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  1. #1
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    I've had this trip planned for months now and was so looking forward to it. But I'm starting to get a little worried that this might just not be the right time to go.....

    I'm going with 2 girlfriends and we will be with a tour, a small group tour of only about 10 people.

    We start in Israel touring for a week, then onto Jordan for Petra and Amman. We then head down the Sinai to St Catherines and on to Sharm el Sheik where we board a Voyages of Discovery cruise for 17 days visiting Luxor/Karnak/Valley of the Kings, Djubouti, Oman and finally ending in Dubai for a couple of days.

    It's a very reputable company that we're going with and they have assured us that our safety is first and foremost. At this point there are no NO travel advisories for any of these places, just the usual "travel with caution" ones.

    A few years ago we were heading to Athens when there was some political unrest/riots continually in the news, but went ahead figuring we would just take off to one of the islands if things didn't look good. Thankfully, it was quite the contrary......other than at the palace, we seen no riots, no armed police, nothing so felt that all the news had been a bit sensationalized. There was a one day ferry strike but that was the worst we seen while there....

    That said, I realize this isn't Athens and not really any place that we can just hop on a ferry to get away.

    I'm very happy to see that the ceasefire is holding up in Israel/Palestine, which initially was our biggest concern and of course our flights being cancelled or ???

    However, I'm thinking that what is going on in the Middle East right now is a little more than what was happening in Athens and I am concerned.

    Has anyone travelled there recently? Are news reports sensationalized a little too much? Am I getting worried for nothing or should I really be rethinking my plans sooner than later?

    I have wanted to go to Petra forever....and would be terribly disappointed is that doesn't work out but at the same time I don't want to go and then find that I'm constantly worrying about everything...or heaven forbid the situation gets worse than it already is.

    Thoughts???

    Linda.

  2. #2


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    Hello Linda,
    I was hoping you'd get a reply from someone who has recently toured in the sites of your planned itinerary, but I see that hasn't happened. So I'll give you my very unexpert opinion for lack of other feedback.

    The bad news is that yes, the Mid-East is in turmoil and that it is probably not going to get better in the near future. It's understandable to be apprehensive about coming to the region. But as you state, things have a tendency to get sensationalized in the press. I meet quite a few foreign tourists and young volunteers from abroad that are surprised how different reality is here from the impression you get from the media. The political situation is always part of the background wherever you travel here, but there's a big difference between it being a constant "color" of the scenery , and the impression that it's exploding in your face every week.

    The spots you are planning to travel in are among the major tourist sites that the countries have to offer. In a perverted way, this is actually not a bad time at all for tourism. Because of the decrease in tourism, the incentives are better - lower prices, more desire on part of local businesses to be of benefit to their customers. You'll also probably enjoy less crowds of tourists.

    As for security matters - all of these countries are very interested in keeping their tourists safe, for obvious reasons. Generally, I'd say that in Israel and Jordan you have nothing to worry about, both of these countries have of course very capable and well-functioning security forces.
    The situation in Sinai is potentially different. Although Egypt "controls" the region, there are small extremist groups that are in conflict with the gov't, and are more-or-less at war with it. However, the tourist areas and the great majority of the peninsula are safe and guarded. Indeed, in the area of the St. Catherine monastery, the Egyptian gov't has engaged the help of the local Bedouin tribe in order to help maintain security, as this tribe also has a great interest in preventing any trouble for tourism there.

    The sites you are planning to see are really amazing. If you have your heart yearning for them, then I'd say it's certainly worth the price of what should reasonably be only a rather small worry in connection with the political situation. Especially that the way things look, you'll be postponing your trip indefinitely if you're waiting for ideal circumstances.

    I have two acquaintances that sometime work as travel guides in Sinai and Jordan, and I know people who still go every so often for a vacation at the Sinai beaches. They always are impressed with how quiet things are there, in spite of the extreme warning that is issued here for Israelis against travel there. On the one hand, it is of course the responsibility of governments to make their citizens who travel abroad aware of all possible dangers, but in the end tourism is mostly OK in almost all circumstances. If you'd be interested in giving me the name of the tour operator (and if it's one from the region here), I might be able to hear some sort of feedback, if this helps.

    The final decision is of course yours, and you should stay loyal to your character, instincts and the advice you consider trustworthy.

    Yesterday a bomb killed three policemen near the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in downtown Cairo - part of the background "noise". And I don't have to look long if I want to get worried about touring Chicago...

  3. #3
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    Joe, thank you so much for your response.

    Petra has been on my bucket list for many years and I fear that if I don't go now I may never get to see it.

    When I booked this trip back in April, none of the issues in Israel or elsewhere were happening, or at least, not making news, and when a friend wanted to go, it seemed like an opportune time to do it. We chose the tour operator because she had traveled with them many times, including during the period of 9/11 and they were exemplary in dealing with various flight and delay issues that resulted.

    The cruise sounded very interesting, and other than the potential "piracy" issues in the Gulf of Aden, which didn't have me terribly worried, a great way to not only see the areas it traveled too but also learning more about those places through the lecturers that they have on board.

    Unfortunately now, it is the extremists in the area that have me concerned and the randomness and eratic nature of their actions. I feel that it is probably highly unlikely that the tour bus that I may be on be hijacked or terrorized in some way, but it is a possibility and if tourism is in fact decreasing in some of these areas, I worry that we might be "easy pickings" for one of the minority groups that chose to take advantange of an opportunity.

    Here is the information about the tour and cruise http://www.adventures-abroad.c...the-middle-east/crra

    The fact that this is a small group tour, with 12 persons max with the exception of the cruise portion, is what made it even more appealing as I'm not a "tour" type person.

    I am not terribly concerned with places such as Muscat, Dubai, Israel now or being on the cruise, but with the bus travel involved in getting us from point A to B during parts of the trip outside of Israel.

    It is a trip of a lifetime and I would hate to have to cancel as I don't know when I might get the opportunity to visit these areas again, but I can't help but be a bit stressed because of the unknowns. I do realize that anything can happen absolutely anywhere in the world, including my own backyard, but making an effort to head to areas where there is known unrest and the potential for issues to arise, has me very conflicted at the moment.

    Any additional input you have after reading through the itinerary would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Linda.

  4. #4


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    Your approach is completely sensible, and unfortunately, there's not much I can add of essence. The tour operator you have contracted looks very professional, but because it is not based in this region, the travel guides I know are not acquainted with it, so sorry - can't be of help with that.

    You stated in your first post that : "At this point there are no NO travel advisories for any of these places, just the usual "travel with caution" ones.". Which was a bit strange to me, so I checked this with the Gov't of Canada Travel Advice site. There it is written :

    " Sinai Peninsula (except coastal resorts, such as Sharm El-Sheikh) (see Advisory) Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the Sinai Peninsula, with the exception of the coastal resorts, such as Sharm El-Sheikh, where you should exercise caution. The security situation in the Sinai in the areas bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip remains extremely dangerous as the Egyptian military is currently engaged in military operations against terrorists in the region. Road blockades by unsanctioned groups as well as kidnappings, robberies and carjackings by armed groups and terrorists have been reported in many areas of the Sinai. You are discouraged from visiting St. Catherine’s Monastery or taking any other day trips from Sharm El-Sheikh as attacks and roadblocks have occurred outside of Sharm El-Sheikh city limits. "

    So this appears to be a warning against travel to the monastery.

    Again, I'd say that the chances of danger are very very slim, but there is certainly a base for worry. If that is going to mar your enjoyment of what otherwise might be a fantastic trip, or justify a cancellation - only you can decide.

    You might want to ask the tour operator (if you haven't already) if they have augmented their safety precautions this year, and what this means.

    In recent years I, personally, have not entered Sinai. I have been there twice in the past since it returned to Egyptian sovereignty, and many times before that. I don't feel that travelling there today is worth the risk, especially as an Israeli, but I have also seen its beautiful sights enough times that I am not sorry to forgo the pleasure of travel there. I can certainly appreciate your desire to visit the places you have planned to see.

    Good luck in which ever route you take.

  5. #5
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    Again, thanks Joe for your input.

    We've had reassurances from our tour that it's possible we may have to avoid some areas, such as St Catherines, depending on the situations as they arise. This was also a caveat in the documentation we received for there, Bethelem and a couple of other places.

    You're right of course, only I can make the decision one way or another if the tour company doesn't actually cancel first.

    We'll just have to watch over the next week or so, especially with the air strikes that have started. Hopefully the outcome is a positive one as opposed to a worsening of the situation.

    Thanks again and I will post back as to my decision, once I make it!

    Linda.

  6. #6
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    We've had an itinerary change! A good one I think.

    We will not be going to St Catherines, likely due to the travel advisory for the Sinai, so instead will spend an extra day in Amman, Jordan, then fly to Sharm el Shiek instead of going by bus. Although sorry to miss it, I'm glad of the change.

    So far everything else is a go for now, but they are keeping a close eye on what is happening and whatever else might develop over the next could of weeks.

    Linda.

  7. #7
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    Our experience is that you will be welcomed - because most of the merchants in tourist areas depend on the income and will not bite the hand that feeds the.

    Petra, oh yes, as well as Amman and Israel. as for the other places - I wish that I was going with you. We rented a car in Israel and actually drove into the Golan within a mile of the buffer zone. We saw no more than 4 soldiers. We drove around the upper Negev and the Dead Sea, again no issues whats so ever.

    We took a small tour (7 people) into Palestine for the day and visited Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and Ramallah. Got the Palestinian perspective - well worth the trip. Sold by the city tourist office in the old city.
    (Returning from Ramallah they actually put us on a city bus in downtown and then we passed through security and got off in the central bus station in Jerusalem.

    Enjoy the journey.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Tom and Judy! This is all reassuring to know.

    I think I'm a little more apprehensive seen there is just myself and two girlfriends going.....which is the reason we booked the tour.

    I am so looking forward to Petra.

    Linda.

  9. #9


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    State of emergency imposed in Sinai
    The main area of conflict is in northern Sinai, not in the south, where most of the tourists go - but still reflects on the volatility of the situation.

  10. #10
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    Have just returned and have to say that this was an incredible trip! This is an amazing part of the world and everyone should have the opportunity to visit. We met some great people.....all wonderfully helpful and kind. I have a ton of pics to weed through and will try and get some posted soon.

    Oman was one of my favorite places. Unfortunately Egypt was not......they are in a terrible state there right now but hopefully things will turn around for them sooner than later.

    Linda.

  11. #11

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    Glad your trip turned out so well!

    I'm really looking forward to seeing your photos as well as any commentary on the trip.

  12. #12


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    Great to hear things went well and that you enjoyed the trip. Indeed would be nice to see photos and hear stories.

  13. #13


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    Linda, it seems you got lucky with your timing : Canadian and British embassies in Cairo closed for security reasons
    Last edited by joe; 12-08-2014 at 01:24 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Rhodes View Post
    Have just returned and have to say that this was an incredible trip! This is an amazing part of the world and everyone should have the opportunity to visit. We met some great people.....all wonderfully helpful and kind. I have a ton of pics to weed through and will try and get some posted soon.

    Oman was one of my favorite places. Unfortunately Egypt was not......they are in a terrible state there right now but hopefully things will turn around for them sooner than later.

    Linda.

    Sounds like an amazing trip Linda. We have lived in Dubai for two years now (and there years ago in Abu Dhabi). Hope you enjoyed it here in the UAE. Oman is fun but much quieter -- we go there for peace Shame about Egypt. We had an amazing trip to Luxor area a few years ago but Cairo is a bit stressful.

    Kate

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