Private guide on Nile cruise or go with boat tours?

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Jul 21st, 2012, 12:02 PM
  #1
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Private guide on Nile cruise or go with boat tours?

My husband and I are planning a trip to Egypt in Jan. We typically do trips on our own, but feel that on this trip we would do better to have guided assistance. Our package includes a private guide while we're on the 3 night Sonesta St. George cruise. Should we keep the guide or go with the boat's sightseeing tours? We thought the cruise would give us a break from the 3-some we'll be on the rest of the days. What are pro's/con's of doing the boat-provided tours vs. having a private guide while on the boat tour? thank you,
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Jul 21st, 2012, 10:56 PM
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It would be nice to know how busy tourism is going to be in January and if that boat will be full or if there will only be a few passengers. If only we could know.
If tourism were to be back to normal capacities then having your own private guide would be fabulous because when you go to the sites with the ship, you would have a guide that could move you around the temples away from the crowds. If tourism is going well, then you might have 3+ boats stopped at Komombo or Edfu at the same time, and of course the highlights of each temple seem to always have 50+ people standing around them trying to hear their guide and see what he is talking about. Seeing these highlights with a private guide would be great.

Of course you don't know who your guide is and there is no way you could even find out who he is before arriving, so you have no idea if you'll like him/her or if you will really wish you had a break from this person. Usually people like their guides, but you never know.

I know I didn't help make up your mind, but maybe I gave you a bit more tho think about. Good luck with your decision. Either way, I'm sure you will enjoy your time.
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Jul 22nd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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When we visited, years before the present situation with lower numbers of tourist, and at that time used the boat guides.

Our boat had about 100 cabins, but wasn't full. There was one medium-sized group of about 30/paxs who had their own guide; an even smaller group also with their own guide. And, a few couples or a family who had their own guides. Those remaining, maybe numbered between 60/paxs had choice of an English, French or German-speaking guide, where surprisingly, many of the Italians preferred English.

So our group was never more than 20*/paxs and our guide easy to understand (great command of English), was patient, never rushing and providing sufficient time for us to wander on our own at all the various sites/temples. Never felt short-changed being with this group. And, with our small numbers, made friends with some that we're still in contact.

*some were young children 5-7/yrs who were very well behaved and overall a fun group.

As Debbie says... too early to know whether the number of tourists will increase and boats over crowded (doubtful, sadly), so you have time give it some thought.
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Jul 22nd, 2012, 02:34 PM
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We were there in January this year and had our own guide. We had not realised that this would be the case (how did I miss that in the planning?). Our boat consisted of a large German tour group (who had their own guide), and about half a dozen other families / couples - each with their own guide. Our guide was wonderful and very sensitive to giving us family time alone. He would touch base and let us know when we were next going to be on shore, arranging when we would meet him in the lobby for our guided sightseeing. Other than that he mostly left us to our own devices on the boat. We invited him to join us for dinner, but he assured us he was well catered for with the other guides at their table. He did join us one afternoon for tea which was interesting as it allowed us to gain an insight into Egyptian life and politics.

Like you , I enjoy my space, and was not sure about a private guide for the boat trip. However, it worked extremely well for us. As mentioned, we still enjoyed our privacy, and it also meant that our land trips were tailored to our requirements. For example, we had an extra night in Luxor as we wanted to go to Abydos and Denderra. Our guide changed the order around so we actually did that as a day trip whilst still staying on the boat, and then did Luxor itself on our last day after leaving the boat. This allowed us to better connect with our return flight to Cairo.
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Jul 25th, 2012, 01:38 PM
  #5
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Thanks so much everyone! Very helpful insights but still tough to decide. It seems like either way we go it should work out good so that's a relief. Thanks again,
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Jul 25th, 2012, 05:28 PM
  #6
MD
 
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We did a tour of Egypt using a private guide for the two of us.

I heartily recommend getting a private guide if you can be sure the person is relatively good - knows the topic and the sites, and speaks passable English. As the comments above mention, in a large group you cannot hear what the guide may be saying, and may not get a chance to actually look at the particular buit they were talking about before the crowd moves on - or you miss the next talk looking at that bit. A private guide can take a different direction and miss the crowd.

We went one better, and drove the road from Aswan to Luxor (and then down to Abydos and Dendara a few days later). Kom Ombo was not bad - the tour boats seem to dock right beside the temple; however in Edfu, the boat docks and then they seem to take horse carriage rides through the narrow streets to the temple complex, creating a bit of a traffic jam. Again, you are all together and have to make it back to the boat.

We arrived (in a van) before or between boat dockings and had most of the temple to ourselves that day; the tourists started arriving from the boat just as we were leaving. At Kom Ombo, there was just a small bus (10 or so people) and a class of schoolkids. At Edfu, the carriages started arriving in droves just as we were leaving. It's so much more peaceful, you get to see more, can spend more time on details of the temple when you are not rushed, you are standing next to the guide and he does not ahve to yell, you are not tied to someone else's schedule, and especially if there are not 200 others trying to see everything at the same time.

(OTOH, you may prefer the peaceful Nile cruise to seeing the countryside close up... Depends on you).

So yes, if you can find a well-recommended guide, and can afford it, by all means try to get your own small tour group however you make the trip.
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Jul 26th, 2012, 03:38 AM
  #7
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Thanks, MD. I really enjoyed your trip report too.
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Aug 1st, 2012, 02:10 AM
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I would highly recommend a private guide.
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Aug 4th, 2012, 02:13 PM
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I too was glad we had a privat guide on our Nile Cruise
Mohamed-he was very well educated and nice.
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