any tips for a first family trip to Egypt?

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Mar 12th, 2005, 11:51 AM
  #1
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any tips for a first family trip to Egypt?

I am in the earliest stages of planning a "surprise" trip to Egypt probably sometime next year. My mother has dreamed since she was a little girl to see the Valley of the Kings. Now that I'm out of college with a good job, I would like to make that come true for her. My family and I have travelled to Scotland and England, and of course all over the US. As I have been to Argentina alone to visit some friends, the rest of my family has not set foot in a "developing country". Could someone please offer some advice on where/how I should start? Also, do you feel it's safe after 9/11 for Americans to travel to Egypt? Thanks so much for any tips anyone can provide me.
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Mar 12th, 2005, 12:16 PM
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First decide if you want to do an independent trip with some hired guides or go one a tour. Each has advantages and disadvantages and much here about both specific tour companies and suggestions on accessing guides.

We chose a tour because we were traveling with our teenagers and thought they would be less tolerant of the inevitable misfortunes of arranging transportation on our own. While we missed the spontaneity of independent travel, knowing how, where and when we were going to each place worked well for us on this trip - and we have never bought a packaged tour before or since.

Many Egypt travelers start in Cairo and then travel to Aswan or Luxor for a 3-4 day cruise, stopping to see things along the way. Then back to Cairo. Be sure to arrange trip to Abu Simbel - well worth any time or money.

Don't drink the water and have a good trip.
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Mar 12th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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I was just there in late November/early December and felt perfectly safe as an American...even spent a night on the side of a mountain alone with 3 camel drivers and again felt totally safe. Check out my trip report in this forum "Trip Report: Egypt" and feel free to email me with any questions.
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Mar 13th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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Thanks so much for the advice. Gail, I do feel that I would need to book a packaged tour deal, even though my family has always "set out" on our own. I've read that this would be the best way if it's your first trip to Egypt.
Travelgirl, loved the photos! Makes me want to go on the next flight!
Just a few more questions...did y'all book with a US or Egyptian travel co.? Did you tip (baksheesh) in US dollars or Egyptian pounds? On your package tours, did you feel you had adequate time to take in the monuments and sights?
Thanks again.
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Mar 13th, 2005, 07:35 PM
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We got back yesterday and I have never felt safer than in Egypt even though armed guards are everywhere. Egypt is so desperate to get its tourists back.
We used ICANTRAVEL based in Cairo and had a very low priced deluxe trip. I requested specific hotels etc and the specific boat for the Nile and they put everything together much cheaper than I could do on my own. We were met everywhere and had a private car, driver and guide in Cairo. On the cruise we went with the boat's guides.
We used the trains from Cairo to Luxor and back from Aswan. The flights left so early that the overnight sleeper made much more sense.
Fabulous trip.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 03:19 AM
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Rxdrbrooke: glad you liked the photos! We booked through an Egyptian Co that specializes in small groups (min of 4) and it was great because it was just our group of 12 friends. The guide we had in Lower (Northern Egypt) was AMAZING and I'd highly recommend him...he works with a couple different companies in Egypt so email me if you'd like more scoop on him.

We tipped in Egyptian Pound...much easier for the locals especially in some of the remote areas. I was told by our guide to use the standard of what you'd tip in US$ tip that amount in Egyptian Pound (i.e. if you'd give a $5 tip, give a 5 pound tip)-- while it may not seem like much to us, it is a good deal of money to them. Admittedly, I tend to overtip - years of being in the hospitality industry to blame for that - so I gave 5 pound for every piece of luggage to our bellmen - definitely wouldn't give a $5 per tip in the US!!

I felt like we had just enough time and activities planned for our trip. I never felt rushed or like we spent too long at a place. Not sure if that's because we were a small group and the timing just worked out that way...I will say if there had been any more of us with the same itinerary, I don't think it would have been as comfortable. This was the first package tour I've been on in many many years as I don't generally enjoy traveling in large groups -- like the flexiblity of changing things if necessary and that's how things worked with this tour.

If you want to ask more specifics, please feel free to email me.

No matter how you travel while you're in Egypt, I am confident you and your family will have a FABULOUS time!!
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Mar 18th, 2005, 01:39 AM
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Hi,
If you want to be more independent then please contact us, check out our website at www.nileview.com my partner has organised many tailor made trips for travellers, I would recommend a few days in Cairo to see the sights, then a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan, including a trip to Abu Simbal. I know you and your family will have a fantastic time!
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Mar 18th, 2005, 03:11 AM
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thistle -

FYI! The rules of Fodor's is NO Advertising. Read the rules please. Thanks.
 
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Mar 18th, 2005, 03:38 AM
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As far as tipping - one Egyptian pound is usually good, but we found these small denominations difficult to come by. So often we ended up tipping one US dollar - about 4 times as much, but we went equipped with US dollar bills just for this purpose. I also tend to overtip, but was not about to argue with myself over such small amounts.
US coins are not a good idea - they can't be readily exchanged by Egyptians into local currency.

As far as timing - the only place we really wanted more time was at Museum in Cairo - we should have spent an extra day at the end of the trip and returned on our own.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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We went to the bank at the hotel twice a day and asked for small bills. They never had 1 Egyptian pound bills but always had 5 pound notes and 50 pilaster notes (half a pound!!). It was useful to have these for toilet attendants, all of the elderly 'guides' in the tombs and temples or 'guardians' of the tombs and mosques. The hotel shop always had change if we were buying chips etc, but 95% of the time we shopped at the local stores. OOOOOOHHHH Mars Bars, bagel chips you name it they had it for just one or two pounds. We also risked the local bakery near the Cairo Marriott and bought veg and cheese pizza (1.5 pounds) and hot loaves of bread (40 pilasters).
The locals cannot exchange less than a 5 dollar bill so we did exchange ones for fives for them and even euros for dollars.
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Mar 20th, 2005, 02:42 PM
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Egypt is a very fun place. Take a look at my travel log: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/63afc/#TL
 
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