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Best Way To Tour Egypt Sites - Without Large Tour Bus Group

Best Way To Tour Egypt Sites - Without Large Tour Bus Group

Oct 22nd, 2010, 02:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 146
Best Way To Tour Egypt Sites - Without Large Tour Bus Group

I'm planning a trip to Cairo for April 2011 with my wife. We do NOT like the large "tour bus" scene as it is too limiting in terms of time schedules. But we are also a bit leary about touring "on our own" due to language, etc. We will stay in Cairo (at the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino) and are interested in going to Luxor, Giza, Hatshepsut's temple, Pyramid Djoser, Dashur and other sites in Cairo (eg. Cairo Museum, Saladin Citadel, etc). Would appreciate any suggestions about ways of getting to see these places without being "locked in" to a large tour bus schedule. Thanks much...
utrechtman is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2010, 02:42 AM
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I suggest you Google Private Cairo Tours (or detours) for a list of companies that can offer you private tours. You should be able to design your own tour and let them price it out to see who offers the service and price you want.

FYI - Luxor and Hatshepsuts Temple are NOT in Cairo. That will require a trip south to Luxor - a one hour flight away or an overnight train ride away. If you are coming during the HIGH season of Spring Break/Easter DO NOT count on getting a train ticket. They are difficult to find then.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2010, 04:09 AM
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there are a couple of threads on this topic on the 1st page of the egypt forum with names and suggestions
wigwam12 is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2010, 04:27 AM
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Casual_Cairo is right.

If you are an independent traveler, it takes awhile to adjust to the fact that you are better off paying for tour services within Egypt to construct your trip for you.

I finally did as C_C suggested,googling for private tour companies, researching for five that had some recent good reviews. I used this board and Trip Advisor to sort those out. Once I had a better idea of what I might want to see, I emailed all final five companies my arrival and departure dates, my hotel level wish, the places I wanted to see, and asked in return for a proposed itinerary and estimate.

We ended up going with an Egyptian Highlights tour that included transfer arrangements, in-country flights, and private guides at every site.

After a one-day tour of Cairo, we were whisked off by plane in the early a.m. to Abu Simbel, which we toured and then stayed for a light show. The next morning we were off to the airport again for Aswan. After meeting an agent, we were taken with our luggage to a cruise ship, where we met up with our excellent and professional private guide for the entire cruise north to Cairo.

Although we certainly were with other people on the cruise ship, at no time were we grouped with other tourists on our excursions. We were never in a tour bus other than in transfers to/from airports and hotels.

Again, I don't even use travel agents at home, so depending on an Egyptian tour agency went against my nature. But our final trip was just SO efficient timewise and pricewise (air arrangements made by Egyptian tour agencies end up as a savings)that I would do the same all over again.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2010, 02:31 AM
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Thanks all for your suggestions. I will look into it. Yes Casual_Cairo, I'm aware that Luxor is quite a distance from Cairo. I have the "DK Top-10 Cairo & Nile" travel book with maps. I guess it's just the way I worded the sentence. Thanks again!
utrechtman is offline  
Oct 24th, 2010, 03:01 PM
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Hi Utrechtman

I would agree with all of the above, particularly alessandrazoe's point about time efficiency with private tours.

We have done the big bus group tours and I personally hated it. So we used an agent inside of egypt to do all our organising for us and they gave us an excellent schedule to follow and organised everything for us.

We had thought about working it all out by ourselves but the geography of it all was just becoming a nightmare, but using the private tour company just made life so much easier and gave us a fantastic holiday.

We have used them a few times since and each time they were right on the mark with what we wanted.

They are called Egypt Quality Tours and you can always ask them for a quote too when contacting the others and see what they come up with for you. We havent been disappointed with them so far.

But i would definately say that avoid the big group tours, and unless you have lots of time and good organisational skills Id definately suggest the private tours option with someone who is already based inside of Egypt

scotsgirl is offline  
Oct 25th, 2010, 01:07 PM
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Thanks scotsgirl...
utrechtman is offline  
Oct 25th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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Try Lady Egypt. I vouch for them 100% I just used them on a private tour and they were fabulous. See my trip report about their fabulous servicing.
MissGreen is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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could you please specify which "egyptian highlights" tour and which agency you used? time efficiency is exactly what i am looking for. really want to see abu simbel the way you did.

thank you. luna ([email protected])
lunamdr is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 04:39 PM
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Sure, Luna: Here is the address on the bottom of the last email I received from them in 11/2009 (we had toured January of 2008, I think).

Walaa Ezz El Din (Mrs.)
Sales & Marketing Manager (Egypt & Middle East)
Destination of the Countries travel "Cairo Branch"
Address : 9 El Sebaq st. Heliopolis, Cairo
Tel : 002 02 26361183
Fax : 002 02 26361184
Mob : 002 0105603297
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.egypthighlights.com
License No: 601
A member of the ETAA "Egyptian Travel Agency Association"
IATA No: 90-211225
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 04:43 PM
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And here is the letter I sent out to around five companies:

Dear (whoever)

I am looking for help in planning my stay in Egypt, and your company was recommended on several travel forums.

I will be accompanying my daughter on her return to the American University of Cairo from the United States this coming January, staying in Egypt from late Tuesday, January 22 to early Tues, January 29.

We have already made our flight arrangements to Cairo, and I have booked my plane home, so I just need all my arrangements made within Egypt. I don’t think I’ll have jet lag—we are spending four nights in Turkey before we fly on to Egypt.

My daughter would accompany me most of my 7 days, and she wants to spend two of those 7 days (at either end of the trip) showing me Cairo. What I would like is to visit Abu Simbel and Luxor ( and Aswan if it fits). I don’t want to take the overnight trains. Instead, I’d rather fly between places. I’m open to spending the night in Abu Simbel, because if I were to see a light show, I’d rather do it there. Cruise ships are fine, but if there’s a good alternative, I’d rather do it.

Hotels needed: I don’t need the “4 Seasons” but I do want quite comfortable hotels.

As far as touring in Cairo itself, if you have ideas there that would make efficient use of our two days, I’m certainly open to it.

I hope I have given you some ideas of what I need. Thank you for any help you can offer.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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I think I got three replies within a few days, Luna, and then I got one about a week later. I don't know if I heard from the fifth.

I chose this one because the itinerary/ pricing they sent me seemed to fit my needs, and my daughter, who had already BEEN living in Egypt and who was just returning after Christmas, thought this one matched her interests, too.

Here was their proposal (remember, this was 2007-2008):
--Price per person twin/double/triple room sharing:USD 1498
--"5 star hotel in Cairo and 5 star Nile Cruise with domestic flight both ways, all entrance fees"

--08 Days / 07 Nights

03 Nights Cairo - Domestic Flight- 01 night Abu Simbel - 03 Nights Aswan & Luxor Nile Cruise

Day 1: Tuesday 22 Jan
Arrival to Cairo airport, our representative will assist you through passport control formalities, luggage identification & portage will greet you. From the airport you will be transferred by a private A/C car to your hotel and overnight in Cairo. (no meals)

Day 2:
Breakfast. Start your full day visiting the Egyptian museum of antiquities. Collection of Egyptian art in the world. Over 250,000 genuine artifacts are presented, including an exhibit dedicated to the Tut-Ankh-Amon collection of treasures, gold, and jewelry, as it was enclosed in his tomb for over 3,500 years before it was discovered in the 1920s when his tomb was excavated. Visit the great Pyramids - Cheops, Chephren & Mykerions. Cheops is the most colossal ever built. Next is a close-up look at Sphinx - a huge funeral complex guarded by the legendary lion body with the face of king Chephren. Then visit Khan El Khalili Bazaars. overnight in Cairo. (Breakfast)

Day 3:
Flight to from Cairo to Abu Simbel via Aswan. Arrival, meet & assist by our local representatives and transfer to the your hotel in Abu Simbel, visit the temple there, and in the evening visit the Sound & Light show, dinner and overnight at the hotel in Abu Simbel . (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 4: Friday
Flight back to Aswan. Arrival, meet & assist by our local representatives and transfer to the Cruise. Boarding before lunch, Embarkation. Lunch on board. Visit The High Dam and The Philae temple. Sail to Kom Ombo. Afternoon Tea. Visit the temple shared by the two gods Sobek and Haroeris. Sail to Edfu. Dinner on board. Disco party. Overnight in Edfu. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5:
Breakfast on board. Visit The Temple of Horus in Edfu. Cross the lock. Sail to Luxor. Afternoon Tea. Dinner on board & Galabya party. Overnight in Luxor.(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 6:
Breakfast on board. Visit The Temple of Karnak & the Temple of Luxor. Afternoon tea. Dinner on board & Belly Dance show. Overnight in Luxor.(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7:
Breakfast on board. Cross to the West Bank to visit the Necropolis of Thebes, Valley of The Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon. Disembarkation. Flight to Cairo arrive Cairo, check into hotel, overnight in hotel. (Breakfast)

Day 8:
Breakfast at the hotel our representative will transfer you to the airport and assist you at the airport through final departure formalities. (Breakfast)
Program includes:

1. 3 nights hotel accommodation in Cairo on bed, breakfast an dinner basis
- one night in Abu Simbel with breakfast and dinner
2. 3 nights on Cruise board; Aswan & Luxor full board – excludes drinks (sight seeing included)
3. All transfers in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan
4. All your tours and excursions are with A/C cars
5. The service of meet and assist at all your destinations
6. English speaking Egyptologist guide
7. Domestic Cairo Aswan/Abu Simbel/Aswan - Luxor / Cairo
8. Our prices include all taxes and services.
9. All your visits include entrance fees
Program excludes:

1. Visa Entry for Egypt (US$ 15 per passport)
2. Drinks and Tipping
3. Personal expenses (Laundry, Sauna, telephones…etc)
4. Any meals not mentioned in the program
5. Any Optional tours
6. International airfare

Hotel in Cairo : Cairo Sheraton or Ramses Hilton or Marriott Cairo or Semiramis Intercontinental"
Nile Cruise : 5 star deluxe "M/S Ti Yi, M/S Nile Dolphin or M/S Stephanie or M/S El Jamila or M/S Sun Ray"
4 star hotel in Abu Simbel: Stei First hotel or Nefertari hotel

I asked to stay at the Marriot Cairo because my daughter was moving into a new apt on Zamalek and we'd be blocks from her new place. We ended up going on the MS Sunray, I think. I can't remember offhand which hotel we stayed at in Abu Simbel--I probably can find it.

This was a WHIRLWIND, believe me. I was pretty exhausted at Abu Simbel (we left Cairo well before dawn to catch the plane there). But that's what I asked for in my time limits and that's what I got. It was sort of amazing. I gotta give these guys credit--to make my needs work, they had us mixed and matched all over the place with different huge tour groups as far as accomodation and air and bus transportation, but unlike the large groups, we always had someone show up to personally guide the two of us by the hand to our next segment, and we always had a personal tour guide at each site.

So I think we got all the advantages of a large group and not one of the deficits.
AlessandraZoe is offline  

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