Lonely Planet Writer

Middle East travel update

The situation in the Middle East and north Africa continues to develop. However, each country is different and needs to be considered according to its own circumstances. Here's a quick summary of the changing situation in the Middle East as of Tuesday 5 April (but note that given the situation is in flux, it's always important to check the latest news and travel advisories).

Egypt and Tunisia appear to be stabilising and are beginning efforts to attract travellers back. Reports from those on the road in these places suggest that it is safe but very quiet. In fact, this would make it the perfect time to travel. It's early days yet but if both countries are stable towards the end of the year then there could be something of a rush to return, with tempting deals available.

Further north, Jordan remains calm and is entering peak season, enjoying higher visitor numbers than last year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that booking ahead for hotels in Petra and at Dead Sea resorts for April and May is a wise move.

Syria, which has been attracting an increasing amount of media attention, requires some consideration. The US State Department, it should be noted, recommends deferring all non-essential travel to Syria.

The UK Foreign Office takes a more nuanced approach, advising against travel to 'the southern city of Der’aa, the surrounding towns and villages, including Tafas and Sanamiyn, and the coastal city of Latakia.'

Of these, only the need to avoid Latakia will have an impact on travellers' plans, as it is visited by those exploring the Crusader castles of the coastal area and by those taking the scenic rail journey to or from Aleppo. Elsewhere in the country what The New York Times describes as a 'tense calm' prevails. There are still plenty of travellers in Syria, and their experiences on the Thorn Tree make for fascinating reading. If you're planning a trip here keep a close eye on the news as what happens next is difficult to predict.

It is business as usual in Lebanon and Israel. Libya is the only north African country to avoid. Morocco, including Marrakesh, is very much open for business.

Wherever you are, give demonstrations of any sort a wide berth. This is as true in European destinations as anywhere else.