What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Egypt? Years ago, most of us would have said the Great Pyramids or the Sphinx, but ever since the revolution of January 2011, we may have a different answer. Egypt has experienced political and social turmoil over the past three years, and scenes of violence and upheaval have flooded international media. As a result, Egypt's tourism industry has suffered greatly.
Our Travel Expert Chelsea Gasko recently had the chance to visit Egypt in March with On the Go Tours. If you have ever considered visiting Egypt, Chelsea encourages you to get your trip booked and go now! Here's why there has never been a better time to visit:
1. You have the sights to yourself
Just us and the camels at the Pyramids of Giza, the oldest and most intact of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
I feel really lucky to have had the rare opportunity to experience the magnificent sights of Egypt virtually alone. While just over 3 years ago several thousand people a day paid a visit to the Valley of the Kings, we counted only 6 other travellers in the few hours of our visit. With the place nearly to ourselves it was easy to imagine the way that these places would have been two, three, sometimes four-thousand years ago. It would have been a much harder task amid the line-ups, selfies, noise and commotion brought by mobs of tourists. King Tut's tomb was more mysterious, the massive temple of Abu Simbel was more magnificent, and at the Great Pyramids it was just us and the camels. I felt like an intrepid traveller, first uncovering the wonders of ancient Egypt in the era of Napoleon two centuries ago.
2. You will help boost the local economy and get the industry back on its feet
While it may have felt like I was discovering these places for the first time, Egypt's ancient sites are today much different from the way they were when first 're-discovered', with the restorations, research, and infrastructure to support millions of tourists each year. Massive parking lots, hotels, and visitor's centres sit empty, not to mention the staff members/locals that used to service the thriving tourism industry who now wait and hope for a change to bring back the tourists, and along with them their livelihoods. The Egyptian people that I encountered were so very welcoming, and being the only tourists nearly everywhere we went, we attracted some attention; “Welcome to Egypt!”, “Where are you from!?”, “Tell your friends to come visit us!”... a chorus in the streets as we were greeted with smile after smile. This was the opposite response I had prepared myself for before leaving home. I did not feel unsafe; quite the opposite in fact.
3. Extra security measures = you're in good hands
Our tour guide Haytham loving life at the nearly empty Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Valley of the Kings
This feeling of security no doubt also stemmed from the fact that I was travelling in a small group with an established travel company. The experience and expertise of our local guide and the local representatives of On the Go made all the difference. Each time our group reached a new city, we were greeted by the local representative who welcomed us and helped us through security checks, navigated the busy streets, and escorted us to our hotel (in the city of Cairo we also had a police escort to our hotel; one of the extra security measures that made us feel like we were in good hands!) Having local guides helped ensure our safety, not to mention that that they were degree-qualified Egyptologists with an unmatched knowledge of their country and its history!
Whatever you are interested in; history, photography, culture; there are undeniable perks to visiting Egypt right now. This is a unique opportunity and might not last long! Visit now, before you miss out!