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Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

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Montreal
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Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Hey folks, time to give feedback :)

Spent 14 days in Egypt Oct08, 6 days Cairo,4 days Luxor and 4 days in Aswan

I have found Egyptians to be proud people and always let you feel welcome. GO Egypt ! :)

Cairo : Was staying at the Nile Hilton, busy place downtown, lots of action, great pool, only downside was the El Mojito which was playing super loud music from 22:30 to 3:00 AM (yes I did complain to management and posted a review here).

1-Visited Cairo museum, walking distance 5 mins. Expect alot of tourists in the morning but afternoon (late) is quiet. Some guides will wonder the grounds (after ticket booth) and offer services to guide you threw. They offer 60 to 80 pounds depending on you negotiating skills for a 2 hour run. To be honnest I had the Lonely Planet book and I was just fine. It all depends on what type of person you are, did you research before ? internet,films,documentary ect.....Museum is not what you would expect in Europe or NAm but it does give a dusty Indiana Jones feeling to it. Some rooms do not have A/C and it's a bit hot. I took 4 hours to do it ( I did linger in some rooms) but 3 hours would be enough. Do pay to visit the royal mumies it's well worth it so see a vision of the past.

2-Visited Coptic Cairo, easy subway access from Nile Hilton ( 4 stations, stop off at Mari Girgis)

Subway is cheap and easy access (1 EGP). Lots fo people, i timed my visit (morning rush hour) to see everyday people to better understand the Egyptian people. From subway is like 100 meters, very easy can't miss it, you can visit the churches and synagogue in about 2-3 hours, there is a Orthodox cemetary behind all of it, only the museum as a fee to enter but the rest is all free.

3- Visited (on a tour) Memphis,Saqqara,Titi and Giza/Sphinx (also included papyrus factory and carpet factory) but no purchases were obligatory. I paid 320 pounds (about 65$ CAD at the time). I had the driver+guide+all entry tickets (excluding 80 pounds to go inside Giza if you wanted to go) and it was a mini van with AC and 6 places, well worth the price. Memphis is a quick visit, 2 or 3 monuments and the statue inside buidling (no more than 30 mins visit) but interesting. Memphis is a very poor area was actually shocking (pollution,water supply ect..). Saqqara is much better than Giza, and we go to visit inside The Pyramid of King Titi. Giza is super tourist spot, almost like Walt Disney, way to many people. Guide warned us about Camel guys, don't pay more than 40 pounds...and yes they do bring you a distance in the plateau then ask you for more money to go back (not all of them but some) so be pro-active and negotiate properly. Because of the camels and horses I found manure everywhere, it was a bit dirty as well, rusty bottle caps everywhere. Most Egyptians I talked to were upset that the Gov doesn't put more focus on telling people about preserving ruins ect....

4-Visited Islamic Cairo/Mosques/Citadel. This was a good part of my trip, I learned alot about Islamic culture that day. Took same deal (via Amex counter inside Nile Hilton) got driver+guide,all entry tickets and i was alone this time 320 pounds(about 65$ CAD at the time), was half a day could have paid cheaper but was getting lazy. Went to Citadel to visit Mosque there and a bit of the Citadel, good city view (well after the smog goes away) around 11AM. My guide was a young man 27 years old, explained to me the prayer details,what,where and why, was very interesting. I visited on a friday so I did it early in the morning before they close the Mosques for friday morning prayers.

Luxor: Stayed at the Ibero Hotel, 5 mins walk to Luxor Temple, 15 mins walk to Luxor Museum and 40 mins walk to Karnak (temperature was 27 celsius so no problems) However I must mention it's the hassle capital of the world. It's overwhelming,annoying and stressfull. Ibero hotel is perfect spot to get to all places thought.

1 - I took Nobles Tours as guides for Valley of the Kings,Memnon,Worker Village and Hatshepsu (same deal, driver+guide+entry fees 280 pounds i think (about 50$ CAD at the time). Rule number 1 (bring a hat and sun lotion and water, i used a camel hiking pack, very usefull) it was very hot in early October, we had 39 celsius in the shade.

2- Visited Luxor and Karnak temples on foot and museum as well (recently renovated, very nice) While walking to places taxis will honk at you from the road to see if you need one (often) also caleches are annoying (I noticed they bug more ladies than men) and they insit alot so be polite and stand your ground.

PS: Lusor is under major renovation/demolition and new construction. While i was there locals told me they are digging to get the full row of sphinx to connect both temples so they are remaking streets and stuff. Electricity was intermitent every night between 16:00 and 19:00 (if you have been to Cuba well your used to it, hehe)

Aswan : Stayed at the Movenpick on Elephantine Island, best hotel in all my trip. Very nice pool, quiet. Aswan is more laid back than Luxor and Cairo. You can walk around without being asked for a Felluca each 20 seconds like in Luxor.

1- Visited Tombs of the Nobles, went on foot, took national ferry, another good way to see how everyday Egyptians AND Nubians :) live. They are both very friendly people. The tombs are not a popular destination, I was alone for a couple of hours. There was a man there who I gave 20 pounds and he made me a personal visit, even openned 2 tombs that were locked (german/spanish digging site if i remember right) was very interesting. Beautiful view over Aswan and the Nile.

2- Visited Philae Temple, took taxi from hotel (ask for Ahmed taxi service to the lady at the Movenpick reception, excelent service, you pay more than local fee but I enjoyed the personal service. We had a visit from President Moubarak that day, all the city was upside down, roads closed, army,helicoters, the big thing (was actually the safest place in the country haha). Ahmed taxi service talked to the army captain there and we got threw walked about 2 mins and found his driver, they drove me around the town avoiding road blocks ect..., and finaly we had to stop and chilled at a coffee house, was an incredible experience, again got to see everyday Egyptians and Nubians doing their everyday normal life. When you get to temple area it's a dock (kinda) where you negotiate with all the boat drivers there to bring you across (I paid 50 pounds return trip) took 20 minutes to negotiate. I could have paid 10 pounds and hitch a ride with a tour group but tour guides don't like that to much. Anyway great experience, young 20 year old Nubian, gave me all sort of info about his village and surrounding area, and I visited the temple in about 2 hours, used my Lonely planet guide book, was enough.

3- I also visited the Nubian village on Elephantine Island, i took one of the national ferries to go there, like 15 mins from hotel (no you can't walk there from Movenpick, they built a wall). I got to see everyday Nubians in their own village, very poor but so friendly. It was a culture shock for me, incredible experience.

4- Visited Abu Simbel, took the plane (paid 147$ CAD, bought ticket via egypt air here in Montreal). Super quick flight, first thing you notice are the 30 buses parked that left at 3AM from Aswan (still police escort). They have a free shuttle at the airport via Egypt air (keep your boarding pass !) the taxi guys will try to sell you a ride but just ask an airport personel for (shuttle) and your off to the temple (10 mins drive tops) modern coach with AC. You get 2 hours to visit which is plenty even if there is a crowd.

there ya go

Pros : Egyptian people are super friendly people, the Nubians and super friendly as well. Safe country to visit, saw many single female backpackers during my stay, very safe (I saw guys as well, hehe).

Cons : Pollution (i know it's 20 million people packed in 1 city), noise (bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper), the sellers (in Luxor).

PPS : I had not problems speaking English and French which is my first language, but was less frequent than English.

England
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1. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Thanks for the report enjoy it very much I will be spending a lot of time on my own next visit especially for sight seeing trips. How did you find this? I have usually been with a group from the boat.

Los Angeles
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2. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Excellent report, very helpful, answered a lot of questions. Thanks!!!!!!

Stuck in North Texas
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3. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

This was an excellent Trip Report. Thank you so much for all the details and information.

So many "Trip Reports" that I read are just recommendations for a particular guide, with the guide mentioned in every paragraph. I wish there was someway to separate the guide recs from the real Trip Reports with real information about Egypt!

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to write this report. You have answered many questions and I'm counting the days until we enjoy Egypt as well. I hope it's not that hot in December.

Happy future travels!

Montreal
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4. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

thanks everyone for the good feeback :)

To answer your question (denisegr0)

I did alot of reseach via web sites, mainly Trip Advisor and Lonely planet forums. I also abuse Google Earth alot, very good to see the terrain in advance and many people post youtube videos that are sometimes helpfull.

As for reading, I used to buy (Le Guide du Routard) but I find their books to be to narative. I switched to lonely planet guide books, i prefer those because they are about quick facts and more the local culture. there are plenty of other guide booksout there jsut find one that fits your style :)

Also National Geographic website and the Discovery channel, always a good place to start.

Liverpool, United...
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5. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Thanks a lot for your very full report with the pro's and con's.

Was interesting for me to know that you got guides through travel offices on the spot, not pre-planned, a bit expensive but you seem to have had a good time.

Glad that you included part of Islamic Cairo in your holiday.

I myself believe in reading a lot before any trip and being prepared, a good guide book or 2, and info from the internet as well.

Well done

Wendy

Copenhagen
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6. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Thanks very much for coming back and letting us know how your trip went. And it looks like it went well :-)

Louise

Montreal
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7. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Again thank you all for your comments.

The money issue is difficult to debate since we all have different economies....

I could have probably paid 255 pounds for my day trip by taking a taxi and paying all my entry fees ect...

overall i see it as 65$ canadian so i was technically paying theses guys 9.28$ an hour (divided by two ) so 4.64$ for the driver and 4.64$ for the guide

that's approx 25 EGP per person per hour.

i'm glad we both parties had a benefit from this

/cheers

Australia
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for Cairo, Egypt, Nile River Valley, Luxor
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8. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Kapatha..........Thankyou for a great and truthful report:) Lots of interesting information and tips. I love wandering around on my own, I always feel safe. I think you went with the right attitude (& research) it helps.

""So many "Trip Reports" that I read are just recommendations for a particular guide, with the guide mentioned in every paragraph. I wish there was someway to separate the guide recs from the real Trip Reports with real information about Egypt!""

Brahmama......... great idea, you hit the nail on the head!! This forum is famous for them;) Luckily they are easy to spot.

Toronto
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9. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

Do you need police escort to the Aswan airport to fly to Abu Simbel and what time did you have to go to the airport in the morning?

Regarding fake trip reports from guides promoting their service, how can I spot them ?

thanks.

Montreal
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10. Re: Trip Report Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Oct2008

The Aswan City and surrounding area is very safe. you can walk around safely day or night.

One thing I forgot to mention in detail in my trip report is the Tourist police and Army are very present. In no way you feel unsafe.

There are 2 ways to visit Abu Simbel, by plane or by bus.

There are at least 30 coaches that leave for Abu Simbel each time. Every hotel or independant tour guide offer a package, it's very popular. By bus you need to be infront of your hotel at 2:30AM or 3:00 AM depending on their schedule. After that they leave and drive 3 hours escorted by police to the Temple (escort + police sounds bad but actually it's more of a security formality, there is no danger). Mordern coaches with A/C.

Or you can take plane. (be at airport 1.5 hours before, it's enough, small airport)...They usualy leave at 6:15AM and you land in Abu Simbel at 7:15 then visit 2 hours go back to airport via free shuttle and planes leaves at 10:30AM to bring you back for noon in Aswan. I had a hard time purchasing a plane ticket directly, but got one super quick via Air Egypt in my country. The customer service person told me that they pre-reserve a bunch of seats in advance to make sure they have some to offer. I bought mine in March08 for my Oct08 trip, and plane was packed.

To give you an idea, we had 4 Airbus 320 land with the 30 coaches, that's how many people go to visit just in the morning :)

There is a 3rd option where you can book a night at a hotel in the little town before Temple, I believe there's a few hotels there, it's very quiet place nothing much to do but if you are a Karma trekker that would be a good experience to see the sunset rise on the temple :)

Tips : Bring a small water bottle, airport security is less rigid in Egypt about the 100ml limit, you will be fine. Also bring a small snack(sandwhich,fruits,powerbar ect...) Airport food is a bit expensive. I did notice some people had lunch boxes, some hotels or boat tours offer them for Abu Simbel trip (ask reception)

As for tour guides, I usualy look them up in guide books and read up on forums, so when i see their name pop up here and there means they are popular. During my trip I did not find that guides were deceptive or trying to pass a quick buck on me.

hope this helps :)