tactile and want to touch everything but I force myself to keep my hands to myself 🙂

  • Reply
    November 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I’ve struggled with posting opinions that don’t necessarily fall in with most people’s perception, because like you, I don’t want to offend someone and didn’t want to come off as complaining or being whiny. Plus, I don’t want to deter someone from going someplace just because I didn’t like it. So thank you for writing what you honestly felt. I think it is important to talk about both the positives and the negatives when you travel as it presents the whole picture of a country – not just some glossy happy view of what the country could be. And that is why travel bloggers are thriving these days as many are willing to write about both the good and the bad! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Miller
    November 29, 2013 at 1:07 am

    I have not been to Egypt since the revolution but spent two years there a few years before and it really pains me to see how much the country and its people are struggling. Contrary to your experience, I found Egypt to be one of the safest places I have ever lived. For example, one day I was walking around the city at night and came across a wedding party. I walked over to the perimeter and was immediately invited in. I went to dance and left my bag on a seat (money, camera, etc.) for about two hours where it remained untouched. I would NEVER do that in Australia and I wouldn’t do it in Egypt now either, given that many of the people are in such desperate circumstances. I would now just try to spend as much money as I could possibly afford to spend there – we are just so extraordinarily rich by comparison. The Egyptians (like all people) are a proud people and I know it would have felt as horrible for those poor two to have to hound you at your hotel as it felt to be hounded. When I lived there I would ask people for directions and they would stop what they were doing and walk me there (sometimes up to two hours!) and expect nothing in return. Total generosity. But there is a big difference underlying my experience and that is that I spent 3 years learning Arabic before I went to Egypt. So the constant ‘in your faceness’ of Egyptians did not appear aggressive to me because I knew what they were saying and so knew that they were being friendly and not aggressive and intimidating. It’s not perfect, the sexual harassment is out of control and xenophobia is at an all-time high. It’s just a very sad thing to witness that people are being turned off going just at a time when Egypt most needs those all-important tourist dollars. But I think if people go with an underlying understanding of the difficulties that are being faced there, some compassion toward that and an openness to perhaps spending some money on stuff they don’t actually want or need, a smattering of Arabic, and some decent travel insurance in case anything gets stolen then they still have a chance to experience magical Egypt and its beautiful people.

  • Reply
    Anonymous Egyptian
    November 29, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Hi Oneika,
    As an Egyptian, I’m not offended at all with what you have said about our country, but that’s because I like to think myself as a realistic person. I can see how others might be offended. Even as Egyptians we struggle with our daily lives here in Cairo, traffic, hassling, corruption and a whole lot of sexual harassment (I’m a male, but I see other fellow Egyptians being harassed all the time, and at times, foreigners as well). Some people have different experiences, and Cairo is simply not for everyone, but I guarantee you that Egypt has something for everyone. That would be my recommendation to anyone visiting Egypt. If you don’t have thick skin and you can’t bother with the hassle, then go somewhere along the Red Sea like Marsa Allam, Sharm or Taba. My wife isn’t Egyptian, and she’s very well traveled. She’s been to China, Uganda, several places in Latin America and the Middle East. She’s been mugged with a knife to her throat (somewhere in Latin America, can’t remember) and she wasn’t comfortable in Israel (portrayed in the west as the most democratic country in the Middle East) where everyone was walking around with some kind of an assault rifle and standing in segregated lines at bus stops. In her point of view, she felt that Egypt was the safest, and she continued to live here. Even with all that experience, sometimes Cairo still gets to her. I hardly think any country in this world is perfect, and that shouldn’t stop anyone from visiting all these places and their people.

  • Reply
    Travel Blog Love: November, 2013 | Besudesu Abroad Travel Blog
    November 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    […] Talking about a destination you didn’t like is hard as a travel blogger, but Oneika bravely recounts Why I Didn’t Fall in Love with Egypt (and Why I was Afraid to tell you so). […]

  • Reply
    Lesley Peterson
    December 1, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Thanks for your honesty, Oneika. I’d love to visit Egypt but will wait until things are less tense. I wouldn’t be upset that a cab driver with kids hustled to make sure he didn’t miss a fare but it was indeed a grave security breach at the hotel for someone there to divulge your room and phone number. If even a good hotel is not a secure sanctuary, I don’t know where or when a traveller could truly rest at the end of a day. Being ‘on guard’ around the clock would be beyond exhausting:\ Still, your photos are stunning–I especially like the one of you gazing at that exquisite relief sculpture.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I think you’ve done a marvelous job of being honest, without bashing the country. You clearly understand the context of the times in which you were traveling in Egypt and what sort of impact that might have had on your experience. Just telling your story — your truth — and doing so honestly doesn’t frighten. It simply reminds people that traveling, anywhere, is a risky proposition. It doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t go. It means you should be careful whether you’re in Egypt, or Florida. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Egypt is not somewhere I’ve ever been but honest, well-balanced posts help a lot to paint the full picture that the guide books often gloss over. Tragic as it is sometimes places don’t come up to expectations, but great to see that there were some positives for you anyway. Thanks for the post Oneika!

  • Reply
    Tom @ Waegook Tom
    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    In a word: eek.

    Egypt sounds like an amazing country, but I’m not sure if I could cope with that amount of pressure, and people invading my personal space and privacy constantly. But, at the same time, like you so eloquently write here, you can understand the desperation of people who’ve been hit hard through the sharp decline in tourism.

    Would I go to Egypt? It’s not at the top of my ‘must visit list, but I would love to visit one day, and see hieroglyphics and ancient temples up close. Just not right now.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2013 at 12:51 am

    “Intense” is the perfect word. I went to Egypt in April and have put off posting my thoughts on the negative side of traveling there as well, for the same reasons you mention.

    My friend and I hired a guide for both cities we visited (Cairo and Luxor) and in this case, I really think it made the trip more enjoyable. Aside from all the insight our guides shared, they also provided a buffer against constant sales pitches and other requests. A felucca trip ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip too – I think a few peaceful hours on the Nile are made even more special because they allow you to let down some of the mental and emotional barriers Egypt forces you to put up.

  • Reply
    Amanda Halm
    December 4, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I find it refreshing that you didn’t do a PR puff piece. You being honest about your experiences made me kind of want to visit the country more. Travel can be stressful and every country has it’s things. Good travel writing helps us know what to expect. That’s important and I think it’s done here.

    So thanks!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I appreciate your honesty that you wrote this piece. But honestly, would have been very disappointed in you if you hadn’t. I see comments like;
    “Unfortunately, I’ve had situations like that happen to me in India, China, and parts of South America. I try not to let stuff like that effect my feelings about a destination, though it’s a challenge for sure!”
    People read blogs to get real experience from the perspective of another traveler, not to read a fluff piece on why you should go there etc etc (lots of that crap around). Your experience may not be representative of everyone’s experience, but we want to hear the realities, not some digestible, watered down version of your trip. I think that’s the role of a blogger. I didn’t like my trips to Brazil or Costa Rica and I get flak for it – but sorry, that was my experience and that’s exactly what I say when they give me a hard time. It might have been different if the stars lined up, if it wasn’t Ramadan, if their soccer team hadn’t lost the night before…but it wasn’t so sorry.
    I just get a bit annoyed when I see other bloggers feeling that they have to apologize because they didn’t love a place.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  • Reply
    December 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I honestly appreciate your honor. I’m not from Egypt and although I know about some of the things that have gone on there it wouldn’t stop me from visiting. I’m from NYC & I know people are afraid to visit here which is funny to me. I think you have to be cautious everywhere but it shouldn’t stop you from visiting. I appreciate you & your blog.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and to answer your question, yes, I’ve been to Egypt: three times in fact.
    Question 2: I had a wonderful time and felt privileged to be standing and touching a “Wonder of the World”. The people were nice and friendly. I took a cruise. I went to the Red Sea and got my toes nibbled. I flew around Egypt in a tiny little 20 person-plane and it was terrifying.
    Question 3: I love Egypt and places of historical interest but I won’t be going back anytime soon. I consider myself well-travelled but right now, North Africa is too volatile.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I went to Egypt three years ago, and I honestly experienced the same situations in your account of your trip. I don’t whether or not you traveled in a small group, but if you did, this may have contributed to some of the extreme activity you witnessed. I traveled to Morocco this past summer and I can say that Morocco is not as intense but I did feel paranoid in some areas. I think the best advise when traveling internationally is to travel in groups as much as possible.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    *I meant to say if you did not travel in a small group.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Great post, well written… I especially liked ” Egypt is wounded and raw, but it is beautiful “.
    As you say, the most memorable, transformative journeys are the ones that require the most hard work. An experienced place is a mixed bag of goods and I think that as travel writers we owe it to our readers to share that bag and not cherry pick. I know that everyone has a different experience in the same place but they read us to learn about our experiences, good and bad. Nothing turns me off a travel writer faster than gushing like it is Nirvana or something. I want to know everything, warts and all.
    I had to laugh at one of the above comments who said she never experienced sexual harassment in Cairo when all I have heard from women IS sexual harassment in Cairo. Perfect example of individual experiences.
    You were sensitive, balanced and informative, thank you for that.

    • Reply
      January 3, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you for reading with a critical eye!

  • Reply
    Cleola Payne
    January 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I am so thrilled to have found your blog! You are a true inspiration continue to inspire! I travelled to Egypt in 2009 for my junior year aboard. I was inspired to go because of El-Hajj Malik (Malcolm X) autobiography, like him I wanted a transcendent transformation. I feel gravely ill and my study abroad ENDED. I wasn’t head over heels for Cairo, however the friendship I was able to establish there with my roommate made it all worth it! I am very bless to have met and stayed in contact with her, and I am forever grateful. There are numerous lessons I learned about travelling, tenacity, my own strength and the healthcare system globally. Wasn’t the best experience, yet I am grateful.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I was in Egypt in November of 2013 and I agree with everything you just said. Because of the political and economic situation there, the place has turned into a corrupt desperate shithole. It’s a shame because it has the potential to be an absolutely beautiful and wonderful place, but until they fix their internal power struggle issues and the economy picks up, it’s a terrible to visit for a tourist.

  • Reply
    Laurie McConnell
    January 15, 2014 at 12:46 am

    This is travel writing as it is supposed to be.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    I read your blog with great interest. I would love to travel more, but being a single, black female, wonder how safe I will be. Most family and friends want to go to the usual places, but I want to experience the people and the towns and villages. Thanks for being honest about Egypt. I appreciate that. Of all you mentioned, the piece about “Fathi” plucked at my heart strings. I feel like mailing him $50 just for being such a good human being. No doubt, he recognized your dilemma and even your angst, nevertheless, he persisted in helping you. That was invaluable. I jotted down his address. Think he would receive the mail?

  • Reply
    Jamie S.
    January 28, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Appreciate your own subjective account of the situation..Even though I´m under impression that the touristic life continues quite normally I can´t say I´d feel entirely comfortable given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is now more powerful than ever and the religious fanatics seem to come up with the weirdest ideas..not to mention protests and emonstrations..but I hear these can be easily avoided, at least.

  • Reply
    Shane Dallas (The Travel Camel)
    January 29, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Congratulations on a great post! I visited Egypt as a solo and independent traveller at the end of 2002, and the hassle factor from touts was very high back then. Some comments above have suggested travelling as part of a tour group to avoid the hassles. I don’t agree, for even in a group, you will still receive attention from touts selling you their wares (but not for transport services), and what is more, the encounter with Fathi you mentioned in another post would likely never have occurred. In fact, those special, genuine friendships with locals that are possible to make on the road when travelling independently almost entirely evaporate when part of a group.

    The secret is to read excellent and informative posts such as yours and prepare yourself. I loved Egypt, but to enjoy it one must be assertive – when I say no, it means no – and if they persist – I walk away or raise my voice – or both. It is the difference between taking control of a situation or letting a situation control you – but wresting that control is easier said than done. However, if you can master this control, it truly opens up a world of destinations to enjoy.

    Countries such as Egypt take more effort to visit, but the rewards are enormous. These sort of destinations have provided me with my most memorable travel experiences. I am more than happy to invest that extra energy to experience the many wonders that Egypt has on offer, and I recommend people visit – but be prepared.

  • Reply
    Sharelle D. Lowery
    February 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I appreciate your honesty as I was really excited about traveling there, but maybe I should make sure that I go in a large group and go on a guided tour!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I love your honesty. Not every place in the world is fabulous and amazing at all times, and people are a mixed bag everywhere you go. It would be disingenuous to rave about a place and only talk up the positives, just because others have done the same. Posts like this are truly helpful – I’m definitely not dissuaded from visiting Egypt, but thanks to your narrative, I know what to expect and how to handle it. Kudos to you for your honesty

  • Reply
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave)
    February 19, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I’ve never been to Egypt so it’s really interesting to hear a balanced report about the ups and downs you found – does look a beautiful country though!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Sorry I left my comment on this post in the wrong place as this page didn’t load properly.Anyway awesome brave post and it’s very good to give your own perspective on a place and totally ok to not like somewhere.We don’t have to like every place we go and it is up to others to decide if they want to to or not.OF course it’s a bit difficult that we don’t want to harm livelihoods of the locals but hey,everyone has a different experience every place they go.You were completely upfront and honest about how you felt.That’s why your writing is so awesome.
    Well done keep travelling and congrats on the engagement! Hope you guys are still travelling 30 years on like we are.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    As an Egyptian living in the US I feel sad to see someone not enjoying their stay in Egypt. I don’t want to offer excuses or reasons for how people there treat tourists. I just want to offer a bit of cultural context. Egyptian society in general is under a lot of pressure. The amount of instability we have experienced in the past three years us nothing less than traumatic. Under such circumstances people act out of character. My personal view is that once Egypt experiences some stability we would be able to rebuild the infrastructure of the tourism industry. That includes teaching people in that industry the proper way to treat tourists and do business. Harassment is another thing that would hopefully go away when men are taught that this behavior is offensive rather than flattering to women. I apologize deeply for anything bad you have experienced and on behalf of the many Egyptians who feel the same way I invite you to visit us after our country is back on its feet

  • Reply
    February 23, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I had respect until I read, “run your finger along neat, neverending rows of hieroglyphs painstakingly etched by someone over 5000 years ago.”

  • Reply
    February 24, 2014 at 7:05 am

    I just wanted to thank you for acknowledging the circumstances. Things are dire, and you note that. This is truly a balanced report. I’m not the kind to promise anything but it would be wonderful if you could write a follow-up article, if things are ever looking better for us. I hope you’ll have a more pleasant stay.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    I have been to Egypt and I thought your post was quite generous. I went with my ex and a friend in 2009, well before Arab Spring. I found the vendors to be infuriating in their insistence. I love to shop -LOVE IT- but I told our tour guide that I wanted to skip the Bazaar in Cairo on the last day of our trip because I could not muster the energy to beat off the vendors with a stick. We were besieged by crowds everywhere we went, hawked at in a variety of languages, on the off chance that maybe we didn’t speak English but spoke Spanish, French, Portuguese, or German. It was very uncomfortable. And our tour guides (we had booked a package) did nothing to help us out.
    Also, I hated the food. I love eating more than I love shopping (I’m an adventurous eater) and I was shocked that every place I went left me disappointed. The McDonald’s in Luxor (with a delightful Egyptian-theme cartoon mural) was probably the best place we ate.
    The expectation of baksheesh (a tip) was annoying. I asked a uniformed officer where the bathroom was. He pointed then extended his palm. “Baksheesh”. A man who showed us an interesting cave in the Valley of the Kings laughed and refused my coins when I gave them to him, and demanded more money, which I didn’t give him.
    Now, having said that, I am 100% thrilled that I went. To walk among so much history and antiquity. To be able to see, touch, walk throught, and float on the cradle of civilization. The boat trip down the nile. Walking through shadowy columns in the temples. Riding a camel to the pyramids. Hearing how Abu Simbel was moved to high ground so that Lake Nasser wouldn’t flood it. Negotiating how many camels my friend would be worth in a marriage proposal. It was an amazing experience. Would I go back? Probably not. Any regrets? None.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Hey, I’m Saber from Egypt. I applaud your honesty to start with and am not offended by your words. I’m more like depressed by the state that our country is at right now. I would like to thank you for the good words that you have said about out sites and I apologize for any bad incident or any bad feeling that you had to our country. We’re working to be better and I hope that we will be soon. Wish you can visit us again after things get better.

    Thanks again.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 1:12 am

    I love your honesty. I worked as a teacher in Cairo for a year and felt very similar to what you expressed. While there I was almost counting the days until I could leave. Yes, some parts of the experience were beautiful and amazing, but the constant stress of being a single blonde female was simply exhausting. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have come to the realization that you are not alone.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I think this article is missing a fundamental fact that if you visit any country that is going through economic and political turmoil you will face harassment, that the driver comes to the boat etc yeah it infringes on privacy – but I remember going to India with my I think this article is missing a fundamental fact that if you visit any country that is going through economic and political turmoil you will face harassment, that the driver comes to the boat etc yeah it infringes on privacy – but I remember going to India with my mom and sister right after the Mumbai bombings and we were constantly bombarded by sellers in market little kids begging- if your visiting a country under such circumstances you should realize this is going to be part of the experience. I loved India regardless – and will probably go again – I don’t think being haggled in a market or being robbed makes a country “intense” I think it makes it real. Heck when I was ten years old i was stuck in a restaurant in London that got held up by four gunmen – It’s not intensity it’s in my opinion reality – and if you want a cookie cutter tourist friendly trip then you should go with a tour group guide etc – otherwise like anywhere in the world expect things not to go smoothly when traveling along and that’s part of the adventure. Hahaha sorry this article bothered me a little.mom and sister right after the Mumbai bombings and we were constantly bombarded by sellers in market little kids begging- if your visiting a country under such circumstances you should realize this is going to be part of the experience. I loved India regardless – and will probably go again – I don’t think being haggled in a market or being robbed makes a country “intense” I think it makes it real. Heck when I was ten years old i was stuck in a restaurant in London that got held up by four gunmen – It’s not intensity it’s in my opinion reality – and if you want a cookie cutter tourist friendly trip then you should go with a tour group guide etc – otherwise like anywhere in the world expect things not to go smoothly when traveling along and that’s part of the adventure.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I was traveling around the world in the beginning of 2011. While in Australia, I was staying in hostels and outside most of the time. One afternoon I stopped to check my email and had several emails from my mom cautioning me about Cairo as that would’ve been my stop the next month. The revolution had just broken out. After reading several news articles I thought it would be best to reschedule around Cairo and have to cut it out altogether. I called my travel agent at STA and he got me on a flight out of Malaysia. I had to call the hostel in Cairo to cancel my stay with them. Instead of a confirmation I got a personal email back pleading me to still come. That I could stay for free if only I would spread the word about his hostel and to help tourism in Cairo. I was a 24 year old American female traveling alone. I just couldn’t see the safety in it and had to reject. I wanted to go very much and was disappointed. So I understand firsthand the desperation that is coming from Egypt. But the desperation is also misleading the safety of people and putting then in danger. I loved the honesty of this post. I too felt sympathy for the people of Egypt, but at what point do I put myself at risk?


  • Reply
    February 28, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Sorry about how negative your trip to Egypt was, but maybe you should try touring the Upper Nile to Nubia(Kush). With all of Egypt’s history, Kush predates Egypt and has a lot more pyramids. Kush was the oldest civilization. I’ve never been to Kush, but I hope to go someday. Your blog has given me the incentive to travel more. As soon as I can. I’m homeschooling my two kids right now, but I dream of going to Japan, Belgium, Montreal, and of course, Kush.


  • Reply
    March 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Personally, I loved Egypt to the point of it becoming one of my favourite countries but can easily understand why people would not. It is one of the most mentally stressful countries to travel around and that was before the upheavals that took place there. I can only imagine how it is now. At least then it was possible to hide behind richer looking or larger groups of tourists. Our coping tactics were two fold: laugh at the more absurd attempts to get baksheesh, and push back (figuratively) when pushed.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

    When you get a chance, can you tell me who you used for travel insurance? The ones I’ve found won’t cover me if I go to countries that are listed on our government’s “do not travel list”. Thanks!

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  • Reply
    January 16, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    I was in Egypt in September 2010. It was wonderful. I was on a tour and we were a group of 6 African-American women travelling with the tour group. At that time, I had no idea that Egypt was on the verge of the Arab spring. I didn’t sense the tension. I’m thankful I was able to see the Egyptian Museum intact, before the vandalism occurred. I found the shop keepers and artisans to be very aggressive with the hard sell, but I can imagine that has intensified since. Tipping was basically required for everything; toilet paper squares, picture taking by the tourism police. They all wanted a little piece of change. I felt relatively safe, although initially put off by the automatic weapons the tourist police carry. I would visit Egypt again, but I would be mindful of the current warnings issued by the state department. If they urge not travelling, then I would abide by it. Abu Simbal is a must and so is a cruise of the Nile. Thank you for sharing your honest experience and opinion.

  • Reply
    Milosz Zak
    March 14, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    You’re very observant. The problems Egypt faces have had their origins many decades in the past, informing a lot of negative behaviors amongst those working in the tourism sector today. The country needs to invest in what is important, like its people, standards of living so that a lot of the pressure many Egyptians experience ceases to be a problem, thus requiring an outlet on those who come from abroad.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2015 at 5:11 am

    I have never been but you bring up some of my concerns. I had already decided when I go it will be with a tour group!

    • Reply
      April 7, 2015 at 11:33 am

      You must go!

  • Reply
    July 7, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I’ve not been to half the destinations you have, but I did go to Egypt for two weeks in 2010 and it is still my all-time favourite trip. I’ve been wondering what it’s like to travel there post-revolution and appreciate your post.

    Here’s a bit about our trip: My mum and I did an all-girls trip with a friend and her mum, and we visited Cairo, Dahab, Luxor & Alexandria. We actually found it incredibly easy (and cheap) to travel and do all the things we wanted to do. The owner of the hostel in Cairo arranged our tours and even found us someone to drive us from Cairo to Dahab, a pretty long journey, at a very low cost. The manager of the hotel in Dahab arranged an amazing camel trek up Mt. Sinai for us, and we had an incredible experience with our Bedouin guides. In Luxor, all of our tours (including a felucca journey to Banana Island) were arranged by the hostel owner, who also purchased our train tickets back to Cairo for us (we gave him the money, of course). I’m a hyper planner who looks into all options and prices, and I found that what we paid for our tours and transportation were quite competitive.

    While all of the sights were unforgettable, the interpersonal experiences were some of the most special to me. I met a beautiful little girl in Luxor who invited me to her home where I met her parents and siblings. They were incredibly warm and generous. She met me at my hotel every day after school; she practiced her English with me and showed me some of the dance routines she had been learning. I had frank conversations about Mubarrak with some Bedouins in Dahab, and talked to some folks on Banana Island about what life is like in the U.S.

    Our group LOVED the food. We did not have one bad meal, and we only ate at two fancy-ish restos during the two-week period. Everything was fresh and so flavorful.

    Not everything was perfect, of course. I did get yelled at by a man demanding baksheesh after he helped me at the airport. I was fondled by a young driver in Cairo. The air pollution in Cairo was pretty unbearable (luckily, I was given a special tea in Dahab which cleared up the bronchitis I got while there). The pay-for-TP thing was slightly annoying, and WC conditions could be pretty gross. Tips are expected for just about everything, which can be hard on the pocket when you’re on a budget.

    But overall, I found the people incredibly friendly, funny and respectful. For me, my brown skin seemed to have advantages … many shopkeepers commented that “we are of the same color” and sold me items at the prices I wanted. Everyone was deferential and helpful to my mum, who was 75 at the time. My mum was afraid of visiting Egypt before we went, but that trip is now one of her all-time favourites, too.

    I would definitely go back and hope to, though I would probably be more cautious than the first time. Knowing that Egypt and its people rely on tourism and that the political and economic climate are tenuous, I’d like to think that I’d meet the aggressiveness with compassion and understanding, but who knows? Traveling is almost always magical, but there’s also a stressful side to it that can make people behave differently than they typically would.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      I’m glad you had an amazing experience in Egypt! I think times have changed, as has tourism, for obvious reasons. That said, I went over 2 years ago so I would be curious to see what it’s like now (since the political situation there has stabilized somewhat).

  • Reply
    Connie Spencer
    November 19, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Egypt is not the safest place on Earth. I was there twice. my first time was breathtaking. Second I have almost the same troubles as yours. People are strange there. But I can understand it … most of them struggling for food and money. Greetings!

  • Reply
    Art Travel Eat Repeat
    April 19, 2016 at 12:31 am

    I haven’t been, but I absolutely would go. It does make me nervous for a lot of the reasons you mention in your post, but it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to see and unless they were actively in a war, I would go and take precautions. It was interesting to read about your take on it, though, and I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed about if you didn’t love a destination.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I also went to Egypt, last December, and completely loved it! But I was traveling alone so I gave in and joined a tour group. They gave us plenty of time to walk alone though. The instability leads to issues with travel especially the regulations of certain sites so it was just easier. The issues of locals harassing is relatively common in extremely poor places. Since Egypt is impoverished and experiences turmoil and recession, it is admittedly worse. But everyone has their own experience. I had a similar problem in Thailand where we got robbed twice! And cheated on absurd buses. I still love Thailand but unfortunately circumstances can definitely make traveling a struggle. Once we even had a problem with rebels in Mozambique! And lost the friends we needed to meet up with. I just try to focus on the positives. Don’t let a few bad apples and desperate humans harm your view of the country.

    Here’s my blog about Egypt if you’re interested: https://janinebecomesnamibian.wordpress.com/tag/ancient-egypt/

    If you’re nervous join a group like Encounters Travel. But please please go! If ever Egypt needed tourists, it is now.

  • Reply
    Susan Montiel
    November 12, 2016 at 7:45 am

    My husband and I recently travelled to Egypt in October. It was definitely an interesting experience. Normally, we don’t travel with tour groups. I hate being on someone else’s schedule. We opted for a private tour in which we had our own driver taking us to all the spots. We didn’t travel all of Egypt, just Cairo and were there for three days. Honestly, we had a great time and felt totally safe the whole time. If we didn’t have tour guide we would have probably felt unsafe and intimidated. It’s not like you can easily pick up public transportation to get you around. It worked out well for us as we weren’t with a large tour group but still had the same company, and same driver, picking us up and taking us around each day which made it very comfortable.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Interesting read. I’ve been to Egypt, pre-Arab Spring, and it was intense then… I can’t image what it’s like now. And I had already traveled to India and SE Asia, and I still found the touts in Egypt oppressive. With that said, I don’t regret going, and like you, I wouldn’t necessarily discourage anyone from going. I would say that you need to know yourself, and know what you can handle. Egypt is beautiful and magical, despite all of its issues.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I’m a American and lived in Egypt 2014-2017. I love the land, but the people ruin the country. 90% of the people are crooks and only ask your name, nationality and job to try to estimate how much money you have. I’m not white and I still got harassed. I could go on for days but at this point I honestly don’t have the energy. The government is corrupt, the people are greedy (especially not poor people), nobody is sincere and nobody will help without wanting pay. Do not go to Egypt. It’s gone downhill since Arabs invaded and took it over.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Clark
    October 19, 2017 at 8:21 am

    My 16 year old daughter (also blonde) and I lived in Cairo for a year while I taught at an international school. Despite some harassment in the streets at times, she loved Cairo and so did I. Yes, it is intense. Yes, the driving is insane. We now live in Vietnam and meet many other teachers who taught in Egypt. We all miss it. As this is her last year before uni, she has chosen from any country to return to Egypt for Christmas. Despite its challenges, Egypt is like no other and Egyptians who are kind and friendly make up for those who have other agendas. I have countless stories of caring and compassionate Egyptians who have helped us. It may not be an easy visit for all, but it is most definitely a memorable place that I would highly recommend. I am sorry that you were mugged. That is awful, however, as you know, it can happen in many other countries as well. Take care and I do enjoy your blog very much!

  • Reply
    Lisa Necole
    October 19, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you for giving us the entire truth. It is not all peaches and cream – we know that. By giving us ALLL of the story we are more educated travelers.

  • Reply
    Lauren Shaw
    October 19, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I travelled to Egypt this year. We did a 7 day Red Sea diving trip on some of the Southern Red Sea sites, followed by a day in Hurghada and ending off with 3 days in Cairo. I fell in love with everything about Egypt and would go back in a heartbeat.

    There are so many mixed experiences and so I did a lot of reading before I went just so that I could prepare myself. Where to stay, what sites to see, how to fit in with the locals, what to becareful of and what not to miss out on…. lots of research and a little concern as I’m blonde and was warned that I was going to be harassed.

    One of the best things that I did was during our layover at Cairo International I managed to spend sometime with a shop assistant who helped me with a few words in Arabic. As soon as I started to greet, thank and attempt a few words (languages are not something I pick up on quickly) I found that the locals were more receptive and willing to give you the time of the day. At Hurghada Airport I was the only female who didn’t have any rudeness towards me and I am convinced that making an effort to say hello and thank you in the local lingo makes a HUGE difference.

    Hurghada was an interesting experience. Best tip that I was given was to divide the price by 3 and offer the vendor that price. Settling on half of the original price was a good guideline, and don’t buy from the first shop! Make sure you get to the airport in good time as the checkpoints do take up a lot of time.

    Cairo, where to start! If you’re arriving late or leaving early in the morning stay at a hotel close to the airport! We stayed at Le Passage and it was great. It is over an hour to travel from the airport to the Giza Pyramids. Also be aware of the cost of local vs imported drinks, especially alcohol! To make the most of our 2 full days of sightseeing we went with a private tour company which cost US50 per person per day for private car, driver and tour guide. Also includes water for car, lunch (buy your own drinks – budget 50 local currency per person), entrance to all the sights on itineraries apart from additional optional entrances (mummy room at museum, pyramid entry fee). Emo Tours is the company we used. Our Tour Guide was Ali and I have the utmost respect for him. He was fabulous and definitely made the whole trip. Some of the tips he gave us: Don’t talk to the vendors, don’t take anything from a vendor to look at as you will have to buy it even if they tell you it’s free, carry small denominations with you to tip (even the free toilets come at a cost in the form of a tip for the cleaner – 2 local currency is sufficient), expect to only pay half of what the initial price of anything – the price of soft drinks from vendors even reduced when Ali was with us! In terms of sights. Go to Memphis and see the Dakkur and Sakkara Pyramids! The Giza Pyramids may be bigger but the other Pyramids are not as busy, the most people I ever counted during the entire time at these other Pyramids were 5, whereas the Giza Pyramids had hundreds if not thousands of people when we were there! Go on a Felluca ride on the Nile!!! Take a snack and a drink and make sure you go to the toilet before you get on. We did an hour long tour after the full day tour and if I could change one thing about my holiday I would have done 2-3 hours. It’s completely peaceful and a perfect way to end the day after a busy day of sightseeing! Also, make sure there is a pool at your hotel as that is honestly the best after a full day out. We stayed at Le Meridian Pyramids which was a huge spoil but worth every cent! Dress code is another point to help you fit in. I carried a shawl with me everywhere that I went and used it to cover my hair where necessary, or where I felt that it was respectful to do so, or to avoid the blonde hair attention (which honestly isn’t as bad as people made it out to be) and also used it to save me from sunburn… carry sun team with you on your adventures!!! Also don’t take a huge bag with you. This is mainly for your own security but also because it is so hot you don’t actually want anything extra to lug around. Don’t carry huge amounts of cash around, and seperate your local and foreign currency. I carried it in a seperate compartment and then only kept a few notes with me and then just split money again when I was in the car. You can use cards in some place but they charge you up to 15% fees for making use of the card. Not cool!

    With regards to transport, always negotiate your price before you get in. Don’t leave anything open ended as this is when you get yourself into trouble – this goes for a felucca ride as well. We also made use of Uber to take us from Cairo hotel back to airport hotel and it was 25% of the price! Only downside is you may have a driver who doesn’t speak any English. We had that and it did prove to be interesting. The hotel porter was able to translate when we got to the wrong hotel and we were soon at the correct place!

    I could go on and on! Don’t be afraid to go. Just be aware when you are there, don’t touch souvenirs or get into transport until you have negotiated and agreed upon a final price and remember that dress is a little more conservative in Cairo. Last bit of advice is get a local SIM card at the airport! They are cheap, quick to obtain and will save you a lot of frustration at hotels (even the 5* have limited or bad internet and having your phone with you outside of the hotel is great for Uber, translate and keeping in contact when you need it!

    Enjoy your holiday and take a camera or phone with lots of memory space – there are so many photo opportunities!

  • Reply
    Middle East Hotel
    December 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Interesting post you have shared here.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    I wanted to travel to Egypt anytime soon but will choose other destinations like Ethiopia or Togo. The reason is that I can imagine Egypt is more like India. I totally hated backpacking in India. People were ignorant, rude, too much chaos and they got used to tourists so treat them like walking ATMs. It’s not about security for me. I went to Pakistan on my own and spent 5 weeks there. It’s more about people. In Pakistan they were friendly, hospitable and I never felt unsafe there. My first day in India was like “i did not want to come here, i want to come back to Pakistan”. Of course Pakistan also has problem with beggars and people staring at you but in India it’s just much worse. The main difference? In Pakistan I felt that people were interested in me, my story, why I wanted to visit their country, they wanted to actually listen to me and in India they seemed to be more interested in money. Couchsurfing? In Pakistan people instantly accepted my requests and treated me like part of their family, even taking me to a doctor and refusing to let me pay for medicine. In India I sent tons of requests and never got any success. If you happen to be on a bus in Pakistan people are so curious but in a friendly way, they smile, they shake hands, they ask you questions, they actually ASK if they can take photos with you. In India they stare at you as if you were an alien, no smiles, nothing, they take photos without your approval. Once I was walking with my girlfriend and a guy took his smartphone and started pointing at us from above his head. She was so angry and I shouted at him aggressively to no avail. I hate taxi drivers, touts and people who try to trick you. I know most of them need to feed their families but I still don’t get it. Unemployment and lack of money explain many things but it should never be justification for crime and taking advantage of somebody else’s language barrier or naivety. When taxi drivers or touts approach me I shout “no” and literally run away. I never get into any discussions with them, never. The same goes for beggars. I say “no” which means “no”. Is Egypt full of people like that? Then I don’t want to go there, at least not now.

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