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Egyptian concerns

Anonymous
Fri, 01/28/2011 - 16:17

I am scheduled for the Egyptology trip beginning on Feb. 20.  Because I had previously had reservations with OAT, and made my own air arrangements, I am arriving on the 15th and will meet the group on the 20th.  So far, I have heard nothing from Exodus or Adventure Center regarding the riots and demonstrations in Cairo.  True, our hotel is in Giza, but that is a little close.  Of course, if I was there right now, I would probably be marking with the demonstrators against Mubarek, but that might not be a good idea either.

If there is anyone else scheduled for this trip, lets discuss the situation.  I am not inclined to cancel, but if Exodus elects to do so, we should discuss our options. 

Anonymous
Sat, 01/29/2011 - 23:41

Spoke with Exodus, they claim that there are 15 tours in Egypt at the present time and no problem.  They are adopting a wait and see attitude, which gives me some concern.  The news just reported 17 people shot and killed while demonstrating outside a police station, and it is clear that there is widespread and uncontrolled violence in the city.  The Antiquities museum has been damaged and the Pyramids are now closed to all.

Delta Airlines, my carrier, has suspended all flights to Egypt, indefinitely.

The US State Department has issued it's highest alert and advised that there be NO non-essential travel to Egypt.

If Mubarak were to step down tomorrow, it isn't clear how long it would take to install a temporary government, how long it will take to get the peace restored, how long it will take to restore order and how long before tourism returns to normal.

I think it is time for Exodus to get off the pot and make a decision with regards to trips scheduled in February.  At this point, my wife is all over me to cancel the trip and rebook it for later in the year or same time next year.

Wes

 

 

Anonymous
Sun, 01/30/2011 - 11:08

I think it is time for Exodus to get off the pot and make a decision with regards to trips scheduled in February.  At this point, my wife is all over me to cancel the trip and rebook it for later in the year or same time next year.

I beleive exodus are as helpless as we are in this situation. They wouldnt want to cancel bookings and have the non-essential travel ban lifted the day after. While I am as dissapointed as anyone at the unlikelyhood of being able to go in February there is little anyone can do.

 I would expect they would cancel a week before the trip departure due date. But it is not looking likely any of us will go in February.

Anonymous
Sun, 01/30/2011 - 11:23

Odysseys Unlimited has canceled their trips through the end of February and has issued full refunds to the travelers who signed on.  Those who wish to re-book to a later date are being given first priority as to dates.

OAT isn't talking to their clients and when asked if one can cancel or re-book to a later date, their response was NO.

Exodus is closed for the weekend.

Since my airline has canceled all service, it certainly doesn't look like I am going.  

Wes

Anonymous
Sun, 01/30/2011 - 11:30
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Groups of U.S. tourists were stuck Saturday trying to find their way out of Egypt amid the chaos and violent protests that have seized the country.
American traveler Diane Kelley of Chicago described being "stranded" near the Cairo airport with her husband, Gaynor, and 14 other tourists, all waiting for departing flights.  "We've had so far two flights canceled and we're currently just waiting to see if we can get out of Cairo to any other place in the world, but it's very chaotic here," Kelley told CNN by phone, adding they are afraid for their safety if they go outside.  The father of one of their Egyptian guides was shot as the group, traveling with U.S. tour company Abercrombie & Kent, made their way to the airport, Kelley said. They don't know the man's condition, she said.  Gunshots could be heard in the streets, she said.
"I don't think anybody really feels 100 percent safe, but I think that we're much safer than the people who are in downtown Cairo right now," she said.  Kelley and others traveling with Abercrombie & Kent were staying at the Fairmont Heliopolis hotel close to the airport, Abercrombie spokeswoman Pamela Lassers told CNN. The company moved its travelers there from downtown Cairo so they could be ready for the first available flights out of the country, she said.  Lassers couldn't give an exact number of people traveling with the company in Egypt, but she said 14 staff members were looking after the tourists and trying to book their air travel.
Farther south in Luxor, the ancient Egyptian city on the banks of the Nile, another American tour group traveling with the hosts of the PBS show "Grannies on Safari" was waiting for their chance to leave Egypt.  Show host Regina Fraser and 13 others had intended to spend a few days touring museums and attractions sandwiched around a four-day Nile River cruise. Instead, since arriving Wednesday, they've found themselves navigating the chaos while trying to salvage something of their journey. "There is no place you can feel 100 percent safe," Fraser said.
Fraser's tour group had been scheduled to visit one of Cairo's main museums Friday, but it was closed because of concerns about protests, she said. Instead, someone suggested they visit Alexandria -- so they drove two hours only to be told to turn around and head immediately back to Cairo.  Arriving back in the capital, they knew things were getting serious because thousands of people were in the streets, Fraser told CNN.  The group's tour bus driver had trouble finding a route to the central Cairo hotel where they were staying. They finally found a route, but were stopped at a gate.  "We looked up and there were just hundreds of people running towards us. We could see tear gas had been dispersed. We were really concerned," she said.  They were allowed to enter before the crowd arrived, but they had to get off the bus and walk the rest of the way to their hotel, Fraser said.
The situation soon deteriorated, Fraser said. She said members of the tour group could hear gunfire popping and people yelling outside the hotel. One of the tourists, a freelance photographer, went outside to take pictures and saw bloodied people and at least one body, she said.  
The hotel shut down elevators and asked people to stay in their rooms, but from balconies the tourists could see the thousands of people massing in the streets, she said.  By morning, when another bus came to pick them up for a flight to Luxor, where they were to board a ship for their cruise, the situation had turned eerily calm, Fraser said.  "We saw tank after tank after tank after tank, all lined up," she said. "Then I think even our experienced travelers knew this was something more than your usual protests."
Fraser said tension was also beginning to build in Luxor, where she saw some streets being blocked off and a tank.  The tour group boarded their ship on Saturday, but are trying to contact the American consulate on Sunday for advice. The mood on board is quiet and somber, she said. And the group is looking to cut their trip short by at least two days.
"I feel safer on this boat at this moment than I did this morning in Cairo," Fraser said. "But when we get back to Cairo, we just want to get out."
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert urging tourists to avoid Egypt because of dangerous conditions. Those already stranded in the country shouldn't leave hotels until the situation stabilizes, the alert stated.  It said the U.S. Embassy may be blocked off for security during demonstrations and cautioned citizens against going to the embassy during the turmoil.  "Right now, we can only tell Americans to stay in place," a State Department representative said Friday.  The current travel alert expires on February 28.
 
 
Anonymous
Sun, 01/30/2011 - 11:34
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Safety and Security - Political Situation  
We advise against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. We recommend that British nationals without a pressing need to be in Cairo, Alexandria or Suez leave by commercial means.  If you are in other areas of Egypt where there have been disturbances, you are advised to follow the advice set out below and stay indoors wherever possible.  This does not affect transits through Cairo airport for onward travel to other destinations, although there is some disruption to flight schedules.  A curfew is in place across Egypt from 1600 to 0800 local time.  You must respect the curfew and listen for announcements about any changes to the curfew requirements.
If you are travelling to, through or from Egypt, you are advised to check with your airline or tour operator to confirm your travel plans.  British nationals in Egypt requiring assistance or advice can call 020 7008 0000 from the UK or (02) 2791 6000 in Egypt.
Over the past week there have been violent demonstrations in Cairo and other locations across Egypt, including Suez, North Sinai, Rafah, the Delta region and some areas of Upper Egypt, including Luxor. The police have been using tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse demonstrators. There have been a number of deaths.  There are also reports of gangs, sometimes violent, looting properties and shops in Cairo and Alexandria.  The situation is unpredictable and may change quickly. You should follow news on the TV and radio closely and stay away from demonstrations and large gatherings of people, public buildings or other sites which may become the focus of demonstrations, such as Tahrir Square in Cairo. You should respect any advice or instruction from the local security authorities and tour operators. 
The British Embassy in Cairo is located close to the main site of demonstrations in Cairo, making access difficult. If you intend to visit, please call the Embassy in advance to confirm that it is safe to do so, on (002)(02) 2791 6000.
The internet is currently not working and mobile phone coverage is intermittent.
ADDED January 29, 2011
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Travel Summary and Safety and Security section. We advise against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.  We recommend that British nationals without a pressing need to be in Cairo, Alexandria or Suez leave by commercial means where it is safe to do so.  British nationals in other areas of Egypt where there are demonstrations should follow the advice below and stay indoors wherever possible.
Anonymous
Sun, 01/30/2011 - 11:58
The FCO is advising against travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Luxor, and extra consular staff are in the capital to help British nationals.
The warning also extends to Giza, a suburb of the capital where Egypt's most famous Pyramids and Sphinx are located.
The FCO has warned Britons against going out during the curfew, and has recommended they stay indoors at all times in areas affected by demonstrations.
About 30,000 British tourists remain in Egypt. Most are in Red Sea resorts which have so far not been affected by the disturbances, although excursions to the Egyptian capital and Luxor have been cancelled.
Flights are also affected and on Saturday, a BMI plane from London Heathrow was turned around mid-air in order to avoid landing in Cairo during the curfew.
BMI has also cancelled its flights to Cairo on Sunday, while British Airways and Egyptair have altered their schedules.
Easyjet's services to Luxor are operating, but passengers are being offered the opportunity to rebook for a later date.
Any British nationals requiring help or advice on the situation can call the FCO's helpline on 020 7008 0000 from the UK or (02) 2791 6000 in Egypt.

 

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