Help with Egypt Itinerary

Nov 30th, 2019, 04:08 AM
  #1  
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Help with Egypt Itinerary

Greetings Fodorites,

I've planned an almost two-week visit to Egypt for my husband, adult daughter and myself in February. We're all seasoned travelers, but this will be our first time in Egypt. I'd love your thoughts on our itinerary.

We've decided for better or worse not to take a cruise on the Nile. So far our "must see" sites outside of Cairo are the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, Dendera Temple and the temple complex in Abu Simbel. I'm thinking we'll hire a guide/driver from Aswan for a day trip to Abu Simbel. I've read that you need to get to Abu Simbel early before the crowds which necessitates leaving Aswan by 4:00 a.m. or so. I've also read that people have had the temples to themselves around noon. My husband had spinal surgery last year and while he can walk, he's pretty slow and he tires easily so I'd like to try to make what will already be a strenuous trip as easy as possible. I thought about staying in Abu Simbel, but if we can hire a driver in Aswan and if we don't have to leave at "0 dark thirty", that would be fine.

This is what we have so far.

2.16 Arrive Cairo 4:25 p.m. from the US
2.17 Cairo
2.18 Cairo
2.19 Cairo - Luxor via Egypt Air arr. 11:45 a.m.
2.20 Luxor
2.21 Luxor
2.22 Luxor
2.23 Luxor - Aswan - drive
2.24 Aswan (day trip to Abu Simbel)
2.25 Aswan - Cairo via Egypt Air arr. 11:45 a.m.
2.26 Cairo
2.27 Cairo
2.28 Cairo - US, leave 1:55 a.m.

The other question I have, which I've asked previously, is what in-country tour operators would you suggest. We want people to meet us at the airports to drive us to the hotels and vise-versa, guides from time to time, and someone to drive us from Luxor to Aswan. In India we hired a tour operator that provided these services throughout the country and it worked out beautifully. I've contacted a couple of operators, but haven't heard back and February is approaching quickly.

So please let me know your thoughts on the itinerary and suggestions for tour operators.

Thanks as usual for your help!

Ellen






ellen75005 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2019, 10:13 AM
  #2  
 
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I was much more successful getting questions answered 2 years ago, some in great detail, on the Trip Advisor Egypt forums. From the main forum you can also go to individual pages for "Luxor", etc. There are a number of people there who live in Egypt or who visit frequently and are incredibly helpful.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForu...124-Egypt.html

Regarding travel agents who don't reply, I found it to be the norm and curious given you'd think they'd be enthusiastic for the business, but that's how it is. Some may answer eventually but you'll have better luck with answers in the TA forum.
MmePerdu is online now  
Nov 30th, 2019, 08:58 PM
  #3  
 
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Any reason you're not going directly to Luxor from Cairo, or at least going the next morning after you fly in? I'd rather have one longer stint in Cairo and avoid having two separate short stints.

Also, can you fly to Abu Simbel from Aswan? Haven't been in a while, but we did flying as a day trip and it worked out well.
LAX_Esq is online now  
Dec 1st, 2019, 04:23 AM
  #4  
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LAX,

Yes, the reason we're doing two trips to Cairo is that our daughter is leaving to come home before we are. If we spent all our time in Cairo at the beginning, she'd miss out on Abu Simbel. Not ideal, I realize, but... We could have done Cairo completely at the end, but my husband needs a day or two to deal with jet lag, and I thought Cairo would be easier for that than Luxor where we'll be pretty busy.

Yes, you can fly from Aswan to Abu Simbel and you can get there and back easily in a day. It's pretty expensive for a 45 minute trip (they must take advantage of the tourists), but now that I think more about it, it may be worth it. Thanks for the suggestion.

One other thing...if we can find a tour operator to drive, meet us at airports, hotels, etc., that would be ideal. I know they exist; I just need to find one that will respond to me!
ellen75005 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2019, 05:58 AM
  #5  
 
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Try Lady Egypt Tours. They did all our ground in Egypt as you describe.

https://ladyegypt.com/

agree flying to AS waybetter idea.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Dec 1st, 2019, 08:58 AM
  #6  
 
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Regarding jetlag in Cairo vs Luxor I'd choose Luxor. I find getting out & walking in the sunshine the best medicine. Cairo is a nightmare of traffic-choked streets, not a pleasant place for walking, whereas I walked a great deal in Luxor. Just a suggestion to help streamline your itinerary a bit.
MmePerdu is online now  
Dec 1st, 2019, 10:18 AM
  #7  
 
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Flying between Cairo and Luxor or Assuan is not your only option. You can also take a night train.

https://www.seat61.com/Egypt.htm
BDKR is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 04:09 AM
  #8  
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Thanks very much for the suggestion, Elizabeth. I've contacted them and had a quick online chat. Hopefully they'll follow through. I'm assuming that since you gave me their information that you were happy with them?

The more I think about it, the more I agree that flying to Abu Simbel is best. It's a long drive, especially to make in a day. How much time would any of you suggest we have in Abu?

Thanks,
Ellen
ellen75005 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 05:29 AM
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Yes. Very. They also did our hotel and air arrangements BTW (via our Cairo guide)

We flew to AS for a day - I wish we had stayed overnight as it looked like an interesting (small) town; less tourists than other locations.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 02:45 AM
  #10  
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I wrote to Lady Egypt yesterday and gave them our itinerary as it is now with information as to what we want. They've already written back with a quote of $280 per person which includes airport/hotel transport, transport to and from sites, the drive from Luxor to Aswan and guides. For almost two weeks, it seems amazingly inexpensive, but I guess that's Egypt.

Am I correct in thinking it's a good deal?

On the other hand, the flights from Aswan to AS are amazingly EXpensive. I think we're going to have to bite the bullet. Am I correct in thinking that the temples in AS are a must-see?

Thanks again Elizabeth for the referral!

Ellen
ellen75005 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 04:05 AM
  #11  
 
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We were there 10 years ago so canít comment on the quote amount other than to say they were very reasonable then compared to non Cairo based companies.

I would not not have missed Abu Simbel but YMMV. We found the fact of its move as interesting as the temples themselves.

Did they quote the flight?
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 08:53 AM
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by ellen75005 View Post
I wrote to Lady Egypt yesterday and gave them our itinerary as it is now with information as to what we want. They've already written back with a quote of $280 per person which includes airport/hotel transport, transport to and from sites, the drive from Luxor to Aswan and guides. For almost two weeks, it seems amazingly inexpensive, but I guess that's Egypt.

Am I correct in thinking it's a good deal?
Hard to say. Egypt is dirt cheap as it is and the tourism industry has been struggling since the Arab Spring. The only way to get a sense of how good that price is would be to contact a few other well-reviewed companies and see what they'd charge for a similar itinerary.

By the way, I'm always skeptical of an agency that quotes prices in terms of "per person." It's a psychological trick. None of the costs you're incurring are on a per person basis -- the use of the car, the guide and driver's wages, the gas, etc. Your trip should cost the same whether you're one person or three. I wonder if the company would have charged you less if you said you were solo. Unfortunately, agencies often that agencies jack up the price when there are more people using the "per person" trick.

Are you getting a driver for every single full day, other than the travel days (about 10 days)? Just doing some mental math (280 * 3 / 10 = $84), it doesn't strike me as a steal by any means. The tour company is certainly making a nice profit off this and paying the drivers next to nothing. You surely could do better by hiring taxis on your own, but for good reason, you don't want to deal with that headache / hassle / risk of hiring your own taxis every day and are paying a premium to avoid that. The only way to know assess the fairness of the price is to compare it to other agency quotes.

On the other hand, the flights from Aswan to AS are amazingly EXpensive. I think we're going to have to bite the bullet. Am I correct in thinking that the temples in AS are a must-see?
That's one of those things that only you can answer. Are you the type of person who, 10 years later, will be kicking yourself that you went all the way to Egypt and were too cheap to spend an extra few hundred bucks to see Abu Simbel? Or are you the type of person who will look back and say that you saw some amazing stuff in Egypt like the Pyramids and the Sphinx and Karnak Temple and had an amazing trip and oh well you couldn't catch everything and I can see a photo of Abu Simbel?

Sure, Abu Simbel is really cool to see in person and I'm very glad we went, but plenty of people go to Egypt without seeing it and they live to tell the tale. I'm the type who probably would have kicked myself if we skipped it, but that may not be you.

By the way, I'm also not sure it's so worth going down to Aswan if you're going to skip Abu Simbel. Aswan pales in comparison to Luxor, and if you're spending time/money going down to Aswan, Abu Simbel is the best thing you're going to see from Aswan.

Last edited by LAX_Esq; Dec 3rd, 2019 at 08:56 AM.
LAX_Esq is online now  
Dec 4th, 2019, 03:20 AM
  #13  
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Well, yesterday was productive. In addition to Lady Egypt, I contacted two other tour companies which are highly-rated. It must be a slow time for them because they both responded immediately and we now have three quotes, all per-person.

Lady Egypt - $284
Go Luxor Tours - $634
Djed Tours - $760

LAX, to your point, I'm sure I can negotiate with whoever we choose. They quoted a guide/driver every day we're in Cairo, for example, which we don't want, and I'm sure I can negotiate a better rate in any event.

Regarding Abu Simbel...
[QUOTE=LAX_Esq;17024777
That's one of those things that only you can answer. Are you the type of person who, 10 years later, will be kicking yourself that you went all the way to Egypt and were too cheap to spend an extra few hundred bucks to see Abu Simbel?

LAX, yes, I'm one of those people; I'd kick myself. I asked Michael from Go Luxor if Abu Simbel is a must-see and he said absolutely (yes, I realize he gets more $$ if we go there). But I don't want to travel all that way and not see it, so that's a decision made. He said not to fly; that the drive from Aswan isn't bad especially when we'll have our own car and driver. And as of yesterday the r/t cost of flights was in the $500 vicinity - crazy. We'll have more flexibility if we drive also.

So we're gradually getting this put together. As a travel agent in my former life (MANY years ago), planning is half the fun for me, albeit it frustrating at times. I'm leaning toward Go Luxor tours; he was the only one who asked questions and made suggestions. And although the reviews are good for all of them, Go Luxor's were truly outstanding.

Ellen






ellen75005 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 11:07 AM
  #14  
 
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Those other two quotes seem absurdly high, but it sounds like it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. I'd tell all the companies exactly what services you do and don't want, so you have quotes that you can actually compare against each other. And if the company you really want to use comes out higher, ask them to match/beat the lowest quote.

Of course, recognize that great customer service in the booking process doesn't guarantee that your driver/guide will be great -- which is the most important thing. All these agencies use freelance drivers and guides, so you have to hope that their quality control is good enough that you don't get stuck with a dud. Just screen the reviews really carefully and take note of any mediocre/bad ones (are the bad reviews credible? are they complaining about things that would concern you if they happened to you?). Sounds like this isn't your first rodeo, and you know much/all of this.

The flights are $500/pp RT, or that much for the three of you? If per person, I'd definitely bite the bullet and drive!
LAX_Esq is online now  
Dec 4th, 2019, 02:15 PM
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My spouse has had extensive spinal surgeries and we are taking the boats as it will be easier for him. Sitting on buses is difficult for him.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Dec 5th, 2019, 03:07 AM
  #16  
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LAX, the cost for the flights are per person - absurd! I'm going to carefully review all three quotes this weekend and go over them with my husband and our daughter who coincidentally will be in town.

HappyTrvlr, my husband does well in a car and as long as it's just the three of us, we can ask the driver to stop to take stretch breaks, so I'm not too concerned about that. We're looking forward to seeing a bit of the country from the road as well. Planes are much more of an issue for him so that's another reason I'm trying to keep the flights to a minimum.

It will be an adventure for sure!
ellen75005 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2019, 10:37 AM
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ellen75005, I have not been yet myself, but I was hoping michelle_d would chime in here. She's been with Memphis Tours, which is who I am considering for 2021 based on her review and high praise. If you have it in you to reach out to one more travel provider, that might be a good one to reach out to. I was just getting a bunch of emails from them with Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials, so maybe you can add to the savings.
amyb is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 05:01 AM
  #18  
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Thanks for the suggestion, Amy. I'm going to talk to Go Luxor on Monday and if they can't come down in price, I'll contact Memphis. At least the ones I contacted this time have been responsive unlike a few months ago when I couldn't get any responses.

I'll let you all know our final decision on tour operators, hopefully after rates have been negotiated downward!

Btw, not for this thread, but I just read your 2018 trip report on the gorillas and the safari - absolutely amazing. - what an experience! That's another one on my bucket list.

Ellen
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Dec 6th, 2019, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ellen75005 View Post
Btw, not for this thread, but I just read your 2018 trip report on the gorillas and the safari - absolutely amazing. - what an experience! That's another one on my bucket list.
Ellen
Thanks! Safari is my addiction. My Egypt trip will only happen if I can force myself not to go on safari that year. The gorillas was one of the most humbling and life changing experiences I've ever had. You really ought to do it!!
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