With a passion for Egypt second to none, Nada Zien Elden for the past three years has made it her mission to spread her love of exploring this country’s many gems to as many people as possible through her tour organization, Let’s Explore Egypt. To date, she has completed 74 tours which she has organized for groups willing to have their minds opened to seeing Egypt’s charms.
The traveling bug hit Nada when she was young, “I started travelling in Egypt when I was 17 and I would love to travel all round Egypt!” But she realized that her love for Egypt’s beauty wasn’t shared by all of her friends nor in fact by the majority of the Egyptian people. She explains; “Egyptian people avoid traveling in Egypt because they all just want to travel out of Egypt. But we should explore Egypt first, and then travel outside!”
“They know about Sharm el Sheikh, Aswan and Luxor, but we have so much more.”
A big reason for people not being excited by the prospect of traveling in Egypt, Nada suggests is the fact that people don’t even know all the amazing destinations that exist here; “They know about Sharm el Sheikh, Aswan and Luxor, but we have so much more. We have 30 National Parks in Egypt, more than 44 museums, we have the Mediterrean Sea, the Red Sea, 5 national lakes, the Holy Family trip through Egypt”. For Nada it isn’t just about the places themselves, but also the history. According to her, “With our history we have a treasure. And it is more than just Pharaohnic history, we also have Islamic history and Coptic history”.
When asked what her top places were to visit, Nada struggled to narrow it down to only three, eventually picking: Siwa, Aswan and the Dakhla Oasis.
It was this desire to show people what Egypt had to offer that encouraged her to begin Let’s Explore Egypt. Nada does not have a team, instead organizing trips to destinations around Egypt, including within Cairo, by herself. “Everything from transport to accommodation is organized”, Nada tells us. She doesn’t just send people off into the wilderness alone, “I go with them to these places, and I have visited them all by myself beforehand in order to be able to properly organize the trip”, she explains. And with every trip it gets easier for her to organize, “The first time organizing a trip was difficult, but now I have built up a great network across the country so I can organize things just through a phonecall. The only place there is a problem is North Sinai for security reasons”, she tells us.
Nada strongly believes that by seeing what Egypt has to offer, people’s opinions about the country can be completely transformed and one of her friends, Eslam, is an example of this. She tells us the story: “One of my friends didn’t like Egypt, he said he wanted to travel outside of Egypt, but as a challenge for my sake he said that he would go on trips with the group. And now he wants to travel all round Egypt because he loves it now!”
“You see the world from other eyes, and you see yourself from other eyes.”
Nada tells us that her love of traveling is not just because it is a fun thing to do; she elaborates, “It is the tradition of the people. And it really changes you, I am changed 100% by travelling. You see the world from other eyes, and you see yourself from other eyes”.
Although the tourism industry has been hit hard in Egypt, Nada has hope that it will improve, “With initiatives like Let’s Explore Egypt, we can start to increase Tourism again. This year has been better for tourism, definitely with more foreign people coming”, she says. And for those Egyptians amongst us who have the desire to run as far away as possible from here, Nada has this to say, “The whole world has problems, including Egypt, but we should start to change it. The change doesn’t just happen today, but we should start to change. All of Egyptian people want to leave Egypt, but if everyone leaves, who will stay? So if anyone has ideas or initiatives to improve the country, they should start now!”