Travel Safety in Egypt: Reflections

There were at least three occasions before I went to Egypt that the idea of me getting my head cut off was brought up in conversation. I thought that was a little extreme… But many people close to me were clearly concerned about my safety in Egypt. In reality, the worst thing that could have happened was that my traveling companion, Aaron, could have traded me for 100,000 camels… though I’m not 100% sure that any of those were actually serious offers. 

With apparent instability in Egypt and the surrounding areas, many people in my life were some degree of concerned about my decision to travel there. But, I am of the opinion that the safety of a traveler has a lot more to with how they travel, rather than where they travel.

There were a few minor situations in Alexandria and Cairo during our time in the country and the US Department of State did send out an email alerting travelers about security concerns, but this did not majorly affect the trip, and I did not feel unsafe at any point during my time in Egypt. 

Security in Egypt is intense. In the airport, there might be two or three separate sets of security screening, including to get into the airport. That’s after you car or taxi has already been sniffed by a dog on the way into the parking lot. Hotels are the same – a bomb (and drug?) -sniffing dog at the entrance to the parking lot, and metal detectors and x-ray machines for bags going into the lobbies. There was only one hotel we stayed in that didn’t have this, and it was a $25/night hotel in Dahab, which is a very laid-back beach/scuba diving town, though I wouldn’t  be surprised if the Le Meridian did have security. 

When driving any considerable stretch of road outside of the cities, cars went together in a convoy. Now, this probably isn’t the kind of convoy you’re thinking about with a whole bunch of armored cars, but we did wait for a whole bunch of cars, and we all drove within about 10 minutes of each other. We stopped at various checkpoints on the way, where police verified the same number of cars and people were traveling before they would release the convoy again. We experienced this in the South Sinai Peninsula, though I have heard that there is also a convoy between Cairo and Luxor.

The amount of security and police presence, would probably make some people feel less safe, but it did not impact me in that way. I see this as in-line with having a realistic safety-style, on the country scale rather than a personal scale. I think the government of Egypt has done a good job identifying safety concerns and are controlling the situation to the best of their ability. That doesn’t mean that they’re perfect, but between their safety style and my own, I felt completely safe, and would not hesitate to go back (even alone), nor would I hesitate to encourage other competent travelers to visit this beautiful country.

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