Video from October 2012 when American cable news channels were still showing “turmoil” on loop for ratings and clickbait.
Many travelers may be deterred from traveling to Egypt during periods of political turmoil. But not all turmoil is the same, and some periods when the news media are be portraying chaos in Cairo may actually turn out to be perfectly safe and even ideal times to travel to Egypt. Travelers should remain open minded and should seriously consider taking the advice of experienced travelers and expats resident in the country over the commercial media or concerned relatives. Not being discerning about where you get travel advice can really rob you of a great experience, and this is especially true with Egypt.
Needless to say, periods of political and social transition in Egypt can translate into lower airfare, hotel, and other hospitality industry rates throughout the country. While hundreds of thousands of tourists still come to Egypt and travel throughout the country safely even when “riots” (i.e., political demonstrations) are looping on Western commercial media, these scenes and the lack of context in which they are portrayed scare away hundreds of thousands and even millions more tourists for months afterwards.
In response to these market conditions, prices typically drop by anywhere from 20-60%. But price drops are not always uniform across the country. In Cairo and Alexandria, which tend to be the center of the country’s political life, prices may drop the most while in the resort cities along the Red Sea coast, which are fortunate enough to have direct flights to and from Europe that can bypass the more tumultuous areas, prices may remain relatively normal.
Another reason to visit during times when other tourists are deterred from traveling to Egypt is that the world famous sites and monuments that you’re going to Egypt to see will be much less crowded. Egypt’s tourist attractions, such as the Pyramids complex at Giza and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, despite being not very well maintained and lacking in basic facilities, are among the world’s most popular attractions. So in the most tranquil of times, millions of tourists flock to these monuments and zillions more harassing merchants and scamsters swarm over the millions of tourists to annoy and rip them off. This can lead to the trip of a lifetime turning into a hot, sweaty, crowded, annoying mess, and some tourists find the long-awaited experience totally ruined as a result. However, when tourist numbers are low, the visits to the monuments and temples of Egypt can be much more pleasant, relaxing, and authentic.
Ultimately, safety and security are key. Of course there have been periods of time since the 2011 revolution that have not been safe to travel, but as I mentioned above as the gauge for whether it’s safe or not, experienced travelers and expat residents of Egypt would have advised against travel during those periods anyway. But in reality, only short periods of time, such as immediately following the 2011 revolutions, would have been bad times to go. The rest of the year, tourism has been slow, tourist value has been incredibly high, and tourist sites and routes have remained perfectly safe.
As always, traveling to Egypt alone and without guidance is ill advised, not because you won’t be safe there but because you will inevitably get ripped off and not make the best use of your time. But if you go with the right team and do your research and reading in advance, you’ll be well prepared to experience the awesomeness of Egypt without the hassle normally associated with traveling in a crowded developing country.