Many people considering booking a holiday to Egypt may have some concerns and questions about visiting the country at the moment. We have made some notes below which will hopefully be informative and helpful. We have intentionally not gone into great detail about current political events which may be subject to rapid change. Links are provided to further resources at the end of the page.
Please contact us if you have any specific questions relating to an existing tour booking, or a tour itinerary that you are interested in.
Since we started taking travellers back to Egypt back in March 2011 after the Arab Spring revolution, up until the end of June 2013, we had to make very few revisions to our travellers’ itineraries either before they travelled, or while they were in Egypt. Following the second ‘revolution’ and the removal of President Morsi, we did not run any tours in Egypt at all from July to December 2013, but re-started operations again in 2014 following a significant improvement to the situation on the ground and a relaxation of official UK Foreign Office travel advice. Through 2014 and 2015 we took more and more tourists to Egypt, though some itinerary amendments were required, specifically avoiding the overnight trains between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan, and not visiting the Sinai Peninsular or the western desert regions. The current situation is as follows:
- Tours visiting Cairo: If there are protests in central Cairo or elsewhere, our team on the ground stay in close contact with developments and with all our drivers and guides. We have worked on a variety of alternative routes through the city to avoid possible problem areas, and over the last few years protests in the city have had very little impact on our tours. If there are protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo, we may cancel or re-arrange visits to the Egyptian Museum (when this has happened, most travellers have been able to visit the museum on their return to Cairo later in the tour.
- Tours including overnight trains between Cairo and Aswan or Luxor: At the present time, the Egyptian Authorities are not permitting operators like us to put foreign tourists onto the overnight ‘sitting train’ that many of our tours used to feature. The ‘sleeper train’ is fine to use though, and we have changed all our tours that used to use the ‘sitting train’ to use this sleeper train. We do offer upgrades to internal flights in place of this train journey if preferred.
- Nile Cruises: During the quiet summer months some Nile cruise boats stop operating, and some of our first choice boats may not be available. During this period we will use alternate boats, keeping as close as possible to the same standard of boat as booked, often providing free upgrades to all-suite boats such as the Sonesta Star Goddess. During other periods, cruise boat operators often combine travellers originally booked onto several different boats onto one. This makes it hard to guarantee cruise boat names on our tours, though the same standard of boat or higher is always maintained if there are changes.
- Dahab and the Sinai Peninsular: We are currently not visiting Dahab, Nuweiba or Taba in the Sinai Peninsular, or crossing into Jordan from the Sinai via Aqaba. Our Nile Valley tours that used to end with a Red Sea stay at Dahab are using the Red Sea resort of Hurghada instead, which is actually meaning less driving time overall. Tours combining Egypt and Jordan will fly from either Cairo or Hurghada to Amman and continue their Jordan itinerary from there.
- Western Deserts: As the desert portion of these tours is the main highlight and comprises a significant proportion of the itinerary, none of our tours visiting Egypt’s western deserts are running at the moment and we have stopped them displaying on the website. This includes visits to Bahariya Oasis, the Black and White Deserts, Siwa Oasis as well as Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga Oases. If you would like to travel on a tour through this region we recommend you keep in touch with us and the current travel advice and look to book as soon as the advice changes.
Encounters Travel policies
Our travellers’ safety is absolutely our top priority, and we will re-arrange itineraries, cancel sections of a tour, or cancel an entire booking if we feel that we can not run your tour safely. Over the last five years our UK and Egyptian teams have gained a lot of experience in both analaysing the situation on the ground and reacting to developments and making adjustments to itineraries. We will continue to act on and build on this experience.
As a company that specialises in travel to Egypt, we also have a responsibility to our Egyptian team of office staff, guides and representatives. The last few years have been a very tough time for the tourist industry in Egypt, and we want to support it as much as possible. We therefore need to strike a balance between providing flexibility to our customers, and also ensuring we try to send as many travellers to Egypt as possible. Our visitors to Egypt since the 2011 revolution have almost unanimously returned with rave reviews about their experiences and the reception they have received by the Egyptian people.
Cancellation rules – by us, and by the traveller
We understand that cancellation rules can sometimes be confusing, and have made some notes below that will hopefully be helpful. All bookings are covered by our standard booking conditions though we do try to be flexible with these, and often relax cancellation/rebooking rules in exceptional circumstances. As a UK company, we make decisions based on our local team’s knowledge of the situation on the ground, and also always follow the travel advice provided by the UK Foreign Office…
“No restrictions”. Under this standard advice, we will run our tours as normal, but may make minor adjustments to itineraries based on our own decisions about the situation on the ground. Our standard cancellation fees will normally apply if travellers wish to cancel their own tours due to personal concerns about visiting the country, or if they are not happy with the minor amendments we may be making.We will try to be flexible and offer alternate destinations or dates wherever possible.
“Avoid all but essential travel to part(s) of the country”. Under this raised level of advice, our decisions will depend on the part(s) of the country affected. We may well consider that there is no reason to make any changes to your tour (for example, if the travel advice only specifies Alexandria, and your tour does not visit that city, then no changes are required). If we re-arrange a small portion of a tour itinerary then we will make similar alternative arrangements for that portion without extra charge (for example an amended city tour in and around Cairo that may miss the Egyptian Museum but take in some other sites that may otherwise not have been visited. Or, the use of an alternate Red Sea resort such as Hurghada instead of Dahab). Where overnight train travel may need replacing by a sleeper train upgrade or by internal flights, you will need to pay for these upgrades one month before departure at the latest. A clear guide on possible costs will be provided at the time of booking so you can budget accordingly. If you do not want to accept theses itinerary changes or pay for the sleeper train or flight upgrades then our standard cancellation fees will apply if travellers don’t wish to travel, but we’ll offer alternate destinations or dates if possible. If we have to make significant changes (eg. missing out or changing over half the itinerary), then our travellers will be given the option to cancel and receive a refund if they wish, or to transfer to a later date or another tour in Egypt or elsewhere.
“Avoid all but essential travel to whole country”. If the Foreign Office travel advice reaches this level, then we will cancel our tour departures to the country. We will offer people booked with us to travel during the period covered either a full refund, a transfer of the same booking to another date, or an alternative tour to another destination.
Customers who have or have not booked their flights with us.
- If we cancel your tour booking, and you have booked your flights with us, then we will refund both the tour and flight price or re-arrange your flights to another destination or date subject to the airline’s rules and allowances.
- If we cancel your tour booking, and you have booked your own flights, then you will need to cancel the flights yourself, and claim a refund either from the airline or your travel insurance policy. We will provide all necessary paperwork and assistance to help with this.
- If you decide to cancel or change the date of your booking, and have booked flights through us, then we will try and reclaim as much of the flight cost as possible, but you may not be due any refund. Egypt Air have proved the most flexible and accommodating airline over the last few years, and also offer good flight times and direct flights from many destinations.
- If you decide to cancel or change the date of your booking and have booked your own flights, then you will need to deal with your airline or flight agent yourself with regard to any cancellation or rebooking fees.
Throughout he process, we aim to stay in touch with our customers as much as possible. We will balance your concerns with our commitment to support tourism in Egypt, and will always try to be as fair and flexible as possible. This may include reducing cancellation fees, extending booking transfer arrangements, and discounting re-booking costs.
We understand that travellers booking from outside the UK may be receiving slightly different travel advice from their own government’s Foreign Office or State Department, and that their travel insurance cover may depend on that advice. In situations where conflicting official advice is causing concern, we try to be as flexible as possible. This may mean offering reduced cancellation fees or amended or no cancellation charges for changes of date that may not be required for UK customers. We do ask our non-UK customers however, to understand that we are a UK company and operate under UK law, and can not have completely separate policies and conditions for every nationality that travels with us.
Non UK residents may purchase their travel insurance us (via Endsleigh Insurance) that will provide cover that is based on UK government advice.