My interest in going to Egypt within the next year has been heightened considerably by several recent discussions by folks who are planning trips there. Does anyone have a recommendation for a travel guidebook that has helped you out in your planning or when you were on the ground there? I will also plan to watch some of the recommended videos that have been described in various recent posts, but would appreciate any further suggestions about videos, blogs, or other resources that have helped you in your planning. My budget is modest; hoping to keep all costs to under $200/day, including hotel (sharing a room with a friend), for those days when not on a tour. This is one country, however, where I would expect to join a guided tour - or hire a personal guide, especially a woman - for at least a good portion of my time there. (I am almost always an independent traveler - with a friend along - when in Europe or Israel.)
I can suggest looking at Imprint Tours as a resource. Sarah Murdoch is leading a tour of Egypt/Jordan in Oct. 2022. Her website may be helpful. Some friends made their Provisional Reservation for 2022. When I looked at their website today, it was waitlist only already! If I hear about a guidebook I will let you know.
We went with a tour company, but/and really liked having the DK Eyewitness guidebook along (and for drooling over beforehand). Kinda heavy, but all that slick paper makes the gorgeous & copious photos zing. Good maps & historical info. For hotels etc for traveling on our own, we look at trip advisor.
Egypt's astonishing! Archaeologists reckon that the known ancient sites are maybe 20% of what's there, with 80% still waiting to be found. 80!
I think I had a Frommer's guide for Egypt, but am typically a Lonely Planet gal.
I might suggest that for some locations, you minimize the videos and blogs - leave room for some magic to happen. I am finding that too much information and expectation is resulting with less emotional reactions. Dendera and the Alexandria library both brought me to tears that trip. Neither of them had I over researched or done video views of them.
Logistical planning to make on the ground stuff easy is all well and good, but if you do too much watching, then you might as well stay home and watch National Geographic - or maybe reactions are individually based.
Rasha El Ashmawy was my female guide for a day trip to Alexandria from Cairo. As we had a 3 hour drive, I wanted a woman so we could discuss life as well as archeology. She continues to get rave reviews. Her business seems to be Egypt Daily Tours. She uses a driver and van, and so I organized hiring them again the next day for a bit of buffering when I did the Pyramids on my own the next day. I am not comfortable around pushy hawkers. He didn't do a lot of muscle work, but it was easier to get around. I had planned to just take a taxi and walk in on my own. Now I am better experienced to do just that. Taxis are pretty cheap in Cairo.
I wonder, has the new Cairo museum opened? That would be cool.
Thank you so much, Janis, and Stewart&Vicki for your suggestions. I had read about Imprint Tours on this Forum not long ago, and spent awhile on their website, and watched some of their videos. The tours they offer look wonderful. I'm aware that their cost is at a higher end (for me) and am beginning to try to figure out what is possible within my budget. I don't want to "settle" for an experience that will leave me frustrated (no big buses, please!). Imprint Tours only offer a couple of tours to Egypt every year, so I see that I would need to sign up provisionally fairly soon if I wanted to get on one of their tours within the next year - or two! Also, the Eyewitness book about Egypt looks like a great way to begin figuring out what sights would be top priorities for me. Thanks for the recommendation. Stewart&Vicki, what tour company did you use, and what were your thoughts about the experience they offered?
Maria, what a lovely idea. I tend to almost over-plan, and that can include watching videos and scrolling through lots of photos on tripadviser. Your advice invites me to perhaps experience Egypt as I first did much of Europe when I backpacked there for months in 1977: Every magnificent sight was brand new to my eyes... the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, Notre Dame, etc. Yes, I had seen a few photos of these, but no videos or TV shows had taken the edge off the wonderment of seeing them in person. Thank you very much for your suggestion!
If I travel to a place that RS doesn’t have a guidebook on, I go to Lonely Planet’s (LP) website and purchase it there. This is also the guidebook that RS uses outside of Europe. The reason I like this book is because LP continues to improve with each new edition and lets you know when the next one will be available. LPs next Egypt book will be for sale in Nov.
Another book I like is Rough Guides (RG), but unfortunately RG doesn’t tell you when the next edition will arrive so I usually buy that one just before I depart on my journey.
I also engaged Rasha El Ashmawy for my trip Egypt early in 2011. She was excellent and we enjoyed all the tours and her conversations (see MariaF's post). For the Nile cruise, I booked through Memphis Tours and everything was well arranged and went very smoothly. We had a very knowledgeable guide for the cruise who took us to the various sites when the ship docked.
There were 5 in my group and he was assigned to just us. He even organized our hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings. Great experience!
For my second trip to Egypt in 2019 I decided that an all inclusive was the way to go and got a great tour from Gate1Travel. Their prices are good for the budget conscious traveler and you really get a lot for what you pay.
They arranged everything (there was about 20 people in my group, so yes, big bus). But again we had a wonderful trip and
saw everything we wanted to. Our tour guide was brilliant and though it was very fast paced and busy we still had enough time
to just relax and recharge before the next site visit. Our first and last night was spent at the Marriott Cairo. We had such a great time we may go back again next year :-)
Have fun planning! Its a beautiful country and you will have a travel experience like no other.
Jane, I spoke with our friends who are doing the Egypt Imprint Tour 10/2022 and they like the Lonely Planet guidebook so far. They did mention they have the July 2018 version. The new guidebook is slated for 11/2021. Best wishes.
jmauldinuu, the company we went with, in Dec. 2019, was Grand Circle. They've gotten bad press for not refunding covid-cancelled reservations - nudged you towards future dates instead (this policy may have changed) - but our actual trips with them, & sister organization Overseas Adventure Travel, have been great. Excellent guides - ours in Egypt was an archaeologist - & accommodations, meals, side trips (some meals & visits in people's homes, a Coptic Christian monastery, etc. ), & max group size of 20-something. Ours was 17. Tour members tend older; OAT tends younger, with higher activity level & challenges. We chose GC's Egypt itinerary because it had seven nights aboard a small cruise boat on the Nile, yum, book-ended by seven based in Cairo.
I traveled with Egypt and Beyond Travel. https://www.egyptandbeyondtravel.com
Although we had been planning to take a group tour, Egypt and Beyond was way less expensive and it was a private tour.
I found them because Rick Steves used Egypt and Beyond when he did a couple of episodes on Egypt. The company is owned by a really nice man named Tarek. We even got to meet him when we were in Cairo.
We had two different guides for our trip - one for Cairo and one for Luxor and Aswan. The Cairo guide was a woman - Marwa - and we think she's one of the best guides we've ever had. You can watch the Rick Steves' episodes from Egypt and see all of these people in action.
I highly recommend them! I blogged that trip - there is a link to my blog in my bio on this site. There's a fair amount of information about what we saw and the trip highlights in there.
What wonderful ideas you all have offered! Stewart&Vicki and Nadine, I really appreciate the recommendations for tour guides and tour groups. MaryPat, your guidebook suggestions look great. And Valerie: wow, your blogs are wonderful and give me some clear insight about how a trip to Egypt might flow (!). I am very grateful for so many ideas here, which will help me think through and shape a possible trip to Egypt within the next year - I hope! Many many thanks!
In addition to a good guidebook, as you have been advised by others, is suggest that you try boning up on Egyptian history.
It is a long history, but pick a history book about Egypt and it will give you an overview to understand the long history through many dynasties and Early, Middle and Late Kingdom.
Also, you should explore the evolution of the Egyptian religion that is now extinct. That religion evolved over the centuries and will help you understand much of what you see in the ancient temples.
I spent a lot of time googling "Egypt what to do" and "Egypt travel tips" before I went in March 2020.
We had a great experience working with and Egyptian company, Djed Egypt Travel. Essentially, we had a private tour --- the two of us, a guide and a driver each day. I understand that they try to hire female guides. Just let them know that you have a preference. We had a male guide in Cairo and a female guide in Luxor.
Djed offers something called a "Classic Egypt Tour," which you can use as a starting place and then customize as you wish. We opted to spend 5 days in Luxor. When I mentioned that I was interested in visiting the tomb of Nefertari -- it magically appeared in our itinerary. They will also book whatever level of accommodations you request. We splurged with Mena House in Giza/Cairo and then saved a lot of money by staying on the west bank in Luxor. One of the highlights of the trip was a dahabiya cruise. The overall pricing was very reasonable, and I found it a good value. We are planning to travel with them again in October. (Sadly, we had to cut our trip short last year because of Covid.)
Such great ideas and such wonderful help! Thank you, Ashley and Marie, for fantastic ideas and resources! Thank you, geovagriffith, for suggesting that I do some serious reading about history and eras of Egypt. Even if I don't get there for a few months (or year... or more...?) this will give me a lot to read and research as I prepare. I am deeply grateful for your help!
For guide books, we used DK Eyewitness and Fodor’s for Egypt. A fabulous trip!