This was the highlight of our tour to Egypt in March this year. It combines the sightseeing of some unbelievably exciting historic sights with the luxury of cruising in a 4- or 5- star river boat.
We had, before leaving our country (India), corresponded with many tour operators and guides, and had finally selected welcome2aswan, for booking us on the cruise as well as the sightseeing in Aswan, Luxor and all places where the ship stopped on the way. Our experience with the tour operator was wonderful, and I can recommend welcome2aswan to anyone who is planning a similar trip. Mohamed Mahgoub, the owner of welcome2aswan personally went out of his way to ensure that the tour was most comfortable and enjoyable. His person met us at Aswan airport and brought us to the hotel, helped plan our schedule of sightseeing in Aswan, and was present in the hotel at 3:00 in the morning on the day we planned to go to Abu Simbel. The car that he had engaged to drive us to Abu Simbel was comfortable and the driver friendly and knowledgeable about Egypt as well as the aspirations of the tourists who visit Egypt. Mohamed had ensured that the car carried a large ice-box, ample supply of water (a precious commodity in this part), and snacks for the afternoon meal. Abu Simbel was a very interesting place; more so because the two temples had been lifted and relocated stone by stone from its original site, which is now submerged after the construction of the Aswan Dam and the creation of Lake Nasser. The early morning convoy is advisable for going to Abu Simbel: first because you get to see a very rare and beautiful sight of sunrise in the desert, and also because it gets very hot at Abu Simbel, and those taking the later convoy would have to suffer more heat than those on the first one.
For local sightseeing in Aswan, Mohamed had provided us an excellent lady guide, who was a student of Egyptian History, and very fluent in English. She took us to the High Dam, the unfinished obelisk and the Philae Temple. Any visitor to Aswan must see all of them – preferably with a guide like the one we were fortunate to have.
The cruise was on board a recently renovated ship, Nile Carnival. This was our second choice, the first (Miss World) not being available. The cabins were spacious and very comfortable, the reception area was well decorated and the sun deck and the swimming pool were enjoyable. The only disappointment was the food: both the quality and the spread in the only restaurant in the ship fell short of one’s expectations from a 5-Star cruise. The service in the restaurant was also below expectation. The nightly entertainment was not very exciting, and was poorly organized.
The ship made a couple of stops en route: Kom Ombo and Edfu. Generally, the cruises offer sightseeing tours shared with other tourists; but we had specifically requested welcome2aswan to give us private guides. This was arranged very efficiently, and at every stop, a guide, appointed by welcome2aswan was ready and waiting for us with an air-conditioned car. (Not in Edfu, where the ride to the temple is in a quaint horse-drawn buggy. Very enjoyable).
We reached Luxor in the evening, and walked through the market. The next day, after we checked out from the cruise, we were picked up by the guide, and with luggage in the car, we traveled to the major sites on the West- and the East-bank, before being dropped at the airport in the afternoon.
I came to the conclusion that selecting a good, honest and sincere tour operator is vital to a successful trip. And for the areas that we visited, including the Nile cruise, you will not go wrong with welcome2aswan as the tour operator.