05 Dec 2015 - 12 Dec 2015
Two points I need to make clear before continuing: The hotel in Cairo has CHANGED. The contract with the previous hotel (with the bad reviews) has ended, and you will be staying a nice hotel outside of downtown Cairo. The change went into effect right before my trip started. I was very happy with the accommodations at the new hotel--clean rooms, hot water and nice bathrooms, relaxing pool/bar/restaurant area.
If you hear something happened in Chicago, it's not going to prevent you from visiting New York City; same with Canberra and Sydney. The media does a great job in blanketing "the Middle East" with problems. Don't let your relatives or friends deter you from going on this trip because of what they have been led to believe is happening through media exposure. Egypt is very peaceful and their economy is seriously suffering from tourists (especially Australians and Americans) being deterred from visiting.
QUICK TIPS: Egyptian pounds and American dollars are accepted everywhere. If you bring American dollars, get all of your money in $1 and $5 notes before you go. It's easier for tipping and buying small things. If you are comfortable with using a debit/bank card and you bank does not have ridiculous fees, there are ATMs in all places. HANG ON TO YOUR SMALL EGYPTIAN NOTES. There is a shortage on circulating 5 l.e. (pounds) and the 1 l.e. coins. A few of the small travel-size packs of Kleenex tissues are great for toilet paper (yes, you will need these). Buy your water and be careful if you get ice in drinks.
Ahem... I personally selected this trip because I have always been interested in ancient history. It was also my 30th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than being in Egypt? I am for sure an 'in-depth explorer' and I love history. I did every Optional with the exception of one--the Unfinished Obelisk & High Dam. (You can see the obelisk when you drive past and it's really not that powerful or exciting.)
THIS IS NOT A PARTY TOUR. Unlike a lot of other Contikis, you need to understand that you are in a religiously conservative country, a place where gender and family roles are still very well defined. The only time we ladies went to a club was the one inside the hotel in Hurghada.
There is one key component of this trip that I would not have appreciated without having a prior Contiki experience, and that is the tour manager/guide, Sherif. Sherif is Egyptian, lives there, and has been working with Contiki for 15 YEARS! To my knowledge, there are no other Contiki tours where one person has been doing the same tour for that long. The vendors and staff at all stops know him. 'Mister Sherif!' You can ask him anything about history, culture, religion, life in Egypt, and he will tell you all you would like to know. He has an undying love for the work he is doing, to show people like us the beauty of his country, and he does with it real passion. (And he does this solo, as he is the tour manager and local guide in one.)
If you have any questions at all about little specifics of cities or optionals, please feel free to send me a message.
Review written Dec 2015event 0.3
19 Sep 2015 - 26 Sep 2015
I have wanted to go to Egypt my whole life, I have always been fascinated by Egyptian mythology and Ancient Egypt. This was the best thing I have ever done and visiting this culturally and historical country has been on the top of my bucket list for a long time. Everyday me, along with everyone else on the tour were just astonished by our sights everyday that it was just so surreal. I highly recommend this trip.
The tour guide Sherif is absolutely amazing, very kind, funny, knowledgeable and a genuine great person to be around. He made everyone feel so comfortable everyday. His little "history lessons" were very interesting and great to listen to. Sherif always told us what to wear for the next day (this was especially helpful for girls as he told us what days we could wear shorts and singlets and what days we had to cover up, I got to wear shorts and singlets on 3 days), what to bring, took us to the best places to get photos and even hung out with us and had some drinks. Everyone I met on this tour was awesome, a great bunch of people to spend this trip with. We all had a blast and look forward to seeing each other on another contiki trip.
highs: the sights are absolutely amazing!! All the temples are just jaw dropping and each day is just so jam packed and full of things to do; I recommend doing next to all of the extras. The cruise ship is awesome, the highlight of the trip, sunbaking on the top while cruising down the Nile and seeing Abu Simbel (it's massive)!!!
VISA: as soon as you get to Cairo Airport, before you walk into immigration (which is around the corner) walk straight ahead to the booths, there will be someone there who will give you a visa no questions asked for $25US. Easy.
TRANSFERS: Make sure you let contiki know of your flights times so that you can take advantage of the free airport transfers to the hotel.
OTHER: Dettol hand sanitation + wipes, toilet paper (there will be none anywhere and if there is you have to pay for it), hydrolytes, buscapan or any other stomach pain tablets for when you get an upset stomach from the food, this happened to most the people on my trip.
MONEY: Make sure you carry SMALL denomination of money. You will need both Egyptian pound (EGP) and US dollars. I got $500US before I left to take with me and had a travel card with $500US on it. Then at the Cairo museum I converted $100US to EGP which got me around $700EGP. My extras I paid by card and my drinks bill from the cruise. This covered me the entire trip.
Victoria Hotel: it is honestly the worse hotel I have ever stayed in. I was warned (from other contiki reviews about bed bugs) so I wore bedsocks, didn't work though, I woke up the next day with 4 bites on my feet. The Victoria hotel has no hot running water, my sheets were dirty and the air con in our room didn't work so we had to get a room change. So I definitely recommend sleeping on top of the bed and having a blanket with you to avoid this, and have the water running for about 5mins before you get into the shower so that it will be "luke warm". On day 1 make sure you eat plenty of breakfast as you won't get food for a couple of hours. Definitely stock up when you get to the service station later on in the day. Make sure you stock up on bottles of water (that is sealed by plastic) as you can not drink any water here that is not bottled for safety reasons - even to brush your teeth. The breakfast offered by the Victoria is truly dreadful; there was mouldy pastries (like actually green in the inside), off meats/cheeses - not a good experience. Apparently this hotel is chosen for it's location only.
Extras: The sound and light show was pretty bad, very boring and not worth seeing at all. You see this temple during the day anyway, so not worth paying extra money to see it at night.
Review written Oct 2015event 0.3
22 Aug 2015 - 29 Aug 2015
Had an absolutely amazing time on this tour! Saw all the major tourist sites - the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, Luxor and Karnak - and some of the lesser known sites - Kom Ombo, the Unfinished Obelisk - but the highlight has to be the Valley of the Kings! Just absolutely inspiring!
The Red Sea was just spectacular - it would have been fantastic to spend more time there.
The guide we had - Sherif - was just so knowledgeable and made the whole trip just so wonderful. Literally the only things that could have made this trip even better would be to make it longer so we can spend more time at the red sea and maybe even visit Alexandria!
The hotel in Cairo is nice - but it would have been nicer to be in an area that is maybe slightly more touristy.
Review written Sep 2015event 0.3
11 Jul 2015 - 18 Jul 2015
Everyone should visit Egypt at least once in their lifetime! Despite what's on the news on TV, Contiki really went out of their way to make us feel safe. We had a security guard at some sites, and security with us when crossing the Sahara dessert on our way to Abu Simbel! our own entourage, how cool is that!? :) Over all, the trip was amazing, we had a very small group (13 of us), and Sherif, our amazing tour guide! He really made us feel taken care of and safe. Our accommodations were for the most part very good, but this is the reason why I can't give this trip 5 stars. The hotel in Cairo where you stay the first and last night, is just not a good place . By no means am I bashing it, because I know that this is budget traveling, but the place had bed bugs! Two of the rooms had bed bugs, and two of us woke up with our bodies covered in bites :( I talked to the tour guide manager and on the last night they moved me to a different room, but I feel that they should have booked a different hotel for us altogether. I strongly feel that Contiki should look for a different accommodation while in Cairo, so that there aren't any more incidents with bedbugs. The cruise accommodation was amazing, and the one in Hurgada with a beautiful view!! Overall, I have NO REGRETS having gone on this trip, which was my first with contiki, and I am already thinking about where to go next! :)
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
30 May 2015 - 06 Jun 2015
I had such a fantastic experience on the Egypt & the Nile tour. Our tour leader Sheriff honestly made this trip fantastic, he went above and beyond to ensure that we had the trip of a lifetime; from organising extra activities such as day trips to Alexandria as well as organising diving experiences for some of our group in Hurghada. He truly made the effort to showcase the beautiful sites Egypt has to offer. I definitely recommend doing as many of the optionals as you can. Egypt has so much incredible history I honestly was blown away each day of the tour. My personal highlights were Abu Simbel as well as the Valley of the Kings.
Accommodation wise I will admit the Victoria hotel definitely wasn't a highlight but was manageable, the overnight train isn't anything fancy but was decent for what it was considering where in Egypt but the Nile cruise accommodation was fantastic as well as Hotel in Hurghada. I really wish we had an extra night in Hurghada or even ended the trip there. I always felt safe wherever we went and security was always very present to reassure me of my safety. I only really felt uncomfortable in Cairo but not unsafe. I really was lucky with my tour group I couldn't of asked for a better bunch of people to share this experience with.
Some Random advice for this trip:
+ US dollar is accepted most places.
+ If you need Egyptian pounds before you tour starts there is an atm right near the hotel, just a few doors down.
+ You can exchange money at the Victoria Hotel.
+ Always aim for smaller notes and also try to have exact money or as close to the amount as possible in a few of the markets I spent a bit of time having to argue to get my change back.
+ Before and after the tour if your there extra time, remember that Egypt runs on tips. So remember to tip the people that carry your bags or do extra things to help you out.
+ A few of my tour members weren't aware but if you let Contiki know of your arrival times you can catch a free transfer bus to and from the airport.
+ Always have tissues or toilet paper chances are the toilets won't have it even in the museums.
+ Stock up on water if it's cheap generally around 5 Egyptian pounds for 1.5L you'll go through it faster than you think.
+ Clothing wise, Cairo was really the only place where we were told to be mindful to cover up. After that it's up to you however you will draw more attention the less covered you are. I found loose clothing to be best. Things like harem pants and tanks tops with a lightweight loose bolero or maxi dresses.
Hope this helps, like I said Egypt is an incredible place with such an interesting history. It's definitely worth the visit.
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
30 May 2015 - 06 Jun 2015
This was my very first Contiki, but I guarantee that it won't be my last. The famous Sherif was everything the reviews say and took such good care of us. Of course, the people made it so worthwhile! The sites are absolutely amazing and there really isn't anything like them. My only complaint with the trip is the cost. You really will want to do almost all of the excursions, so add about $300 to the trip cost to get a feel for the real price. If there is one excursion that I'd say you absolutely can't miss, it's the Red Sea. AMAZING!
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
02 May 2015 - 09 May 2015
Egypt&Nile is a trip like taking a time machine back to 5000 years ago with the magnificent ancient Egyptian monuments right in front of your eyes while listening to Sheriff tell you all the grand and glorious stories. (It is definitely not a party trip, but you do get to party on the Egyptian dress up night and the Red Sea farewell night.) I did all the optionals except the high dam and the light show, Abu Simbel is definitely worth of waking up 3am and 3 hours bus ride to see. Also, you are gonna see a lot of temples so it is a good idea to take pictures and make some simple notes to remember later which is which, some people are over temples at the end of the trip but remember you will probably never see them again and you did sign up because of the amazing Egyptian historical sights/monuments/temples.
Our tour guide, Sheriff is very knowledgeable, personal, fun and humble. He is the key that your Egypt trip will be guaranteed once a life time experience. You can ask him about anything, the ancient sights, Egypt culture/politics, extra history lessons/stories (while everyone was asleep on the bus, a few girls and me were up and listen to him telling the hidden stories of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.) At the end of the trip I tried to ask him the appropriate amount of tips to give and he wouldn't tell me and said that anything is ok because he understood that us young people are traveling on budgets. I found out he now works 75% less due to the decline in the Egypt tourisms n yet he is still so considerate, genuine and humble. So if you are taking this trip, please be kind to save some good tips at the end of the tour for him :)
Now about the accommodations, I was happy with everything even though the Victoria hotel and the overnight train were not the best, but hey we are in Egypt to experience the real Egypt, not the Western luxury everyday life.Yes, you will probably encounter pushy sales or get rippled off on a few souvenirs on the first day, but you can learn, I did, and I haggled for the rest of my shopping trips and got the lowest prices for everything. If by the end of the trip, you understand Egypt a little more and can appreciate the good and the bad, and able to empathized with its current undesirable economical/political circumstances, and it's culture and people, then you did it right. This is the reason why we travel. You see, you learn, you understand, and you empathize. This is how you become a more open minded person with a bigger heart.
Tips: get the Egypt visa on arrival for $25, break your money into smaller Egyptian bills for easier tipping ( I exchanged approx $200 into 10s & 20s only, most places take US dollars so you can also prepare some $1,$5,$10 for back up, Google Egypt tipping for guidances too), the selfie stick my best friend gave me for the trip was so so handy, bring toilet paper at all times, bring wet wipes for instant shower(dusty everywhere because you are in the desert), power converter/adapter ($6 from Amazon,) external batteries for phones, small empty water bottle that can fit your day bag (all the bottle water you end up buying are big ones,) snack bars for in between meals, small sunscreen for your day bag,
Things I wish I had done:
get to know all my Contiki friends on day 1, since it was a short trip and can be tiring and I was tired to social at the end and didn't get to connect to some friends that I wish I had.
Extend 1-2days at the end of the trip and sign up with at least 2 people in order to to a one day Alexandria tour with Sheriff, I would of totally done it if I d know earlier.
Sorry for the mom like lengthy review, but I do hope you will be well prepared and have the time of your life on this trip! If you have any other questions about the trip feel free to email me email@example.com
Review written May 2015event 0.3
04 Apr 2015 - 11 Apr 2015
Wow! What an amazing trip!!! An experience of a life time.
Sherif, our tour guide, was nothing short of amazing. He was so helpful in giving us tips and pointers where ever we went, talked us through the trip, and was so friendly, personable and comical! He is so knowledgeable of the history of the sights we toured and shows such passion in his countries history.
The food was good, surprising to me because I can be picky, everyone we met was very friendly and helpful. I never felt anything but safe while on this trip. Sherif really helped with that.
The first night in the Alexandria Hotel was a bit shocking-a little dirty and in a very busy area of Cairo. But everyone was friendly. The overnight train was a shock as well-no showers! and I highly suggest you BUY TOILET PAPER for the train, and rest of the trip. They don't seem to use any or stock bathrooms with it, and you have to pay a pound for most bathrooms. The Nile Cruise was nothing short of simply beautiful. The scenery, breathtaking. The rooms, bathrooms, and restaurant was really nice. The crew was phenomenal! Everyone is so nice and eager to help. We even partied with them on the 'egyptian dress up night". Very fun. We traveled by tour bus inbetween and to different tours. The buses are pretty nice and air conditioned. (We had one bus for a long ride that was cramped though). The Hurghada Hotel is great too, though I wish we were there for longer. I hear the snorkeling is a must, but it was too windy.
All the extras I would suggest doing, except for the light show. Very dated and not very interesting.
It is definitely a culture shock, especially being female. But I always felt safe with Sherif and while on the tour.
I hope all tour guides are like him!
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
04 Apr 2015 - 11 Apr 2015
This was an amazing trip. You really do get to see and experience the best parts of Egypt. So much history and the tour guide is extremely knowledgable. I felt 100% safe on this tour; Go to Egypt you will not regret it. This tour would have gotten 5 stars but I wasn't 100% happy with the accommodations. The Victoria Hotel is dirty and seems to be in a rough part of town. I saw roaches while on my stay. The cruise ship was beautiful and seemed clean but once again I saw roaches in my room. I had a nice surprise when I unpacked my bag in Hurghada... yup there was a live roach in my backpack... scared the crap out of me. Other than that the tour was amazing.
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
14 Feb 2015 - 21 Feb 2015
Egypt is hands down the BEST trip I've taken yet! No words or pictures will do it justice, you have to go and feel for yourself. It's way more than just pyramids, it's stepping back in time, it's magic! A great tour manager makes all the difference on Contiki trips, and Egypt is lucky to have Sheriff. He's incredibly knowledgeable and funny, every site, every structure, every rock has a story and Sheriff will explain it to you in a way that you'll remember forever. Keep in mind that Egypt is a historical tour, not a party tour, although with the right group of people partying like an Egyptian is right up there. The hotel in Cairo is not the best, but the Nile cruise is amazing, and the Red Sea resorts are pretty good too.
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
17 Jan 2015 - 24 Jan 2015
Absolutely amazing! Highly recommended. Egypt is safe to travel, and one of the coolest places I've ever been to. Some of the places we stayed weren't as nice as the others, but that didn't matter too much once we got where we needed. The cruise was a highlight, the staff were so nice, and our tour leader Sherif was amazing! He was so kind & helpful and is so excited to share his Egypt with everyone.
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
20 Dec 2014 - 27 Dec 2014
This trip was a blast. There was so much to see and do over the 8 days. Tour manager Sherif was so knowledgeable on all the sites and local history. Egypt used to have over 12 million tourists a year. After the revolution tourists have decided to vacation elsewhere, and now there are only 2-3 million tourists a year. We had the river cruise boat, as well as the tourist sites all to ourselves. At no time did I feel unsafe in Egypt. Now is the time to go!
We spent Christmas on the Nile river cruise. The staff went above and beyond to provide a special Christmas Eve dinner for everyone. The Egyptian party was silly, but it was fun to roam the markets to find the best deal on the Egyptian clothing. It was also fun to take pictures and dance in the clothing.
The optionals, such as Abu Simbel, the Crocodile temple, and snorkeling the Red Sea or taking a 4 wheeler in the desert were all worth the extra money. I would recommend coming in a day early or leaving a day late to explore Alexandria. Sherif took a group of us up for the day. We saw 5 sites, local markets, stopped for lunch, and made it home in time for dinner. Well worth $110USD.
Remember to buy your $25USD visa at the currency exchange in the airport before you get in the immigration line. There are no signs directing you to do this.
Book this tour before millions of tourists flock back to Egypt!
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
06 Dec 2014 - 13 Dec 2014
I would HIGHLY recommend the Egypt tour to anyone. I felt safe and taken care of the entire time and think it's time tourism come back to Egypt (the negative media attention is really overblown I found after visiting myself).
Contiki does it right with visits to the pyramids, camel rides, train rides, a nice cruise boat, and time spent at the beach on the Red Sea (snorkeling was amazing).
I can't say enough about how excellent the guide Sherif is and he has 15 years experiences; he's also a genuine person who just adds to the fun of the group. The people I was lucky enough to travel with also made the trip.
Would highly recommend the village tour (opt for the camel, not the donkey in my opinion).
Dendera, an addition to the tour, was one of the main highlights-it was so well preserved.
THANKS for the trip of a lifetime!!
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
08 Nov 2014 - 15 Nov 2014
This is my second Contiki trip, and it was even better than I had expected it to be. The tour guide, Sherif, was exceptionally knowledgeable on Egyptian history and was an excellent guide. He truly made the world of a difference, making this trip as much fun as it was educational. There were 21 of us on the group and we all had a great time and made some new friends. Also, Egypt was totally safe - we never had any issues and never felt unsafe. Their tourism has been suffering and I'm happy Contiki added this tour back because it felt totally safe to be there!
Review written Nov 2014event 0.3
06 Sep 2014 - 13 Sep 2014
I have travelled all over the world but Contiki Egypt is one of the favourite trips I've ever done - what an amazing trip! The history and culture that we saw in just 7/8 days plus our 3 day 5 star Nile cruise and day snorkelling in the Red Sea - just incredible. I can't believe we saw so much in such a short time.
Sherif is an amazing tour guide - hard to see how this trip could continue without - his knowledge is limitless and nothing is too much trouble for him. What an amazing guy!
Now is a great time to see Egypt as the troubles over the last few years mean that (except for the Red Sea resorts) Egpyt is incredibly quiet at the moment - terribly sad for a country so reliant on tourism - but also great for any tourists that do visit at the moment - we didn't find any crowds or queues - and were able to get photos of the amazing temples, pyramids etc without any tourists getting in the way!
Just do it - you won't regret it.
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
27 Apr 2013 - 04 May 2013
I had always wanted to go to Egypt and it did not disappoint. Sherrif was an excellent tour guide, he was full of knowledge and got us to all the places before the crowds rolled in. He could tell us everything we wanted to know and could take us to the best places for photo's and even got us into one of the pyramids for a look.
The food on the house boat was excellent but make sure you take something on the train to eat as the food on there is cooked in the morning and left all day in pretty unappealing conditions. It didn't look all that appetizing either. Sherrif also took us to a great place to eat and relax after the pyramids and before the train, so fill up there while you can.
Everything about the trip was amazing. but be prepared for lots of sightseeing and temples. Being interested in it I wanted to see more but my partner was happy to see the last one by the end.
The camel ride at the pyramids is great fun and you get an absolutely awesome view from it.
Our last day out on the reef was perfect. the weather was great and i heard great things about the snorkelling.
I would recommend this trip 100% to anyone who wants to go. Just take a friend, Cairo is a bit full on and if you are a woman alone it's pretty intimidating. If you get there a day early you have the option of going to Alexandria for $100, it's worth every cent!
Review written May 2014event 0.3
29 Jun 2013 - 06 Jul 2013
I had booked my Egypt tour to start in the middle of my European trip. Whilst I was over there, the news of the riots spread and our group was offered a full refund if we chose to pull out. I decided it was now or never and continued with my travel plan. Little did I know we'd be there to see the president of the country overthrown and the start of a revolution. Everyone involved in the organization of this tour went above and beyond to keep us safe and give us the most incredible experience. One of the best experiences of my life and oh what a story!
Review written Oct 2013event 0.3
22 Jun 2013 - 29 Jun 2013
this was the best trip i have ever been on!! been a smaller group meant we bonded together so well! Sherif was an amazing tour guide, and took us to all the right places. i would recommend this to anyone who is considering Egypt!! the optionals were fab and the cruise boat down the nile was heaven on earth!! DO IT!!! you will have #noregrets!
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3
15 Jun 2013 - 22 Jun 2013
From the moment go, it was so full on but relaxing at the same time. On the first day it was so absolutely surreal that you do so much, in just 1 day. You see all the highlights that you want to see when you want to go to Egypt. With climbing into the pyramids (at a price) to relaxing along the nile on your boat and having a party along the red sea in Hurghada. Its such a mix of sightseeing, history, partying, relaxing and having such a good time with fellow travel mates. The tour guide, Sheriff, was an absolute history guru that knew absolutely everything of Egypt. You always constantly feel safe in the group as Sheriff knows the best time of the day to go to certain sights, which is awesome. I would do it again in an absolute heart beat, it definitely is worth every $$$
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
28 Dec 2012 - 05 Jan 2013
This was the best trip I have ever been on! Do not let your friends, family, or the media scare you into thinking this place is unsafe. I never felt unsafe once. I had the best time and I encourage everyone who is thinking about it to just do it! You will not regret it.
Review written May 2013event 0.3