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An observer finally speaking out ...

Reseda, California
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An observer finally speaking out ...

So I sit browsing through the post here on tripadvisor drinking some wine and relaxing this Friday evening as I day dream of my travels abroad to Egypt. Over the last few months Ive been silently observing the multiple discussions here (as well as a few other sites) and absorbing the extremely useful info that others have already provided which will hopefully provide me with some added knowledge making for smooth travels. Now with my trip only 9 days away I do have a few questions (Im a wait until the last minute kinda guy lol) and want to thank anyone in advance for their input. I will be traveling solo and here is my itinerary ..

Dec 24th - 27th I will be staying at the Iberotel Luxor .. I was planning a day trip to Aswan via train

Dec 28th - 31st Dahab (Dahab Hilton) and of course plan on doing Mt Sinai and was contemplating a day trip to Petra (I know more time is needed than a day to really see it but it is what it is)

Jan 1st - 6th in Cairo (Talisman Hotel)(leaving early on the 7th) and was planning a day trip to Alexandria ..

With the cities listed above I do plan to see all of the usual suspects (Valley of the Kings, Karnak, Mt Sinai, The Great Pyramids, etc ..)

First off in my past travels and since Im traveling alone I tend to be more a wing it kinda guy waiting until Im sitting in my hotel in each city to plan my daily events. Doing it that way I find gives me a sense of freedom that is really the root of who I am .. However since Egypt is a county where bargaining is way of life would I be better to organize a few things a head of time to save on time, hassle and $ ..? Again Im in it for the adventure but knowing that I do want to see the main tourist sites would I benefit from booking ahead or would the hotels I mentioned provide me with a "fair" service ...

Sharam airport to Dahab, Hilton offered a cab service for 70 usd one way, since I don't mind adventure will I save a few bucks figuring it out outside the airport or is taking the bus (for the ultimate adventure) an option? or is 70 usd a "fair" price for service?

Photography is my passion and I plan on bringing some of my gear, what can I and can't I take pictures of?

And lastly for now, tattoos and Piercings .. I have a few lol (I look good with em LOL) Should I cover up or will I be ok? I don't mind curious individuals and will gladly talk about them but will I offend anyone?

Haha well I've rambled on enough with my wine buzz .. thanks again for any input ..

Jim

Knoxville, Tennessee
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1. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

Jim,

The camera will not even be allowed in the Cairo musuem or in the tombs in the VOK, VOQ,the tombs of the nobles or the pyramids of Giza.

In the Luxor Musuem you can take the camera but can not use the flash. Same for the temples of Abydos and Dendera, the solar boat musuem in Giza, Coptic Church in Cairo, Gayer Anderson House, temples at Abu Simbel, St Catherines at Mt Sinai, Alexandria Library, catacombs in Minya and including the tombs at El Armana.

Photography is not limited at all in Luxor and Karnak temples, Giza exterior sites, Citidal at Alexandria and a few other places.

Hope this helps. If I left out a place you are visiting ask me about it as we visited so many places I may have left something out.

Some enjoy haggling and I suppose I do to a degree but in Egypt it becomes very tiring. Everyone is trying to take as much money as possible from you. I understand why it is done. The people are very poor. But it is tiring after a few days. You will be offered special access, special opportunities, better photo angles, special price and just about everything special you can imagine every time you step outside your hotel (well almost). Don't let it worry you just be aware nothing is free. Absolutely nothing. If you accept an offer by a guard to take a photo of you at the entrance to a site expect to be asked strongly for cash after as an example.

Have a great trip. It is a vey special destination and the people are very very friendly overall.

Chris

Long Island, NY
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2. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

Chris: A little confused by your instructions re: taking pictures....am I to assume that you cannot take pictures at the VOK or VOQ? I've seen so many photos, I would be heartbroken not to be able to take any. I am hoping that I misinterpreted your remark and that photos are allowed outside but not inside (although I have seen so many taken inside the tombs as well) I don't use flash so that won't be a problem for me, but please explain what the rules are with a little more detail. Thank you.

adelaide, australia
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3. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

you can take photos in the vok area, but not inside any of the tombs. it dosn't matter if you don't use a flash or not, they just don't let you take any photos inside the tombs in the vok.

the other thing i found strange was they don't allow any video, not only inside the tombs, but nowhere in the valley at all.

have fun. daz.

Long Island, NY
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4. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

Daz: I know coming from New York, I'm probably paranoid....but it could be they won't allow video because they're afraid of a terrorist attack. I know you are very limited to what you can photograph in NY these days and they do crack down. but thanks for the info. Outside shots of the pyramids should be fine....I buy books as souveniers and I'm sure they'll be selling them all over. Happy Holidays and enjoy your summer!!!! We're freezing in NY!

London
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5. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

It's probably not very practical to plan on making a day trip from Luxor to Aswan by train. The journey takes just over 3 hours, but the trains are invariably late leaving from Luxor - delays of 3 hours aren't at all uncommon. There are only around 3 trains each day that tourists can use; these are the airconditioned deluxe trains, and quite honestly, you really wouldn't want to travel on the other trains anyway. It's highly likely you wouldn't get to Aswan until well after midday, which wouldn't leave much time for sightseeing before you would have to catch the train back again.

Knoxville, Tennessee
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6. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

Sorry I may not have been clear. Sure you can take all the still pics you like in the VOK, VOQ...etc but just not in the tombs themselves. In fact the officials won't even allow you to enter the tomb with a camera. They will hold it and give you a ticket to get it back when you exit.

The other poster is correct in that you can not even enter the valley with a video camera. If you have a nice still pic camera they will inspect it to determine if it will also take video. This also occurs at the Sound and Light Show at Giza.

Sounds like I am very much like you in that I take a ton of pics on our trips and love to go back and review them to relieve the trip.

The dust around the Giza pyramids is quite fine (like much of Egypt) and if any wind comes up the fine particles fly around pretty bad and are really rough on a camera so try to take a small case if nothing else to put it in when you are not using it. A button on one of ours began to stick as we were about half way thru our first visit there and I'm sure it was the dust that caused. To this day I can not make it stop.

If you are in Aswan you can get some great shots of the boats in the river from the Old Cataract Hotel not.

Write if you have any questions,

Chris

New Mexico, US
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7. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

Hi Gottagocit,

If your P&S camera has video capability (seems that all new models have this feature) what to the guards do? I purchased a Canon G10 specifically to take on this trip next week. While it's a little larger than your standard pocket camera, it's not nearly as large as an SLR and doesn't have interchangeable lenses. Any idea if they'll take it away at VOK/VOQ because it can take video - or do they just warn you not to use video? Personally, I could do without video in my P&S camera, but that's what you get these days.

Thanks!

Oak Park, Illinois
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8. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

I don't usually respond to postings because I have not been to Egypt since January 2007, and others generously share their more recent experiences. However, I can relate to some of your questions, having a 20-something daughter who spent +4 months in Cairo.

Others have given you good guidance on most of your other questions. However, you still haven 't gotten an answer about the tattoos & piercings. I expect that Egyptians in tourist areas have seen it all, and are just as happy to take your money as that of anyone else. Those in the trade typically speak over 5 languages, and are used to accommodating anyone who speaks the common language: cash.

You have enough time in Luxor to consider going north to Abydos/Dendera. I assume you have a guide book. Read up on them; they may interest you. You may also want to do a hot air balloon ride in Luxor one morning. You can make these arrangements in Luxor when you get there, at one of the agencies near the Winter Palace. You might also consider a day trip to Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo. The Luxor Museum is well worth a visit. Aswan is very charming, but you probably don't have time for it.

You have a generous amount of time in Cairo. In addition to the usual sites, I recommend Coptic Cairo, especially with a knowledgeable guide. My daughter took some of her best photographs in this area, but we would probably not have seen them without our Coptic guide. Al Azhar Park is a great place for panoramic photos, and nobody will quibble about your gear. Try to be there at sunset. She also took some great photos at the garden walk at the south end of Zamalek Island. No advance planning is needed for these sites.

It is more than prudent to learn some of the local language. If you still have time, check out an Egyptian Arabic language DVD from your local library. It will be very beneficial for you to be able to communicate to Cairo taxi drivers where you want to go and how much you are willing to pay. Don't worry if the first few drivers shrug and leave you behind; there will always be another who will accept your offer if it is reasonable.

I hope you will post a trip report when you return. Have a fabulous time!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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9. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

I hope someone clarifies this! As another poster stated, all new digital cameras have video capabilities.

Knoxville, Tennessee
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10. Re: An observer finally speaking out ...

Webwalker,

The point and shoot I sometimes carry also has video capability and it happened to be the one I took along to the sound and light show in Giza. It's pretty dated and the video is pretty limited.

If it doesn't look like a typical video camera I would not worry about it. At most places you'll visit there are a lot of tourist coming and going and security is very busy. Only two places we visited had this restriction and we saw just about every corner of Egypt. They may ask to look at the camera but if it doesn't look like a video camera they just aren't going to have a lot of time to worry about it and don't want be seen as harrasing tourists either.

Many cell phones also record video but they don't worry about those either, neither should you.

Go and have a great trip.

Chris