Is it possible to do Egypt as a backpacker?
By that I mean independently? Im planning an extended trip, hopefully starting in Egypt, but I’m worried that it may be too difficult with it being so set up for tour groups? Will I find it difficult? Also will I have any trouble or concerns re safety? I am Polish (living in England for mostly 10 years), tall but very white!
More than possible, it is extremely easy and it is infinitely more preferable to avoid the package tour crowds and travel independently!
Yes Egypt is set up for tour groups, but there is nothing stopping you from just turning up independently, getting a ticket and seeing the sites yourself. You will be joined by the mass toursit shepp as they get bussed in from their resorts in Sharm, but then you will often have the place to yourself again when they get bussed back! It is a lot cheaper to do it this way rather than get a tour too.
Take Giza for example. Most people end up getting bussed in there as part of a package tour and then bussed back to their hotels at the end of the day. I simply got a taxi from my hotel in downtown Cairo, turned up at the gates before opening, bought my tickets (around 25 LE a few years back, plus extra for tickets to get inside the pyramids/the boat museum etc) and just went in.I had the entire plateau pretty much to myself for a good half hour before all the hordes piled in en masse off their coaches.
It was the same with the Museum the next day. I was the first in as it opened and I went the opposite way to where the tour guides were taking all the organised tours, making sure I saw the Tutenkhamun galleries first (which I had to myself and then later got insanely crowded).
The only tour I got while I was there (remember it is still possible to do them, every hotel/pension/guesthouse you are in will have a load to offer you) was to go down and see Abu Simbel. This was because logistically it was easier and cheaper to hop on the coach with the rest of the tourists than organise my own transport (which would have required police escorts etc). But that was the ONLY time, everything else I did independently and found the whole experience MUCH better as a result. I really can’t describe to you how great the trip was, I just wish you good travels, and you will see for yourself when you get there how magical Egypt is when you see it independently.