My trip to Egypt February 2019

Mar 8th, 2019, 08:22 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2007
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My trip to Egypt February 2019

I have just returned from a month in Egypt and had a fantastic time. We are a couple aged 64/69 and always travel independently and have travelled quite a bit. We usually choose comfortable but modest rooms which allows us financially to do two or more big trips a year. Once in a while we may splurge a bit. I now have some health/mobility issues so we chose to travel for a month as I am a lot slower than I would like, or used to be. It was perfect.
We considered going on a tour as we were concerned about safety issues, but were convinced by other travellers to go on our own as we usually do. I am glad we did, especially because I want to take it slower than some of these tours allow.

We spent four nights in Giza
flew to Aswan for three nights, went to Abu Simbel
took a three night Dahabiya cruise (small sailing boat) on the Nile to Luxor. One of the highlights for us, only 12 passengers.
Four nights in Luxor
Then we spent 12 nights in Hurghada on the Red Sea in two different resorts
Back to Cairo for two nights.
Weather was great, not too hot. We never got sick. People were lovely, we never felt unsafe. We are already talking about going back, and I rarely go back anywhere I have already been
Here is a link to my blog for day to day itinerary and photos. We started in Athens for a couple of days first. If you are thinking of going, I say do it! It is one of my top five trips.

https://debbeanddougstravels.travell...UDnUvDdkAMHYR8
live42day is offline  
Mar 10th, 2019, 10:00 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2008
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I loved reading your blog and the photos are wonderful. It was great to relive my trip to Egypt.
jerseysusan is offline  
Mar 10th, 2019, 02:20 PM
  #3  
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thank you. Isn't Egypt great!? Nothing else like it.
live42day is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 08:04 AM
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What hotel did you stay at in Aswan - we are planning a holiday in Egypt in April - and I'm desperate for referrals for a hotel in Aswan that does not necessarily break the bank (we are prepared to pay a fair amount) but is halfway decent: i would really appreciate your advice.

Thanks in advance.
patriciatbrogan is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 12:36 PM
  #5  
 
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I guess it depends on what "break the bank" means. In Aswan, look at the Basma hotel for a mid-range/cheap hotel. More expensive (approx. $150 a night) is the Movenpick. Just be aware that there's a lot going on in Aswan in April, including a visit from the president. So book something soon. Availability is limited.
doug_stallings is online now  
Mar 11th, 2019, 12:53 PM
  #6  
 
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What a fabulous report! We were in Egypt about 9 years ago but only in Cairo and Alexandria (Holy Land cruise) Time to return. Your photos are magnificent. You are a most talented photographer. The underwater photos are stunning. I'm running out of adjectives. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Treesa is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 06:20 AM
  #7  
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We stayed at the Pyramisa Isis Cornish which I booked with Agoda for 134 Euros for three nights. I like the location and it was a decent hotel that included a breakfast buffet.
live42day is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 06:21 AM
  #8  
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Thank you Treesa for your kind words. So many great photo ops in Egypt.
live42day is offline  
Mar 13th, 2019, 01:29 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
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Great Post! This info is super helpful for planning an Egypt Trip. And Great Shots which is mostly historical places seen you capture.
ggramsmith is offline  
Mar 13th, 2019, 07:21 PM
  #10  
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Here are some notes about my trip to Egypt, costs and where we stayed etc. I hope it helps others to plan.


ARRIVAL
We arrived on Egypt air from Athens in the evening. I was glad to have read this forum to learn about the visa on arrival. I saw the money exchange booth before customs , no one was in line and no signs. I went up and said “visa?” To which he responded $25 USD
Easy peazy
A man came up to us, looking official, while we were in line for the passport control and asked to see our documents. He just looked at our landing card and asked if we had a taxi arranged. When we said we did he walked away
Down the escalators to baggage claim two women told us which carousel our bags were on, and asked if we needed a hotel or taxi.

Out side baggage lots of people asked about taxis, but once we said we had a ride arranged they backed away.
There is a bank of 6 ATMS in the arrivals hall. We had to try all of them to find one that worked for our HSBC bank card.

TRANSFERS AND TOURS;

We arranged with our hotels in both Giza and Aswan for airport pickup. Both went smoothly. I reconfirmed both the day prior.
Cost for airport to Giza was $20 USD and Aswan airport to hotel in Aswan also $20USD for two of us in a car.
We hired our transfer guy in Giza to take us to Saqurra, Dahshur and Memphis for a long day. 600LE
Uber from Giza to the Cairo museum cost $5 USD each way
Transfer from Giza to Cairo for our flight to Aswan , we had a flight a 4PM, he picked us up at 10AM and kept our luggage while we went to the Coptic area for a few hours and then to the airport . This was expensive, because it was Cairo they said, but convenient for us. 900 LE.

ABU Simbel. We used ASWAN INDIVIDUAL, cost for car and driver was 1780 LE for two of us.

Full day in LUXOR, one day VOQ. And Hatshepsut, next day VOK and Medina Habu. 500 LE each day with a taxi from east bank.
Cairo. At the last minute on our last day we arranged a tour with Djed to do a walking tour of the Islamic area. Islamic museum, mosques and a couple of bazaars and medieval area with an Egyptologist who was a wealth of information about many things. We were picked up at our hotel and driven to each different location. It lasted just over 6 hours and cost 65USD each based on two of us. We were happy we did this.
Uber from Hurghada to Makadi Bay $7
Makadi bay to airport with hotel taxi $25USD
I know we probably paid too much for some of these, but the price was fine for us.
Go bus from Luxor to hurghada. 110 LE each. Took 5 hours. He stopped a lot.

HOTELS;
Giza. Cheops pyramid inn. Location was great, right across from the Sphinx entrance. View was great too. This ended up being a hostel. Very basic, only a couple of rooms. Owner was great and room was clean but certainly not the four seasons.

Aswan. corniche Pyramids Isis. Great location on the Nile. Clean rooms, mid range. Pool, breakfast included. Wifi in reception and breakfast room only. Hit and miss with wifi. Great staff

Luxor. Nefertiti. Older hotel, no elevator, wifi only worked in restaurant for me. Great staff. Good food in restaurant. Clean room. Great location short walk to Luxor temple and souk.

Hurghada . Arabia Azur. All inclusive, sandy area on beach and lots of sun beds and umbrellas if you want them for shade. Good buffet food, mostly meat dishes . Lots of guests from Germany and Holland. Signs are in english and German, staff all spoke German as well as english and a few other languages. Staff were exceptional, especially the wait staff. They made everyone feel like a long lost friend and that you were the most important person there. Lots to do. We don't typically stay in all inclusive resorts, but this one was good. Big swimming pool.

Free Wifi in reception area only and not great. We rented a dongle or mifi which we used in our room and it was fast and great. 400 LE a week for up to 5 devices.
Snorkelling was great off the jetty. You can rent a snorkel mask and fins for 50LE per day.
The beach restaurant was not good however.

Serenity Makadi Bay.
We loved this resort. A bit more upscale than Arabia, nice landscaping, two freshwater and two saltwater pools but too cold to swim in any of them. The food was really good with more vegetarian options, staff was friendly and helpful. Guests were again German, Dutch and french but also lots of English and Egyptian so a greater variety.

There were plenty of sun beds and umbrellas by the pools and also on the beach. Snorkelling off the pier was fantastic. You could rent full face masks or snorkel and mask with fins for 200L E Per day. Lots of young families as well as older folk. Free wifi worked in lobby but we found that the router for our building was close to our room so if we went beside our door it worked great.

Cairo. City view hotel.
The location is great, right across from the museum at Tahrir square. It would be a 2 1/2 star at home but the towels were good, staff great, good wifi in room, and it’s on the 5th floor but there is a lift. . They picked us up at the airport for free because we are staying two nights. A return transfer cost us $15USD. Room was very basic, beds a bit soft, but overall clean and a great price for $45usd per night.

MONEY;

my bank said I could withdraw 6,000 LE a day, but the maximum from any ATM that we found was 2,000. A lot dispensed 200 LE bills and we found it difficult to get small bills. No one seemed to want to give us small change. ATMs were easy to find

NILE CRUISE.
We saw lots of big river boats but we chose a dahabiya booked with Djed. This was one of the highlights of our trip. We did the three nights Aswan to Luxor, only 4 rooms and two suites. If i did it again i would choose the suite for not much more money but you get a private balcony off the back. The food and staff were amazing and the Egyptologist on board, Salah, was fantastic.
We did get towed most of the way by tugboat because the wind was going the other way, but they get towed the other direction for a good portion as well

TIPS/ backesh .

Everyone seems to want a tip and at times it did get tiring, but for the amount of the tip it really is not much to us and a lot to them. I know there are many posts about this, but we were comfortable with these amounts . Sometimes more sometimes less. All are Egyptian pounds .

Hotel room we would leave 20 LE every day
Backesh would be usually 20 at the tombs etc.
Baggage at hotels usually 10 a bag, but if they went up stairs or long distance it would be 20 or more a bag.

10% or so at restaurants.
Full day guides or drivers, (not taxis) would be 100 each or 200LE
Transfers drivers were 20 to 40 LE
At the all inclusive we would put 20 into the tip box at each meal and tip the beach guy 20.

We had a number of vendors and hotel staff ask us to exchange euro coins and GBP coins for Egyptian pounds.
There is lots of discussion around tipping, but right or wrong this is what we did.

PEOPLE.

The Egyptian people were so nice. We were here during winter school break and so there were lots of families in the tourist areas. They would look at us with a very intense and what appeared to be unfriendly look, but a smile and hello in Arabic from us would result in a huge smile and a request to have a selfie taken with us as some lived in areas that did not have many tourists. Every one was very friendly, said welcome to Egypt and we never felt unsafe. We always got the correct change from vendors etc, i felt that they were all very honest and helpful . They may charge you five times what you should pay, but you will get the correct change.

I dropped some money from my pocket at the Cairo tourist bazaar and a woman yelled at me to tell me of it. She clearly could have used the money. I did give her a tip .

ANNOYANCES.
The touts. The stalls near the temples etc were the worse with people following you and negotiating on things i didn't even look at. Tourism is up but they are still suffering I think and it is a dog eat dog business as they are all pretty much selling the same stuff. We had one incident at Abu Simbel where the gentleman got very assertive with my husband, laid hands on him, would not let him pass etc. But that was just one incident, for the most part not speaking and avoiding eye contact works, although it is hard to do as it feels so rude to me. We were always asked if we wanted a taxi, horse carriage, guide etc but a polite no thank you, sometimes a few times,
Cairo was not as bad as Luxor for us.

Cairo museum: two separate men came up and told us the museum wasn’t open yet but we can come to their shop until it was open later. The museum was open and we did not fall for that

I was able to use my Cairo pass to get into everything, even the tomb room.

CAIRO PASS AND LUXOR PASS

We were staying across from the Sphinx entrance to the pyramids but had to take a taxi to the main entrance for our pass. It took a few people to point us in the right direction and took a bit of time but we got it. We arrived with passport photo and copy of passport.

It was accepted everywhere, but at times they had to call over someone to check it out and the dates were always scrutinized.

Luxor pass. The website said to buy at a place behind the museum but apparently that changed last month. We had to go to Karnak to buy it, same routine it took some time and we were told to tip the guy who took all the info and went somewhere to do something before bringing it back.

We did get it for half price when we showed our Cairo pass. We did not have any problems with entrance with our luxor pass anywhere.

PHOTOS .
Sometimes we paid backesh in some of the smaller places, usually 20 LE. VOQ. Going into Queen Nefertari you had to leave your camera with a guard. No photos. Once inside there was no one else there and the guard asked if i wanted to take photos. 200 LE. I said no. 100.
He said no, so I walked away. This tomb is magnificent, the best one in my opinion. When I was ready to leave and no one else was in there he said ‘ OK, 100 LE which i agreed to because it was so amazing. I had my cell phone which did not have to be checked at the desk.

VOK. Buy a photo pass or you will be hassled. People were having their cell phones taken away in a number of the tombs, I Imagine they got them back at some point but it got ugly a few times.

I didn’t realize that the 300LE I paid was only for photos in 3 tombs. A couple of guys did not punch my pass so I actually got around 5 tombs. When you have the LUXOR pass you can visit as many tombs as are open. Without it you can only visit three it seemed. No photos at all in Seti 1.


We went on Wednesday and it was hardly crowded at all,. We head that Monday and Tuesdays were the busiest.

FOOD.
I found the food great for the most part, from fancy restaurants to little hole in the walls. I am a vegetarian and always found something to eat.
We never got sick, but we did take a probiotic every morning and used thieves oil on our hands a lot so that may have helped. We drank bottled water.

WEATHER.

We were here for the month of February. Very cool at night and mornings but day temps were perfect. Locals found it cold but it was around 27 so not too hot for us.

The ocean in Hurghada was ‘refreshing’. Without a wetsuit we could only stay in for 30-40 minutes at a time.
It was quite windy at times, especially Makadi bay.

Overall we had an amazing time. I can see why Europeans come to the Red Sea year after year. It is fantastic and we may be back again ourselves.
live42day is offline  
Mar 13th, 2019, 09:19 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 4
Superb, your Itinerary is also helpful, Thanks for sharing.
ggramsmith is offline  
Mar 14th, 2019, 11:23 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,639
Originally Posted by live42day View Post
I have just returned from a month in Egypt and had a fantastic time. We are a couple aged 64/69 and always travel independently and have travelled quite a bit. We usually choose comfortable but modest rooms which allows us financially to do two or more big trips a year. Once in a while we may splurge a bit. I now have some health/mobility issues so we chose to travel for a month as I am a lot slower than I would like, or used to be. It was perfect.
We considered going on a tour as we were concerned about safety issues, but were convinced by other travellers to go on our own as we usually do. I am glad we did, especially because I want to take it slower than some of these tours allow.

We spent four nights in Giza
flew to Aswan for three nights, went to Abu Simbel
took a three night Dahabiya cruise (small sailing boat) on the Nile to Luxor. One of the highlights for us, only 12 passengers.
Four nights in Luxor
Then we spent 12 nights in Hurghada on the Red Sea in two different resorts
Back to Cairo for two nights.
Weather was great, not too hot. We never got sick. People were lovely, we never felt unsafe. We are already talking about going back, and I rarely go back anywhere I have already been
Here is a link to my blog for day to day itinerary and photos. We started in Athens for a couple of days first. If you are thinking of going, I say do it! It is one of my top five trips.

https://debbeanddougstravels.travell...UDnUvDdkAMHYR8
Wow. I have been reading your blog and I am entranced. Thank you for posting the link.

My husband and I are just about the same ages as you are, and we also travel independently. We've been considering Egypt, and are thinking this upcoming year may be the time for us. I am the planner and arranger for our trips - which I love, because my husband is a willing and uncomplicated companion - enjoys just about everything I want to do, and he adds his interests ahead of time so I can plan for those, as well.

I would like to know how you made arrangements for the Nile boat trip - it sounds perfect. I think most of the itinerary I could probably figure out (and I will most definitely not stay at your Cairo hotel, although who knows what I might find), but not sure of the river boat. Most of the boats I've read about are larger and likely include tour groups. Any info you would be willing to share, I would appreciate.
scdreamer is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 08:26 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 178
I went to Egypt in 2010, before the drop in tourism, and while I can't compare the aggressiveness of the touts then to what it is now, I can assure you that there were plenty aggressive back then! That, combined with mummy tummy and the heat of traveling in June (don't go to Egypt in June) made for some of my worst traveling moments, but that being said I still had a wonderful time in Egypt. It's so fun to read your report and blog!
memejs is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 09:00 AM
  #14  
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scdreamer
here is the link to the river cruise.
https://www.djedegypt.com/dahabiya-nile-cruise/
I filled out the form and then we emailed back and forth. I sent a deposit to them via credit card and then decided to pay in full via internet and credit card a week prior. you can also pay in cash on board for the balance if you like. Only USD or Euros. They take a couple of days to respond, but it went very smoothly. I like the smaller groups which is why I chose this one. My husband is the same as yours it seems , I do all the research and work and he is just happy to come along! I am quite happy with that arrangement.

memejs I am glad you still had a good time despite the heat and bad stomach. We intentionally chose Feb because of the cooler temps. It just drags us both down when its too hot.
live42day is offline  
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