We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Terry, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Terry lives in the United States, and submitted the following report about Egypt. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Arabic, English
Reasons to Visit Egypt
A year of reading history and current events in preparation for 6 weeks traveling solo could not prepare me for Egypt in real life—the beauty, history, and tragedy were overwhelming. Egypt has been ruled by foreigners for thousands of years and by military despots and dictators more recently, yet the people are warm, friendly, helpful, and forgiving of a visiting stranger’s mistakes. Even without a shared language we managed to communicate adequately.
Of course, the landscape is awe-inspiring and the architecture is magnificent, but it was the people I was so moved by—from the Nubian villagers displaced by construction of the Aswan Dam, to the Bedouin who have been caring for St. Catherine Monastery on Mount Sinai since the 6th Century. They were universally kind and helpful to me as I made my way around the country.
There are many architectural sites, museums, and landmarks to see, and any traveler can choose for themselves what to do. Since all the necropolises and tombs are strung along the Nile, it’s easy to make your way to many of them. I visited Hatshepsut’s Temple several times because of its beauty; I extended my stay to a week in Luxor because my hostel was right above the Luxor Temple and I could see it every day. I took a balloon ride so I could see just how many unexcavated sites there are along the Nile: countless.
I stayed in hostels: they’re cheap, clean, and since there are few fellow travelers it’s easy to meet friends along the way. Of course, there are no bars, and if you're a coffee lover I’d recommend bringing your own coffee paraphernalia since Egyptians are tea-drinkers. There’s no restaurant culture outside of Cairo and Alexandria so you eat at food vendors’ stalls, which was fine with me until I got food poisoning from some pickled vegetables. Shopping is for real professionals: the souks are mad places that are beyond my skills, though I managed to score a kilo of dried hibiscus flowers for tea.
The beaches on the Red Sea are worth spending some time in—Sharm el Sheik and particularly Dahab. These areas are great for divers and snorklers, as the coral reefs are protected and pristine.
I registered with the US State Department, which will notify you if and when there’s any dangerous activity in your area. I received a few email notifications warning me of potential hot spots, though that’s all they turned out to be. I recommend that you register with your home government for these alerts as well.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 3 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 3 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 3 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)