Egypt - December 2008 - Trip Report

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Dec 30th, 2008, 01:00 AM
  #1
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Egypt - December 2008 - Trip Report

I have just returned from 11 days in Egypt. To say that it was amazing would an understatement.

The itinerary was as follows:
Day 1: Arrive Cairo and immediately fly to Luxor. At leisure in Luxor. Overnight at the Sonesta St George Hotel (5*).
Day 2: In Luxor. Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple. Overnight at Sonesta St George Hotel.
Day 3: Luxor. Early morning hot air balloon ride; Valley of the Kings; Temple of Hatchepsut; Colossi of Memnon. Overnight at Sonesta St George Hotel.
Day 4: Luxor. Workmen's village; Temple of Medinet Habu; Leisure time. Overnight on board the Tuya (5* Nile cruiser).
Day 5: Sailing on the Nile. Overnight on board the Tuya docked at Edfu.
Day 6: Edfu and Kom Ombo. Temple of Horus at Edfu; Temple of Horus and Sobek at Kom Ombo; Sail to Aswan; Galabeya night on board. Overnight on board the Tuya docked at Aswan.
Day 7: Aswan. Ancient granite quarry (unfinished obelisk); Philae Temple; felucca cruise to Kitchener's Island, Elephantine Island and mausoleum of Aga Kahn. Overnight on board the Tuya docked in Aswan.
Day 8: Abu Simbel. Aswan High Dam; Morning flight to Abu Simbel; Temples of Ramses II and Nefertari; Sound and light show. Overnight at Seti I Hotel (4*).
Day 9: Cairo. Flight to Aswan; flight to Cairo; Cairo Museum. Overnight at Semiramis Hotel (5*).
Day 10: Cairo. Giza Pyramids and Sphinx; Solar Boat; camel ride; Saqqara Necropolis. Overnight at Semiramis Hotel.
Day 11: Cairo. Citadel of Salah-El-Din; Mosque of Mohammed Ali; Hanging Church; Khan El Khalili Bazaar.

The tour was arranged by Kim Lings of Nile Travel in Johannesburg using De Tours of Cairo as agents. The organisation of this tour was incredible. Everything ran extremely smoothly and nothing was too much trouble. Kim accompanied the tour and took care of everything clamly in the background. We were accompanied by a professional egyptologist named Eman Bahaa Samy whose knowledge and enthusiasm are prodigious. On top of that, she has a bubbly personality and was able to pass her enthusiasm to the group. The hotels and cruise ship were excellent; nice rooms, good service and good food. Transport was in large, airconditioned coaches which were in excellent condition.

For me, the highlight of the trip was the hot air balloon ride in Luxor. Being part of a flotilla of balloons rising in the early morning light and drifting gently over the fields and houses below has a special kind of magic that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

The weather was mild, with hottish days and coolish nights. It was never too hot or too cold. The down side of December is the milling masses of tourists from every country around the globe. If you are a keen photographer, I would brave the heat and visit Egypt at a quieter time of the year. It is very difficult to get any pictures without crowds of tourists taking each other's pictures in front of everything.

In general, the duration of the itinerary was just about right. There was a good variety of things to see and we didn't see too much of any one type of thing. If I had to make a change, it would be to add another day in Cairo. I think Cairo had a lot more to offer than we were able to see in the limited time.

If you have never been to Egypt I can thoroughly recommend it. It is a very safe country to visit. Crime is very low and there are thousands of police. They are in evidence on every street corner. The touts can be a pest but if you just say 'No thank you' firmly and keep walking they will eventually leave you alone. Bargaining is essential when shoping. The first price you are given is always way over what the seller will be prepared to accept. Be prepared to make a much lower counter offer and to walk away. They will seldom abandon a negotiation until it becomes hopeless, so be prepared to persevere. They are probably the world's best salesmen so be ready to be sold.

My pictures are available through the following link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/yelpir38/

I hope this report has been helpful.
Yelpir is offline  
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Dec 30th, 2008, 07:17 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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thanks for the trip report and wonderful photos. I'm glad to see you found so much to do in Luxor, we were thinking 3 nights there as well before or after a cruise. Did you enjoy your stay at the Seti hotel? we were thinking of an overnight there as well rather than Aswan to perhaps slow down the pace a bit and get to enjoy it in the evening. its interesting because most of the trip reports I've read start in Cairo, but I imagine saving the pyramids for last must have ended the trip on a high note.
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Dec 30th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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Hi kak113 Before the trip, I was surprised at the fact that the itinerary was what I would have called backwards, but it worked out very well and Cairo and the pyramids made a wonderful way to end the trip.

There is plenty to do in Luxor. I definitely did not feel that we spent too long there. In fact, another day there would not have been boring, but I think we saw everything that is on the 'must see' list.

Plan to see a variety of things. Don't focus only on temples. One temple tends to run into another after awhile as most of them are rather similar. Make sure to see the things that are a bit off the main tourist route.

Don't cramb too much into each day. Use the early mornings and the evenings to best advantage when it is cooler and the lighting is softer. Give yourselves a break in the middle of the day.

The Seti I Hotel is the best in Abu Simbel. It is only 4 star and the rooms are not quite up to 5 star standard. However, the setting is wonderful and there is nothing wrong with the food. In my opinion, an overnight stay in Abu Simbel is worth it. The sound and light show is pretty good and, even if you decide not to see it, by that stage of your trip you will appreciate not going through a hectic fly in/fly out routine. It will give you more time at the Ramses II and Nefertari Temples. The Ramses II temple is surprisingly rewarding inside and should not be rushed.

In my opinion, Abu Simbel is a place where you should take your time and soak up the atmosphere. If you are going to fly up there, enjoy it at your leisure.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I felt a bit rushed at the pyramids. They were one of the main reasons that I went to Egypt. I suppose we spent about as much time in Giza as any tour would normally allow, but I'm the sort of person who likes to savour special moments and I would have liked to have had the time to walk right around the base of the great pyramid to get a true appreciation of its size.

I'm told that many people are disappointed by the pyramids. They say that the pyramids are smaller than they expected. Trust me, if you stand at the base of the great pyramid, look up and start counting the rows of blocks it begins to sink in just how big it really is.

If you get the chance to go into the great pyramid, do it. Stand in a corner of the burial chamber and hum softly. The accoustics are incredible. The whole chamber resonates with the sound. I had the privilege of listening to a young woman with a beautiful voice singing softly in a corner. It was a truly uplifting experience.

Don't cut your trip unnecessarily short. Spend as much time as you can in Egypt. It is a fascinating country and, if you let it, it will affect you deeply.
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Dec 30th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
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Hi Yelpir - Sounds like you had a wonderful time, that's great. I am thrilled to say that I am leaving on Saturday for Egypt. The anticipation is killing me! Anyway I loved reading your report. Your pictures are beautiful.

I was intrigued by your opinion of your hot air balloon experience. I've read on this board that other people have also loved their ride. My son and I weren't planning on going on the optional balloon ride offered on our tour. However each time I read that someone loved it I rethink our decision.

Were there any restaurants you particularly enjoyed, or disliked?
I would be happy to get your advice on this topic.

Thanks again for posting your report.
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Dec 31st, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Great report and fabulous pictures! Can't wait for my own trip (similar itinerary to yours). Thanks for sharing.
Karen
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Jan 1st, 2009, 02:33 AM
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Hi jerseysusan and althom1122
I am so glad that you have both decided to visit Egypt. I'm sure that you won't be disappointed.
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Jan 1st, 2009, 02:44 AM
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Oops! Something went wrong and my message posted prematurely.
I was going to say, thank you for your kind words about my pictures and trip report.
The tour that I was on included virtually all meals which were mainly eaten in the various hotels and on the cruise boat. On our last night in Cairo we ate at the Naguib Mahfouz restaurant in the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. The food, service and atmosphere were very good indeed so if you are looking for a place to eat in Cairo, I can recommend it. It's proximity to the market is also a bonus as you can stroll through the shops afterwards.

Have a great time in Egypt
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Jan 1st, 2009, 07:20 AM
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Hi Yelpir - thanks for the recommendation. Other people have also mentioned it, I will definately try it.
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Aug 24th, 2015, 08:08 PM
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Yelpir, I checked your photos in Egypt, Amazing!!! and Inspiring.
I am planning on a trip there but it astounded me how your trip was nicely planned.
Could you please share how did you know where are the highlights (the temples you visited for example), how to move around in a big country? How did you know the highlights in Cairo and how you moved around to get their? How many days it took you? Did you reserve all your stays before hand?
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Aug 25th, 2015, 03:40 AM
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I also got redirected here from another thread - fabulous photos
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