4 Months After Revolution: Why You Should Take Advantage Of Egypt’s Rare Travel Window Of Opportunity
June 7, 2011 by Anil Polat
Several months removed from a dramatic national uprising and a few more before nation elections, travelers have a rare opportunity to take advantage of a low-cost Egypt relatively free of large tourist crowds. Adaptability, ingrained into an Egyptian culture that’s seen waves of rulers, conquerors, and traders has resulted – perhaps unsurprisingly – in a country quickly back to life-as-usual.
That is, except for tourism; still slow to recover mostly due to apprehensions abroad about political instability. Now, on the heels of the January 25th Egyptian revolution, yet before the potentially turbulent fall elections, present a rare time to visit a budding nation without the normal crowds or costs.
Egypt’s Current Travel Stability
The question of whether it’s safe for foreigners to visit Egypt is one that you may still not be able to shake post-revolution. You can read more about whether it’s safe to visit Egypt right now but basically the country is stable, generally safe, and nearly all major incidents are far removed from popular tourist spots. Aside from the unmistakable red, white, and black bands of the Egyptian flag waving from (seemingly) everywhere and the sounds from occasional political demonstrations, you’ll likely be oblivious that Egyptians recently ousted their government.
- Ironically enough, usually the best time to continue with your travel plans is relatively soon after you should cancel them.
Egypt is what I like to call travel-stable; meaning there are problems that make headlines, scare some, but are extremely unlikely to affect travelers. Those incidents, like clashes between groups of demonstrators for example, are those you really have to go out of your way to be involved in. The best safety precaution to take in travel-stable places is a dose of common sense.
Keep The Great Pyramids For Yourself
Granted, a Wednesday afternoon is a relatively quiet time even for the only remaining wonders of the ancient world, but I was shocked to count less than a total of 100 people over 2 hours visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza. Even the persistent camel touts, who all seem to speak 15 languages (and had “lived in Istanbul” in my case) seemed pathetic sitting along desolate paths just waiting for anyone to converse with.
There aren’t many reliable statistics on how hard Egypt’s tourism industry has been hit recently but a stroll down Cairo’s famous Khan el-Khalili souk reveals many foreigners have decided to take their vacations elsewhere. Too bad for them, but great for you.
The Best Of Egypt Is Still There
It’s not the kushari, Sphinx, or pharaohs that will have you drinking from the Nile as they say in Egypt, but the culture of an incredibly warm and welcoming people. While it’s true that anywhere, people are what make a culture, Egyptians seem to have a twinkle of optimism in their eye post-revolution; eager to tell any and all visitors about it.
The government is different and the political future hazy on a cloud day though the food, history, and tourism infrastructure are more than intact. Hotels have lowered prices to help fill their empty beds and food is about as inexpensive as you’ll find anywhere in the Middle East. For all of Egypt’s recent changes politically, hardly any have changed travel there.
The Pre-Election Window
Egyptians are in the process of reconstructing their government and molding a clump-of-clay democracy after rapid waves of change. There is still quite a bit of work to be done with the next set of uncertain changes and steps likely to take place during the upcoming September elections.
Eager-and-open Egypt isn’t the same and won’t be from this point forward. Visitors will get a feeling that most Egyptians feel optimistic at this crossroads in their 4,500 year history. This combination of stability, travel recovery, and breath of historical fresh air won’t last beyond September’s parliamentary elections and the presidential elections a few weeks after.
I noticed a few more tourists in the days right before leaving Egypt last month; enjoying the calm sweet spot of travel after a revolution or disaster. Those are the opportunities that get you the best deals and set up travel memories to be had after you’ve left. Head to Egypt right now and you’ll see the country’s future from the beginning, served with a side of ancient temples and shisha along with your Nile.