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Just Returned from Egypt: Info on Hotel, Visa, Optionals, Money, and More

14 Nov 2010 gator717 said

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I took the Egypt & the Nile tour from Oct. 29th to Nov. 8th so feel free to ask any questions you may have. I have posted some of this information on the various threads but I decided to compile it to one thread. I am currently working on my travel blog since I had no time to work on it during the trip! I have just completed the blog on day 1 and I still have 9 more days to write about.

I absolutely loved this tour and I think Contiki did a wonderful job in organizing the trip. I am someone who studies Ancient Egyptian history as well as the culture and religion of Egypt so I am rather familiar with the country. I think Contiki covered the main sites rather well and kept everyone, from the history buffs to those just going to get a glimpse of the main sites, quite happy and content. Since I am so obsessed about Egypt, a fellow tour mate and I are already planning a return trip but we plan on doing an indepth and extensive 2 week trip! Regarding your tour guide/manager Sherif, he is extremely knowledgeable and he did such a great job organizing the trip and making sure everyone was having a great time and making the most of their journey in Egypt. Sherif also went out of his way in helping you organize things like if you were interested in taking a trip to downtown Cairo for the evening or if you were interested in visiting sites not included on the tour.

Please let me know if you have any questions!!! Smiler

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Visas:

The visa was very easy to get at the airport and it cost $15 USD (you must pay in dollars not Egyptian pounds). When you arrive, first go to the two visa stations and then make the line for the passport verification station. After getting your passport verified and stamped, you'll move to the baggage claim area where the Contiki rep will be waiting for you. Just look for the bright Contiki sign and the rep should be wearing a suit. If you get the same guy, he is very sweet and he'll answer any questions you have on the ride to the hotel. There were a few tour mates in the airport transfer so I wasn't by myself.

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Victoria Hotel:

I found the Victoria Hotel to be a very decent, clean hotel! I spent two nights at the Victoria hotel and every thing I saw was clean. My sheets and the bath towels were super clean. The bathroom was stocked with plenty of toilet paper. The rooms were rather large and the beds were quite comfortable. The first night I had plenty of hot water but the other two days I had to wait a few minute for the water to heat up. The bathroom has a hair blow dryer which works really well. Actually, both the hotel and the cruise had blow dryers so I won't waste luggage space packing one. On this trip, I never used my power converter, just the plug adapter. My laptop, my phone charger, my camera charger, and my straightening iron are all set to be used between 110V and 240V therefore no need for the converter. If you check your chargers and a few of your electronics, you'll notice they can be used overseas without a converter. The hotel had two outlets and the cruise I believe had three. The hotel had a large lobby and a garden area where you can hang out with people.

Now the area around the hotel is not the best in Cairo but my tour mates and I did a lot of walking around the neighborhood and we never had any problems. We even took a long walk at night! There is a Mobil Gas Station with a convenience store, called On The Run, where you can buy all sorts of American snacks, water bottles, and other items you might need for the trip. I didn't stock up on water bottles because every morning Contiki gave us a large bottle (The week I was there, 10/29 to 11/7, it was rather cool in Egypt. We only had one warm day!). Across from the gas station was a great falafel shop were a bunch of my tour mates and I feasted on really inexpensive but delicious falafel sandwiches. Also, grabbing a taxi from the hotel to downtown Cairo was pretty easy and a few of my tour mates headed there to go bowling, shopping, and to eat at "American" restaurants.

There is no WiFi in the hotel or cruise but they do have computers and you could purchase internet access for thirty minutes at a time. I don't remember the rates since I had my BlackBerry with an international plan and used that to access the internet and contact my family and friends. I did bring my mini laptop but I just used that to upload and back up my pictures every night.

As for the breakfast provided at the hotel, it was a pretty good breakfast. They had a selection of breads, cheeses, eggs, and juice. They also had coffee and tea.


Another note, you can exchange currency at the hotel for a very good rate!

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Optional Tours:


Below is a list of the optional tours and I am sorry if I can't remember the prices at the moment. I have the prices listed on a paper that is somewhere in my luggage (yes I arrived a week ago and I still haven't unpacked!!). Also, a few of the optional tours were paid together so I don't have the individual prices.

On the first night, you pay for the Abu Simbel tour, the Light & Sound Show, and the mandatory $25 tip. I paid for this in US dollars and it totaled $317 with the Abu Simbel being the most expensive at $260 something dollars. Everyone on the tour did Abu Simbel and it was worth every penny. As someone who studies Ancient Egyptian history and plans on traveling to Egypt a few more times, this is a definite highlight and one of the most amazing sites in Egypt. In my humble opinion, I find the Temple of Ramses II and Queen Nefertari at Abu Simbel to be more impressive than the pyramids. It is just not the temples themselves but the story of how they were moved to higher ground when the Aswan High Dam was built and Lake Nasser was created. One of the reasons the tour is a bit expensive is that you need to fly from Aswan to Abu Simbel so the price includes the round trip airfare. Regarding the Light & Sound Show, 29 out of 36 tour mates did this optional show. I found the light portion of the show to be amazing since it was definitely great to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx all lit up in different colors. The narration is a bit cheesy but we all got a good laugh and it provides for some good memories. Everyone who went did not have any regrets since again, seeing the Pyramids all lit up is amazing. The $25 tip covers the tip given to the bus drivers, Nile Cruise managers, those who handle our luggage, etc. This does not cover the tip for the tour manager (please see note below regarding this).

On the second day, the optional tours were the Mummy Room at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities (100 LE), the camel caravan by the pyramids, the official group picture, and an Egyptian lunch. I'm not quite sure how many visited the mummy room but those that did enjoyed the visit and at times got a good scare. You get to see the mummies of various pharaohs (Ramses II, Ramses III, Amenhotep III and a lot more) but these mummies are not wrapped up!! You can see their hair, eye lashes, nails, and with one mummy you can see his eyes!!! The ticket also covers the mummy animal room where you'll see various animals like dogs, cats, and goats mummified. This optional tour you pay it at the museum if you are interested in visiting the mummy room. I paid $31 US dollars for the camel caravan, the group photo, and the Egyptian lunch. For the camel caravan, you get to ride a camel out to the dessert and take some amazing, unobstructed pictures of the pyramids including a picture of when the three pyramids line up. Everyone did this tour and while a few were a bit scared, no one fell off! As for the group picture, I purchased it because I thought it was a nice memory but not everyone purchased it. I look at it now and I laugh at how happy and well rested we all looked that first day!! (You don't sleep much on this trip!!) As for the Egyptian lunch, we all paid for it because that night was the train ride and the food on the train is not edible (Sherif your tour manager will advice you not to eat the train dinner, the train breakfast is ok to eat). Actually, the lunch was more like dinner since we ate at around 5:30pm. That first day, you are just go go go to make the most of your day and no one complained!! We were all so excited about the museum, pyramids, camels, and Sphinx that we didn't care about food. We munched on our snacks as the day went on and a few, like myself, forgot about food all together. Trust me, when you see the pyramids the last thing on your mind is food!!! The lunch/dinner was great with a lot of variety and great quantities: rice, pita bread (Egyptian pita bread is the best ever), veggies, falafel, fries, different meats (not sure what they were because I sat in the vegetarian people table), hummus, and a few other items.

Towards the end of the trip, another optional tour was the visit to a West Nile Village. Quite a few tour mates did this tour and we all found it to be very interesting. You have the option of riding a camel, donkey, or donkey cart through a village and you get to see first hand how people live. I found the visit to be a total eye opener at the poverty in Egypt and the condition people live in. Towards the end of the tour, we stopped at the house of one of the villagers where we were offered tea and bread while the owner of the house talked about life in Egypt. It was hard to believe the owner was a lawyer but had to work two jobs to make ends meet and his house was falling apart. We walked through the house and I was speechless. This tour was $20 US dollars.

A few other extras we paid for:

Inside a pyramid: You can pay 30 LE to enter the pyramid of Khafre, the second largest pyramid. None of the pyramids have anything inside but just being able to climb the interior ramp and be inside one of the burial chambers is quite amazing!!!

Pictures of the belly dancing night. I didn't purchase these pictures since so many of my tour mates took pictures of the group and throughout the night. You can find the pictures available for purchase at the cruise gift shop the morning after.

Picture of you on the camel/donkey/donkey cart for those that do the West Nile Village Tour. I bought this picture (I think I paid 10 LE which is about $1.74) because I did the donkey cart with two other tour mates and it was a nice memory.

Valley of the Kings, extra tombs. The tour includes a visit to three of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings. The tomb of Ramses VI is 50 LE extra and the tomb of King Tutankhamen is 100 LE extra. Being the Egypt freak I am, I purchased both and I was not disappointed. The tomb of Ramses VI was amazing because of the vaulted ceiling that resembled the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling was covered in beautiful paintings as was the whole tomb. It is amazing that the colors have survived for so many years!!! The interesting thing about King Tut's tomb is that you are amazed at how small it is (especially after you visit the museum in Cairo and you see everything they found in there) plus you can see the mummy of King Tut! A lot of tour mates did the King Tut but hardly any did Ramses VI. I highly suggest you visit it because the paintings and colors are amazing.

I think these are all the optional tours and optional things available! The hot air balloon rides are no longer available after a few accidents, i.e. balloons dropping to the ground. Sherif, the tour manager, said he can arrange the tours if interested but they are not offered or covered by Contiki. No one in my tour bothered or was interested in such a tour.

After your trip, if you have an extra day, Spring Tours, the parent company of Contiki in Egypt, arranges a day trip to Alexandria for $99 US dollars. There were 10 of us that had the extra day so we took this tour! The price included the round trip bus ride to Alexandria and the tickets for 5 sites. We left Cairo at around 6:30am and returned at around 6pm. The morning of the trip, breakfast is included, since the Contiki tour officially ends Saturday morning. The hotel prepared breakfast boxes with breads, cheeses, and an egg for us and we ate on the bus. Make sure you talk to Sherif about this because he will arrange the trip.

On another note, regarding the tip for Sherif, the tour guide/manager. Nothing was officially organized but we individually gave him tips. There is no set amount but you give what you feel is right. Some gave him $20 while others gave him $50, it depends on your personal preference. Sherif is beyond amazing in so many ways and he is what makes this trip. He goes out of his way to make sure everyone is enjoying the trip and everyone is making the most of their time in Egypt. If you are interested in seeing something or in doing something, he will arrange it so you can have the best time possible. He has an amazing personality and his love for Egypt is very contagious!

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Train:

I had heard so many horror stories of the train that quite honestly I was a tad worried. All I can say is that a lot of the stories are greatly exaggerated! While the rooms/cabins are small, I found the beds and room to be clean. I found no bugs, rats, etc in the room or anywhere in the train. It is a bit difficult to sleep in the train with all the rocking and braking but I managed to get a few hours of sleep on the two nights we were on the train. The bathrooms start of clean and get progressively worse throughout the night but I think that depends on who you have in your car. The bathrooms require some balancing because of the training rocking and moving around but if you have to go, you have to go! Just remember to bring your own toilet paper because sometimes there wasn't any. Also, the train has a club car and we had a great time partying there on both nights.

As for the food, Sherif warns you not to eat the dinner and no one from my group did! Before the first night on the train, you have a huge late lunch so that fills you up for the a while and then you can just munch on some snacks. Same for the second night on the train. The breakfast is not too bad; an assortment of breads, butter, cheese, and jam. Sherif told us not to eat the butter but I ate the breads without a problem.

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Cruise:

Ah the good life! The rooms and the boat overall were very, very nice. Comfortable, clean beds and hot water for the showers!! Also, the food on the cruise is plentiful with all meals being all you can eat. And there was a lot of variety!!! The cruise also has a pool but few used it on my tour since the water was rather cold. We actually had a lot of cool days during our tour and some mornings it was cold! If you are going to Egypt in November and December, pack some long sleeve shirts and a jacket. The cruise also has a gift shop with set prices so no haggling and a jewelry shop where you can buy a cartouche with your name written in hieroglyphs. I purchased a cartouche for myself, some scarves for my mom, an ankh for my brother, and some scarab beetles for my dad. They had tons of items in the gift shop which is where I purchased a lot of my souvenirs because I really didn't care for the haggling.

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During the tour, you stop at a perfume shop and a papyrus museum. At the perfume shop, you can purchase perfumes, essential oils, and handblown glass bottles. The owner of the shop gave us a talk and then we could purchase some items. I was quite annoyed because the sales people were really pushy and will not back away!! The papyrus museum was amazing and you can walk around at your own pace without have anyone bother you. A lot of us purchased a painting or two since they had a good selection and some beautiful works of art. Being the Egypt freak I am, I bought these two amazing papyrus paintings for a total of $115. Of course, one of the paintings I purchased was a rather large, limited edition work of Ramses II offering the goddess Hathor some lotus flowers. Both the perfume shop and the papyrus museum accept credit cards.

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That's all for now! Let me know if you have any questions!! Smiler
  • 22 Nov 2010 Kris26 said

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    This was so helpful thank you!!!!! Could you pay for the Abu Simbel by credit card?

    In regards to the cell phone question someone asked, I’m self-employed and don’t trust people to not call my phone even if I tell them not to. What I’ll be doing is adding a new line for 10 dollars, opening the plan, and returning the phone phone when I get back for no penalty because it will be under thirty days of starting it, that way no one but mine and my friends family has the number. Then we’re gonna split the bill for that line when it comes. Just a suggestion.

  • 22 Nov 2010 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Kris26:
    This was so helpful thank you!!!!! Could you pay for the Abu Simbel by credit card?

    In regards to the cell phone question someone asked, I’m self-employed and don’t trust people to not call my phone even if I tell them not to. What I’ll be doing is adding a new line for 10 dollars, opening the plan, and returning the phone phone when I get back for no penalty because it will be under thirty days of starting it, that way no one but mine and my friends family has the number. Then we’re gonna split the bill for that line when it comes. Just a suggestion.



    Yes, you could pay for Abu Simbel and the Sound & Light Show with credit card. If you pay for those two (or just one) with the credit card then you could also pay the $25 mandatory tip in credit card as well.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • 2 Dec 2010 Christina Z said

    Christina Z

    My friend and I will be going to Egypt in Feb or March 2011. We were wondering if the train had a real toliet or just a whole in the ground? We were also wondering how many times did you have to cover up your tank tops? And was the trip to Alexandria worth it?

  • 2 Dec 2010 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Explorer1188719:
    My friend and I will be going to Egypt in Feb or March 2011. We were wondering if the train had a real toliet or just a whole in the ground? We were also wondering how many times did you have to cover up your tank tops? And was the trip to Alexandria worth it?



    The train had actual working toilets but when you flushed, the stuff will be flushed out the train! The toilets are ok the first hour or so of the trip but as the night goes, they get progressively worse. Not too bad just it is hard to balance while squatting (I’m a girl) over a toilet while the train is moving and braking. One thing for sure is that bring your own toilet paper/wipes. I used a bunch of public toilets around Egypt and the train is where I found the worse toilet paper.

    Sherif, your tour guide/manager, will tell you when you need to cover up. The only times he told the girls to cover up was when visiting the markets and when we visited the mosque. If you are going in February or March, I do suggest you take one or two long sleeve tops and/or a jacket. I went between Oct 29th and Nov 7th and we had quite a few chilly mornings. Also, I found the rooms and club car in the train to be a tad cold.

    Alexandria was worth it. I am an Egyptologist by hobby so I prefer areas like Saqqara and Luxor but Alexandria was very interesting and quite different from everything you are going to see and experience in the tour. The city is a lot cleaner and more modern than Cairo and you don’t have the hassle of vendors trying to sell you items at the sites. A few tour mates spent a day in Alexandria before the tour started. Other tour mates, including myself, went on the Saturday after the tour ended. Spring Tours, Contiki’s parent company in Egypt, provides a day trip to Alexandria for $99. This price includes round trip bus fare, the tickets to 5 sites, and an English speaking guide. We left the hotel at around 6:30am and arrived in Alexandria at around 8:20am. And we all received a breakfast box with breads, cheese, and an egg. The tour ends at around 3:00pm and arrives at the hotel in Cairo at around 5:40pm. You encounter a lot more traffic on the way back. Everyone that went to Alexandria had a great time and we all thought it was worth the extra day in Egypt!!

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • 22 Dec 2010 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Andre:
    Hi gator717,

    Thanks for taking the time to help us understand what to expect on this tour.

    You mentioned that you didn’t get the chance to wash your shirts while you’re there and given the opportunity again, you’d bring more shirts w/you. Would you know (from your experience) if there are laundry services in/near the hotel in Cairo (or whichever cities the tour visited ), or would I be better off bringing a detergent along?

    Thanks again and happy holidays!

    Cheers,
    Andre



    Thanks Andre! I figured it will be very helpful for others if I posted a comprehensive set of information for those going on the Egypt and the Nile Tour. I’m about 95% done with my blog and when I am finished I’ll be posting the link here. Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

    For me, the issue wasn’t so much shirts but jeans/pants and socks. And in this trip, you are never long enough in one city/place to actually do laundry. This is where you spend your nights: Saturday in Cairo, Sunday on the train, Monday on the cruise in Aswan, Tuesday on the cruise sailing from Kom Ombo to Edfu, Wednesday night docked in Luxor, Thursday night on the train once again, and Friday night in Cairo. I didn’t have time to wash my stuff because I got real sick on the tour so Wednesday I spent all of my free time sleeping. But my roommate did wash a few items and some other tour mates also did some laundry. I don’t recommend trying to wash jeans because those will never dry in time but washing shirts, socks, and under garments on the first or second night on the cruise shouldn’t be a problem. So yes, bring a little bottle of detergent but I wouldn’t be too worry about smelling fresh. Maybe a bottle of Febreeze fabric freshener will help keep your clothes and luggage feeling clean. When I was there, it was rather cool so you didn’t sweat as much.

    Let me know if you have any other questions and Happy Holidays as well! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 23 Dec 2010 Hayley said

    Hayley

    If you’re doing a tour in the warmer months (June-August) you can wash items on the cruise boat in your bathroom sink and place them outside over a deck chair or table (just anchor them with something heavy so they don’t fly away!) A couple lightweight shirts of mine dried in under an hour in the hot Egyptian sun!

  • 24 Dec 2010 r.i.traveler said

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    but a suitcase with wheels on it!! …i have a high sterra backpack and i HATED lugging it around!

  • 24 Dec 2010 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by r.i.traveler:
    but a suitcase with wheels on it!! …i have a high sterra backpack and i HATED lugging it around!



    Luckily on this trip, we had a lot of help with our luggage in terms of having cruise personnel carry our luggage to the room and the same in the hotel but with all the moving around you do, a set of wheels comes in handy.

  • 4 Jan 2011 Andie said

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    i have a free day in cairo (day before the tour starts) what do u suggest i do?

    x andie

  • 4 Jan 2011 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Andie:
    i have a free day in cairo (day before the tour starts) what do u suggest i do?

    x andie



    Hi Andie. Will you be on your own in Cairo or will there be other tour mates? Are you a big Egypt nerd like myself or are you just interested in the basics and to get an overview of Cairo?

    Reason I ask about the tour mates is that if a few are already there, you can visit the same sites and split the cost of the taxi.

    Either way, something you could do is visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. The museum is included in your tour but the visit is rather rushed. Your tour guide, Sherif, will give you a 40 minute tour of the museum pointing out the main artifacts and then you have between 40 to 60 minutes on your own. That free time goes by pretty quickly if you visit the mummy rooms and the room housing the Treasures of King Tut. Between the guided tour and the free time, all I saw was about 20% of the museum. A few tour mates that arrived the day before, took that opportunity to visit the museum and spend about 3 to 4 hours walking around. They were glad they did that because like I said, the museum was rushed. For my 2012 Return to Egypt trip, I am planning on spending at least 3 hrs in the museum. The museum ticket is 60LE ($10.34) and the mummy room is a separate 100 LE ($17.24).

    Another thing you could do is visit Coptic Cairo where you will find several churches, gardens, and a museum. I did not have the opportunity to visit the Coptic area on my last visit but a few have told me it is nice.

    I don’t recommend you doing this on your own but if a few tour mates are interested, you could hire a taxi and take a drive out to Dashur to visit the Bent Pyramid (the first attempt at building a regular pyramid) and the Red Pyramid (considered the first true pyramid). They are both amazing sites and you don’t have the opportunity to visit them on the tour. The tour should include a visit to Saqqara to view the Step Pyramid which is Egypt’s first pyramid. Reason I say should is that I noticed some itinerary changes on the Contiki website from when I took the trip but I am not sure when those changes are going to be implemented.

    Some tour mates from my group, the day after the trip, they rented some ATVs to ride around the pyramids. That’s something fun that you might be interested in. And believe it or not, some of my tour mates that arrived a day earlier went shopping at a local mall and ate at a Chinese restaurant. So it all depends on what sort of activity you are interested in!

    Are you being picked up by the airport transfer? If you are, take that opportunity to talk to your transfer rep who will be from Spring Tours, Contiki’s parent company in Egypt. Spring Tours handles everything for Contiki in Egypt and they are the country’s largest and most respected tour company. Our airport transfer rep, Mohammad, was extremely nice and helpful and even told us how we could arrange a one day trip to Alexandria.

    I hope this helps! Let me know a little be more about what you are interested in and maybe I can give you more specifics. Enjoy your trip! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 5 Jan 2011 Andie said

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    thanks for the info gator… travelling with a friend but the museum sounds like a good way to spend the day… not a real egypt ‘buff’ def going to checkout the sites and wind down after travelling the uk and europe for 5 weeks before egypt… have a question about money for you… do you have to pay the optional activities in USD? on the contiki documents it said that you have to, but just thought i would check… the optional extras come to a total of USD$322… how much did you say you took in total? i dnt think ill be spending much money… the only things ill be spending money on are a few souvenirs and post cards, wont be buying alot of history type books etc

    andie x

  • 5 Jan 2011 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Andie:
    thanks for the info gator… travelling with a friend but the museum sounds like a good way to spend the day… not a real egypt ‘buff’ def going to checkout the sites and wind down after travelling the uk and europe for 5 weeks before egypt… have a question about money for you… do you have to pay the optional activities in USD? on the contiki documents it said that you have to, but just thought i would check… the optional extras come to a total of USD$322… how much did you say you took in total? i dnt think ill be spending much money… the only things ill be spending money on are a few souvenirs and post cards, wont be buying alot of history type books etc

    andie x



    The museum is a good way to spend the day and while people complain of the crowds, the only crowds I saw were in the room of the Treasures of King Tut and the bathroom. The second floor tends to be quieter than the first floor.

    Regarding the optional tours, I actually spent $374. If you read through my first post (and blogs), you will get a tad more information on the optional activities I paid for but here is a listing:

    Abu Simbel $264
    Sound & Light Show $28
    Tip $25
    Resort Dinner $11
    Group Picture $11
    Camel Caravan $15
    West Nile Village Tour $20

    On top of the $374, I paid an additional $99 for an optional day trip Spring Tours offered to Alexandria. I went on this day trip with 10 other tour mates the day after the tour ended (Saturday).

    The Abu Simbel, Sound & Light Show, and tip are paid the first night/morning via credit card or USD. The majority of my tour mates paid with credit card. It is not an issue paying with credit card since the payments are handled through Spring Tours. I paid for my Alexandria trip via credit card and never had an issue. I believe these three activities can not be paid with Egyptian Pounds (LE).

    The rest of the activities could be paid via USD or LE. The resort dinner is in reference to the dinner you have Sunday night after spending the day at the museum and pyramids. I’m not sure if every tour stops at the same resort but expect to go somewhere for dinner that evening. Also, there is a group lunch on Thursday afternoon that is not included in the tour price. I didn’t partake in that lunch since I was sick but if I am not mistaken a tour mate said he also paid $11 for the meal. These meals are plentiful with pita bread, veggies, falafel, tons of dips, fries, meats, and a few other items. Sodas are never included but they usually cost 10 LE ($1.72) (they come in bottles not cans).

    The group pictures and camel caravan you pay after the fact in case you don’t like how the picture came out or if after boarding the camel you freak out and decide not to do it. In my group, every one did the camel ride but only half bought the picture.

    The West Nile Village is interesting and I enjoyed my donkey cart ride; about 25 (out of 36) tour mates did this activity.

    If you go through my first post, you will notice I listed other optional activities such as the entrance fee to the Royal Mummy Hall in the museum and additional tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Reading said post will also give you a better idea of all the optional activities.


    For this trip I took $600 and 1000 LE. I paid for the Abu Simbel, Sound and Light Show, and the tip using dollars. I used more of my USD at the gift shop on board the cruise ship when purchasing souvenirs and to pay for all optional activities (the mummy room, entrance to the pyramid, and additional tombs need to be paid in LE). Take note that the hotel and the cruise will exchange USD for LE if needed.

    I used LE to pay for: food items at convenience stores we stopped at, falafel sandwiches the first night (2 sandwiches 3LE), headpiece to wear while riding the camels, sodas at the resort and on the train, belly dancing outfit in the market, cartouche and chain (these you get on the cruise and need to be paid in LE), and tips.

    Items you purchase at the Nubian Bookstore (next to the unfinished obelisk), perfume shop, and papyrus museum could be paid for with credit card. I did and never had a problem. Outside of purchases with Spring Tours, the book store, the papyrus museum, and the perfume shop, I wouldn’t recommend using your credit card too much.

    Sorry for the lengthy answer but I hope this helps!!! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

    Read my blog (link below) to get more of an idea about the trip! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • 6 Jan 2011 Andie said

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    your replys are awesome… thanks so much for taking the time to write them Smiler<!--graemlin::)--> what is the alexandria excursion like?

  • 6 Jan 2011 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Andie:
    your replys are awesome… thanks so much for taking the time to write them Smiler<!--graemlin::)--> what is the alexandria excursion like?



    You are welcome and I hope the replies are of help! I know when I was planning my trip I found a shortage of information on these boards.

    Now for Alexandria…

    Alexandria is an interesting city but it is a total 180 from what you will see and experience on your tour. Alexandria is a rather modern, clean city with a European feel and the massive amount of Roman ruins add to that feel. As an Egypt nerd, I prefer my “old” Egypt; the crowded Cairo, the temples and tombs, the haggling sales people that chase you down the streets, the rural villages of the Nile, etc. I was glad I did Alexandria to experience the city but unlike other tour mates I didn’t “love” it. I liked the experience but on my return trip to Egypt, I will probably not include a stop at Alexandria. Spring Tours does a great job organizing the tour and I think the price of $99 is a good deal. It includes the round trip bus fair, an English speaking tour guide, and the tickets to 5 of the sites. On my tour, 10 of my tour mates did this the Saturday after the tour ended. Our tour guide was Sherif but the Spring Tours rep said Sherif rarely if ever does the Alexandria tours but he did that weekend because he had the week off and he hadn’t been to Alexandria in a while. The day trip starts at 6am, you arrive in Alexandria at around 8am, and are site seeing until around 2:30pm-3:00pm. Since the Egypt and the Nile tour officially ends that Saturday morning, you will receive a breakfast box to eat on the bus. Now, if interested, you could do Alexandria on your own the day before with a friend. Two of my tour mates spent a day and half in Alexandria prior to the tour and they had no problems getting around. Unlike Cairo, the city is cleaner, you rarely see haggling sales people, and the sites are rather empty. They really enjoyed Alexandria and if I am not mistaken, they flew into Alexandria from Cairo. Aside from flying, you can get to Alexandria via the train or bus. I wouldn’t recommend the bus since it will make several stops along the way (the Springs Tours bus and other tour buses go direct) but by train it should be feasible. There are tons of tour companies that organize day trips to Alexandria so maybe you can do some searching to see what other companies other than Spring Tours offer the day trips.

    If you read my blog, you will get an understanding of the Alexandria day trip! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 8 Jan 2011 Andie said

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    Great thanks Gator…. oh one last question… do we have any ‘nights out’ like either clubbing or a fancy dinner… being a girl i need to know whether i will need heels and a dress haha

    x andie

  • 8 Jan 2011 gator717 said

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Andie:
    Great thanks Gator…. oh one last question… do we have any ‘nights out’ like either clubbing or a fancy dinner… being a girl i need to know whether i will need heels and a dress haha

    x andie



    Oh no, Andie is a girl!! And here all along I thought you were a guy!! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

    Now for sure, I recommend that you do any site seeing with another person especially if you are not familiar with Egypt!! But Alexandria is a perfectly safe city and quite peaceful compared to Cairo. Also, I had two female tour mates that spent a day in the museum before the trip and then the day after the tour riding ATVs in the desert and they had no problems at all. Egyptian men, while really flirtatious, will keep their distance and they do know when to draw the line.

    As for dressy outfits and heels, leave those at home! There is no clubbing or fancy dinners on this tour. The dressiest I got was wearing my belly dancing outfit for the Egyptian party! You will have time in Aswan to visit a local market to find the perfect scarf or outfit for the party. All the girls on my tour, including the girlie girls, spent the whole trip in jeans, t shirts, or sundresses. Nothing fancy needed! The cruise is not your typical cruise where you have “formal/semi formal” nights. The first night on the boat, there was a short show and then you spent the evening on the top deck hanging out. The second night you have your Egyptian party and then the final night on your boat, you just hang out. Egypt is a very laid back country and there isn’t too many opportunities to dress up. There are some very nice, 5 star hotel/restaurants but even then they are laid back (and usually only the rich tourists or expatriates living in Egypt go there).

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • 9 Jan 2011 Andie said

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    haha… andie is short for andrea… thanks for the info about what to wear… been travelling the uk and europe for the past 4 weeks and im sending a box of stuff home, so now i add can my shoes to that box aswell lol

    x andie

  • 9 Jan 2011 Kris26 said

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    Gator- Your blog was really helpful, but really important to add-

    BRING YOUR STUDENT ID!!!!!

    could have saved some money on some of the extras like the tombs and mummy room with it. I did every option possible and loved it. Also, I went ATVing with a group from my tour the last day. There were very few safety regulations but it was absolutely incredible.

    Also layers are important. It was sweltering in the tombs and pyramids but chilly and windy outside. I wish I had brought a zip up and a pull over plus more than just 4 long sleeves.

  • 9 Jan 2011 gator717 said

    Default_avatar
    quote:
    Originally posted by Kris26:
    Gator- Your blog was really helpful, but really important to add-

    BRING YOUR STUDENT ID!!!!!

    could have saved some money on some of the extras like the tombs and mummy room with it. I did every option possible and loved it. Also, I went ATVing with a group from my tour the last day. There were very few safety regulations but it was absolutely incredible.

    Also layers are important. It was sweltering in the tombs and pyramids but chilly and windy outside. I wish I had brought a zip up and a pull over plus more than just 4 long sleeves.




    Glad you found the blog to be helpful!!!

    Thanks for the advice! But please note that a lot of times, they only accept “Egyptian” student IDs. Egypt is very lax with their rules so it really depends on who is selling the tickets. My tour group of 36 probably had no students but one did bring a student ID. When he tried to use it for the mummy room, he was told it had to be an Egyptian student ID. Either way, the regular prices aren’t too bad for what you get to experience!

    Yup, I did mention that in the blog and on this thread. People don’t realize how cold and windy it can get in Egypt!!!! When we left the boat at 3:30am to head to Abu Simbel, a few tour mates had to run back to their rooms to grab a jacket or put on pants. It got a tad warmer during the day but those morning/evening tours it was definitely chilly. But I would rather be cold than tour Egypt in the 120F summer temperatures!! For my 2012 trip, I am planning on going during late October, early November just so I don’t cook. Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 9 Jan 2011 gator717 said

    Default_avatar
    quote:
    Originally posted by Andie:
    haha… andie is short for andrea… thanks for the info about what to wear… been travelling the uk and europe for the past 4 weeks and im sending a box of stuff home, so now i add can my shoes to that box aswell lol

    x andie



    Ah gotcha! Enjoy your trip and let me know if you have any other questions! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

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