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Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

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lausanne
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Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

We are a couple from Switzerland wanting to travel to Egypt for 10 days. Is it easy to organise tour guides etc from cairo, luxor, aswan etc or should we pre-organise with a travel agency before we go (given that we only have 10 days in Egypt). Furthermore, we would like to know the approximate difference in price between organising the trip ourselves and pre-organising by a travel agency. Cheers

Australia
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for Cairo, Egypt, Nile River Valley, Luxor
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1. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

Hi Pirate,

That will depend on the individual tastes it is difficult to advise, some people loathe escorted tours and prefer the private tours.

I have done both and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

The escorted tours are good for a first trip because you get a good overview of the Country and you get a "feel" for the place. Plus all of the hassles of transfers, entrance fees,etc are taken care of. On the downside, Egypt is a developing country and you will receive a fair amount of "hassle" from vendors, some people find this intimidating, being part of a large group reduces the amount of hassle. On an escorted tour, the schedule is pretty rigid and the time at sites is limited, you have to wait around for other people etc.

Egypt is really easy to travel around independently and it is relatively cheap to hire guides and cars/taxis for the day. I would suggest that if you choose to organise yourselves, that you buy a good travel guide like Lonely Planet of the Rough Guide, this will help you decide on your itinerary.

It is difficult to give you a price difference because it would depend on what you decide (hotel standard/ nile cruise/sites you visit/ whether you fly or train between cities). Generally tours are cheaper with Egyptian tour operators, you can email some and ask them to put together a program for you. Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide will give you the names of some reputable operators.

Whatever you decide Im sure you will love Egypt and like so many of us decide that one trip is not enough.

Good luck,

Nefertari

malta
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2. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

George hammster out and about again , and heading to Egypt from Malta in April . Reading the reply , and I must admitt the tasks of pre-organised verse self tours are daunting . Please keep posted on any insights you might have on this subject .

Long Island, NY
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3. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

I just got back from a two week solo trip to Egypt and will give you my thoughts on the matter. Prior to leaving I had considered, very strongly, whether or not to book a full tour. I ultimately decided against it as a)I like to be flexible and b) I couldn't justify spending such a large amount of money on someone/thing that I met on the internet -- basically I didn't know who to trust so I decided to trust myself.

Now that the trip is done I am glad I did it the way I did however there were many times when I was in Egypt that I wished I would have taken a tour as it would have made things a lot easier. It's one thing to sit at home, looking through a lonely planet guide and say "I am going to see this, this and that". It's a lot harder t oactually do that in country as the logistics can prove daunting if you don't speak or read Arabic or if you are not willing to be blatantly ripped off. I also felt that being in a tour group would have prevented a lot of the hassles I got along the way and at some places I found it beneficial to tell people that I was in a tour group that was getting ready to leave so I couldn't stay and "chat" or ride their damn camel.

As far as price goes, my trip cost around 1500 USD and that included RT airfare from NYC, a flight from Luxor to Sharm and the sleeper train to Luxor from Cairo. I stayed at budget hotels and never spent more than 15USD a night on lodging. I ate breakfast in the hotels and would usually have a small lunch on the street. For dinner I ate out every night and didn't look at prices. I spent 3 days in Cairo, 1 day in Alex, 4 days in Luxor and 5 days in Dahab (because I couldn't get a return visa, in time, to Egypt from Jordan) and one day on buses. I figure I saved at least a few hundred dollars along the way but also had a lot of fun planning the trip in the months precedding my arrival.

I visited:

In Cairo: Giza Pyramids, Saqqara, Dahshur, Memphis, the Egyptian Museum (plus both mummy rooms).

In Alex: Ptolemy's pillar, the catacombs and the fort.

In Luxor: Karnak, Rammesseum, Medinat Habu, Tomb of Nobles, Tomb of Queens, Hatsheput's Temple and Tomb of Kings.

I did take a few day tours, organized through the hotels, to get to some harder to reach sites.

If I was to return to Egypt (I don't think I will -- the world is too big) I would definitely do it solo again as I feel a bit more confident about travelling there now. I would also want to spend a lot more time. I think a month would be sufficient. However I would, for a first timer, with limited time to spend, recommend considering a tour. It makes it a lot easier. Once in Egypt it took me about a week to get comfortable about my surroundings etc.

That being said some of my fondest memories came from things that I would have not had been able to do if I was in a tour. For example, I spent 4 hours in Karnak temple and 45 minutes of that were spent copying down hieroglyphics. I couldn't had done that if I was part of a tour. I also spent alot of time relaxing. Most days I would spend the morning touring sites and then the afternoon I would spend hanging out in the hotel reading, journalling and talking to new friends I met along the way (one of the best parts of the trip).

As you can see, I can't give you a definitive answer. It's a tough decision and it really depends on your personality. I think it might be easier for a couple to travel solo than an individual because you will have company along the way! Plus I think it is easier, psychologically, to travel with a companion.

good luck and happy travels

Mike

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

read the following:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294201-i9404-k665…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294201-i9404-k462…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294201-i9404-k366…

US
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21 posts
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5. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

I can not help you with rates to compare between organized tours and organizing alone, but in my point of view it is much relaxing and less headache to have our tour organized completely with all its details so we had our time just to enjoy.

You can view report in this link

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294201-i9404-k976…

Ireland
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6. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

We are just back from a trip to Luxor and Aswan. Organising visits yourself when you arrive is much cheaper than booking through a tour agent, and gives you more time to explore the sites. Entrance fees to sites are fixed so the main saving is on transport costs. Depending on your haggling/negotiating skills you can save quite a bit. Visits to sites on the east bank in Luxor - Luxor Temple, Karnak, Luxor Museum - are easily arranged. A taxi costs about €1 and tickets can be purchased at the entrance. For the West Bank - Valley of the Kings etc - you can travel by taxi from Luxor or get the ferry across the Nile and hire a taxi on the other side. Our European tour operator quoted something like €30 per person for a morning at the Valley of the Kings. Instead four of us hired a taxi and driver for €15 in total. The driver drove us there and back and waited while we visited the tombs. Quite a saving. If you opt for tour agents there are quite a few near the Winter Palace Hotel whose prices are considerably lower than those quoted by European travel agents. For Aswan trips to Abu Simbel can usually be arranged through your Aswan hotel. Take a coach rather than a minibus. The trip is a long one and the extra comfort is worth it.

Cairo - Egypt
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7. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

I always vote for organized tours. No arrangements from your side and no worries, just plain entertainment and fun. Some organized tours might be slightly more expensive, but most are not. With an organized tour you'll always be able to see and do much more in a relatively shorter time.

Great time in Egypt.

Vancouver, B.C.
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8. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

Organized tours are good in that you don't have anything to worry about in securing transportation or tickets. However you are limited in the amount of time you have for any one site. This applies not only to Cairo but to tours |'ve done of London and Paris. The guide or company will also try to steer you to certain stores or restaurants where they get a kickback. Again this is not just a Cairo thing but a worldwide problem with a organized tour.

Cairo - Egypt
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9. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

Strongly agree with TechBoy.

However, you can also bridge the cons you mentioned of organized tours by:

1. First day, take the organized tour. Next day, be on your own and go back to only one or two places where you feel you need more time and focus.

2. NEVER buy anything on your first day of "exposure" no matter how good or cheap things might appear. Take more time to watch and listen, then you'll do much better on your next bargains!

Cheers.

Sydney
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10. Re: Travel to Egypt - organised tour vs organising alone

Just a few thoughts.

I too have often thought of all this but nearly always travel to the same formula. I do an organised small group trip for the first couple of weeks, gain my "feet" so to speak, and then branch out on my own. (By small group I mean no more than 15 maximum - any more and it can feel like a school excursion.)

The benefits of the organised trip are that they allow you to get to and from places quickly. You do not waste time looking for sites, accommodation, meals etc. You also have a guide who is able to explain the significance of the architecture etc. You do not know what this means until you are exposed to it. This is doubly significant in a country like Egypt where our small group had the benefit of an Egyptologist at each place like Luxor, Edfu etc. and at the museum in Cairo.

You also have the benefit of local knowledge. People miss out on some extremely fantastic things simply because they were not aware of them - for example, my personal favourite place, the Gayer Anderson Museum in Cairo and the Kahilily Markets.

On the negative, you are not always able to linger at places for the amount of time you want. But alternatively it is great to share the joy with someone else, so that can make up for this. I found on our trip that we travelled and visited sites in the mornings and rested in the afternoons - particularly when we were on the cruise down the Nile.

Another negative is that the tour guides often have their own little deals going with things such as Felucca (sailing boat) rides. But I guess this is the price you pay. I cannot imagine that the owner of the boat received the sum that we had all paid. I think this is how our guide supplemented his income.

By the time you have been with your small group trip you have picked up enough language and know how to go it alone. (And I am a mature aged female.)