Tours in Egypt
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Dec 19, 2012 12:00 PM Last Post By: MalSS
Nov 5, 2012 12:27 PM
Tours in EgyptHi everyone,
I'm looking to book a fortnight-long (roughly) trip to Egypt for two, next September, taking in the major sites obviously, and we're happy to go off the beaten track too. I was wondering whether anyone has had any particularly positive or negatives experiences, or has any recommendations for the sort of thing we should look for?- or places to avoid! I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to ask for specific companies to be mentioned... But if possible, please do!
I've been on a Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan, and also to Abu Simbel and Mount Sinai- but nowhere else in Egypt. And my travel-partner has never been to Egypt at all, so we're really excited about this trip.
Looking forward to any comments! Thanks.
Nov 5, 2012 1:13 PM
1I think you're asking for recommendations for tour companies. My question is why?
If your personal situation dictates that you must spend the money for a guided tour then that's fine, but there's no inherent reason you need a guided tour. Plenty of people travel throughout Egypt on their own without a guided tour. Egypt is easy to travel independantly.
A guided tour will be more expensive and it will limit your ability to travel where and when you want to. If a guided tour is your thing then check sites like TripAdvisor as well.
Also, ignore Private Messages you will receive from touts and scammers that read these posts looking for people like you and send them messages trying to scam them. If you get any PM's report them to the Moderator so they are banned.
Nov 6, 2012 3:44 AM
2You can take a tour visiting the classical main attractions (Cairo -Luxor- Aswan), which can be done by private van or bus not necessary by Nile cruise. Then you can add some days on the Red Sea (could be Hurghada or in Sharm El Sheikh,Dahab, Nuweiba). If you have time, Alexandria could be an interesting place to see or any of the Oasis, particularly I like Bahariya and Siwa.
About doing this tour by travel agency or independent, as you know Egypt you could try to go by yourself.
But if you are willing to see as much as places and would like to save time, I recommend to go in a guided tour.
It may costs you more, money and freedom, but as you may know in Egypt.. if you dont have a lot of time, travelling by yourself could be a nightmare...just because of the distances, crowdness, dealing with people, etc.
Nov 6, 2012 4:56 AM
3If using a guided tour is your preferred way of travel then there are plenty of options; however, I completely disagree with #2. Tours do not save time, they take more time because you have to travel on someone else's schedule.
Traveling on your own is rarely a nightmare, getting on a bad tour is the nightmare.
"Dealing" with people is fun. Tours can isolate you from interactions with locals.
At any rate, it's your trip. Good luck.
Nov 6, 2012 5:13 AM
4You have already seen the main sights, are you wanting to repeat those for the sake of your husband seeing them? If not, I would recommend seeing some of the desert rather than sights along the Nile again.
Places you could consider are Siwa and the Great Sand Sea and/or Bahariyya and the White and Black desert. Also Farafra, Kharga and Dakhla.
I don't know of any tour companies but I would imagine it will be a lot cheaper to arrange with one of the travel agents in central Cairo (there are many), rather than booking a trip with one outside of Egypt. Or, do what many people do and use a guide book and get around Egypt on your own. It's easy and there is plenty of transport going everywhere.
Nov 6, 2012 6:03 AM
5DaughterofSevenless: what Nile cruise have you been on? What was the price in relation to the other cruises? I am looking for a cruise that is not too pricey
Nov 6, 2012 8:27 AM
cookieNani, the cruise was a couple of years ago so I can't remember the details- I'll have a search for the information and private message you :)
Thanks for the destination recommendations, everyone. The main reason we want a tour is because, having travelled in South America for a month this summer with my partner who speaks fluent Spanish, we're a bit tired of having to constantly think about where to go/eat/sleep every time we arrive somewhere new (we only booked ahead by a few days, which gives you great flexibility, but can get a wearisome..), and also concerned about the ease of travel in a country where we don't speak the language. Do you think the latter of these is unreasonable? Obviously whether we want the faff with having to find food/a bed is a personal preference.
If we travel independently, do you think a fortnight is enough to see Egypt reasonably fully? Originally we had hoped to go across the Sinai peninsula and up to Israel, and see the Dead Sea/Jerusalem/Masada- and had hoped to travel for a total of three weeks, but we concluded we're being over-ambitious. I don't know anything about bus/train travel in Egypt and Israel, I'm afraid. These are very much preliminary enquiries!
Thanks, apologies if I'm asking silly questions :)
Nov 6, 2012 9:34 AM
7No silly questions at all; that's why we're here.
First, I would not be concerned at all about any language issues. I've traveled to / through 80+ countries and found Egypt no where near as difficult as some (I only speak English). It's not a matter of being unreasonable, I just don't think you'd find the language barrier to be a problem. English, especially in the tourist sector, is understood and spoken enough that you'll be fine.
You can't see all of Egypt in only two weeks. Don't even try. You can see several areas of the country though. What is most important to you; the Nile, the Western Deserts, the Sinai? Pick a few spots and enjoy exploring them.
Personally, if you've got three weeks, I do suggest a combination trip Egypt and Israel. Cairo and Jerusalem are two of the world's most fascinating and unique cities. The only real train route in Egypt is along the Nile from Alex to Aswan. Buses and domestic flights can get you most everywhere else. In Israel there is a more extensive train system, but it does not extend all the way south to Eilat. You can take a bus directly from Eilat to Jerusalem. You could also consider flying Air Sinai from Cairo to Tel Aviv (actually the international airport is located between TA and Jerusalem and either city can be accessed equally).
Let us know if you have any more questions.
Nov 6, 2012 12:04 PM
Nov 6, 2012 12:17 PM
Nov 6, 2012 1:59 PM
10No, not to those places. They aren't significant cities (except arguably Hurghada). But to any of the main populated areas, you can. It's actually a much more developed network than Israel's.
There are no big centres of population in the Western Desert or Sinai, so naturally no rail links. (Actually I think there is, or was, a freight line to Kharga, and I think there was also a rail link to the Gaza border in Sinai until 1967, but not any more.)
You can see a map of the network here - I don't know how accurate it is, but it shows that all the populated areas of Egypt are pretty well covered. It's certainly not just Alex to Aswan. Of course in Upper Egypt it's pretty much just the line along the Nile Valley from Beni Suef to Aswan, but that's because that's what Upper Egypt really is. After all, south of cairo, the rest of the space on the map of Egypt is pretty much empty desert.
Nov 6, 2012 2:03 PM
Nov 6, 2012 2:14 PM
Of course most of the places on the network in the Delta are of minimal interest to tourists (though only a few days ago someone was asking about visiting Damanhour), but if for some reason you want to visit Ismailiya or Port Said, it's arguably a better, if less exciting, option than putting yourself at the mercy of a drugged-up microbus driver.
In Upper Egypt, on the other hand, there are lots of interesting places like Minya, Beni Hassan, Abydos and Dendara, some of them not visited by many tourists, that you can get to quite handily by train.
Nov 10, 2012 3:32 AM
13Day 1: Arrival in Cairo
It's about a 5 hour flight from the UK to Cairo. On your arrival pay USD15 for 1 month visa. Have exact money!
Stay at Dahab Hostel near Talat Harb. Walk to Tahrir Square from here. http://www.dahabhostel.com/Home.html
Day 2: The pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and Saqqara
Go early in the morning to Giza to see the pyramids. Use hostel driver or try a taxi.
Afterward go to Saqqara.
If times allow, go to Egyptian Museum which is close to the Hostel. Closes at 7pm.
Day 3: Cairo - Flight - Aswan
To save time fly from Cairo straight to Aswan in about 1.5 hours.
Day 4: Aswan - Philae & Kalabsha temples
Take breakfast then go to the harbor where you'll board one of the wooden boats that sail to Philae Island.
After visiting the temple of Isis you'll sail back to the mainland. Then visit the temple of Kalabsha at Lake Nasser.
Both these things will take up your morning.
Strongly suggest you try to pay for a guide.
Day 5: Departure from Aswan on a felucca
In the morning, go to the pier and catch a traditional sailboat, felucca, to sail along the Nile.
Day 6: End of the Nile felucca tour - Arrival in Luxor, via Kom Ombo
After sunrise you'll sail along the Nile for another hour or so before docking near Kom Ombo. Your skipper will prepare breakfast onboard. Catch a taxi to for about 15 minutes to reach the temples of Haroeris and Sobek at Kom Ombo.
After visiting the temple, catch a minivan to Luxor. It'll take another 3 hours approximately to reach your hotel in Luxor. Go to the opposite side of the Nile. There are cozier guest houses and family-run hotels filled with travellers and backpackers on this side of the Nile.
Day 7: Luxor - East Bank - Karnak Temple
Early start, go to Karnak, the temple of temples, which lies about 10 minutes from the city centre. The best time to visit the temple is around 7:30am, around lunch time or after 15:00pm, avoiding the tour buses.
Day 8: Luxor, East Bank - Valley of the Kings, West Bank
Start early. Take a taxi from the West Bank pier to drive you through winding mountain roads to the Valley of the Kings. Spend a day here. You could simply visit the temples on foot or hire a bicycle and go biking independently.
For something special you can choose a hot air balloon ride at sunrise above the Valley of the Kings and the West Bank.
Day 10: Luxor - Dahab
Take a domestic flight to Sharm El Sheikh. Don't hang around Sharm, got straight to Dahab. A taxi is about LE200. It’s a one hour drive through the mountains.
Day 11 - 13: Dahab
Do 10 dives in Dahab's Red Sea.
Nov 10, 2012 10:49 AM
14Some more ideas:
If you can afford it, a dahabeyya trip on the Nile is marvellous. But check out the dahabeyyah carefully - some are much more authentic than others, the larger ones have to be tugged by a motor boat all the time and some of the ones with lots of mod cons leave a noisy generator on all night to power them.
Otherwise, if you're up to it, an overnight felucca ride south from Aswan towards Edfu would be great.
If you want to get off the beaten track, Minya is a pleasant city with some interesting ancient Egyptian sites such as the Beni Hassan tombs and Tell al-Amarna nearby, as well as several Christian monasteries.
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