Trafalgar Tour Trip Report

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Mar 26th, 2004, 11:13 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Trafalgar Tour Trip Report

When I was contemplating tours to Egypt, there wasn?t much information on Trafalgar, so I thought I would post my experiences. Took Trafalgar?s Real Egypt tour from March 12-21, 2004 and loved every minute of it! This is Trafalgar?s discounted Winter Breaks tour and I think we got excellent value considering what we paid. If you want total luxury or small tour groups, then by all means pay for a more expensive tour but for us, as long as we stayed in nice, clean hotels, ate decent food, and saw the incredible sites Egypt has to offer, we?d rather use that extra money to buy souvenirs! We thought the hotels and cruise ?ship? were all very good and your entrance to all the sites is included (except Abu Simbel and a couple other optionals).

I strongly recommend traveling to Egypt ? it is such an incredible place with so many amazing sites, very friendly people, great weather (when we went anyways ? low to mid 20?s, with a nice breeze every day), and your money certainly goes far there compared to North America and Europe. The tour is extremely well organized, you see all the major sites, and you?re not on a bus the whole time ? you get to experience many different means of transportation (train, bus, cruise boat, felucca, horse and carriage, plane, camel?). We went over March break so there was a large group ? 29 in our group and another 22 with another tour director. At other times, I would imagine the groups might be a little smaller. The tour is operated by Spring Tours in Egypt.

Pace of the tour: I would say that about 3 of the 7 days are long, with lots of touring packed in. The other days are more leisurely so you have time to relax or explore on your own. And if you?re too tired, you can always skip something and stay at the hotel or on the bus. Wake up calls were at 5am on 2 days so be prepared for that. The one day we were up that early was to tour West Luxor (Valley of the Kings, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, etc.) and if you are given the choice, it really is better to go early because there are fewer crowds and it?s not as hot. The other early wake-up was for our flight back to Cairo from Luxor, which was at 7:30am.

This tour includes an overnight sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan, rather than a flight. The cabins are small, as you would expect, the food was just okay, and it was a little noisy. I didn?t sleep much, but I?m a light sleeper, and I didn?t really mind since it saved us some money on the tour. Guess it depends what your priorities are. I?m glad I experienced it and it gave me a chance to see some of the countryside.

The tour directors have degrees in Egyptology and are extremely knowledgeable. They will give you a brief talk when you arrive at each site and point out particularly unique aspects of it and then you have free time to explore on your own. If you don?t know a lot about ancient Egypt, I would recommend reading up a bit on it before going, since you hear about so many gods and pharaohs it can get confusing.

Hotels:
Sofitel Sphinx (Cairo) ? we really liked this hotel. The lobby/restaurant/bar area was very nice, the rooms were clean and spacious, and the service was great. And you have a view of the pyramids! Some rooms are newer than others and the older room we stayed in at the start of the trip had noisy pipes, but it wasn?t really an issue. I would say this hotel is equivalent to maybe a Holiday Inn? For what you pay for this tour, I thought it was great.

Luxor Hilton ? The common areas and grounds of this hotel are very nice. Our tour director said it is nicer than the New Winter Garden hotel that Trafalgar also uses. We found the beds and pillows to be uncomfortable, but that might just be us. The buffet breakfast was not great, but we were there very early and they might have brought fresher breads and pastries out later on.

M/S Miriam (our cruise ?ship?) ? Also very nice. Rooms were larger than we expected, I enjoyed the food, and the service was very good. There is a small gift shop on board and a little swimming pool, which was quite cold so didn?t venture in. There was evening entertainment one night and we had a galabeya party another night, where we dressed up in Egyptian clothing (can rent it on the ship), ate Egyptian food, and danced/played games.

Photography: The only place anyone had to pay to use a video camera was at the Sound and Light Show at the Giza Pyramids (not sure how much). Didn?t have to pay for still cameras anywhere. Flash was not allowed inside the temples at Abu Simbel (found using a digital camera worked well there so I could lighten the pictures later) or inside the Egyptian Museum (but there was enough light in the museum that it didn?t matter). And you could not use any type of camera inside the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, but you?ll find many vendors who will sell you three sets of 20 postcards for 10EGP.

I definitely recommend going a day or two early so you have some time to recover from the jet lag and see some things on your own. Also, do the Abu Simbel optional. It?s worth it!

We were very careful about what we ate and drank and took an E-coli/Cholera vaccine before going and still had some stomach problems. So don?t forget the Gravol and Imodium!

Shopping: Unless you are going to buy all your souvenirs at the hotel gift shops, you will need to haggle for pretty much everything. I found this to be fun, but I know several people in our group got tired of it. The vendors will try to get your attention as you walk by and try to get you to come into their shops, but in most cases a strong, but polite ?no thank you? is enough to get them to leave you alone. Just be prepared for this and try to have fun with it. We found we generally ended up paying about a third of what they started at, so don?t be afraid to start low. But if they let you walk away, you generally know the item is worth more than you?re offering.

Not sure what else to report on and this is getting kind of long, so feel free to ask specific questions. You can also e-mail me at [email protected]. I don?t check that account all the time, but will definitely get back to you. Also, the Trafalgar Bulletin Board is a great resource if you are considering or have booked a Trafalgar tour.

Thanks to everyone for your help when I was planning the trip!
skidoo_chick is offline  
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Mar 26th, 2004, 05:05 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 304
Thanks for the trip report.I liked your little extra, details. I haven't taken a group tour before, but have considered it a few times.It is good to see a trip report once in a while that gives good details about them. You are right that not much gets posted about group tours. Sounds like you had a great trip.
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