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Travel with a tour or go it alone.

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Travel with a tour or go it alone.

I plan on going to Egypt in September for 3 weeks and I was wondering if anyone had advice about either traveling on my own or with a tour group? If I’m on my own will I be able to find tours at the major sights? Is transportation readably available to the major sights? Will I save any money if I go it alone compared to a booked trip? If anyone has any suggestions or advice about going on a booked week(s) long tour compared to going it alone I would greatly appreciate it.

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1. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

We have just come back from Egypt and Jordan. I booked it with a travel counsellor who used Peltours to give us all our transport and tours whilst we were there. It made everything very easy. I told them where we wanted to go and they worked it out for us.

Itinery was

Cairo - 2 nights

45 min Plane to Sharm el Sheik - 6 nights - £120.00 pp

2 hour Bus to Taba - 2 nights

10 min Bus to Taba marina

1hour ferry to Aquaba port Jordan

2 hour bus to Petra - 3 nights

Back to Aquaba - 1 night

Ferry to taba and 5 hour bus back to cairo - 1 night

You could do it yourself and it probably would be cheaper.

We preferred Petra in Jordan to the pyramids and i would recommend you to go if you can. This journey enabled us to cross 3 continents and go past 5 different borders. The total cost for 3 adults was £1884.00 in 5 star accomodation. Excluding flights from UK.

2. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

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3. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

We travelled to Egypt last summer for 4 weeks without booking a tour and were very glad that we did. Armed with Lonely Planet we mapped out our own trip and found ourselves often the only people at various sites. We had pre-booked our first 5 nights in Luxor on asiatravel.com We stayed at the Sonesta St. George. At bit over-the top decoration but with great Nile views and $45 a night. Wow! They offer the best prices. Tour groups arrive and depart within an hour at all the sites . In Luxor we hired a driver and told him where to go. In the Valley of the Kings we explored out of the way tombs in total tranquility. At the Tombs of the Nobles we were the only people there.

We arranged our own tour to Aswan. A driver was arranged and we stops at Edfu and Kom Ombo on route. We booked the New Cataract, although much maligned, offered stunning views and a fraction of the price for the hotel next door with which it shared facilities. Give the restaurant at the Sofitel a pass. The experience was amazing and the service very nice but at $150 a bit steep. Go up the hill to the Basma Hotel and eat on the terrace. In Aswan, again we organized a driver to take us to the coast ($250) near El Quesir. The town is sleepy but has lots of history and a step off the beach and you are swimming with millions of fish. Movenpick is excellent. If we had to do it again we would go further down the coast to Marsa Alam, beaches are calmer.

Next to Cairo, Deciding $500 was too much for a driver we braved the public bus. Catching it in the dark at 5 AM was a bit daunting but at $20 seemed a bargain. My partner was particularly unenthusiastic bur once we got on was fast asleep. Air-conditioned, lots of room, lots of pit stops at clean restaurants and clean bathrooms. The trip was very relaxing. In Cairo we started out at the Four Seasons. Overpriced and boring. Moved to the Victoria and had a retro time. I thought I was in the forties. Smell of beeswax floors, a clubby bar, a winter garden and hunting prints. Towells are not super thick and sheets are not Frette but the staff are more service-oriented than the Four Seasons and we loved the location. Close to the subway. Again we used Lonely Planet and enjoyed being by ourselves at many of the spots. At the Arabic Ceramic Museum, one staffmember was so happy to have a visitor that they even researched (they were extremely knowledgeable to begin with) one of our questions and answered us before we left. Another day we were the only visitors in an art gallery in a stunning French Belle Epoque mansion full of western art. The same is true of the Gayer-Anderson Museum.

In short, we had a super-flexible holiday. We booked the night train in Cairo. Took 5 minutes and enjoyed the staff. Used Gezira Travel in Zamalek for new bookings. They gave us Internet rates. One thing to keep in mind. Have lots of small bills to tip tomb and security guards. They are paid almost nothing and once you realize this your trip will be much more enjoyable. Usually the guide takes care of this. I was a rude guy for the first 2 or 3 tombs. I regret it. Take lots of pens. The guards give them to their children. If you are phsically able plan a loose trip with hotels before you leave, leaving 6 or 7 days at the end of your trip to decide what you want to do. Sorry I've gone on but it was a great trip. Any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me.



Kuala Lumpur...
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4. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

Hi Peter,

That was really amazing! Yes it is very adventurous to be travelling on your own but you will learn a lot and you will know the area very fast and easy to get everywhere. I did the Luxor and Aswan with tour guide as it is part of our package from Cairo but in Abu Simbel we are on our own but we did adventures ourselves to the down of Luxor and Aswan and went to the souk (market) by ourselves. It is really enjoyable!

Am glad that you both had a very nice time and thank you for posting your views and inform some good places for others to visit and especially the tip on having small change for the tips. Yes this people work for pennies and they are poor, bashees or tips is a way of the egyptian people and way of showing our gratitute and a way for us to make good deeds, of course you only give this to the one that really deserves them or really needed it (the poor)!

Kuala Lumpur...
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5. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

Hi Page,

Travelling around Cairo alone is safe provided you know where you are going and which areas.

Yes you would be able to find all the major sights if you go on your own but you will have to do all the travelling like transportation and buying tickets and everything since you didnt have a guide with you. This is all easy if you know the prices of the ticket and which bus or if you are taking a taxi with driver (do bargain the price) and also hired an aircond car with a driver and visit all the sites which far from the downtown like the Pyramid areas and then head to Citadel and dont forget to visit Mohamed Ali Mosque.

As for the Khan El Khalili, Coptic Museum, Gayer Anderson Museum, Ahmed Ben Tulun Mosque, old cairo, Islamic Ceramic museum and etc, you could do this easily by your own.

Here is some infos in the TA regarding Metro to the major sights.


As for visiting the Islamic Ceramic Museum it is near the Marriott Hotel in the Zamalek area and the address is Gezira Arts Center, Al-Sheikh Al-Marsafi St . Fom El Tahrir Square take bus 13, minibus 47 and 49 and from Ramses Square: minibus 47 or from Giza Square: minibus 103. Opening hours are from 9.30am-1.30pm & 5.30pm-10pm.

here is the website: http://www.icm.gov.eg/E_introduction.html

If you prefer to avoid all the hassles, then you should go with the local tour agents which you could find everywhere in Cairo and at your hotel which offer several tour trips. Another thing also it is good if you are going there in Ramadan time as to avoid the traffic jams!

Just bear in mind that Ramadan is the fasting month of the muslim which will start beginning of the 12th September - 13th October 2007. It would be very interesting to travel during this time cos:

1. You will find some shop operating but most will start operating from 12.00 pm onwards.

2. Fast food will opens but some will open late.

3. You will see how the muslims do the fasting and find a lot

Ramadan Tent operates by some organisations or rich individuals or hotels during this time for free to the people who didnt make it home or less fortunate to break their fast and the food serve here are clean and good quality. You migh experience this too.

4. People are very generous during this time of the month and would not be surprise if you get an invitation to spend the ramadan break fast with any of the egyptian family.

5. The traffic will be worse during this time especially from 1.00 pm onwards as people are rushing home to break fast at 5.30 pm!

6. Leave early in the morning to the major sighs and avoid the traffic during above time! You will it difficult to find a taxi during this hours too.

7. Most taxi will start operating after the Tarawihk prayers (which is done during the month of Ramadan) at 7.45 pm onwards.

All major tourist site are open during Ramadan only close at the break fast time. Taxi is everywhere with no air-cond! have to bargain before riding it. Bus and metro also available. Yes if you go on your own, it is cheaper than booking tour but you will have to do everything on your own.


Hope this help you.

Kuala Lumpur...
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6. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

By the way, type 'tour guide' in the box next to the cairo forum and you will see all the recommendation. I try to paste it here for you but it is too big!

Liverpool, United...
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7. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

You have already had a lot of good replies, so I will just add on a few things.

Going it a alone is do able, just depends if you like to travel as an individual, or would be ok with being part of a group and sharing your experience with the other members. I went on an AK cruise in February, with my daughter, one of the good memories I have from the trip was the interaction between us and the other people in our "group", I had not expected that, as I like to do things on my own normally.

Three weeks is quite a long time - so perhaps you could divide it up, partially being in a tour group and partially doing your own thing ?!

In Cairo there are some good tour guides and small companies who could provide you will interesting schedules, tailored to your needs (Heart of Egypt is one, and Casual Detours another). Recently on the Cairo forum there have good recommendations for tour guides, and pleasant drivers who can also help you see the places you are interested in. You would not need to have a guide or driver everyday, many places are easily accessible, and all you need to to is get a good guide book, read a bit in advance and plan your days. Choosing a central hotel is also important.

If you want some beach relaxation, this would not be be a tour, but you could book through an Egyptian Travel Agency, make a search here and many recommendations will come up.

Luxor and Aswan can be a cruise of staying in hotels and using a guide and also getting about on your own.

You can cut costs by selecting hotels which are average in price but are highly recommended by TA members (i.e. Longchamps Hotel in Cairo and Sara Hotel in Aswan). In these smaller type hotels there is also a good chance of meeting others who can share their experience and help you plan your activities, and I think all together more friendly than the huge luxury hotels, which can seem rather impersonal especially if you are travelling alone.

Short note on Ramadan, it will be during the time of your visit, in the beach resorts it will not make any difference, but here in Cairo there can be some disadvantages for the traveler, monuments etc. will close earlier than normal, traffic in the 2 hours preceeding the "Breakfast" time (sunset) is crazy, everyone wants to get home or to the place they will be eating, so it can be very stressful, so it will affect your visit, and for me personally I don't think it is great, but as long as you take those points in consideration it would be ok.

Hope to have been of some help.


Knoxville, Tennessee
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8. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

I have put a lot thought into this very issue as we have ALWAYS traveled along and made all arrangements on the web or by phone.

Some tour company's really nice canned tours on a private basis. We searched out the one which hit all the sights we wanted to visit at a pace which wasn't too rushed. Our favorite was a 24 day tour offered by Travel In Style out of San Francisco and their 3 day add on tour to Petra. The 24 day tour is at: travelinstyle.com/egypt/24daysluxuryNo_Air.h…

We wanted to use nice hotels, have private guides and a day or two of R&R thrown in from time to time which this tour offered except on the cruise where it was an additional $200 for private tours.

NEXT, I went on line and attempted to make the same trip on my own getting quotes for air, hotels and entry fees. What I found was I could not book the trip on my own and save enough to make it worth it. Without even including considering the meals, guides and cars included I could get to within about $1000 per person or so. What we have finally decided is that for the first time we'll be taking a tour but avoiding being herded like cattle by keeping all tours limited to the two of us along with a qualified guide and driver.

Hope this helps,


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9. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

Hi Page, I suggest you can travel with your own, and you will have own personal guide and air-con transport and you will save money. If you decid to book trip, you can book when you arrive and you will save some money.

Cairo tour is as follows.....................................................

Days 1- Cairo




Antiqities Museum

You would have your own personal guide and air-con transport

Day 2- Cairo



Hanging Church

Day 3- Cairo

Sultan Hassan Mosque

Albaster Mosque of Mohamed Ali

Solar boat Museum

You could fly or sleeper train dawn to Luxor

Luxor tour is as follows........................................................

West Bank 1- half day tour

Colossi of Memnon

Valley of Kings

Hatshepsut's temple

Medint Habu

West Bank 2- half day tour

Valley of Queens

Valley of Nobles

Valley of Workers


East Bank half day tour

Karank temple

Luxor temple

Edfu and Kom Mbo with convoy early morning full day tour

Aswan full day tour

Abu Simple.

Hope this helps,

Have nice trip.

Knoxville, Tennessee
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10. Re: Travel with a tour or go it alone.

One more thing I forgot to include in my reply.

One important factor in the discussion is the length of the trip you intend to take. If you are only going for 4-5 days the tour is relatively simple then by all means, it is a relatively easy decision, make your own plans without the use of a tour company.

However if you are spending quality time there and plan to see a large portion of what there is to see then there is a lot more that has to be researched and set up which may weight your decision.


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