Egypt: The Case for Going

I have never received as many concerned messages as I did on a recent trip to Egypt.

The nation has made headlines lately, and few have been positive. Realities on the ground in Luxor, though, were different.

On my first morning in the ancient Egyptian capital, I went for a run. Every block or two I encountered Tourist Police. I greeted each with salaam alaikum—“peace be upon you.” All replied with a heartfelt “peace.”

Other locals gave me a thumbs-up. Eight-year-old Akhmud shook my hand with joyful ferocity as he exclaimed, “Welcome to Egypt!”

Few Western tourists are visiting Luxor; I had some of the world’s top archaeological sites—the temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut, the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings—almost to myself.

Yes, visitors should be aware that Egypt is undergoing political change; there is turmoil. But should we stay away?

Travel fosters the exchange of ideas, finds common ground, bridges cultural differences. The conflicts in parts of the Middle East are real, but Egypt has a sophisticated tourism infrastructure, a high level of security, and, based on my visit, a great desire to move forward.

I’m already planning my return; I like being welcomed with open arms. 

This piece, written by Andrew Evans, appeared in the June/July 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine

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