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TC Jan 25th, 2011 02:27 PM

How much should an Egyptian tour cost?
DH and I are thinking about going to Egypt this year -- possibly in the Fall. We want to do a very contained - but quality trip. My dream has always been to see Egypt as though I were in an Agatha Christi movie. To that end I contacted Lady Egypt with the following request:

Fly to Cairo – on frequent flier mileage.

3 nights Cairo – Mena House -- pyramid view room.
Private guide

Flight to Luxor

4 nights Luxor -- Winter Palace Hotel
Private guide

4 nights -- Dahabiyya cruise (Luxor to Aswan) – Nour el Nil
(No guide required)

2 nights Aswan – Old Cataract Hotel (or Movenpick if OC is not open)
Day flight to Abu Simbel
Not sure we need a guide here, although LE quote includes one.

Return flight to Cairo

1 night Radisson Blu Hotel Cairo Heliopolis, prior to departure for U.S. if needed.
Hotel has a shuttle to airport - no transportation required.

To get an idea of the cost, I had sourced the trip on the Internet using standard rack rates for the hotels, etc. The total cost was $9100 for all hotels, Luxor flights and Nile cruise.

I was surprised that the Lady Egypt quote was $5000 per person -- $10,000. I thought that was high for a two week excursion. Do you? I expected them to be able to get a substantial discount on the hotels and Nile cruise. Their quote does include the guides, breakfast each day, entrance fees, and transport via "private air/con mini van".

We are quite easy people. While other travelers may feel differently, we would like to see the highlights, but have no need to see every temple, ruin, or pyramid. Nether are we huge fans of spending days in museums. A tiny bit of shopping in a less touristy area would be o.k. -- but not masses of shopping. Don't care to ride camels, or dine in places with entertainment for tourists. My point being that we don't really need a lot of hand holding from a guide.

Does this pricing fall in line with what others have paid? Thank you.

MissGreen Jan 25th, 2011 03:26 PM

If you've added up everything and the price was $9100 and you were quoted $10,000 I would say that sounds fair. As you ssay, you are paying for transport, a guide, someone to worry about you, a company who will fix any problems and lots of other little bits and pieces.

You say you don't need a lot of hand holding. I needed plenty of hand holding when I went to a local middle class mall (carrefour type). Many store keepers did not understand English so I would call my guide in to the store to ask for a particular shoe size or colour. I could not of shopped without him. Also, at the souk/bazzar our guide came with us and it saved us from having to do a lot of bartering (I was not keen on that). He also directed us to stores in the market where they had set prices.

On my private trip to Egypt and Jordan (6 days) with Lady Egypt for 24 days I paid US$4600 per person. We visited Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simble (by plane), Alexandria, 3 day nile cruise and 6 days in Jordan. We stayed at hotels like the Mena House (5 nights), Cairo Marriott, Movenpick in Aswan, Steigenberger Luxor, Amman Marriott, Dead Sea Marriott. A similar group tour to what I had looked at was AUD7700 per person.

sf7307 Jan 25th, 2011 03:29 PM

I can't really comment on the price, because we had 6 people in two triple rooms and stayed at all different hotels from you, etc. I just wanted to comment on your point about the guide -- how many days will you have a guide? Guides are not inexpensive. More importantly, if you're a "glance and run" kind of person (I always say about us "We are not in-depth people" LOL), having a guide everywhere may be too much for you. We thought our guide was great, but still, in the end, to be honest, it was too much information, very little of which was retained anyway. For that reason, when we visit the Angkor temples next month, we are going with a great guidebook and a driver, but not a guide. We just don't feel the need for a PhD in the history of everyplace we visit -- we just want to see it and get a taste.

loru100 Jan 25th, 2011 06:40 PM

$10,0000 for two weeks in Egypt seems really high to me. We didn't use Lady Egypt but it was approx $4000 (total) for my husband and myself and that included private guides, Nile Cruise, train travel, hotels, flight to Abu Simbel, etc. In comparison with other destinations, Egypt is very affordable. The five days I spent in Jordan last November cost me more than almost two weeks in Egypt.

TC Jan 25th, 2011 07:35 PM

Miss Green, I have started to read your report and I'm surprised that LE gave you 24 days for $4600, yet they are quoting me $5000 pp for only 14 days. I am thinking I have to get back to LE for additional clarification. Something just doesn't seem right.

MissGreen Jan 25th, 2011 07:55 PM

Aren't the Dahabiyas (spelling?) cosidered to be the "Rolls Royces" of boats o the Nile so obviously that portion of your trip would be dearer than my nile cruise.

TC - I forgot to say, we had 2 or 3 free days and anything I did on that day was not included in the quote. We weren't sure if we'd just want to relax at our hotel pool to "recover" so we thought we'd decide on the day. We were quoted $35 US per person for guide and driver (there were 2 of us) plus entrance or activity costs. We did a camel ride and went back to the museum on two of our free days which should be added on to the price.

I say we got a fabulous deal. Lady Egypt were great. At many hotels we were upgraded at no extra cost. We were put in a one bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 level suite at the Movenpick in Aswan, the "Mediteranian Suite" at the MARITIM Jolie Ville Hotel and a magnificent suite at the Dead Sea Marriott (I could of stayed there for weeks - loved the room & the hotel!)

Lady Egypt did the little extras that saved us money. Our guides would buy us drinks at a local store otherwise the price would of been higher for us. LE gave us a phone upon arrival so we could contact our guides or rep if we wanted to change anything or if we had any questions. When we had a problem with our credit cards working at a Cairo camera store we had to walk away empty handed. When LE heard our story as we were leaving, the rep said we should of told him and he would of purchased it and bought it to us at the Cairo Marriott. Yes there would of been a little "sweetener" in it for him, from the shop or my tip, but the Egyptians seemed to go above what was expected. There is no way you would get that service in Australia.

Just a reminder TC - not all my time was in Egypt - I was in Jordan too in that time, which the quote included airfares from Cairo to Aswan, Cairo to Jordan and return and to Abu Simbel.

pirouette Jan 25th, 2011 08:11 PM

Much depends on the choices you make and your style of travel. Plane travel inside Egypt costs more than trains. Private tours cost more than group tours. Private transport and customized tours are also more costly. It is really difficult to compare without knowing some of those details. We are traveling in the next few weeks, also with LE, for 17 days: Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan/Abu Simbel by air, 5 day boat cruise, private day tour in Luxor, Sharm ek Sheikh, day trip to Petra by air and back to Cairo before flying home. The price quoted is not quite finalized, but it will be within or slighty less than the range you have been quoted. We are also flying to Egypt on points-a big saving!

There are many cost saving options, and no doubt it is less expensive to organize the whole trip on your own through guidebooks and online resources. I find that time consuming-I have already spentt way too many hours researching hotels and tours even with a local agent making the arrangements. Sometimes I found a saving of $20 here and there but LE was able to get better hotel rates and availability. I also like to have the backing of a local agency in the event that there is a problem.

I will let you know how it all turns out!

TC Jan 26th, 2011 05:30 AM

Thank you all for the kind replies. I understand that we all travel a bit differently, however, I feel I am asking for less (14 days hotel) and being charged quite a bit more. One should be able to get a substantial discount on hotel rates if booking through an agency that sends them business. The hotels I desire, while upscale, are pretty standard choices for many Egypt travelers and therefore used often by LE. If I price my trip using the hotels own rack rates, add in $70 per day for a guide and book the flights directly with the airline, the price is exactly that of LE quote. I'm just wondering why they aren't able to offer a better hotel and air discount. I'm not saying I won't pay it because, I too, like doing business with locals. I'm just trying to understand all the options.

Local2542 Jan 26th, 2011 06:34 AM

Hi TC! I agree with your thought process about the savings that is sometimes passed on by travel agents. I've looked into the commission range that is offer by hotels/lodges and was surprised to find out it can vary widely, at least on the safari side of lodging, from 10% to 35%. In my b&b business in the states, travel agents usually request 20%. From that point forward, it's my understanding that agent can either pass some savings on to their clients, or, as I have found the larger safari outfits, they actually add money to the total. I have no problem with either, since when I am the consumer, I can decide what works best for me. Of course, larger companies, like Micato or Abercrombie (no offense to these businesses) have much higher overhead, so of course they need to keep more money in house to make a living. Smaller companies may have no overhead, work out of their homes, so then can pass some of their commission onto their clients. The higher volume a travel agent produces for certain hotel/lodging chains, the greater the commission rate can be. Plus, the better service your client may receive, since the agent produces so much business for that hotel. (Again, just my understanding from research).

I'm surprised the LE is not doing what you and I would expect them to do - pass some savings onto the client, as it appears they have in the past. I am considering and Egypt trip in the next couple years, and have LE at the top of my list.

I loved your last trip report. It again made me want to go to S Tanzania. And then I ask some friends, who keep telling me it's too hot - at least for me. But I keep trying to make the Selous a "cooler" spot in my travel mind:)

I'll be following your Egypt planning progress with interest! Jordan and Syria are up and coming for us, too.

TC Jan 26th, 2011 10:11 AM

Hi Local....Yes, Selous was a bit hot, but Ruaha was wonderful and quite cool. We slept under quilts each night and worn warm things early morning and evening. You could handle that.

I'm not sure what will happen with Egypt. With all the choices and all the people vying for dollars, I would hope to get much better value. For $10,000 I can spend a lot of nights in Tanzania! ;)

BillJ Jan 26th, 2011 11:40 AM

This is a great thread, as I am also in the planning stages of a trip to Egypt in the fall, probably October. I started from a brochure from Viking River Cruise, showing a 9 day Cairo Nile trip starting at $2,998 per person on October, plus optional add on for Abu Simbel, (amount not given, but I think its about $500 for 2 persons), plus a $1,295 credit for air to Cairo from certain east coast airports. Adding that up comes to $9,086 for 2 persons.
It includes 10 guided tours and entry fees and transfers. To my knowledge, Viking is considered a top of the line company.
Since I have some award points I want to use for flights and hotels, and want to extend into Sharm and do some other things, they charge a "deviation fee" of $100 pp. And you are on your own after you leave the cruise.
I have quotes from LE and Egypt Quality Tours that are somewhat less than that, and I am now analysing the inclusions and exclusions.
My conclusion is that for what the original poster is asking, that the $9 - 10,000 number is reasonable, if on the high side. I think it can be done for about $7 - 8,000 by doing more homework and step down just a bit on hotels and boats. And, if you can throw in a bunch of reward points, you can probably get it down further.
I am like some others above, I like the idea of having a local tour company, and that is worth something.
Now, if we can only count on the political/civil strife thing quieting down, it will be a great trip.

sandi Jan 26th, 2011 03:10 PM

$5K div 14/days is about $360/person day. But this doesn't only include the per nt hotel or boat. You've got to include the meet/greet, transfers, guide/driver salary (low as it might be), vehicle insurance/petrol, entry fees, internal flights, and on and on; of course, whatever profit LE makes that has to pay for salaries, office space, general overhead. And, from what you indicate as your accommodations and Nile cruise, you've got top of the line.

Unlike visiting England, France or other western countries, where most of us can muddle thru if there are problems, it's nice to know when in a third-world country you've got a single contact on the ground should there be any blips along the way. Rather than for you being responsible with lots of pieces of paper, phone numbers, not speaking the language and whatever else.

Sure you can save a few $$$ by stepping down in accommodations or boat, but that has to be your decision.

TC Jan 26th, 2011 04:34 PM

Thank you all again for your replies. I really do understand what I'm doing and what I'm getting. I travel Internationally a lot and do it independently. I know what one should and shouldn't expect from an organized tour. I have no problem with everyone making a nice profit, however I have sussed out everything --- including the cost of the guide, meet, transport, handholding. I still think LE is quoting quite high. I was hoping to see what others have paid for more comparisons. I think Miss Greens trip is a good comparison to prove my point. Even though the cruise I want is top of the line, I am asking for 10 days fewer. Doesn't seem to me that her trip with LE should be less expensive.

TC Jan 28th, 2011 08:17 AM

Looks like we will put Egypt on hold for awhile with all the unrest. I'll just deposit the $10,000 into my "return to Africa" fund. :)

chris45ny Jan 28th, 2011 02:04 PM

Like you, I searched and got prices for a DIY before asking for quotes. It really depends on the luxury you're going for. The Mena for a pyramid view room for 3 nts. is around $900.00 4 nights in a superior Nile view room with king size bed at the Winter Palace will be around $1600.00. Your Nile cruise is pricey at $3800.00 for the luxury room over the standard room which would be around $3400. 2 nights at the Movenpick (I e-mailed asking about the Old Cataract for our trip which is only few months earlier than your dates-won't be open) is around $350.00 for a superior Nile view room with balcony and king bed. If you just add these up your total is $6650.00 and that's not including the costs of the 2 flights, guides, transfers, etc. What about entrance fees to sites-was that included? It adds up. When you look at it this way the $10000.00 doesn't seem so exorbitant. I'm sure you could arrange everything yourself and save $$. Our trip starts May 15, 2011 and I have no plans to change at this point. Back in 2008 we had scheduled a trip to Kenya and Tanzania and months before our departure was the unrest/riots in Kenya but all was calm when we arrived. Don't throw away your idea of Egypt yet.

sandi Jan 28th, 2011 05:46 PM

Agree with chris, take a few days to see what shakes out in Egypt. Like what went on in Kenya, within a short period things calmed down and for those who visited even in the midst of the upheaval, had no idea of it as visitors rarely find themselves in the midst of public riots, so to speak.

Even whatching what's happening in Cairo right now and hearing that it's only police vehicles being attacked, not private vehicles which are being allowed to pass... the riots/protests don't appear to be taking place at traditional tourist sites. In fact, heard that when the military (that the people favor) circled the Egyptian Museum to make certain no damage would be done (think Baghdad after Saddam was tossed off the pedestal, the destruction of their famed museums and others).

And, should the current government be overthrown and another take it's place, even if not friendly to the West... unless they close off tourism altogether (unlikely), there will be many people who want to visit and add to their economy.

For now... just wait and see.

TC Jan 28th, 2011 08:46 PM

As one who sat terrified in a vehicle in the middle of a riot in Kenya, I will be waiting a good long time to see how Egypt settles. The U.S. position in Egypt isn't extremely favorable right now either. I don't want to be flashing my U.S passport in the wrong place.

MissGreen Jan 28th, 2011 09:25 PM

TC re: flashing your US passport. There was a VIP in the King Tut room which meant we were not allowed in. We are Australian, but our guide argued to a security guard that we were American and we should be let in. Lo and behold, in we went. Our guide said that generally Americans are to be respected as they are "world powers" so we don't want them unhappy or anything bad to happen to them! So in this instance, it was good to "flash USA!"

Local2542 Jan 29th, 2011 06:15 AM

I just finished a very good book last night called "Live From Jordan" by Benjamin Orbach. A grad student at the time he wrote these letters home about his experience living in Amman and Cairo, as well as traveling into Syria, Isreal, Morocco, and Turkey as Jewish American. He was on a year long fellowship, learning Arabic and working on his research project during 2002/3. He had to temporarily evacuate Amman when the Iraq war started.

Facinating, since his perspective seems very unique, and he is able in his writing to bring balance and perspective from many view points. Published in 2007, I just put it on my top recommendation list for anyone considering a visit to this region. (just my humble opinion).

I'll stop going on about it now, but really gave me better insight, and I am normally someone who prefers a good novel to anything else;)

TC Jan 29th, 2011 06:55 AM

Jan 28, 2011 02:59 PM CST

U.S. tourists stranded in Cairo
By Danielle Paquette, Special to CNN

(CNN) -- For American travelers, this view of Egypt was not what they were counting on. Tear gas clouded the air as flames consumed city buildings -- a far cry from a day trip to the Great Pyramids they may have planned.

Heather (whose last name is being withheld for her safety), 23, watched chaos erupt on the streets below her Cairo hotel window.

"Initially, we were just in awe of all of the people coming across the bridge toward the square, then it started to become more violent," she told "There was a constant sound of police firing tear gas canisters, sirens and sounds of people pulling signs and benches from the street to drag over to the police lines."

Her father, George, captured video of protesters storming the Kasr Al Nile Bridge into El Tahir Square, where violence intensified by the hour.

"It was frightening to see the police regroup and retreat and to see the protesters throw things at those vehicles," she said. "The police have definitely escalated the situation and began by firing tear gas at the protesters."

Heather and George aren't the only tourists stuck inside their hotel rooms.

An employee at the U.S. State Department said representatives have been "on the phone with Americans in Egypt all day."

The State Department has issued a travel alert urging tourists to avoid Egypt due to dangerous conditions.

Those already stranded in the country shouldn't leave hotels until the situation stabilizes, the alert stated.

Some airlines are halting flights to Cairo indefinitely.

Delta Air Lines' last flight from Cairo is scheduled to depart on Saturday, said spokeswoman Susan Elliot. American Airlines and British Airways are allowing customers to change ticket destinations for free until Monday.

The State Department's travel warning said the U.S. Embassy may be blocked off for security during demonstrations and cautioned citizens against going to the embassy during the turmoil. The alert provides contact numbers for security updates and travel information.

"Right now, we can only tell Americans to stay in place," a State Department representative said.

The current travel alert expires on February 28.

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