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Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Norway
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Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Hi Everyone,

The boyfriend and I are looking to go to Egypt in the beginning of April- 2 full days in Cairo and 2 full in Luxor flying to Luxor, so really 6 dayswith travel.

What I would like some advice on is whether to do the full service tour companies (pick up at airport, book hotel and domestic flight, tours etc etc) OR do just the tours with whomever to all the sites, or to not even bother with tour guides.

Some info: both young and fit, we went to Turkey last summer and did Istanbul on our own, traveled on the buses/trams and everything or just walked! Didn't mind it at all-it probably added to the experience. The only tour we did was a group one at the Blue Mosque and Haga Sofia since we felt we wouldn't get as much out of the visit without one.

So! Questions:

-Is there any benefit to having these companies book hotels and/or domestic flights, or would I be better off doing that on my own?

-Is it that much of a pain to get around Cairo by taxi to the various places? I have no problems being firm and negotiating, and have read enough to know to make sure the fare is for the cab, not pp and is in E£, but the boyfriend is worried it will get old catching cabs all the time.

-Would we get 'hassled' less if we had a guide with us? We were talked to and approached non-stop in Istanbul, which didn't really bother us but might be nice to have a bit more peace if that makes sense.

-Can you hire local guides for the day ie someone to take us to the west bank attractions for the day and take us back to the hotel and just that, no lunch etc etc. If there are local guides available are they as good, safe, well priced? Where would I book one?

-Are there worse lines to get attraction tickets if you don't have a guide?

-Balloon tours in Luxor...is it worth it?

Apologies for the looooong post, I would appreciate any feedback!!!

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Nile River Valley, Egypt
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1. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Hi, I will try to answer some of your queries.

It is easy to book internal flights in Egypt via www.egyptair.com Put 'egypt' as your home country for the best prices. Being flexible with times may get you a bargain.

Cairo - You can easily get a taxi though you will have to haggle a price. One place I know of is www.thebluecab.com who will price your trip beforehand. Their charges are clearly set out. It will be slightly more expensive than getting one on spec. I would suggest that you read a good guidebook and have a plan of what you intend on seeing. Traffic is a nightmare in Cairo so bear this in mind too. Friday is a good day to sightsee there as the traffic is not so bad.

Of course you could get a guide who will organise transport too. Prices really vary enormously but so does quality. Type 'guides' into the search engine for more help.

I personally have used two companies. Private message me if you want details. I would also say if you do choose a guide then make sure you research them thoroughly on here and take on board all good and bad points. Also be aware that sometimes the reviews of the guides can be a little suspect.

Luxor - You can hire a guide for the morning or day. They normally do a morning tour to the West Bank. Probably would be something like, Colossi of Memnon, Valley of Kings and or Queesn , Hatshepsut's temple and maybe Medinat Habu. Lunch would not be included as you would probably be back at your hotel by then. Having a guide should not make a difference with queues.

Plenty of places to book one. There are a few by the Old Winter Palace hotel in the town. If you want to organise tours beforehand via the internet then I have a couple of email addresses for prices.

Try and visit the Workers/Artisans tombs too as they are so colourful and worth the extra money in my opinion.

Luxor temple is in the town so you could easily do this yourself. Karnak temple is out of the town but easily reached via taxi. Again a good guidebook would be helpful.

Balloon trip - done it twice and loved it. Prices vary again with different agents and hotels.

Read my travelers list on Luxor for more info.... tripadvisor.co.uk/GoListDetail-i18252-Luxor_…

Hope this helps a bit.

Karen

Edited: 21 January 2010, 13:50
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2. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Hi,

We just got back from a tour of Egypt with Travel Egypt - I would not recommend using them. The hotels were very nice, but ran into lots of problems with the rest.

The problem with tours is you are on their agenda not yours, so you don't always get the amount of time you want. We were rushed through sites, so we could stop at pre-arranged shopping destinations. We only had about an hour at the Pyramids & Sphinx, but were then taken to a papyrus shop where we were given unlimited time. It was really frustrating for us, as shopping was not our priority.

Having a guide with you does not affect the constant hassling (it wears you out) and you do not have an advantage with lines. The one advantage I can see with a guide is that you must tip everyone all the time. It is hard to know what the correct tip amount is, so having a guide can help smooth over this.

Also, just an FYI - have lots of small Egyptian $ on you at all times, as there are no "free" bathrooms.

Hope this helps a little.

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3. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Tammie

One of our 1st statements on booking a tour/guide is - we don't do Papyrus/Alabaster/Perfume etc.!!

We tend to use the same company in Luxor. They have got the message!!

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Norway
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4. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Thanks for all of the helpful advice!

I think we have decided to do private guides if only to have someone to drive us around as I know Cairo can be stressful that way. Most of the companies I have emailed do not listen to what I told them we want to see, but a couple independent types have so we may just go with one of them.

TammieLS -Sorry to hear about your experience. I emailed TravelEgypt, but have not got a response yet, but I will certainly delete it now! Thanks for the tip on bathrooms, I have gotten used to that living in Oslo, sometimes it costs $2 to use one.

eLaReF -I have made it quite clear in my emails we do not want camel rides, shop tours etc etc so hopefully we won't have a problem. The ones who respond and still give me it on the itenerary get deleted.

Would you mind sharing what hotels you stayed at?

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5. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Never stayed over in Cairo but stayed in two different hotels in Luxor.

Jolie Ville hotel - out of the main town area (10 mins via taxi or free sh

uttle bus) but in great surroundings. Set on its own island with an adults pool and an infinity pool overlooking the Nile. Hotel is of a nice standard and the gardens are beautiful. Rooms are bungalow style so no high rise blocks.

Mercure Hotel - In the main town near to the local ferry terminus and Luxor Temple. 3 star hotel which I actually enjoyed. Rooms either overlook the Nile/road , pool or gardens. Ideally situated if you like to walk and dine in the town area.

I have done reviews on both hotels if you click on my name and go onto my contributions.

Karen

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6. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Hersheym50

I can sympathise with your non-responses to e-mail requests

We sent 20 out for our May trip to Luxor last year. Well over half of the replies ignore ANYTHING we had asked and looked as if they were an automated reply full of the standard tours.

One even offered, despite saying 'ENGLISH-SPEAKING', the services of a FRENCH-speaking guide.

Maybe 5 replied to our requests, but all were far more expensive than organising it on arrival with a local travel company we had used previously.

Admittedly we had plenty of time, so weren't trying to book for our 1st day or anything like that.

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soccer77bry
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7. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

I'll be flying into Cairo on a thursday night (in May) and flying out the following wednesday, so ~5 full days. I was thinking about doing an overnight train down to Luxor for sat and sunday but am thinking that it might rush my time in cairo and in luxor if i were to go. Do you think a day trip to Alexandria would be the smarter move. Luxor seems like it is more "at the heart" of Egypt and has a lot of beautiful monuments, that is why i'm torn. Help!

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8. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

Just my opinion but with only 5 days, I would concentrate on Luxor and Cairo and fly between the two. The train is often delayed by several hours and the prices for flights/train are roughly the same.

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9. Re: Looking for some opinions for Cairo and Luxor!

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