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teacherCanada to escort high school group to Egypt in March 2009

teacherCanada to escort high school group to Egypt in March 2009

Jun 26th, 2008, 08:09 PM
  #1  
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teacherCanada to escort high school group to Egypt in March 2009

We have organized a group of about 40 students (aged 15 -18) along with 8 or 9 adults (including me) to travel for 14 days to Egypt in March of 2009. All students have made a financial commitment of over $1000 towards a total cost of about $3500. We are using A-Z Travel agency, based in Vancouver BC.

I had the fortunate experience to travel in a similar fashion in 2005 with another school group.

My reason for posting now is to seek advice or suggestions from experienced Egypt travelers. I would appreciate any comments you can muster.

Generally, our itinerary is as follows: arrive Cairo, 2 nights (see Giza pyramids, Sakkara etc.), night train to Aswan, travel by bus to Abu Simbel, 3 night Nile cruise with requisite stops at Kom Ombo, Edfu, one night in Luxor, bus to Hurgahada for 3 nights, 2 nights in Cairo (Egyptian museum and other sites), then fly home to Canada.

My students are from a varied group. We are not a class or team, just students with an interest in travel - especially in Egypt.

I seek suggestions and advice.
teacherCanada is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 09:39 AM
  #2  
 
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You would want at least one day in Aswan itself. Elephantine Island is a great place to visit as is the island of Philae (especially very early in the morning when it first opens). One night in Luxor is certainly not enough - there are the Karnak and Luxor temples, valley of the kings, nobles tombs,Ramesseum, Hatshepsut temple, temple of Ramesses II and a very good museum. You would need at least 3 full days to see Luxor adequately - 4 would be better. My advice would be to skip Hurgada. It is a beach resort and certainly pleasant, but if the point is for the students to learn about other cultures and history they won't get anything there. It's like Miami Beach on the Red Sea. I would also strongly recommend visiting a few of the major Cairo mosques - Barquq and Ibn Tulun are especially beautiful. There is also a newly renovated museum of Coptic art.
Hope you have a good time.
nyctraveler212 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 11:05 AM
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FYI - Barquq Mosque is technically off limits to tourists at this time. No tourists are suppposed to be in the City of the Dead.

If you go in, in private cars or taxis, they may let you go into the mosque, but may not. It will depend on who the security is on duty. If you do get in, be sure to say thankyou to the security man adequately ($$$) as he could get in trouble for letting you in.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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teacherCanada - are you coming to the Toronto GTG? Hope so!

I have some comments for your Luxor portion but need to check my notes but in the meantime have you seen our blog?

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...ards_2008_adv/

Click on the right hand margin links to Cairo and Nile Cruise....

Liz
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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This is a long-shot....but since you are a school group - you might consider contacting someone at CAC (Cairo American College). I know that they have often opened their campus up for a visit for other visiting schools and to give the visiting students a chance to talk to the students there. And sometimes they have students (upper level Egyptian girls usually) who are willing to act as "guides" to the Khan el Khalili. (They might get community service hours for that, not sure).

I don't know who you would contact - but they have an activities director who might help. Or maybe just contact the HS principal.
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Jun 29th, 2008, 11:58 PM
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FYI-

CAC is the American K-12 school where most of the expat kids go that have parents with jobs that can afford it.

Just thought I'd clarify that as the name Cairo American College sounds like it might be something different.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 04:23 AM
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good poing debbie.....wasn't thinking clearly!
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:46 AM
  #8  
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Thanks

Thank you to all who have replied. nyctraveller; thank you for your suggestions. We will have time for Elephantine Island and the Island of Philae. Luxor deserves more than 24 hours and we are hoping to arrange just that. Hurghada, as you have mentioned is a beach resort - but we felt that it would be a lovely interlude from the rest of our adventure. While we are in Hurghada we take a day trip on a boat to Gifton Island and on the next day spend 14 hours at a Bedouin camp. I know the camp has been "touristified", but I still think it is valuable for our coddled teenagers to see the challenges faced by others - and the importance of fresh water. I also hope we can see a few more mosques while in Cairo.

Casual_Cairo - thanks for the caution about Barquq Mosque and the City of the Dead. We most certainly saw it in 2005, but we never did enter it. I wasn't aware there were restrictions.

Elizabeth_S; yes, August 9 is going to be a good day/evening. I took advantage of the cheap rate at the Hilton. I am looking forward to meeting with many of the people I have asked advice from. It will be memorable, I am sure.

Grcxx3; thanks for the note. I have been told there are several universities and schools in Cairo that might allow our students to meet with them. Unfortunately, I haven't been told any of the specific names. I tried the Canadian Consulate in 2005, but they didn't provide any real leads. It would be a wonderful experience to have local students combine with ours for a few hours - especially at the the Khan el Khalili bazaar. In 2006, I had tried to arrange for a group of Schuler's students from Switzerland to meet with ours while we visited Lucerne (Switzerland), but it did not work out. Just last March I tried to arrange for some Spanish students to connect with our group while we were in Valencia - but it was a school holiday.

If anyone has any connections to a school that might entertain such an idea, I would be pleased to hear from them.

Thanks again everyone for your thoughts
teacherCanada is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 12:53 PM
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In the Citadel alone there are 3 mosques that are all quite different and allow tourists any time except Friday's during prayer.

Any guide book will tell you about them, or you can hire a guide to take you around to them all.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 01:58 PM
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As far as I know the Bedouin camp is just a tourist attraction. If you wanted to really see how the bedouin live you would need to go to the Sinai. There are a lot of tensions with the bedouin and you are not going to be shown this as a tourist.
Hope you have a good time.
nyctraveler212 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 02:13 PM
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And by the way, Barquq is on Mu'izz Street in Islamic Cairo quite near the Khan el-Khalili. There are no restrictions about entering it except when it's used for prayer time. I was there last November with other tourists. The smaller and older mosques are much more peaceful and atmospheric than the larger ones generally visited by tourists. The Mu'izz Street has been cleaned up quite a lot in the last year and it's fascinating to walk down it.
nyctraveler212 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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hi again tC! are you by any chance traveling with acis?
rdg703 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2008, 06:01 PM
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ahh sorry just realized you mentioned you were traveling with A-Z Travel. just thought i would ask, because i'm going on what sounds like the exact same trip with acis. hope you have fun, and i expect a full report so i can compare!
rdg703 is offline  
Sep 8th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Here's the web site to the Canadian International School in Cairo. http://www.cise-eg.com/

Here's the web site for Cairo American College. http://www.cacegypt.org/

They both have international (including Egyptian) students.
sunshine007 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2008, 04:30 PM
  #15  
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rdg703

It would be wonderful when we are travelling to meet up with you. Are you planning to be in Egypt in March 2009? Our travel dates are March 6 - 21.

Are you travelling with a school group as a chaperone? organizer? If you would like to connect, I would love to chat with you about experiences and potential to connect while we are in Africa. Let me know and we can share email connections.

Sunshine007

Thank you so much for the websites. I will contact both of them to see if we can arrange a meeting of students (if only for a short time). There are always safety concerns when 2 groups meet (from both points of view) and both sets of organizers would have to be comfortable with the arrangements. Thanks again.
teacherCanada is offline  
Sep 24th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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Hi Sunshine007

I have contacted the Canadian International School and am waiting for a reply.

I just want to update others who have expressed an interest in this trip. Presently there are 39 students and 9 adults going.

Tomorrow is an exciting day for us because all but two participants are getting on a bus and driving to Toronto to immerse ourselves in what little Egyptian culture we can find there.

In the morning we will go to Ontario Place (a cultural/recreation site located on the shores of Lake Ontario) to see the IMAX presentation called "Mysteries of Egypt" and a second IMAX movie called "Ring of Fire". The first movie stars Omar Sharif and is very well done. It shows the Valley of the Kings, the pyramids, the Nile etc. It will give the students an excellent idea of some of the places they will visit. It definitely shows climate and topography.

After a short drive we have lunch at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) where we have a guided tour of the Civilizations of Ancient Greece and Egypt exhibit in the afternoon. I've never seen it, but I am told is it very well done.

I was told early on in my student group chaperoning career that every stop needs a shopping time. So, after the ROM we will walk 2 kilometers to the Eaton Center shopping mall in downtown Toronto. Some of the students have said this is what they are most looking forward to. Oh well, I hope they enjoy the educational part of the day too!
teacherCanada is offline  
Sep 25th, 2008, 09:41 AM
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If you've read this forum I'm sure you'll already have some of these. But these are the practical things that it would have been nice to know, from my point of view.

You will end up negotiating for almost everything you buy during the trip. Be prepared.

Make sure you drink bottled water. It is readily available either at the shops at the hotel (where you will pay a small premium), some times from your bus driver, and at many of the small shops you'll see. I would avoid buying any at the tourist sites unless it is the official snack shop. make sure the cap is sealed when you buy it.

Take toliet paper with you. In your pack or purse. If the bathroom has an attendant, you are expected to tip. 1 EGP is more than enough. 1 dollar (us or can) would be excessive (but probably appreciated) I strongly recommend that when the guide recommends the facilities you use them. The next place you are headed may not have them, they may be an outhouse, or may just be icky. Hand sanitizer is your friend.

If your youngsters are used to snacking whenever they want. I suggest they bring granola bars or some thing with them. Tours don't stop for grocery breaks. When you do stop most North American brands are readily available so if you want a Snickers, Cheetoes, or Pizza Hut it is there. Soda is usually served in a cold can (they bring a glass) and without ice. Pepsi is far more common than Coke.

Caution the young ladies to dress modestly. Save the shorts for the cruise ship and Hurgahada.

As a blonde I had many children come up to touch my hair (and the occasional tug), no asking.

ATMs are fairly common, but they don't always work on the same network. Check the back of the ATM cards. In the hotels I was at. My card would work in 2 of the 4 ATMS in each lobby. So make sure you can get cash when you need to. There are currency exchanges in the larger hotels where you can exchange cash, but the ATM rate is a little better.

Don't worry about shopping in Egypt. It will find you. There are sellers "giving gifts" at Giza, as I recall they were scarab beads, arabian headdresses and postcards. They would give you three or four things and the demand an exhorbitant (sp) price for them. That is usually the first lesson in "NO" that you have to have. Don't even take the items if you can avoid it (unless you want scarab beads and then haggle for them) At Abu Simbel, Hatchepsuts Temple and Edfu they have a baazar at the end of the area as you walk back to the front gate. At Philia it is on the mainland / pier. There is a gift shop in Karnak. Most of the cornish in Luxor is shops so there is no trouble spending money. The salesmen will come to you at the Colosus of Memmon. (usually the first stop on the west side of the Nile so think carefully how heavy a pack you want to carry for the day, alabaster pyramids and king tut busts do add up - and are available every where) The only place I didn't really see shopping was Saqqara and the unfinished obelisk.

It will truly be an adventure in a new culture.
Diane60030 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Hi Diane60030 - I read your post with great interest as I am going to Egypt in January with GCT.Thanks for the info.
jerseysusan is offline  
Sep 25th, 2008, 10:51 AM
  #19  
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Since we just got back (well, a month ago), I thought I'd comment on our experience with respect to the items Diane commented on:

Make sure you drink bottled water. It is readily available either at the shops at the hotel (where you will pay a small premium), some times from your bus driver, and at many of the small shops you'll see. I would avoid buying any at the tourist sites unless it is the official snack shop. make sure the cap is sealed when you buy it.

Agree completely about drinking bottled water, but do not agree that I would avoid buying at the tourist sites. Why? We bought it anywhere it was sealed, cold and cheap. FWIW, the price should be 2.5 pounds for a LARGE bottle. They will start by asking for 5 or 10 pounds, just say "2 for 5" and walk away. Believe me, it worked.

Take toliet paper with you. In your pack or purse. If the bathroom has an attendant, you are expected to tip. 1 EGP is more than enough. 1 dollar (us or can) would be excessive (but probably appreciated) I strongly recommend that when the guide recommends the facilities you use them. The next place you are headed may not have them, they may be an outhouse, or may just be icky. Hand sanitizer is your friend.

We took lots of hand-wipes, Purel, toilet paper and seat covers (both of which are available - Charmin brand - in travel sizes). We didn't need any of them as much as we expected to, but there were one or two occasions when there was a bathroom with no toilet paper.

If your youngsters are used to snacking whenever they want. I suggest they bring granola bars or some thing with them. Tours don't stop for grocery breaks. When you do stop most North American brands are readily available so if you want a Snickers, Cheetoes, or Pizza Hut it is there. Soda is usually served in a cold can (they bring a glass) and without ice. Pepsi is far more common than Coke.

We were on a private tour, so we got to stop whenever we wanted (one of our favorite things about being on a private tour!). You don't want drinks with ice anyway, since the ice is made from tap water, and (see above), you want to stick to bottled water.

Caution the young ladies to dress modestly. Save the shorts for the cruise ship and Hurgahada.

As I've mentioned many times, I was advised on here "no breasts, no shoulders, no knees". I took that to heart, and mostly wore capris and t-shirts. However, our tour guide told us that since we're tourists, we can wear whatever we want and noone cares (of course, I have no idea what they were muttering in Arabic under their breath). Plus, we saw people in all manner of dress at all the sites. In fact, we saw one woman at the Great Pyramid in a bathing suit and see-through coverup. I'm not recommending it, just saying that the "modest dress requirement" is overstated.

As a blonde I had many children come up to touch my hair (and the occasional tug), no asking.

We had only one blonde in our group of six. I didn't notice this, but I'll ask her.

ATMs are fairly common, but they don't always work on the same network. Check the back of the ATM cards. In the hotels I was at. My card would work in 2 of the 4 ATMS in each lobby. So make sure you can get cash when you need to. There are currency exchanges in the larger hotels where you can exchange cash, but the ATM rate is a little better.

We never had one single problem with an ATM (Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Sharm) in hotels or otherwise (including within Khan Al Khalili, and a bank in Luxor). Also, we were told, and found to be true, that the exchange rate is fixed and is the same everywhere. We did not pay a commission at the "exchange" in our hotel - the rate was the same as the ATM, which is 5.3 L.E. to the US $. We did have difficulty using a credit card OR debit card at one store. I ended up paying in cash.

Don't worry about shopping in Egypt. It will find you. There are sellers "giving gifts" at Giza, as I recall they were scarab beads, arabian headdresses and postcards. They would give you three or four things and the demand an exhorbitant (sp) price for them. That is usually the first lesson in "NO" that you have to have. Don't even take the items if you can avoid it (unless you want scarab beads and then haggle for them) At Abu Simbel, Hatchepsuts Temple and Edfu they have a baazar at the end of the area as you walk back to the front gate. At Philia it is on the mainland / pier. There is a gift shop in Karnak. Most of the cornish in Luxor is shops so there is no trouble spending money. The salesmen will come to you at the Colosus of Memmon. (usually the first stop on the west side of the Nile so think carefully how heavy a pack you want to carry for the day, alabaster pyramids and king tut busts do add up - and are available every where) The only place I didn't really see shopping was Saqqara and the unfinished obelisk.

We pretty much bought nothing (a couple of papyruses) -- nothing of interest except trinkets, and I'm way beyond trinkets in my life. But the hawkers are everywhere, and of course, there's the markets in each town (and everyone sells exactly the same thing). By the way, it was at the Philae Temple (on the mainland), that we used our "2 for 5" strategy, and got two gloriously-freezing bottles of water! In the markets, we preferred to wander the more "local" areas - bread bakers, cloth markets and the like.

Hope that helps.
 
Sep 25th, 2008, 11:21 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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<<..... just saying that the "modest dress requirement" is overstated. >>

Appropriate dress is very much appreciated. Yes, you will see people in all sorts of outfits, but in 4 years of living there - I stuck to the modest dress philosophy whenever we went into town. Comments are made about people who don't dress appropriately, and no matter what is or isn't said....following the "no breasts, no shoulders, no knees" rule demonstrates a level of respect for the culture that is noted by people. Again, the cruises and beach areas are not an issue - casual attire is just fine.

<<As a blonde I had many children come up to touch my hair (and the occasional tug), no asking. >>

Touching blonde ("yellow/gold") hair is often considered to bring good luck.
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