Jenny Gray, Intrepid Travel:
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all travel to the Sinai region, but fortunately for travellers the majority of the destination’s highlights are found along the River Nile. Intrepid Travel has a local office in Cairo, which means we receive reliable updates on any incidents in real time, and we can adjust our plans accordingly. Egypt has seen 150% increase year-on-year in bookings for us, demonstrating that travellers’ confidence is returning to the region and rightly so — it’s an amazing country filled with friendly locals who are eager for tourism to bounce back.
Our Egypt Experience tour is a great option for those looking to experience the main highlights and see some of the region’s most famous treasures. Set sail down the Nile, discover the Giza pyramid complex and marvel at the spectacular tombs of iconic pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings. This trip also includes a visit to Abu Simbel to discover the magnificent temples built by the great Ramses II — among Egypt’s most memorable sights. Not many trips include visits to these ruins, so this is an undoubted highlight of the tour.
Amr El-Ezabi, Egyptian State Tourist Authority:
Tourism is recovering in Egypt — there was a 38% increase in visitors from the UK last year and 88% from Europe.
I’d recommend visiting the pyramid of Cheops on the Giza Plateau, the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. While there, go to see the famous Sphynx, too.
Go shopping in Medieval (Islamic) Cairo. Peruse its covered markets, strolling between shops and workshops centred on traditional crafts; have a coffee or fresh juice in the iconic El Fishawi cafe, in the Khan el Khalili quarter, while you’re there.
Luxor, meanwhile, is Egypt’s open-air museum. With its legendary temples and the Valleys of the Kings, Queens, Nobles and Artisans, it displays some of the most precious monuments of the New Kingdom. This includes the tombs of Tutankhamun and Nefertari, the Temple of Karnak with its Great Hypostyle Hall, and Luxor Temple.
All the major destinations, like Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan and the Red Sea, are welcoming tourists. But although the FCO gives Sharm El Sheikh the green light, it advises against using its airport. It’s best to check FCO’s advice before you go.
Published in the Jan/Feb issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)