Ahh Egypt.. Where do I begin? Okay so you know how Egypt is one of those places everyone calls a ‘must-see’ destination? And the social media posts of girls posing in front of the pyramids, kissing the Sphinx, and no one else seems to be around? Welp, admittedly I jumped on that train. But let me tell you, Egypt is NOT at all how it’s portrayed by most bloggers. In fact, pretty much every expectation I had of Egypt before visiting was completely off. And although it isn’t a leading country in sustainability, sustainable travel in Egypt is still very possible so I’m here to share a few travel tips with you that I hope you can take with you if you ever find yourself there!
To be honest, Egypt wasn’t ever at the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. For no particular reason, I have always found myself more intrigued by other cultures. I ended up there because it was one of the few countries I was able to travel to amid the pandemic, and I will say they did a great job in following strict Covid protocols to ensure tourists felt safe and welcome. Nonetheless, I want to share with you guys what to actually expect in anticipation for your travels here- the good, the bad & the not-so-pretty.
Please, don’t do it!! For so long camels (amongst many other ungulate species) were used as a mode of transportation and during those times this was deemed necessary. Nowadays though, camels are used merely as a product to profit from in the tourism industry, and their welfare is often significantly poor. They are forced to work in the extreme heat (which is pretty much year-round in Egypt), are constantly whipped into submission and are often fed food scraps and rubbish leading them to be severely malnourished.
If you’re on my site though you probably already know that riding camels is a no-go. But did you know that almost every tour includes a camel ride? Even the snorkeling tours! And the worst part is some tours include a camel ride even if it isn’t listed in the tour’s description! I spent ages online searching for a day trip from Sharm El-Sheikh to Dahab that didn’t involve camel riding. And naturally when I thought I’d found one I booked it immediately. And then…
About halfway through the tour our guide says “Okay next up is the 15-minute camel ride!” I was traveling with my partner at the time and we both were very upset by this. We kindly approach our guide and explain to him that we didn’t feel comfortable participating and would like to opt out of the experience. He laughed at us and said “Oh no you have to, it’s part of the tour and against policy to leave guests unattended.” He also said it was too dangerous to wait by the car given the remote location we were in. Long story short, we were pretty much forced to ride camels. It was absolutely awful. Seeing firsthand the circumstances these beautiful animals are put through and having virtually no control over participating in that cruelty.
Looking back I wish I would’ve contacted the tour company beforehand to ensure we were actually booking an ethical tour. I have done this in the past and have avoided situations like this so I truly only have myself to blame. But sometimes it’s through others’ experiences that you can learn from! So I advise anyone traveling to PLEASE do your research. Dig deep before booking any tour or excursion. One phone call can make all the difference.
Public transportation via bus systems do exist in Egypt, although I wouldn’t recommend getting around this way. Normally I highly recommend traveling by bus due to the reduced emissions in contrast to renting a car or taxi. Unfortunately though, Egypt is known for being a rather unsafe country and public transport is not as reliable as it is in many other locations.
Okay also, this isn’t exactly an environmentally-friendly tip and I apologize for that but I just have to share it to hopefully save some of you a headache in the future. Hiring a limousine (according to American standards) does not mean the same thing in Egypt! When Egyptians use the term limo they are essentially referring to an upscale town car. Yes, I learned this the hard way. So if you would like a classier ride I do suggest booking one of these! It only cost about $30 USD for a ~45-minute ride and overall the service was great. Still, ride share in my opinion is the way to go. There are many options for sharing a ride to and from your accommodation during your stay in Egypt that are both cost-effective & safe, and support green initiatives.
The Red Sea
Holy wow is it amazing! I feel like when people think of snorkeling and scuba diving destinations their minds typically go to places like the Caribbean or Hawaii (or is that just me?). Well I’ve snorkeled in both of those places and I can say hands-down my time snorkeling in Egypt was by far the best. We stayed at two different resorts – Mövenpick and Sunrise Montemare – and both of them had private beaches with amazing reefs, calm waters, and very few people!
We also took a boat tour to Ras Mohamed National Park to scuba dive. The reefs near White Island are some of the most vibrant, healthy-looking coral I’ve ever seen. So if you’re looking to book a trip in the near future that involves some lesser-known diving spots I highly recommend spending some time swimming in the waters of the Red Sea! And remember, always make sure you’re using a reef-safe brand of sun protection to help protect our oceans so that we can all continue to explore these beautiful places. Psh, what am I thinking?! We got this!
Thanks for reading <3