Back from Egypt and Jordan

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Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:27 pm

Hi all-

I just got back from the Egypt/Jordan adventure tour (came back Nov. 29). It was really amazing and an overall really great tour! Instead of giving a long trip description, I thought it would be better to answer specific questions about the countries or about the trip. Some topics I'll be happy to answer include:

Sights (favorite and least favorite), Weather, Crime, Safety, Transportation, Costs, Shopping, Physical Activities (Hiking, Snorkeling, Animal Riding), Men/Women Issues, Food, Packing, Tour Leaders, Hotels, Group Dynamics, Extra Excursions, etc.

Overall, these are fabulous countries with so much to see and such friendly people. If you are going or planning to go, you'll have a blast!

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tletter » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:58 pm

tallcodude wrote:Some topics I'll be happy to answer

Steve,

What optional actvities do you recommend?

Did you get a chance to go on a balloon ride in Luxor?

Did you go to Saqqara, Dashur and Memphis? If so how did you make this excursion?

Thanks,

Thomas
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:05 pm

Hi Thomas-

For the optional activities, I did quite alot. In fact, most of the group did as well. Some of them that I recommend include: Abu Simbel, Philae Temple, Karnak Temple, Jerash, Extended 4x4 in the desert, Turkish Bath, and Petra at Night.

I did not do the balloon ride over Luxor (although I saw them in the sky that morning). Two folks from our group did- and said it was good, but not great. (It was quite expensive, a quick ride- 20-30 minutes of flying, and they were in a big balloon with about 12 other tourists).

I was able to arrive in Cairo 2 nights early, so I went to Dashur, Memphis, and Saqqara by myself with a ride booked through my hotel. The price seemed ok at the time through the hotel. I recommend these destinations very much. In fact, I liked the pyramids at Dashur more than Giza (less crowded, in the middle of nowhere, no touts or people asking to buy stuff). Some others from the group went to these sites on the return day to Cairo instead of going to the Citadel. It depends on your schedule, but yes, i would go.

I hope this information helps- let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you enjoy your trip!

steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tletter » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:31 pm

tallcodude wrote:I went to Dashur, Memphis, and Saqqara by myself with a ride booked through my hotel. The price seemed ok at the time through the hotel.

Steve,

We (2 people) were quoted a price of 400 Egyptian pound (US $70) per car without entrance and guiding fees by our hotel. Is this what you paid for the day? Did you pay the driver or the hotel?

I assume that the hotel supplied you with a driver who spoke some English. Do you think it would be easy to get a cab on our own to drive us to these three sites?

How long did it take you to tour around this three sites? Is a trip lasting from 0800 to 1700 hours the norm?

Thanks again for the information,

Thomas
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:21 pm

For my tour, I was quoted 250 Egyptian Pounds for 1 person. That included transportation, but not food and not entrance fees, so your price seems somewhat fair for 2 persons.

My driver was just that- a driver- he spoke very little English, so I had to rely on my guide books for information. I did get a guide in Saqqara who took me around for an hour ( for an additional fee).

I paid for my trip through the hotel- it started at 7:30am and I was back at 1:30pm. I had the option to go to Giza for the same price, but chose not to, since the Gap trip would cover this. I tipped the driver money at the end (you quickly learn to tip everyone in Egypt). I felt that my time at the sites was suitable- not rushed at all.

The other folks who visited these sites on the Cairo day during the tour got a driver from the tour leader. They were gone for about the same amount of time. I do not know what they paid though. I'm sure you could get a taxi driver to take you independently, but i found it easier to have a firm price up front and a clear itinerary that was booked through the hotel. Often times taxi drivers start with one price and later change it for a variety of reasons (traffic, time, you took too long, hot weather, etc.).

I hope that helps!

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tletter » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:46 pm

tallcodude wrote:it started at 7:30am and I was back at 1:30pm

Steve,

How much time on site would you suggest that we should budget at each of Dashur, Saqqara and Memphis? For example, I would assume that not more than an hour about the right amount of time at Memphis.

Did you go inside the Red Pyramid at Dashur and the step pyramid at Saqqara? If so which do you think was better and why?

Thank you,

Thomas
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:06 pm

I spent the least amount of time at Memphis, then Dashur, and then Saqqara. Saqqara has, by far, the most to see. I think 1 hour at Memphis, little more at Dashur, then the most at Saqqara. My guide at Saqqara was for 1 hour, and we only began to skim the surface of the main area. Plus, there are other tombs to see that take longer- which I did on my own. I did go inside the Red Pyramid (and my legs hurt for several days afterwards- haha). Seriously, I went inside this one rather than going inside at Giza- It was steep, low, hot, humid, and smelled, but I'm glad i went inside at least once in my lifetime. There were two big, empty rooms to see. The tombs I saw later in the trip were much better and more impressive inside- but the pyramids are very amazing from the outside. The step pyramid was under restoration so no one could go inside (and it had scaffolding all around it).

I hope that helps,

steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tletter » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:49 pm

Steve,

Was there any reason to have a sleeping bag for the felucca or the stay at Wadi Rum?

Is it better to change US dollars at the airport upon arrival or elsewhere?

Thanks,

Thomas
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby moviegeekjn » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:20 pm

Have been to Egypt through private guides before (not GAP) and also found the prices extremely economical--though everyone you encounter will have their hand out, seeking either tips or your business. Pre-arranging guides to take you to sites not included recommended... you certainly would NEVER want to drive in Cairo, for example... and inevitably you would run into security checks along the way (so most helpful to have a local guide for those encounters).

Carrying a small amount of US dollars upon arrival would suffice... You can get Egyptian pounds easy enough later via ATMs.
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:39 pm

I got a little money from AAA travel currency before I left, but you could easily get it at any airport on your way out. Once there, there are ATM's everywhere- that were easy to use (and in English)- so carrying a lot of money shouldnt be an issue.

I took a sleeping bag liner, primarily because I didnt have room for a sleeping bag- plus the weather was not so cold. On the felucca, it actually was warm at night and you can always ask for extra blankets. In the desert at Wadi Rum, you are in little tents with beds and extra blankets, so i think you dont need one (unless the weather is supposed to be really cold). Check online before to make sure.

Besides these two potential nights, there is absolutely no need for a sleeping bag.

Best wishes,
Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby melissa boddy » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:51 am

Hi Steve,

Just wondering about tipping. Roughly how much did you tip the driver on your day to Dashur, Memphis and Saqqara. I am thinking of doing the same thing on my first day in Cairo.

Thanks
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:41 pm

I tipped my driver between 40-50 EGP. He seemed happy with it, which told me I tipped too much! haha

Have a great time!

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby asalibee » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:01 pm

Hi Steve,

First, I'd like to thank you for sharing! I am planning on this trip pretty much the same time next year. Here are my questions:
How was the weather in Egypt and Jordan? Enough daylight hours?
I will be arriving a day earlier and am wondering about the safety and/or harassment level for a woman travelling alone. (Maybe a woman in your group voiced her concerns)
How were the accomodations in Cairo? Was the hotel conveniently located (within walking distances)?
Did you or anyone in your group have any run-ins with the men offering camel rides? (I've heard a few horror stories).
Did you find much to do in Amman? Would you recommend additional days there?
How many additional days in Cairo?
That's it for now. I really appreciate your responses.
Thanks,
Linda
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:53 pm

HI Linda-

Thanks for the compliment! It's great to help other travelers with their future plans. As far as the weather goes, I think Nov was perfect- sunny, no rain at all- temps in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Both of the guides said that the weather was amazing. In Jordan, Nov is supposed to be the start of their winter rainy season, but they have been having a drought, so the weather was great for traveling. As far as daylight goes, the sun would come up about 7am and go down by 5pm. It seemed to work ok, since the attractions would close by 5pm regardless of the time of year. It seemed to have the greatest effect at Sinai- as we had to really rush to see the sunset on the mtn. More people come out at night anyway, because the days can be so hot- so having additional darkness, only highlights the local culture more.

As far as women traveling alone- I have to say that I heard from all the ladies in the group that at least once I heard from them in an uncomfortable situation- not dangerous, not life threating, just uncomfortable- with stares, actions, or touches, etc. I think it is something to be aware of and be cognizant of your surroundings, but i dont think any of the ladies in our group would have changed any of their plans or sightseeing because of it. It seemed to go down dramatically when the group was mixed (men and women). As a single guy, I never felt unsafe (although I would occasionally get frustrated- but that is part of any experience.)

The host hotel in Cairo, the Cosmopolitan, is in a safe part of the city, but not a tourist part. There is a lot of shopping around, but again, it is not tourist shopping. You can walk to the tourist sites downtown, but a taxi may be easier. I stayed in Cairo for 2 nights before starting the tour- I stayed at a different hotel. I stayed in Amman for 1 additional night after the tour- again at a different hotel. I felt that the additional stays were good and I would recommend them (especially in Cairo- although at the end, the extra day can be a little lonely- because you have said goodbye to most of your group). I was going to go to Jerash in Jordan on my extra day, but we were able to shift some days around and we got to go as a group while still on the tour (and really, really loved it!). Amman has some great restaurants and shops to visit- and it is worth it to linger around the streets, etc. (A good last day- relaxing activity- before dealing with the long flight home).

We got to ride camels in Aswan as a group- there were potential camel rides elsewhere along the tour (for additional $), but no one took advantage of them. You just say no thanks, and they move along, so that wasnt a problem. For me, the camel ride was not comfortable at all, so I'm glad i did it once, but probably not again.

Please let me know if you have any more questions or if I was able to answer everything. I'm confident you will have a blast!

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby asalibee » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:31 pm

Hi again Steve,
Happy New Year.
I have a few more questions after reading another trip report... How was your Egyptian guide? Did he take you to a lot of expensive shops? Our guide in Turkey took us on extended shopping trips and we wound up getting into the next stop so late I had to get up super early the next day to see the town on my own before breakfast.
Did he take you to expensive touristy restaurants? I find a lot of GAP guides frequent expensive tourist only restaurants. I guess it's better to get a free expensive dinner than a free cheap dinner. :-)
Did anyone get sick from the local food? I ate street food in India and fared well.
Did you take a taxi from the airport or a bus?
Which hotels did you stay at on your extra nights in both Cairo and Amman? Did you prefer them to the GAP ones? Can you book online? Were they less expensive?

Did you find the people open to you taking their photos or was baksheesh expected?

OK, enough questions for now.
Where is your next trip? If you haven't already gone, I highly recommend Turkey Explorer (I think that's the name--17 days.

Thanks, Linda
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