January 24, 2020

Is Egypt Safe? What Can Families Do When They Visit?

Seven-time Thomson traveler Kurt Rosentreter and his daughter at the Temple of Edfu.

Kurt's daughters in front of the Great Sphinx and one of the Great Pyramids!

Nader, the Rosentreter's guide, talks to the family at Abu Simbel.

Egypt’s colossal history of ancient temples, iconic artistry and friendly people draw millions of international visitors every year. But the events of recent decades have left some wondering about traveler safety in the country.

Is Egypt Safe for Family Travelers?

The short answer: yes!

“I wouldn’t hesitate to take the girls and go back tomorrow.” family traveler Kurt Rosentreter said after he and his family visited Egypt in December 2019.

He wouldn’t be the only one: in 2019, award-winning travel magazine AFAR noted that Egypt was one of the world’s fastest-growing travel regions. Currently, it has the same travel advisory level as Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Germany on the State Department’s travel website.

But Do Family Travelers Think Egypt is Safe?

But Kurt and his family weren’t always so sure. At first, they had concerns about going to Egypt. However, they booked the trip after colleagues traveling in the region said it was safe.

“Egypt was always one of those countries we really wanted to see,” Kurt said. “Even as we started to tell people we were going, the comments back were, ‘Is it safe?’ It’s me and three women – my wife and two daughters – traveling in areas where it arguably might not be the greatest for women.”

We were apprehensive, but when we got there, lots of things put us at ease and made you feel like the media was overblown…The joke I’m telling people is that I get more ‘hellos’ from strangers in Cairo than I do at home.

From the moment the Rosentreter family landed at the Cairo airport, Kurt said several things put them at ease. Most notably, his TFA guides warmly greeted his family and got them to the hotel to settle in.

“Literally from the point we landed, they [the guides] were holding the sign up with our last name,” he said. “They speak the language. They went out of their way to make sure we’ve got a comfort level with everything.”

The presence of regular policemen and other international travelers in public spaces also put him at ease.

is egypt safe at the Sphinx and Pyramid of Giza
Kurt’s daughters stop for a photo in front of the Great Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

When the Rosentreter family visited the Cairo markets to barter, their guides made sure no one was taken advantage of. They offered tips on how to barter and what they should expect to pay for products, such as dried fruit.

“They’ll let you barter a little bit, which is a part of the fun and the experience,” Kurt said. “If you pay a bit more, who cares? They’re the guides, they’re there to protect you.”

After exploring Cairo, Aswan and Luxor – traveling nearly to the Sudanese border and back – Kurt said he felt comfortable and didn’t have any security issues.

“We were apprehensive, but when we got there, lots of things put us at ease and made you feel like the media was overblown. The people are nice, they’re friendly,” he said. “The joke I’m telling people is that I get more ‘hellos’ from strangers in Cairo than I do at home.”

How Do Guides Help You Navigate Egypt?

Nader, the Rosentreter’s guide, talks to the family at Abu Simbel.

Kurt’s guide, Nader, was with the family from day one to the end of the trip. “You got to know him well, he got to know you,” he said. “There was a lot of continuity. That made the trip even better.”

Nader provided cultural background and historical information for all of the ancient sites they visited: the pyramids of Giza, the Temple of Philae, Abu Simbel and many more. Imagine the family’s surprise when they discovered Nader could read hieroglyphics too! Nader helped the family understand what the images said at the various sites, as well as how to read them.

“By your third or fourth pyramid, you’re picking up the pictures on the wall,” Kurt said. “He’s patching it all together in ways that really add value to the whole vacation.”

The expertise, professionalism and safety precautions that local guides like Nader employ are why the Rosentreter family travels with Thomson. And they’ve traveled with us a lot – seven times in the past decade!

“When you are traveling to regions of the world where you don’t know the language, where you don’t know the culture and you have security concerns, Thomson does a great job of putting you at ease,” he said.

 

[Here’s how guides helped a family feel safe in the souks and medinas of Marrakesh, Morocco.]

 

What Else Can Families Do in Egypt?

When you travel to Egypt, you expect to see certain things: the ruins of ancient Egyptian temples, the Valley of the Kings and other jaw-dropping sites.

But it’s also a modern country with friendly people. The Rosentreter family met a local Egyptian family in the family’s home and cooked a meal with them.

“We went to the local markets and shopped with the mom,” Kurt said. “You get a sense of how they eat, what they cook, the spices. You get a sense of what their days are like.”

After gathering the ingredients, they returned to the family’s house and prepared all sorts of dishes: koshari, fried eggplant, chicken shawarma and pomegranates with chocolate sauce. Kurt said it was eye-opening to learn about the lives of the locals.

“The dad and I talked about our careers,” he said. “They all speak English. They follow soccer, they care about their commute to work. Their two kids are in university. They’re no different than you and I.”

The Rosentreter daughters ride camels with the Great Pyramids of Giza in the distance.

The Rosentreter family also visited plenty of temples and ruins. They climbed into the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and visited the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, home to over 120,000 objects from antiquity and the dazzling treasures of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Here are some of the other sites the family saw:

  • The Pyramids of Giza – and they rode camels in the shadow of the pyramids!
  • The Temples of Abu Simbel, adorned with massive statues.
  • The Nile from aboard a felucca!
  • The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, with over 120,000 archaeological items.
  • The Temple of Kom Ombo and its 300 crocodile mummies.
  • The Colossi of Memnon, two famous stone statues built 3,4000 years ago.

“It’s the pyramids, or the temples or the palaces – and the mummies!” Kurt said. “To see it live, and the scale of it. It’s older than Christianity. You’re going to go the rest of your life never seeing stuff like that again. If you’ve got a bucket list and Egypt isn’t on it, your bucket list is not complete.”

Learn about a family trip to Egypt’s Cairo, Aswan and Luxor here.

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