Egypt: When is The Best Time to Go?
Photo by David Cogswell
All problems bring with them opportunities, and although Egypt’s tourism industry is still suffering from diminished tourist traffic since the Arab Spring that began in 2011, the reduced number of tourists has advantages for those who do go there.
The tourist sites are much less crowded and more accessible than has historically been the case, providing special opportunities to experience Egypt’s monuments without huge crowds.
For example, participants in Alexander + Roberts Nov. 8 departure of its Small Group Journey to Egypt will be able to stand between the paws, the gigantic stone extensions at the front of the Sphinx, an area normally closed to tourists.
Bob Drumm, president of Alexander + Roberts, experienced the intimate visit with the Sphinx when he was in Egypt earlier this year on a trip arranged by the Egyptian Tourism Authority. The experience inspired him to try to get the required clearance to allow his guests to experience it.
In response to an email from a past customer who expressed reservations about the safety of visiting Egypt, Drumm said that this is one of the best times to visit.
“I know that Egypt is a controversial destination at the moment,” wrote Drumm. “Having just spent eight days there last month with our team on the ground, I was surprised at the number of Chinese and European travelers I encountered. The most important historical sites were uncrowded and accessible.
“Also, the warmth and eagerness of the Egyptian people to welcome visitors, particularly from America, was heartwarming to me. A young woman approached me and asked, in excellent English, 'Why don't Americans like us anymore?' I answered that this wasn't the case at all and that my countrymen were just waiting for things to calm a bit more.”
However, as confidence increases, the size of the crowds will grow. So it could be better to go soon than to wait.
Nine Days in Egypt
Alexander + Roberts’ nine-day Visions of Egypt by Small Ship program will begin and end with stays in Cairo with a four-night Nile River cruise in between. The group will include a maximum of 16 guests.
The first stop will be a night at the Mena House Hotel, with views of the Great Pyramid of Khufu from the hotel room windows. While stationed at the Mena House the guests will visit the Great Pyramids with an Egyptologist guide.
Guests of the Nov. 8 departure will have the special privilege of gathering with Egyptologist Ashraf Mohie El-Din for a discussion between the paws of the Sphinx, which is usually off-limits to visitors.
From Cairo, the guests will board the 30-suite river cruise vessel Alexander the Great for a cruise to the Upper Nile punctuated with visits to Edfu, Kom Ombo, the Valley of the Kings and the Aswan High Dam.
From there guests will take a short airplane hop further up the Nile to Abu Simbel to see the Temple of Ramses II. From there the guests will return to Cairo and spend the night at the Kempinski Nile Hotel. After another day of sightseeing in Cairo, including visits to Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum, the guests will be on their way home, or to their next destination after the tour.
“Times like these in which we live do sometimes offer travelers special opportunities,” wrote Drumm. “That's why we can save individual travelers a single supplement in November and offer the opportunity to stand within the paws of the Sphinx.”
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