What now makes Egypt one of the best travel deals in the world at the moment might also be keeping you from visiting the Middle East’s most popular travel destination. Months after Egypt’s January 25th revolution, the country’s travel slate has been wiped clean and at the surface has begun to return to normal.
Demonstrating and democracy-building aren’t the sort of activities most tourists travel for and by-in-large if you avoid the occasional local flare up traveling in Egypt isn’t any more dangerous than it was in early January.
What It’s Like Now In Egypt
Having spent the past few weeks in Egypt, the most common question I was asked wasn’t about the Pyramids but rather if it was safe to travel there. In Cairo, aside from the remnants of the burned out Ministry of Internal Affairs building and the now routine Friday afternoon demonstrations in Tahrir Square, you’ll find the Egyptian variety of normal going on.
- That normal is the inconsistent variety – a common theme in Egyptian culture.
You’ll witness in remarkably chaotic traffic with incredibly skilled drivers, insincere but slick touts, and a strong sense of community across classes and ethnic groups. Egypt is chaotic but not in a state of chaos.
You don’t really begin to notice the effects of the January 25th revolution until you talk to Egyptians. From them you’ll learn there is a general state of uncertainty that masks a potential instability; one that most travelers will be oblivious to during their stay in Egypt.
Localized Incidents You Can Easily Avoid
Probably the most important element to understand about Egypt, post-revolution, is that the entire nation is not currently in a state of uprising. There isn’t anarchy on the streets and daily life goes on routinely. Two recent clashes in Cairo’s Imbaba and Ain Shams districts were at times and specific places that a traveler would have to go out of their way to get mixed up in.
- Avoid large demonstrations outside of religious sites or government buildings and stick to pharaohs and feluccas.
That’s basically the state of travel security in Egypt at the moment, you’ve got to go out of your way to get yourself caught up in major trouble.
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Major Objectives Accomplished
With Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarek now resigned, the major point of mass protests makes another national uprising unlikely in the near term (before the upcoming September elections). Still, there are loud but peaceful demonstrations of all size and subject popping up frequently in peculiar places like crowded metro stations. All the result of a new found and rather unfocused democratic freedom, these visual clues are the few you’ll witness from the January 25th revolution.
I walked the Cairo’s busy streets at all hours, strolled around Tahrir Sqaure countless times, and drove past heavily armed soldiers outside of a courthouse keeping guard during a controversial trial. When I went to take a picture of them, all I saw were smiles for the spectacle a lone traveler in Egypt has become these days.
Ironically enough, while many think it’s a terrible time to visit Egypt, it’s one of the best. In the coming days I’ll be writing about catching Egypt at it’s best and making the most out of a rare travel window of opportunity.