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1. Visas & Passports

2. Getting there

3. Getting around

4. Eating & sleeping

5. Costs

6. Health

7. Safety

8. Climate

9. Shopping

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Soldiers protecting tourists near Minya, Egypt

This was 1999, on the journey between Minya and Beni Hassan. 8 soldiers and an armoured vehicle protected the two of us.

Soldier protecting tourists near Minya, Egypt

And this is 2005. One bored soldier is the only one left. Still there is a lot of hassle travelling, changing guards for every police district.

Early morning convoy for Abydos and Dendera, waiting to leave from Luxor, Egypt

2004: Luxor early in the morning, the convoy is waiting to leave for Abydos and Dendera.

Safety is important when travelling in Egypt, but fortunately today, the government takes care of it for you. Whenever nobody looks after you, there is no need to. And whenever you find yourself in a potentially unsafe part of the country, there will be more police to look after you than what is really necessary. So the rule is: Relax, and do not worry about your safety. You are safer in Egypt than in southern European countries.
The safety issue will however hinder your holidays. Until 2004, the situation was so that should you jump off the bus or the train in Assyut a civilian police will greet you the moment you step out, and not leave you along until you leave town. From 2005 things have relaxed. You can move freely around Assyut, as long as you tell the hotel where you're heading.
New to the situation I experienced in 1999 is that Fayoum has been added to the safety list. The regime here is qutie strict. No matter where you move, an unarmed police man (from the Tourist Police) will accompany you. Except from the time spent on arranging things, I found this regime to be unproblematic during my visit in 2005.
Travelling to the temples north or south of Luxor can only be done in a convoy, which is awkward. Waiting, queuing and hassle takes away considerable amounts of your time, and the time left at the temples is too little to see it all.
The question that haunts many is whether the authorities really have done everything necessary to protect its visitors. The police control was heavy even before the killings in the 1990's. The solace I give myself, is that the form of terrorism that hit Egypt is now world-wide, and at least the Egyptians are experts in controlling it.
Petty crime in Egypt is minimal, and chances are that if you lose your camera or wallet, it is because you have left it behind somewhere. Not that it was stolen.

By Tore Kjeilen