It Could Be Time to Add Egypt Back to the Bucket List
Over the weekend, Egyptian archeologists unearthed a new sphinx — just the latest in a series of exciting new discoveries in a nation famous for its ancient wonders.
The more than 2,000-year-old sandstone statue was found in the temple of Kom Ombo, near the city of Aswan. And though its stature is rather diminutive compared to its more famous man-headed, lion-bodied cousin, the Great Sphinx of Giza — it's 14 inches tall, rather than 66 feet — it may be just another reason to visit Egypt now.
According to Reuters, Egypt's tourism numbers surged 41% in the first half of 2018 — a strong indicator that the sector is recovering after the 2011 revolution and years of subsequent upheaval.
Safety remains a concern. Many travelers, however, have booked trips to Egypt, or visited recently.
Jarrad H., for example, visited during a long layover. "We hired a private guide and driver for insanely little," he said in a post on the Facebook TPG Lounge. "[We] felt perfectly safe and taken care of by them."
Court B., who "didn't feel super safe," also hired an inexpensive driver and armed guard through a Marriott in Cairo this June. Despite her security concerns, she "loved" the trip.
Drivers and guards aren't the only things that are affordable in Egypt right now. At this time, a single US dollar will get you nearly 18 Egyptian pounds.
And with contagion concerns stemming from the currency disasters in Argentina and Turkey, Egypt is vulnerable to an "exchange rate crisis" of its own, the Financial Times said. For this reason, travelers interested in even deeper savings should watch the exchange rate carefully for the next 12 months.
There are also attractive discounts on cruises and attractions. Uniworld is currently offering up to $1,649 off a 12-day Nile sailing this year.
New attractions and hotels
In December, a St. Regis will open its doors in Cairo, offering Nile river views, subtle Egyptian decor and luxe elements, such as nightstands with mother-of-pearl inlay and marble and mosaic-clad bathrooms. Cash rates aren't available yet, but the Category 5 property can be booked for a standard rate of 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
As with many hotels in Egypt, the nightly room rate is significantly lower than comparable properties in other destinations. The St. Regis New York, for example, is a Category 7 property requiring an average of 70,000 points per night.
Hilton, meanwhile, has announced plans to add 2,500 hotel rooms and "take on seven more projects" in Egypt by 2022.
Of course, Egypt's famed attractions remain a major draw for tourists around the world. In addition to the classics — the Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx of Giza chief among them — the nation just opened the 4,000-year-old Tomb of Mehu to the public.
And before the end of the year, Egypt expects to open the 5.2 million-square-foot Grand Egyptian Museum: the largest museum on Earth devoted to a single civilization, according to CNN.
TPG reached out to the Egyptian Tourism Authority for information on viewing the sphinx statue, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.