Back from Egypt and Jordan

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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan?

Postby tventer » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:53 am

Hello,
I was just wondering if you didn't mind sharing how much you budgeted for
- food
- extra options
- shopping

thank you!!!
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:03 pm

HI Linda-

Thanks for your questions. We had two different guides- one for Egypt and one for Jordan- both were quite good, but for different reasons. The one for Egypt really knew his ancient egypt history and such and was quite accomodating to the groups needs- but he was younger and sometimes seemed like he wanted to be in other places. The one for Jordan was quite excited about his country and knew information about everything, but was less jovial. Dont get me wrong- they complimented each other great and I thoroughly enjoyed both- it was nice to see differernt personalities.

Our guide for Egypt did take us to perfume, payprus, alabaster stores- but only after he asked the group if they wanted to go. He made it clear that you were not obligated to buy anything and that prices would be high, and should be haggled. So, we felt like we knew what we were getting into when we went to these places. I personally did not buy anything from these stores as they were very high prices- and the quality the same or less of what you could find elsewhere. But buy going, i dont think we missed out on much.


Our restaurants were both touristy and local. Sometimes we would go to expensive places for buffets- other times the guide would make a recommendation and we would go to places and the food was quite good. Overall breakfasts were not good on the trip- bread, bread, and more bread. The salads, chicken, rices- all of those were really good. Overall, the hotel restaurants were probably the worst (but in certain places like Sinai) there are no other options.

A couple of people felt "sick" or "weak" for a day - but never more! We were never sure if that was from the food or being in the hot desert, or just on the move alot. I will say everyone handled it well- no one seemed really "sick" where we had to continually stop or they had to miss out on activities. Just keep your bottled water with you all the time. You'll drink a lot.

My hotel arrainged an airport pick up for me. They were waiting after baggage claim. It was easy and I was glad. Traffic from the airport into Cairo in the evening was AWFUL- nearly 2 hours from the airport to the hotel.

I stayed at the Hotel Osiris in Cairo and the Hotel Hisham in Amman - i researched and booked for these myself. They were smaller and more intimate- good locations and what seemed like a good price. So yes, I was glad I booked these independent. The Gap Hotels, especially in the larger cities, are bigger, tour hotels.

Everything in Egypt, I repeat everything requires baksheesh. Every photo! It was probably the most annoying thing about my visit- I had read about it, I had people warn me about it- but you cant really be prepared for it, until you experience it. It was actually worse when i was by myself. It got marginally better when i was on the tour. Just make sure you have some small (1 EP) bills when you arrive. I only had 50 EP and every one will say they have no change, and it gets quite frustrating. I think all banks will make change for you. I got small change in Jordan from a bank and it worked well.

I hope that helps.

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:07 pm

I believe i budgeted approx $1000 USD for extra shopping, food, and excursions. Some of my money ($600)I was able to get ahead of time via AAA. Other money I was able to get via ATM's which are everywhere and have an easy English option. Occasionally I used debit or credit card purchases, but this is much harder to do and I wouldnt recommend it for anything but the most expensive shopping.

I was able to mostly meet this budget, although I believe I went over it with some shopping in Jordan (because I wanted some higher quality Christmas gifts) and Jordan is more expensive than Egypt.

I hope that helps-
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby asalibee » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:51 pm

Hi again Steve,
Just a few more questions...

I stayed at the Hotel Osiris in Cairo


I went on Trip Advisor and found a lot of good reviews on Hotel Osiris. What I couldn't find was a way to book it. I even went on Hotels.com and booking.com. How did you book?

You said you spent about $1,000 on food, excursions and gifts. Can you break that down...just an estimate. Did that include the extra days you were there?

Did you or anyone go to the colored canyon? It looks quite interesting but the $200 quoted by gap seems awful high. I found it much cheaper online and the trip was from a much greater distance too.

Hopefully all that is going on in Tunisia and Lebanon will not spill over to Egypt by October.

Thanks again,

Linda
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby wiebler » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:31 am

I booked with the Hotel Osiris by emailing them. They replied back right away. There email address is hotelosiris@yahoo.fr

For a twin it costs us $75/night including breakfast and taxes. It was rated quite highly on Trip Advisor and seeing that the hotel that GAP tours uses was rated poorly, we wanted our first two nights in the most comfort possible without 4 star prices.

They did quote us 90 EGP for airport pickup. I am sure that I can practise my haggling skills and get a ride for much cheaper, but after a very long plane trip I think I will pay the extra and not have to worry about that part.
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:19 pm

Yes, the email above is the best to use for Hotel Osiris. I think I paid 60 USD for a single. They have a website, but you have to search for it. The Hotel is fine and very clean. Yes, it has a weird entrance from an office building and yes, the elevator is rickety and old and yes, the bathroom doesnt have a shower curtain, so things get wet, but thats all part of the experience. The view from eating breakfast and the view on top of the building overlooking Cairo was amazing! That right there was worth it!

As far as breaking out the money goes- that is somewhat hard for me, as you dont get reciepts etc. In general, more money is spent in Egypt ( I went to the ATM 2x) only once in Jordan. Food was about the same in the two countries- I certainly ate well- the biggest cost can be alcohol, which is readily available in Jordan (although can be expensive) and hit and miss availability in Egypt.

I went on most of the excursions, except the hot air baloon, and the colored canyon. In fact, the colored canyon excursion wasnt even talked about or offered as far as I know. The money/costs were all worth it (although the sound and light show at Karnak was a little cheesy for the cost).

I paid for everything in cash, with the exception of my independent hotel in Jordan (approx 90USD) and my last day of shopping (at a higher end craft/bedouin/national gallery store). I would say the $1000 USD included all but these. Most of the money would be for excursions, then food, then souveniers costing the least. In both countries, for the equivalent of $10USD, you can eat, very, very well in most places. You dont have to worry about tipping in the restaurants or the hotels when the group is together, because the tour guide takes a tip kitty at the beginning to handle all of those. Bottled water was anywhere from $.50 USD for a small bottle to $.60-$2.00 for a large bottle. Candy would be about $.50 USD and chips would be $.50- $.75. We went to several larger grocery stores (before our night train to Aswan and again in Amman- that were very, very cheap. I would also say that I went to some stores (they all start looking the same after awhile) and felt that I purchased a good selection of items to take back. I suppose you could spend much more- one person in our group bought a hookah to take back, another bought a long dress. I hope the disturbances in Tunisia will not impact the tours to Egypt and Jordan. Both countries definatiely want tourism and value what they bring.
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:23 pm

As far as the airport pick up at Hotel Osiris, I was grateful to have this lined up ahead of time. I am the type of person that likes to plan ahead, and so it worked out well. The driver was waiting for me with my name and the hotel's name on a sign just outside of customs. He didnt speak English really, although he did offer me a cigarette (everyone in Egypt smokes!).

If you are the type of person who enjoys "winging it", then you can negotiate a taxi or other driver when you arrive.

I did a fair amount of comparisions for hotels, and for the price and location, Hotel Osiris seemed like a good fit to me.
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby sonictrip » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:07 am

Thank you that break up of budget helps alot!
Just a few more questions, sorry.
- How much did you put into the 'tip kitty'
-And for the extra options such as Luxor and Karnak temple, did you have to pay the tour guide the fee or did he/she just organise transportation and you just pay the entrance fee at the temple? Just wondering as I have a student card and have heard you can get a discount off the entrance fee's

Thank you
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:29 pm

There is the group "tip kitty" that the guide pays all of the group tips from. This is approx 3-5 USD/day. The tour leader will collect it and tell you the exact amount, but this amount is a good point of reference for budgeting. You pay this the first evening in Cairo and the first evening in Aqaba. Then there is the separate tip for the tour guide at the end of Egypt and the end of Jordan. Some groups combine this tour guide tip, but on my group, each person paid separately. The amount is based on how good you thought the guide was.

For the optional attractions, if our guide was going along with us, we would pay him and he would buy the tickets. If he wasnt going, then we would have to buy tickets on our own. There were no students on my tour, so I am unable to comment on if the group leader would have utilized the student ID to lower that cost.

I hope that helps,

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby mikeu » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:33 am

Steve, according to the dossier for this tour (http://www.gapadventures.com/trips/egyp ... p-details/), the group member will be responsible for providing for himself/herself 25 meals if he/she strictly adheres to the 17-day tour itinerary.
All breakfasts on the tour will be provided by Gap, but the group member must buy all meals except for one lunch and five dinners.
For each unprovided meal, I plan to apportion USD 6.00 of my tour budget. Based on your experience, is this sum sufficient for the meal prices in Egypt and Jordan?
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:32 pm

Hi Mike-

I think you could get by on budgeting $6 USD for each meal, but this would include little, if no alcohol, no fruit juice drinks, no after dinner coffee, no random ice cream or dessert, etc. I think a better price (that would give you more options) would be approx $10 USD/meal. That way you won't have to be counting your pennies, and if you dont use it all- then you have extra money for shopping/gifts ,etc.

I hope that helps.

Steve
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby mikeu » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:03 pm

Yes, your information helps. Thank you!
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby threemules » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:14 am

Steve,

I have two quick questions (I apologise if you have answered them already):
1. Which tours did you do in Egypt and Jordan
2. How prepared do you need to be? ie can you wing things there or is it best to be really organised and ready to go (I don't mean the tours, I just mean with the other bits and bobs that go with it)

Cheers!!!
Kate
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby sandj » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:12 am

We went in October. Also highly recommend Abu Simbel, Philae Temple, Karnak Temple, Jerash, Extended 4x4 in the desert.

The balloon ride over Luxor was absolutely fantastic! Seeing the west bank, temples, and ruins from above adds a different perspective to the trip.

Petra by Night was ok... enjoyable, but didn't quite meet our expectations.
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Re: Back from Egypt and Jordan

Postby tallcodude » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:54 pm

HI Kate-

I believe I did most all of the optional tours- including Abu Simbel, Philae Temple, Edfu, Karnak and Luxor Temples at Night, Sinai, Dead Sea, Extended 4x4 tour, Jerash, Petra at Night, and Turkish Bath at Petra. The main one I did not do was the hot air balloon rides or scuba diving at the Red Sea. I chose not to do the balloon ride only because of the cost (close to $200 USD). I woulr heartily recommend each of the other optional tours!

As far as preparation, I did plan extensively (reading, researching, looking online, talking to others who had been there, etc). That is just what is comfortable to me and a better chance to really appreciate the culture and what all i'll be seeing.

Other people in my tour didnt really prepare that much and were content to experience it as it happened or as time allowed. They seemed happy with that as well.

As far as traveling to Egypt and Jordan, I would recommend some prep with travel in a 3rd world country and in a Muslim country. Both of those aspects will help you with "culture shock".

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other specfics.

thanks,
Steve
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