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First time to Egypt and Jordon: group tour or plan independently?

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Dear Fodorites, You've been invaluable in helping me plan my trip to Nairobi and I'd love to get your input on a dilemna that I'm facing with our onward journey to Egypt and Jordon.

A little bit about us: We are a group of three in our late 20s-30s. We have traveled extensively, love exploring areas that aren't tourist trapholes and don't mind spending money on excursions that are worth a lifetime. We prefer local hotels versus 5 stars since we believe it allows us to be immersed in the local culture.

So with that being said, we've explored group tours with gap adventures and lady egypt. We are currently wondering if its better to plan our own itinerary so that we can spend time at leaisure visiting museums, extra days in Abu-Simbel or Petra versus being tied down by the group itinerary.

We have about 13 days and would like to visit Luxor, Alexandria, Cairo, Abu Simbel, Aswan, Dahab and Petra

Questions for you:
1) Would you recommend a group tour or customizing it and planning on our own?
2) IF you recommend going on our own, any suggestions on booking hotels, guides, day trips etc? I've found expedia and other websites to be very limited in their hotels- wondering if its better to work with a local agent in Egypt. thoughts/suggestions?

Thanks so much!

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