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We are going to Egypt!!

Inspired by a fellow forum member’s blog and Bettany Hughes 4 part Nile series on Curiosity Stream, we are going to Egypt!!! We got an incredible deal on Emirates using miles.

We are going in October of this year. I don’t think I have ever booked a major trip with such short notice and I do not feel I have throughly done my research.

We are spending a few days in Cairo, going to Luxor, taking a Nile cruise on a traditional Dahabyya boat and ending in Aswan where we will visit Abu Simbel.

Please share any highlights or lowlights of your trips to Egypt. I would love to hear.

BTW, we have both been vaccinated.

Posted by
1112 posts

Tammy, I’m excited for you. A friend and I were talking a couple days ago and we both put Egypt on our bucket lists. Can’t wait to hear all your plans and see your trip report! Have a great trip!
Kathy

Posted by
14211 posts

Sounds wonderful, Tammy. I hope you enjoy every minute.

Posted by
149 posts

I have sent you a personal message about your amazing sounding trip and happy to answer any questions you may have.

Posted by
3571 posts

It's a wonderful place.
I booked 2 weeks before flying there (Arab Spring) but took a tour and had been reading about it for months prior.
This is more than 6 months away. You will have more preparation than many. Also, this is a country where surprise can be wonderful...well, not logistical surprises, but a little less knowledge or visual introductions to the sites. There are ancient. Let their magic charmyou.
I loved the Karnak light show. Maybe because I don't do a lot of night activities, but the warm evening breeze (it was May, it was hot), the sound affects as you trsvel through the shadowed walk to the lake.....to me, it was easy to let my mind travel back.
Dendera Temple was a surprise and left me very emotional...I think because it was one I didn't know really anything about at all.
Consider Alexandria, at least as a day trip. The library, though no longer the ancient wonder of the world, is still a beautiful building. It holds several small museums, somif you can swing an overnight, you'll get more out of the city.
Have a great time.
If you think you want a woman's take on things, I can recommend a guide from Cairo.

Posted by
1605 posts

I don’t think I have ever booked a major trip with such short notice
and I do not feel I have thoroughly done my research.

That's how I'd feel if I left it this late. For me that would be like booking last minute. I'm excited for you and am actually just commenting as a reminder to myself to watch this post for advice, as Egypt is on my list as well. Likely a few years away though.

Posted by
1801 posts

WooHoo! Sounds fabulous. Have a great time and, of course, a trip report will be read by many.

Posted by
2448 posts

Tammy, how exciting! I haven't been to Egypt, but I have friends who have been there as well as Jordan. We have other friends who just made a Provisional Reservation with Imprint Tours with Sarah Murdock for Oct. 2022. The tour includes Egypt/Jordan. I checked out their website this am and their Oct. 2022 is full already! The website may be a good resource in your planning? Enjoy your planning!

Posted by
2739 posts

How exciting, Tammy! I really hope you'll do a trip report, since DH and I are planning to go in Nov '22.

Posted by
1671 posts

Wow, happy for you! Egypt hasn’t been on my list but watching Rick’s recent shows on Egypt has piqued my interest. I will look forward to your trip report.
I’m sure you will be researching the trip as you have 6 months before you leave.

Posted by
4610 posts

Great, I read that Egypt is open for tourists.

I have been to Egypt twice. There is so much history in Egypt it is amazing.

A few suggestions:
1) Don't drink any water, beer or drink unless the bottle is unopened. However, if you are in a four or five star hotel or your cruise ship, not problem.
2) Don't eat any food from street vendors or restaurants that are not at least the level of a 4 star hotel.
3) Stay with your tour group, especially at night. Only use taxis from your hotel that register the taxi driver and his company.
4) Try to read up on Egyptian History and the ancient Egyptian religion, it helps to understand what you will see in the ancient sites.

Posted by
3571 posts

I guess I am a little more adventurous. Though I made the mistake of eating the tabolleh salad recommended by my guide and got a bout of tourists. I was told later that all I had to do was call the front desk and they would have sent meds. They did run to the pharmacy and got me some wonderful meds that were effective. I carried them with me to Ecuador, Africa and everywhere else until they became past best shelf life.
I did learn from that however and when I est at the mall restaurant across from the Hilton to keep it to cooked only.
Yes, use marked metered cabs, but don't be surprised to be asked to be paid upfront at the airport. I refused, as I hadn't run into this before, but tipped him well.
Be sure to have a bathroom break before leaving airport. It took 3 hours because of traffic that day....and only $15.00.

Posted by
1656 posts

Thank you so much everyone. Things are still in flux, it is not working out with Tarek from EgyptandBeyond travel, but it’s ok as I have another highly recommended company I am working with. I will post my final itinerary after we have made deposit.

@Janis-no visit to the Red Sea this trip, although I would love to come back and dive it.

Posted by
291 posts

I was on a dahabiya cruise in Egypt when Covid shut down the world last March, and I am planning to return in October/November of this year to complete the trip.

A few random notes:

  • A traditional dahabiya is such a civilized way to travel. You absolutely made the right choice there.
  • Barbara Mertz' book, Tombs, Temples and Hieroglyphs, gives a good overview of Egyptian history. It's also very readable.
  • Cairo is dense and dusty. I didn't fall in love with it, but I am planning to give it a second try in October.
  • I enjoyed all the silly extras at the pyramids -- going inside the Khufu pyramid and taking a camel ride . Our tour guide was able to arrange a reputable source for the camel ride, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My travel companion, on the other hand, was totally freaked out on a camel.
  • Saqqara and Dahshur and worth visiting. I opted to go inside the Red Pyramid, and it was a workout but I'm glad I did it. We are planning to spend more time at Saqqara on the second visit.
  • The tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens is crazy expensive, but totally worth it.
  • The tomb of Ramses V/VI costs a little extra, but it's worth doing.
  • We did a balloon ride in Luxor, and I enjoyed it.
  • We did a one day excursion to Abydos and Dendera. Dendera is beautiful; Abydos is more important historically. It's nice to do if you have a day to spare.
  • We stayed on the west bank in Luxor, which has more of a village/local feel. I preferred it to the east bank.
  • The ferry in Luxor is an easy way to get across the Nile.
  • We did a felucca cruise to Banana Island one evening. Banana Island is kind of hokey and expensive, but the sunset cruise (with dinner) was gorgeous. We plan to do it again in October.
  • Sofra was our favorite place to eat in Luxor. (I liked the food in Egypt a lot. If you like Mediterranean food, you'll be happy.)

Unfortunately, our trip ended when Egypt shut down all airports halfway through the dahabiya cruise, and so we never made it to Abu Simbel or Aswan.

A few other tips:

  • It's easy to exchange dollars for EGP. The automated machines, though, won't accept anything larger than a fifty dollar bill. Plan accordingly. I had hundred dollar bills, which proved challenging.
  • Egypt is a tipping culture, and tips (baksheesh) are expected for everything. Make sure to budget for it.
  • Keep a good supply of small denominations of EGP for baksheesh. We eventually wound up going to a bank, which was its own "back door" experience, to get enough small bills.
  • Upgrade to the best cell phone camera you can get. Dedicated cameras are prohibited or require a costly permit in almost all tombs and museums, and the tombs are really dark.

We traveled with Djed Egypt Travel, an Egyptian company. They were great, and we are working with them again for the October return.

Oh yeah, pictures are here: https://mariematthews.smugmug.com/Egypt

Feel free to PM me if you have questions.

Posted by
567 posts

We are also planning a trip to Egypt end of October-early November. We are using Djed Egypt Travel and have a 14 day itinerary planned which will be finalized when we have our flight reservations finalized. We are in our 70’s and are fully vaccinated.
We enjoy slow travel and are looking forward to our trip. Maybe we’ll meet in the Nile River cruise.

Posted by
291 posts

Hi Camille, maybe we will meet because it sounds like we will be traveling about the same time. Djed was perfect once we arrived in Egypt. Their guides and staff are all first rate. (I will admit that they can be a little slow to respond to email pre-trip. The owner evidently likes to respond to all email himself, and I kind of think it's too much for one person. )

Posted by
279 posts

I hope everything falls in place. I'll look forward to your trip report, as I'm very interested in Egypt.

Posted by
12133 posts

Its been 20 years since my last trip to Egypt, but what I remember the most was the kindness of the people. Go, enjoy.

Posted by
567 posts

Just saw photos of the Parade of Mummies as they were being moved to the new museum. How exciting! Can’t wait to go in October. Stay safe everyone!

Posted by
2 posts

Marie,

The photos of your trip are stunning! We had a combo trip planned to Africa and Egypt but had to move Africa into 2022. We also moved Egypt into Nov 2022 as the GEM is not going to open this year. We are staying at the 4 seasons Nile Plaza in Cairo, then taking a cruise on the Oberoi Zahra and staying at the Old Cataract and Luxor Hilton-thoughts on the accommodations? We are definitely doing valley of King/Queens and all the tombs including Nefatari-your photos of her tomb were astounding! We head to Aswan/Abu Simbel and then back to Cairo to jump on a flight for 4 days to Sharm at the 4 seasons which looks beautiful. I hear the RedSea is wonderful and great snorkeling. Love your thoughts on all of the above. We are booked with DAI/Jim Berkeley who leads trips to Egyp twice a year. We will have private guides for the trip.

Posted by
2739 posts

Marie- I just spent the most enjoyable hour looking at your photos. Stunning is right. Absolutely breathtaking! It's made me yearn for our trip even more

Posted by
2104 posts

Absolutely stunning photos, Marie! Thank you for sharing.

Posted by
291 posts

The photos of your trip are stunning! We had a combo trip planned to
Africa and Egypt but had to move Africa into 2022.

Thanks, Sandy. It sounds like you have a great trip planned.

We also moved Egypt into Nov 2022 as the GEM is not going to open this
year.

Where are you hearing that the GEM isn't going to open this year? Just curious. They haven't set an official opening date yet, but most sources I am seeing indicate that it is supposed to open this summer. If the GEM not going to open until 2022, I might rethink my travel schedule.

We are staying at the 4 seasons Nile Plaza in Cairo, then taking a
cruise on the Oberoi Zahra and staying at the Old Cataract and Luxor
Hilton-thoughts on the accommodations?

You are going much more upscale than we did. We stayed at Mena House in Giza and then opted for a very modest guest house on the west bank of Luxor. The two accommodations were very different, but we enjoyed the variety. The modest accommodations in Luxor gave us a better sense of everyday life in Egypt. Also, the west bank gave us a nice break from the ubiquitous touts that are everywhere on the east bank. When we return to Egypt, we are definitely planning to go back to Mena House. We are still debating what to do in Luxor. Our time in Luxor will be brief this trip, and we are thinking that we might stay on the east bank, most likely the Winter Palace, just for convenience. The Old Cataract, I think, is a must. It's just so iconic. We were planning to stay at the Old Cataract last year, but then Covid hit. We never made it as far as Aswan. The Old Cataract is definitely on our list for the upcoming trip.

We are definitely doing valley of King/Queens and all the tombs
including Nefatari-your photos of her tomb were astounding!

The tombs were amazing. Neferatari's tomb, though, is the most spectacular. You might want to visit the tomb of Seti I, too. We didn't, and I sort of regret it.

We head to Aswan/Abu Simbel and then back to Cairo to jump on a flight
for 4 days to Sharm at the 4 seasons which looks beautiful. I hear the
RedSea is wonderful and great snorkeling.

Sharm is supposed to be gorgeous. Sadly, it's not in our plans.

Enjoy your trip. You'll love it!

Posted by
291 posts

CJean and Carroll, thank so much. Egypt is such an amazing place.

Posted by
1656 posts

Concur with the others that your photos are wonderful!
I sent you a pm!
Oh and please come back Marie and give us a trip report!