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Logistical questions about Egypt tours and O.A.T.

I am planning an Egypt tour in early 2025 and have started planning and reviewing the many posts here, plus researching online. However, I have a couple of questions about a few things.

First, one of the tours I'm looking into is Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). When I priced one tour (with a Jordan pre-trip extension), it gave an optional price for travel insurance (through Allianz), which includes the ability to cancel up to the day of departure, plus baggage coverage, medical benefits, assistance and emergency evacuation, and more. I think the price is a little over $1000. Has anyone purchased something like this as opposed to a regular travel insurance policy?

Second, the price includes the flight from JFK to the destination ($1100 cost, although I can change the departing flight to MSP for $400 more). Do you all typically take advantage of using their flights? It's my understanding that if you book your own flight, then you would be responsible for transfers to and from the hotel, although evidently starting next year, you can purchase the transfers separately. Just curious what most of you do.

And lastly, any thoughts on OAT? I'm still not finished looking at tour companies but I like that there is no single supplement and that they have a 5-day Jordan extension I can tack on. They also have the ability to add extra nights before or after your trip for pretty reasonable costs, which includes hotel, meals and airport transfers.

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
11356 posts

Lots of friends have traveled with OAT but then tired of traveling with them. I think there were a lot of extra charges for various options that they offered.
We went to Egypt and Jordan with Odysseys Unlimited, perfect tour, hotels, guides.

Posted by
257 posts

I did the OAT Egyptian trip with the dahabiya (yacht) Nile cruise in 2021, postponed due to pandemic from originally scheduled 2020. They have another similar one, on a bigger cruise ship. I thought they were great. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and hard working. The in-country arrangements all went smoothly. The attractions, hotels and cruise were the best quality available in Egypt in my opinion. I did buy the travel insurance but didn't need to use it. I suppose one can buy it cheaper independently, but the convenience was worth it for me (and I don't recommend a pricey tour without getting travel insurance). Added one additional night in Cairo before start of trip, at very reasonable cost. Used their flight arrangements (they booked it on Lufthansa from Washington via Frankfurt). I thought the value for money on this tour was very good. I had a similar good experience on their SE Asia trip in 2022. That one, I was able to use frequent flier miles for a business class ticket so I didn't purchase their air component. What they charged for roundtrip air in economy Washington to Bangkok was $1500, which I thought was a fair price, but that was my savings by booking my own air instead. They give you the overall price quote up front, but if you ask them, they will tell you how much of it is the airfare. I bought airport transfers for $25 each way -- I thought that also was a fair price for having them meet me at the airport and take me to hotel late at night, and reverse on departure. As noted, if you buy their air the airport transfer is included. Another thing, on one of the tours they handled the situation of a participant who got COVID with the utmost professionalism, compassion and relevant information-sharing with the group.

Posted by
7404 posts

I have a couple of friends who used OAT tours and were very happy with them. I contacted them a few months ago because I was wondering about taking an OAT tour to the Puglia region of Italy, and they still were recommending OAT. (I’ve since decided to do it independently and stay much longer.). I think they have smaller group sizes than the RS tours which could be nice.

Posted by
116 posts

Hi there,
My husband and I (and 10 other friends) took the OAT trip to Egypt with the pre trip to Jordan March, 2023 and it was amazing, wonderful, and wowed us at every turn. They're all inclusive with just one or two meals out of pocket due to the travel schedule. The guide --- as are all OAT guides --- knowledgeable, flexible, fun and looked after us in every way imaginable. All of us felt it was one of the best trips we'd ever taken (this was a very savy travel group) and we felt like we had gotten a PhD in middle east studies and culture. The five days spent on the Nile was so wonderful and welcomed. All of the hotels were beautiful, comfortable and historic. The food (I'm a vegetarian) was amazing and they went out of the way to accommodate varying dietary requirements. We had OAT book our flights and that worked well. Before having them book our flights we do our own research so we know what are our flight path preferences. We arrived in Jordan three nights early and stayed at the OAT hotel which they booked for us. This allowed us to rest, acclimate and do our own private tour to Wadi Run as the OAT tour did not include this. We love traveling with OAT for the small groups, amazing itineraries and guides, reasonable cost and we generally enjoy the people who are attracted to travel with them.Please feel free to message me privately if you'd like further info.

Posted by
257 posts

One of the commenters mentioned hearing from friends about "a lot of extra charges." I did not find that to be the case at all, on my two OAT trips. As with any tour, not everything is included, but most things are, and they are upfront about what isn't:
Meals: The number of meals included as part of the tour varies according to destination. You can find out all this info from the website about the tour that interests you. Anytime you are on a ship (such as the 5 day Nile cruise) all meals are included (and they were excellent). On land, virtually all meals were included in the Egypt tour, while perhaps 2/3 of lunches and dinners were included on the SE Asia one (breakfast was always included at the hotel, and was always good, sometimes downright lavish). All included meals were good, typically the local cuisine at a clean, attractive restaurant (often one with a lot of character), with plenty of food served. Occasionally Western fare. All included meals provided complimentary bottled water, but alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and juices were usually at your own expense, if you wanted them. When meals weren't included, it was always at times and places where there was a good variety of nearby restaurants at various price points.
Tips: You are expected to tip the tour leader. OAT recommends $10-15 per day, per person, given at the end of the tour. The guides were wonderful and worked incredibly hard, and I was quite happy to tip above this recommended range. In Egypt, there was also a tour box for the yacht staff, which I was equally glad to do as they were awesome. Other tips arising out of any of the included services, you are not expected to pay as the tour leader handles that (bus drivers, waiters, local tour guides, hotel porters).
Shopping: This can be a real hassle in some places, such as many locally arranged tours in Egypt where part of the guide's income depends on steering you to particular shops where he gets a kickback on anything you buy (and which the merchant figures into the price he charges you). This was not a problem with OAT on either trip. The tour bus never wasted our time by stopping at any alabaster workshops, "papyrus museums", perfume factories, or anything like that (of course, we went plenty of places where there were things to buy, but not places that appeared to be solely aimed at getting us to shop). The guide was available to give good advice to those on the tour who did want to shop, but there was no pressure whatsoever on anyone to do any shopping or to purchase anything.
Excursions with surcharge: Virtually everything the group does and sees is included in the price (of course, if you want to do other things on your free time, those are at your expense, but most of each day does comprise included activities). There are a couple of additional ones offered if you want, but few. On the Egypt trip they offered a balloon flight in Luxor, and in SE Asia, one trip to an outlying temple near Angkor Wat in addition to the main ones included in the tour, and an evening food tour by motor scooter (local drove the scooter, tourist on the back) in Saigon. I did these, except for the food tour, and thought the surcharges were reasonable.

Also I liked the group "vibe" on both trips. Good people. I'm travelling with OAT again soon, to the Balkans, and looking forward to it.

Posted by
6850 posts

Oh my gosh, I posted this, then ran to the gym and when I got back found all these helpful responses!

@Suki: I have OU on my list of potential tour companies, but it does seem that OAT caters more to singles, which would be great for me.

@Slate: Thank you so much for all this information - this helps enormously! I am getting so excited about this trip. And that is really good to know about the travel protection plan and the airfare. Convenience is definitely worth something! That is also good to know about the meals and the shopping and the excursions. I looked at Tauck's all-inclusive tours but I don't drink much alcohol and would prefer not to have access to free alcohol - it's just too tempting, lol! And I appreciate your thoughts on the group's vibe - that does matter so that's good to know!

@Jean: Thanks for letting me know what you friends think! I think you're right about the size - the tour I am interested in says that the size is between 8-16 people.

@mark_arleneleewong: Thank you so much for your wonderful mini trip report! OAT really does sound wonderful and the more I hear, the more I'm inclined to go with this company. I will definitely PM you if you don't mind - that would be great. Thanks so much!

Posted by
1597 posts

I have traveled with OAT twice and have a third trip scheduled, so yes I do like them. The one thing I would caution you about is their travel insurance. When then they canceled one of my trips (due to COVID) they canceled the travel insurance so I was not able to collect for any of my costs outside of OAT.

Posted by
14175 posts

Oh Bob...that is good to know!

Posted by
3618 posts

I just saw a friend who had done OAT to Egypt, and she loved it.

Regarding travel insurance: their package may not be such a good deal. You can compare on insuremytrip.com. The important features are trip cancellation and medical evacuation. Baggage insurance isn’t important. Costs depend on your age. Your own health insurance may already cover any medical problems. We are two superannuated travelers (79 and 81 on our last, precovid trip). I don’t remember ever paying as much as $1000 for insurance, even for the two of us..

Posted by
6850 posts

Thanks, Bob and Roselyn. I will definitely keep that in mind.

Posted by
2099 posts

We also did OAT to Egypt and really enjoyed it. We didn’t do the Jordan extension due to lack of vacation time. We’ve done several OAT tours and we’re not happy with their flight arrangements. Because our last name starts with W, we were in the last row of seats.
This was back in 2007 so maybe you can have more say in the type of seat you want? Most of us got sick within a day of arrival. Probably got the crud from the plane? I didn’t become ill for over a week so I think I got it from one of the tour mates. One couple escaped the illness. The guide gave us meds that cleared us right up.

Posted by
7836 posts

I always compare several travel companies before booking a tour, cruise (river or ocean). Competition, I love it.

I have never used OAT, but based on reviews and talking with people that have done tours with them, I have a positive opinion ot them.

Also, when I compare their price against other companies, I always find them to have competitive prices.

HOWEVER, they have never had the lowest price of a firm that I rated high enough to book with.

We did Egypt in January with Gate 1 and it was by far the lowest price for similar tours comparing with Viking, OAT and others.
In fact Viking was almost DOUBLE what I paid with Gate 1 Travel.

The Crown of Egypt Tour was 14 day tour that included airfare from JFK and all the optional tours. Cost was about $3500 pp and the tour was fantastic. We stayed in five star hotels and had two great three day cruises. Our guide was a university educated woman that was very knowledgeable of Egyptian history.

Posted by
6850 posts

@Diane, thanks! Definitely something to question when I get more information. I'm picky about airline seats so I would want some guarantee that the seat would be decent.

@geovagriffith: Thanks for your thoughts. I did look at Gate 1 but the price would be higher than what you paid. First, the price for that particular tour in 2024 starts at around $4500 and there is a single supplement of $1000 (and that does not include the optional tours). It also does not include Jordan and I did not see any extensions offered. There is an Egypt and Jordan tour but that one starts at $6100 plus a $1050 single supplement. With travel insurance and fees for optional tours, it looks like it comes close to what I will be paying for the OAT tour (which includes a Jordan extension).

I will admit, too, that one of the appealing factors for me with OAT is that it seems to cater to solo passengers. Plus I like the fact that this particular cruise has the dahabeya boats, rather that the large cruise ship. And lastly, this particular tour is one of the small group tours, so it ranges from 8-16 people tops. That is worth it for me.

Posted by
6850 posts

I do have another question - just wondered what everyone thinks are the best months to travel to Egypt? Right now I'm looking at February or March of 2025. Thanks!

Posted by
7836 posts

Definitely the Winter. It will be warm in the daytime in the Winter. Still, take a sweater or jacket for cool evening.

Posted by
725 posts

In March we encountered Khamsin winds (dust storms) twice. The first time, in Cairo, was short-lived, just an hour or two. The second time, in Luxor, it was more serious. I found it kind of interesting, but it did impact our itinerary. Fortunately, we had scheduled a free day in Luxor, and so we were able to work around it. (The nice part was that we had Karnak Temple all to ourselves. :-) )

You can see pictures of the dust storm in Luxor here:
https://mariematthews.smugmug.com/Egypt/Luxor/
https://mariematthews.smugmug.com/Egypt/Luxor-Tombs-and-Temples/

Posted by
11356 posts

There were some singles on our OU trip to Egypt and Jordan. They were part of everything we did, wonderful travelers.

Posted by
7836 posts

The Khamsin winds come in March and are dust storms that frequently include rain. Otherwise it doesn't rain much in Egypt.

Posted by
6850 posts

Marie, thanks for letting me know about the Khamsin winds, and special thanks for the links to your photos! Those are absolutely beautiful! What tour were you on?

Suki, thanks! Good to know!

George, thanks for the weather info - maybe I should shoot for February, although it would be fun to see a dust storm. I was in Okinawa during a typhoon once, and while it was scary, it was also really cool and interesting. :)

Posted by
257 posts

I did the OAT Egypt trip in mid-September. It was pretty darn hot! Daily highs at least in the high 90s and up into the 100s some days, sunny all day every day. I can hear the guide's voice in my head still, reminding us when leaving the bus each time: Do you have your hat? Your bottled water? Your sunscreen? With those, pacing oneself, air conditioning most indoor places we were and the bus, and hotel pools at the end of the day, it was fine. And as September is not quite full summer (I don't think they even run this tour in July and August) but not yet high tourist season, plus this was soon after things reopened post-pandemic (in fact one of OAT's first Egypt tours after the COVID suspension), we had the benefit of pretty low numbers of other tourists. I hear Egypt can be quite crowded at the major sites during the prime season of Dec-Feb. I would have liked to have done a Jordan pre-extension -- still need to get to that country -- but it wasn't offered in 2021. The pre-extension was Israel, where I'd been before, and the post-extension Alexandria (which would have been nice, but I figured I would have had sufficient Egypt, good as the tour was, after 17 days, which was so, and needed to get home for work as well).

Posted by
15 posts

My husband and I (69 and 70) have done 4 OAT trips and have been extremely happy with the quality. We are getting ready to travel with OAT to Africa and have booked Turkey for next spring and Egypt in November 2024. There are always 5or 6 solo travelers on each trip because they offer a great deal (solo spots book fast). There have been an average of 14 travelers on each trip and we have enjoyed all the groups. The trip leaders are amazing. Hotels are well located and food is good. I research flights so I know what i want and they have booked my prefered flights. I always request and get good seats. You can call them to change your flight up to 90 days before departure and ask about seats, upgrades or whatever. I call them all the time about flight changes and the customer service is good. The airport pickup has been reliable. I do not use their insurance. It is a "cancel for any reason" policy which is why it is so expensive. I buy a poiicy with the same company for half the price. We are excited for Egypt, we booked the trip with 5 day yacht trip and the Jordan pre-trip. Best weather is October to Apri. The OAT trip to Vietnam was my favorite, it was amazing.

Posted by
725 posts

@Mardee - we did a private tour with Djed Egypt.

One other thing about timing: you might want to check the dates for Ramadan in 2025. You can certainly travel during Ramadan, but things might be a little different, especially with regard to food. It's just another thing to consider. I was in Turkey and Jordan during Ramadan this year, and there were very few customers in restaurants during the day, and our guides/drivers in Jordan couldn't join us for meals until after sundown.

Posted by
6850 posts

slate, good to know. I definitely won't be going in September then! I live in Duluth and am used to cooler temps. But you make a good point about the crowds in prime season. Definitely something to think about. Thank you!

Lyn, thank you for this excellent information; especially about the flights and insurance! And I have Vietnam on my list - I have always wanted to go there, so will definitely check into that. It sounds wonderful!

Marie, I didn't even think about Ramadan so thanks for the reminder. It looks like it begins on March 1st in 2025, so March might be a good month to avoid. And I've heard good things about Djed, too.

Posted by
70 posts

Friend has done multiple OAT trips including Nile yacht trip and loved them. I did first land tour (not Egypt) with them recently including buying their insurance and air, including business upgrade. They try to minimize connections, which I found true. Most of my tour mates had their international flight cancelled by airline and OAT proactively got all of them rebooked as best as possible! I upgraded about 9 months before trip (original date postponed by you know what, and I absolutely wanted to lock in business class for transpacific flight) and thought price at time reasonable. It turned out to be a great deal, as prices rocketed closer to date. Overall I was very pleased with their air (and impressed with their responsiveness when airline issues occurred).

Posted by
6850 posts

SQ, very good to know - thanks so much! With this and the other responses above, I think I will go with their flights. In the long run, convenience counts (and price, too, as you mentioned the fare increase). Plus that is an area I am not familiar with and it will be nice not to have to worry about getting there. :)

Posted by
371 posts

I'm a little late chiming in, but we have done 2 OAT/GCT (Grand Circle Travel) small ship cruises and thought they were great. No complaints about the tours themselves - good itineraries, excellent guides, nice balance of free and scheduled time. The "day in the life" and "controversial topic" offerings can be a little hokey/artificial, imo, and are my least favorite thing. Good reputation for solo female travelers - lots of women traveling solo or in groups.

We have had OAT schedule our flights, their pricing and schedules are competitive, and sometimes a great deal (we got a steal on Comfort-Plus through them once). You might want to check on the transfer - I think if you are booking their hotel early via OAT, even if you don't have them book your flight, you can still get their transfer service. You will have to weigh whether the transfer service is worth booking extra nights via OAT - you might find better hotel pricing on Expedia, etc.

I would not recommend using their insurance, you can get better deals elsewhere - and they have a poor reputation for processing any payments. My understanding is that Allianz pays OAT, which then pays you - and OAT has a 45-day "policy" for payments to customers, whether it's a refund or insurance payment. And it often takes even longer than that.

All that said, once you are booked, their customer service can be abysmal especially if you require changes or a refund. We had huge issues with a trip that was cancelled during the pandemic. Even allowing for all the confusion that all travel companies were having, OAT/GCT was utterly awful. They changed their refund policy after we had already requested a refund! We ended up filing a BBB complaint and disputed the credit card charge before we finally got our refund.

This hasn't completely turned us off OAT, but we do proceed with caution, knowing if we need to cancel, we need to read the fine print three times and be aware that getting a refund will require LOTS of our time administratively and we may be out the money for 6 months. Reviews of their trips are consistent - great tours and experiences, terrible home office customer service after you book. We ended up taking that cancelled tour last year and it was excellent. And we are about to schedule another tour for later this year (they have some great deals going).

Posted by
1597 posts

"All that said, once you are booked, their customer service can be abysmal especially if you require changes or a refund. We had huge issues with a trip that was cancelled during the pandemic. Even allowing for all the confusion that all travel companies were having, OAT/GCT was utterly awful. They changed their refund policy after we had already requested a refund! We ended up filing a BBB complaint and disputed the credit card charge before we finally got our refund."

I had the exact same experience. In addition to filing a complaint with the BBB I also filed one with the Massachusetts State Attorney General as it is illegal in Massachusetts (where OAT is based) not to offer a refund. I also did finally get my refund.

Posted by
1597 posts

That is why I just finished one tour and have another booked. Their tours are very good but you just have to be aware of their lousy refund policy.

Posted by
6850 posts

Rebecca (and Bob), thanks for the input. This is my very first tour so I'm really really hoping I don't need to cancel or deal with anything that would cause problems (famous last words, I know!). :)

I am having them take care of the flight arrangements. I decided that I just did not want to deal with it, so hopefully it will work out.

I was told that even if I did booked my own flight, I could still get their transfer service but would have to pay a fee. I don't know the cost but it's a moot issue, since they are taking care of the flights.

But very good to hear that the tours are so good! I'm glad to hear it!

Posted by
4619 posts

$1100 cost, although I can change the departing flight to MSP for $400 more

How will you do this? Are you going to link a Delta flight with Egyptair on a single ticket, or have 2 tickets and spend the night in Queens?

Posted by
257 posts

"$1100 cost, although I can change the departing flight to MSP for $400 more

How will you do this? Are you going to link a Delta flight with Egyptair on a single ticket, or have 2 tickets and spend the night in Queens?"

What this means is that you can buy your airfare to Egypt from OAT departing from pretty much anywhere in the US you want. For this trip, they charge the least if you leave from NY, and understandably, a few hundred more from MSP. If you choose MSP, the routing they choose may or may not go via New York. Just as likely it would be a flight from MSP connecting through a European city. It would almost certainly not involve an overnight in Queens.

Posted by
6850 posts

slate, thanks - yes, that's right, Tom. If I flew out of JFK, the cost would be $1100. But because I would rather fly out of MSP, the cost increases to $1500 RT. I'm happy they offer that option. It would be a headache (and cost even more) to have to fly to NYC and possibly spend the the night there just to fly out of JFK.

Posted by
4619 posts

Mardee: When I looked at this a couple years ago the flights from MSP to CAI were terrible across the board. Even checking now the choice is either a 10 hour layover at CDG or 3 flights. It used to be that most of the 3 flight options (final leg Swiss, Lufthansa, or Austrian) arrived between 2-4 am but this has changed.

The best choice a few years ago (and still today) was via Toronto but Air Canada and Egyptair (both Star Alliance) won't codeshare (why?). Maybe a travel agent can force this onto one ticket. If you are going to Tel Aviv or Amman on this trip, it is easier to get to either from MSP than Cairo.

It would be a headache (and cost even more) to have to fly to NYC and possibly spend the the night there just to fly out of JFK.

This is exactly what poster Geovagriffith did or is going to do, this year, spent the night at JFK waiting for the Egyptair flight.

Posted by
3941 posts

Whichever tour you take you will love Egypt and Jordan. We were there this past March, only had one sandstorm and one rain storm and that was during our night in the desert at Wadi Rum. Incredible day and evening. I tell my friends who decided not to come with us that we would go back again any time they are ready.
We did include Israel on our 24 day trip. if we went again Egypt and Jordan are good enough alone. I would make Israel another trip.

Posted by
6850 posts

Tom, I should mention that I will not be flying into Egypt but Amman. I've added a pre-trip extension that goes to Jordan, so that might possibly make a difference. Not sure.

Barbara, thanks so much for that. I've been trying to decide whether to add the Tel Aviv post-trip extension on and I really think it would be too much. So I appreciate what you are saying and definitely helps! I am getting very excited about this trip!

Posted by
4619 posts

Amman is easy from MSP, AA to ORD then Royal Jordanian, 1 stop, reasonable layover. Royal Jordanian also flies from Detroit, but that doesn't mesh well with airline alliances.

Posted by
21 posts

Hello Mardee - currently United flies 3 times per week from IAD (Washington DC) to Amman. I think Mon, Thur, Sat.

Posted by
6850 posts

Thanks, sloo! I'm not booking the flight so we'll see where I land (and layover). :) I don't leave till late January of 2025, so it's a ways off. :)

Posted by
1 posts

I run a small Egypt tour company that has been in business for over 25 years and I have never heard anything bad about OAT. Its hard to get general recommendations though because everyone is looking for something different in their tours. I believe OAT has more shopping and modern cultural activities than my company for example, so the people who travel with me would not be as happy with them, because we go for the ancient history only.
Something to be aware of when looking at tours in Egypt is that some companies pay their guides very low wages but have them take kickbacks from the shops, or a commission, for all of the tourists' shopping, encouraging the guides to spend more time with the tour groups shopping than at the historical monuments. This is how the budget tours manage to run. Of course, if no one is shopping the guide almost gets no pay, which I find it a bit unethical of those companies - so beware. Some of the pricier companies might be a bit more generous in the treatment of their employees. I am not saying OAT does this or any other specific tour operator, it is just what I have been told by my guides.
I think the best time to visit Egypt is November and late January through February. Ramadan in 2025 is March 1-30 so it looks like you will miss it entirely, thank goodness.

Posted by
3941 posts

If your post-trip offer is only Tel-Aviv I would definitely skip it. Too much hassle crossing into Israel and Tel-Aviv was our least favorite city.
With what us going in now Israel is on the back burner for a few years I would guess.

Posted by
116 posts

We were in Egypt and Jordan with OAT during Ramadan during March, 2023 and it was a positive and joyful experience. It did not pose any inconvenience and instead added an additional cultural dimension to experience. Also, the weather in March was ideal and we did not encounter any wind or dust anywhere and we went from Cairo down to Abu Simbel in the south. Enjoy---it's an amazing experience.

Posted by
6850 posts

Barbara, that's what I was thinking. Plus I think I'm going to be ready to go home at the end of the Egypt tour, and will probably not want to tack on anything else at that point. And of course, it's moot now with the political situation (sigh).

mark_arleneleewong, thanks for your thoughts. I'm actually going in late January/early February so Ramadan will not affect me, but good to know regardless. :-)