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

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

Jul 2nd, 2010, 08:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 40
First time to Egypt and Jordon: group tour or plan independently?

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!
sarahh_sf is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2010, 05:17 AM
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Sure wish those who reply would add to the conversation rather than show their true colors... tangannyika, this is meant for you; OP didn't ask about Tanzania!!!

Sarahh - For Egypt/Jordan you can create your own itinerary and have an in-country ground outfitter handle the logistics. Offering hotel options, providing guides/vehicles where needed, arranging transport intra- or inter-country/ies. Lady Egypt, who has been well reviewed here by those who have used them should be good for Egypt and Jordan. You can also contact Debbie of Casual Cairo Detours at [email protected] a regular poster here.
sandi is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2010, 07:38 AM
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If you join a tour you will need to travel on the tour companies schedule, they'll set the times, how long you can spend in each venue, etc.

Definitely book this as a private trip, you'll have more flexibility and the trip will be customized to your needs. Two operators who are highly recommended on this forum is Lady Egypt for Egypt and Desert Horizons for Jordan. Lady Egypt can book the Jordan portion for you too (they use Desert Horizons in Jordan) if you prefer to have one company organize the logistics. Debbie comes highly recommended on this forum and if you'd like a guide for a day or two in Cairo I'd approach Debbie. I'm not sure if she can arrange hotels, airline tickets, etc.
justshootme is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2010, 05:05 PM
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I agree re doing things privately. Private tours booked with local operators are competitively priced and you have complete control over your itinerary and get that one on one interaction with your guides/host. I find having a personal ambassador invaluable.

In terms of hotels, there are a wealth of smaller local hotels (not necessarily hostels) in Luxor and Aswan (the areas I know better) which can booked online through TA. I can also post a few of the hotel websites or your local tour operator can arrange it all which saves you the headache. In places like Luxor, since there are three of you, you can easily rent a flat quite inexpensively. This gives you optimal freedom, much more space and a oneness with the local community as an added bonus!

Dahab has many budget hotels, my favorite of which is Penguin because of the chill Bohemian vibe, the waterfront rooftop restaurant which is really fun at night and the variety of room options. The downfall for Penguin is the salt water showers. Most 20 somethings don't seem to mind it but it was a deal breaker for me. There are other hotels that don't have this issue. Again, your local tour operator can point you in the right direction. Penguin has its own website.

If you need help, feel free to drop a line.

AuthenticEgypt is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 05:09 PM
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Thanks so much everyone! Seems like Debbie would be someone to contact to get help with private tours and hotel reservations. Much appreciated!
sarahh_sf is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 08:59 PM
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Hi sarahh-sf,

I visited Egypt and Jordan as a solo backpacker and found both countries easy to travel independently. You can read about my travels to Egypt (Cario,Luxor,Sinai) and Jordan(Wadi Rum,Petra,Dead Sea,Amman) starting at:


or at: www.dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com

Safe Travels
DMBTraveler is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 10:05 PM
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Just to be clear DMBTraveler - you are a guy, correct? The issues you would have traveling alone in Egypt would be quite different than issues a woman would have.

If I'm wrong, let me know. I think I saw your website and if the photos I looked at were of you, you're a guy.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 10:36 AM
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Hi Debbie,
You make a good point- travelling as a woman might be a totally different experience compared to being male. I've sent you an email re:tours in Alexandria and Cairo- looking forward to hearing from you
sarahh_sf is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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Debbie(Casual Cairo) recommended a wonderful hotel to use while in Cairo called Hotel Longchamps.Whether you book a complete tour I would definitely stay there instead of someplace like the Marriott or Hilton-cheaper,in a real neighborhood within walking of great restaurants and an unbelievable 3 star hotel with a hostess that makes your stay memorable!
Our family does all independent travel but for Egypt and Jordan it really was alot easier to obtain reservations for planes,guides,boats,etc. with a agency. We used Lady Egypt for Egypt and they contracted Desert Horizons for Jordan(ask for Youseff as your driver there-fabulous!)
dutyfree is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 09:58 PM
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When are you going?
dutyfree is offline  
Jul 6th, 2010, 11:37 PM
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You bring up a good point. Although I have come across a few independent female travelers in my treks around The Midddle East. My overhaul point being, I consider the places I visited safe and with minor exceptions most of the people I came into contact with were hospitable. For novice travelers a guide can be a valuable asset. For seasoned travelers it is quite possible to travel Egypt and Jordan independently.

Most of the concerns seem to center around safety and in that regard you need to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense any where you travel. After all guides are not with you 24/7 unless you also hire them as bodyguards.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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I just finished a 2 week trip to Egypt and one week in Jordan. I am female, mid 40s, and travelled in both countries on my own. I debated for a LONG time about travelling independently or going with a tour. What was holding me back on the tours was the inflexibility of them. Some places I wanted more time, etc. However, I was nervous about going on my own. Through this site, I contacted Lady Egypt, but because I was an independent traveller, my quote went up $1200 dollars. I was hoping, initially, to have a travel partner. I checked - it was not a typo. I had trouble believing it was going to cost this much extra because I was on my own. And after reviewing hotel sites, travel expenses, entrance fees, etc., no way was it going to cost this much more.

So, here is what I did. I booked a room at the Hotel Longchamps on Zamalek, which was highly recommended by this site and considered a safe, somewhat upscale neighbourhood. Because I was nervous about being in Cairo on my own, I had a private guide for my first 2 days - where I went to the pyramids one day and then Coptic Cairo, Islamic Cairo, etc the second day. For the next 2 days, I was on my own, but I was more comfortable and had my barings. I walked to the Egyptian Museum, walked to dinner, among other places and felt very fine. There may have been looks (I was careful to be appropriately dressed), but I did not respond, instead I just kept walking. The only time I felt weird was when I was waiting at the train station (got there too early), standing there by myself. But I kept to myself and busied myself until my overnight train came for Aswan.

Egypt, I know now, can be done easily on your own, and with 2 other people, piece of cake and cheaper too. It was more expensive because I was on my own, but not even close to $1200 more. I had a wonderful experience from top to bottom, and stayed in some great places. Based on my experience, I would NEVER do a tour there. Let me know if you need any more recommendations, etc. If you want any other recommendations, let me know.

Happy travels!
lyntay is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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Did you visit Wadi Rum? I want to do an overnight stay there, but it seems like you'll need at least a minimum of two people to make a guided trip easier to arrange.


Regarding Egypt, I'd say it's better to plan an itineary just for your group or even just you if you're going solo and then maybe work with an agency like Lady Egypt to help with arranging rides between the cities and even to sites. Have a guide for the first few days if you're unsure about your new environment. Once you get your bearings, however, like lyntay mentioned, you'll find that it's not hard to navigate cities like Cairo, Luxor, and Answan by yourself.
Axel2DP is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 06:30 PM
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Appreciate your post. I traveled Egypt, Jordan & Israel as a solo male and in my experience felt the same could be done by a female.

On Fodor's there is a lot of discouragement against a female doing so. Your report validates my point.


Did Wadi Rum Solo.. Don't think you will have a problem getting together with others. Fair amount of tour operators when you get there.

DMBTraveler is offline  
Jul 30th, 2010, 09:48 PM
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Hi again,

I did have all my hotels booked before I left for Egypt. I did not have the flexibility of time or the desire, on my own, to be looking for places to stay when I got there. So, I did have a definite itinerary before I left. I should also mention that I did a 4 day Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor. In a sense, that was a tour as at each site we stopped at on our way down the Nile we had an Egyptologist (the same one the entire four days).

When I was in Cairo, I booked my overnight sleeper train to Aswan. When I got to Aswan, I booked my trip to Abu Simbel. I fournd someone there to share costs.

I booked my own flight from Luxor to Sharm, but stayed in Dahab. the hotel in Dahab picked me up.

In Wadi Rum, I did a one day excursion. My only real regret. I have always wanted to do an overnight camel trek in Wadi Rum and didnt. For a couple of reasons. I couldnèt find anyone to do it with and, to be frank, a little nervous about the camels.
lyntay is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 08:49 AM
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lyntay - the camels would have been the least of your problems. It's the camel trainers (jockeys) that were the ones you should have been nervous of. LOL
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 12:58 PM
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hahaha - things worked out maybe for the better then
lyntay is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2010, 01:45 AM
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no doubt, go on your on. haven't been to Jordan, but spent 3 weeks in Egypt, if you go to the usual places (Cairo, Luxor,Aswan,Alexandria, Sinai) it's very easy to errange everything on your own. public transport is very easy to navigate, every city has tourist agancies so you can do local tours instead of going with a group on a fixed itinarery.
Get a good guide book (I always like the Lonely Planet), it often has sugestions for hotels that you don't find on the internet (especially if you're not interested in 5 stars).
littlerunaway is offline  
Aug 4th, 2010, 12:32 AM
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lyntay - I enjoyed reading your comments and plan on travelling independently with my family to Jordan.. Did you hire a driver to bring you around? thanks. Tates
tates is offline  
Aug 4th, 2010, 03:39 PM
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Lyntay, enjoyed and appreciated your notes. My husband and I have been trying to decide what to do about Egypt too. We too prefer to travel alone (without a tour). Curious though how you booked your 4 day Nile cruise? That part does sound like a welcome addition to an otherwise independent trip. Thanks, Lily
LilyLace is offline  

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