Egypt Planning Questions

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Oct 17th, 2004, 07:18 PM
  #1
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Egypt Planning Questions

I am just in the planning stage for an Egypt trip for Oct-Nov 2005. We have always traveled independently, but would be open to a tour or at least an assisted independent trip - being met at airport, etc. Some questions I have after reading the forum:
1. Has anyone traveled with Overseas Adventure Travel recently? Comments?
2. For those of you advocating independent travel, when you hire a car/driver for the day, what is the cost? If you could give me an example of amount of time and what could be visited in a day in Cairo, for example, it would be helpful.
3. Is it better to avoid the Ramaden holiday period?
4. I have been looking at some travel brochures but still do not have a clear idea of what to plan to see. Has anyone asked for/received info from the Egyptian consulates - are there particular publications to ask for? Were they helpful in your planning?
5. Best travel guide for hotels/sights/dining?
For me, a great deal of the fun in traveling is the planning process and Fodor readers have been of great help in the past. I will appreciate any information and advice. Having just returned from a Hawaiian trip, this will be a decided contrast!
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Oct 17th, 2004, 10:18 PM
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We are planning a trip to Egypt right now. We leave in less than a month. Because of the religious holiday - DEFINITELY avoid Ramaden.

We found great private tour packages. The cost to have the tour guide and hotel to be almost the price of hotel if we booked on our own. We researched many tour companies and selected based on price and using the hotel we wanted.

Many of the companies have negoiated rates with the Sheraton, Hyatt, one with the Hilton, etc.

In Cairo - the major sites are:
Giza pyramids, Saqquara, Dashura, Memphis, Sphnix, Coptic Cairo - hanging church and mosques, the bazaar, Egyptian Museum, Nile dinner cruise, light show at the pyramids, and we are adding Pharonic Village. This is a basic 3 day sight seeing itenerary.

Hope this helps.
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Oct 18th, 2004, 08:01 AM
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I just returned back from a trip Egypt. I used imaginative-traveller.com and had a great time. They offer several tours for Egypt. The tour I took concentrated on the ancient sites. Planning your trip on your own can be done, but you can be ripped off. Prices seem to change at a moments notice for tourists. It was very helpful having a tour leader to take care of any needs/concerns while on the trip. Also, I would definately avoid going to Egypt during Ramadan. All of the sites shut down early and restaurants are closed during the day.
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Oct 18th, 2004, 07:38 PM
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JackieSun - which companies did you find that provided the private tour packages? You sound like you have done considerable research.
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Oct 19th, 2004, 04:02 AM
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If you've always travelled independently, you should plan on doing so in Egypt as well. By far, the best guide book I've found for planning is the Rough Guide. It contains great, accurate information that will help you decide what you want to do.

As far as hiring drivers in Egypt, everything is negotiable; your skills should determine whether to do this yourself or book through an agent.
As an alternative, there is an American woman living in Cairo who provides travel assistance. She has her own web site Casual Cairo Detours or something like that. We used to exchange many emails and I've found her to be very knowledgable. You can reach her as [email protected]
 
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Oct 19th, 2004, 09:30 AM
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Thank you. I'll look for that book and try to contact Casual Cairo.
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Oct 19th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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Just about every tourist walks around Egypt with the Rough Guide - probably the best out there.

And Debbie Senter of Casual Cairo Detours is a great resource for Cairo specifically and information thoughout Egypt. In addition to aol address noted above, you can reach her thru her website:

http://www.casualcairodetours.pyramids.net/
 
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Oct 19th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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Conlet - I received pricing and detailed information from about 8 tour operators.

The two I liked best are:
egypthighlights.com - the lady I have talked with is Walaa
http://eoltours.com/index.htm - talked to Jimmy

I liked the tour operators where I could set the sites I wanted to visit. I email with several companies. These were very responsive and willing to accomodate my specific requests. I called to talk to them before I booked... wanted to know what I was getting. We specifically asked to add on a visit to Dashur. They accomodated. You have to ask for the sites you want to visit - otherwise you get the "standard". We also add Pharonic Village. It is a replica of the historic sites focused on education. Looks like a good way to learn about the country. In several guides, it was listed a top attraction... but not on any tour.

Walaa speaks english very well. I selected egypthighlights, because they offered the hotel I wanted. Most of the tour companies provided the Sheraton (which is across the river). I wanted to be at the Hilton. It is near the Egyptian museaum, near a mall with quick restaurant (if we do not want a big meal).

Let me know if you have other specific questions.

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Oct 27th, 2004, 09:05 AM
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JackieSun -
Are you in Egypt yet? I would love to hear how your trip's going or if you see this upon your return, how your trip went. Egypt Highlights seem like one of the reasonable priced tour company. I've been trying to independently, not just because of $, but because i like the freedom. However, like you said, it almost seems much more economical to go with a tour company. hmmmmmm.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 09:09 AM
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RFB -
Sounds like you might have traveled independently in Egypt. If you did, how was the experience. It seems like one could get ripped off going on your own, what's your take?
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Oct 27th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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I agree it is a definate possibility of aggressive negoiators in Egypt. We have been advised to buy the package. That way you can go and enjoy without having the hassle of negoiating each event. We are planning a private tour. That way we can do what we want at our own pace.

The prices of the package were not much more than stand alone hotel prices.
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Oct 28th, 2004, 04:28 AM
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Alchemist,
The first time we went to Egypt neither of us understood the concept of bargaining and we paid through the nose for everything. It was a valuable learning experience.

I've been back four or five times since and found that 'negotiating' is fun. I'm sure that I still pay too much, in that I could get a better price if I kept it up, but what I've found is that even paying intial asking prices is often a bargain compared to what the same item or service would cost in the US or Europe.

I guess the concept of being ripped off depends on your particular sense of priorities. Mine is that if I can get the service or product at a price that I believe is fair, I pay it and forget about it. That said, on days when I've been less than charitable, I've found that hard bargaining will generally get you to a price that is absurdly low; when I've done this my American sense of guilt has led me to grossly over tip at the end.

People in Egypt have a great lifestyle for Africa but they really have it rough compared to Europe and America. I can't bring myself to exploit them unless they really aggravate me, which happens often with the constant demands for baksheesh. My rule of thumb is pay or tip what I think a product or service is worth and then forget about whether it was too much or too little.
 
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Oct 28th, 2004, 05:20 AM
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rfb:
i agree with you 100% on your thoughts. life is much more enjoyable when you decide for yourself what the fair price is for you. if getting ripped off means giving a little more to the needy or those whose lives are much harder than mine, i consider that good karma.
my question was in regards to the travelling independently vs. going with a package. as jackiesun mentioned, for a 3-nights lodging at a good hotel in cairo, you could get a guide and the lodging at the same or equivalent hotel. do you think this is the case throughout egypt?
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Oct 29th, 2004, 04:03 AM
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I prefer not to use guides so I can't comment on what they charge. For trips away from Luxor or Aswan, I've always hired taxis for the day; this has proven to be a very good way to get to know people and, to me, has added much to my enjoyment of the trip.
Sorry I can't be any more help.
 
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Oct 29th, 2004, 06:04 AM
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Thanks. I've decided to do egypt the way usual way. wing it all the way!
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Oct 29th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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I am also in the planning stages of an Egypt trip. I have found a company Egyptian Connections and the can do whatever you want and get all you hotels, transfers, and anything else you want including sightseeing and cruises as a package price but you travel independently, not as a group. I just filled our a questionair with my wants, dates etc and the gave me an itenerary. I made any changes I wanted and the price was unreal low. They are on the web at egyptontheweb.com
I acutally found out about them through this forum. I am probably going to book most of my trip through them and have left some free time in my schedule to do whatever we want when we get there.
Hope this helps, I was lost when I started planning but with the help of great Fodorites I am on my way!!
Have a great trip!
April [email protected]
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Nov 2nd, 2004, 01:33 AM
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I have just returned from Egypt having spent three weeks travelling independen tly around the country. I don't quite agree with some of the comments posted on this thread. 1. I don't think that Rough Guide is such a brilliant guidebook. I think different guidebooks suit different needs. FOr the 3 weeks we took 3 different guidebooks: a) Fodor's Egypt for accomodation and food and general orientation. b) Footprints for detailed information in case we got to places that Fodor's did not cover. c) Michelin green guide which is excellent on culture, history and art. Between the two of us travelling it was not really difficult to travel with 3 guidebooks.The best travel guide for hotels and dining is definitely Fodor's altouhg bear in mind that some of the info is a little bit outdated but 95% of the time you won't be disappointed if you follow Fodor's recommendations. It is a must have in a place like Egypt where, unfortunately , large tour groups have negatively affected the quality hotel and dining options. ( average food average or rude servive) - apart from cairo of course which is too big to be ruined by tour groups. Secondly I don't agree that because it is Ramadan travellers should not visit Egypt. Yes , there are some inconveniences however travellers should plan a little bit ahead and be aware that things close a little early. By the way finding gfood during daytime is not a problem. Walk into any western hotel and there will be something to forage. You'll be fine!
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