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Rest Assured with Zegrahm when Traveling to the Middle East
I landed in Cairo on January 20 looking forward to spending 10 days in Egypt on a personal vacation. While at the Egyptian Museum a few days later, I first heard news that protests were planned the following day near the museum in Tahrir Square; however, no one seemed to think they would do more than make Cairo’s already-congested traffic a bit more congested. Boy, were we wrong.
By the time the protests began, I had already left for Upper Egypt and Aswan. While in Aswan, we got bits and pieces of information about the protests, but did not understand the full magnitude of the situation. It wasn’t until I awoke on January 28, while cruising down the Nile with no mobile phone or Internet connection (which I had enjoyed so far throughout the trip), that I realized this was certainly going to be a historical time for Egypt.
At breakfast that morning it struck me how nice it would be to have one of our expedition leaders by my side. While the local guides did the best they could, they struggled getting information and formulating a plan as they had no contact with the decision makers at their home office in Cairo. While our expedition leaders can by no means solve a political crisis, they can work in tandem with the local guides to come up with the best options based on their extensive experience dealing with these kinds of situations across the globe. They are well-versed in making snap decisions while always considering the safety of our travelers and are professionals at coming up with alternatives if part of the itinerary becomes impossible to operate.
A prime example of this was on our recent Sands of Time expedition. Due to the unrest in Bahrain, we had to make adjustments to the itinerary after the trip had already departed. Through the teamwork of our office staff, expedition leaders, ship crew, and local agents, we were able to provide guests with an excellent alternative to Bahrain—spending an extra day in Abu Dhabi exploring the beautiful desert oasis of Al Ain. We even received comments that this was a highlight of the trip!
Our fall schedule includes several fascinating expeditions to the Middle East. I know that people may be questioning whether they should travel to this region, but here are several thoughts I’d like to share:
- For most of the programs, we will be using the Clipper Odyssey and traveling by ship gives you a home base that is moveable and offers greater flexibility. We can adjust the itinerary if need be, simply by skipping a stop or adding something new. While highly unlikely, it is always nice to have these options.
- With inland sites such as Luxor and Petra, less people are traveling and seeing these sites now is like visiting 25 years ago. It’s virtually like your own private museum.
- We have been in contact with tourism boards and government agencies in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt and all have expressed their desire for visitors to experience their country during these history-making times and can’t wait to welcome us.
- Finally, both our office and field staff are very familiar with the Middle East and have been traveling to the region for many years (and during a variety of political situations). We will depend on their depth of knowledge, along with the news and a private security/intelligence company—all of which are providing us with daily updates. Receiving this information allows us to follow the trends, and know if there are scheduled stops that need to be avoided or are “heating up” in advance of departure.
For those of you booked or considering booking one of our fall expeditions, please know that your safety is our first priority and we will make all operational decisions with that in mind. We look forward to traveling with you and visiting an area of the world where history is truly in the making.
Learn more about our fall expeditions to the Middle East:
- Crossroads of Empires: Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt & Jordan
- Voyage through the Red Sea: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan & Eritrea
- Treasures of Arabia: Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar & Dubai