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Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is it safe to cruise the Nile?


Q. I want to cruise the Nile this year, and stay one night in Cairo. Is it safe to cruise the Nile - and also what about the problems in Cairo?

Name withheld

A. In the past two years, Egypt has undergone intense political turmoil, but to the best of my knowledge no tourist has come to harm as a result of the upheavals. Given the immense importance of tourism to Egypt, and the natural concern that the locals have for visitors' welfare, I do not see that changing.

Cairo is an enthralling city that deserves several days of your time, if you can spare it. The pyramids on the edge of the city at Giza are the main draw, and at present are relatively uncrowded. The Egyptian Museum is another "must" - except if demonstrations in Tahrir Square, alongside it, place it off limits. Keep an eye on the Foreign Office travel advice (at fco.gov.uk); over the past two years, it has proved well-judged.

The upper reaches of Egypt's Nile, where you are likely to be cruising, have remained calm - though life for the communities has proved extremely stressful because of the collapse of much of the tourism industry.

Tourists have been the target of deadly terrorist attacks over the decade from 1997, but the main focus recently has been on the Sinai peninsula - well away from where you will be spending your time.

My main concern for your welfare has nothing to do with political instability; it is the much more mundane matter of road safety. Egypt has an appalling death rate, and the less time you spend on the roads the better. Therefore choose a cruise where connections are made by air or rail, if at all possible.

Overall, though, this is an excellent year to visit Egypt.