Please comment early stage of Egypt itinerary

Old Nov 29th, 2022, 09:10 AM
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Please comment early stage of Egypt itinerary

We are a 60/70 year old couple from Italy. Widely travelled but this is our first trip to Egypt. We are interested in art,scenery, local culture, food and charming places to stay. Also sun and sea. Could anyone comment on this itinerary for February 2023 please?
Fly Rome to Cairo
2 nights in Cairo
Train to Alexandria
1 night Alexandria
Fly to Luxor 1 night
Board Nour El Nil cruise 5 nights
1 night Assouan
Last 3/4 nights Marsa Alam for beach BUT we think it might be too cold for us so we could skip this and do what?
Fly back to Rome from Cairo?
We are fairly flexible with return date.
Any suggestions for small boutiquey hotels and best areas to stay in cities would also be much appreciated.
Thank-you!
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 11:32 AM
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We were in Egypt in January 2020 and it was quite cold. We all wore winter coats, hats, gloves. I doubt if it would very nice on a beach. People were buying coats.
We loved our trip, especially Lake Nasser and Abu Simbel.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 01:32 PM
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Thank-you, that could be a good alternative to Marsa Alam. Did you spend the night in Lake Nasser or do it as day trip?
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 08:23 AM
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carrom,
We just got back from a trip to Egypt and Jordan. I can’t speak to the weather when you’re going, but I’ve made some suggestions to the itinerary. I don’t know how much of it is set in stone, but here are my thoughts. Assuming the boat dates are confirmed and your flight to Cairo is, then….

1) I would skip Alexandria for just one night and stick to 3 nights in Cairo. There is enough to see and do between Cairo and Giza to warrant 3 nights and the train ride to Alexandria seems especially long.

2) It’s not clear to me what your boat itinerary is. Do you see any of the many Luxor sights with the cruise? We also took a lovely boat ride from Luxor to Aswan (4 nights), but this is after we’d already spent 4 nights in Luxor. The sightseeing from our boat was south of Luxor. So, if you don’t see the Luxor sights (Karnak, Luxor temple, Valley of the Kings, etc), I would use those days at the end to return to Luxor. If your flight to Cairo is flexible, I would add more days to Luxor..

Last edited by progol; Nov 30th, 2022 at 09:22 AM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 06:19 PM
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We just finished 5 nights in Cairo and 4 nights on the Nile. It seems like you are flying around a lot! We used Excel travel to meet us at the airport, shuttle to hotel, set up guides and tours of cairo and along our cruize, we were with a group on the cruize. I would agree with another person who replied, one night in Alexandria seems fast, you are spending a lot of time travelling around. The plane rides from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan to Cairo were all late and bags took an hour each time. I think you should spend two nights in Alexandria, and 3-4 nights in Cairo. In Cairo, the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar. is much more than shopping if you have a great guide to show you the old mosques and public bath houses, cisterns etc.. Go to the bazar early in the day to avoid the crazy crowds and pickpockets at night. A good guide will keep the vendors off your backs! The Coptic area and Citadel mosque were awesome. Pyramids at Giza - you must have lunch at the new 9 pyramids lounge - it has a great view of the pyramids - a MUST! The night time show at the pyramids is very cool. I would suggest spending more time in Cairo. A tour guide and car/van is a must for all tours in Cairo in order to get the most out of your time. Be prepared to tip the guide 15% of the tour and driver 5-10% of the tour cost in Egyptian pounds! When you are on the Nile, you must see the temple at Karnak in Luxor along with the luxor temple. At night this temple is great. The temple at Edfu is a highlight, so is the trip from the boat to this temple - Edfu is very primitive. Make your tour guide take you in a motorized van, not the horse carriage. Valley of the kings is great in Aswan. I am not sure about your coastal travels. I would go back to Rome from Aswan. You will have to fly Aswan to Cairo to Rome. Spend more time in Cairo, more time in Alexandria and enjoy the Cruize. Make sure you have prepaid for all your Transporation from hotels to airports to cruizes and back again! Use a reputable travel agency and be happy you have paid. The Egyptian pound is very cheap. The vendors are very aggressive - but if you keep saying "no thank you" they will leave you alone. If they continue, tell them you will report them to the tourism police. It was chaotic and awesome! Have fun!!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 12:48 PM
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Thank-you so much Progol and Ernesto for taking the time to share your thoughts and suggestions. I realize now I need to make some changes. Nothing is booked except the Nile cruise on a small dahabiya for 5 nights. So no problem with making alterations. And yes, we board the cruise South of Luxor at Esna so we definitely need to spend more nights in Luxor itself. We will scrap the Red Sea...way too cold. Maybe add Abu Simbel and more days in Cairo and Alexandria. Will do more research on travelling times. I wonder if we could do the whole trip with just hand luggage to avoid those long waits........probably not.
Has the new Grand Museum in Cairo opened yet? And if not is there still anything to see in the old one or is everything being moved?
Thanks again!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 02:59 PM
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carrom,
The new GEM hasn’t opened yet and there is no definitive date as to when it will open, although it’s now said to open in 2023! We did go to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and though the museum itself is dated, there was so much to see that we spent about 4 hours there - a record for us. I also recommend going to the National Museum of Civilization, a relatively new museum which has a stellar collection of about 18 mummies of the pharaohs - it sounds gruesome, but it was actually an incredible experience to see the actual mummies after seeing their tombs and temples. Truly an amazing experience.

I encourage you to give time to Luxor - there are so many incredible sights there and several days just scratches the surface. We were there for 4 nights and I could’ve easily spent more time there.

I’m glad I did go to see Abu Simbel, but do know that it may not make sense in a short trip. If you are adding time, then it becomes more doable. Although there are flights from Aswan, there are no direct flights back to Cairo. The drive is 4 hours from Aswan (which is what we did), so not an easy place to get to. And unlike the other cities, the visit is really all about Abu Simbel and that’s it. Yes, it’s impressive to see, but there is so much elsewhere that it would be a shame to compromise a place such as Luxor in order to visit Abu Simbel.

Last edited by progol; Dec 2nd, 2022 at 03:30 PM.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 08:19 AM
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Lake Nasser- we spent several days on a small boat viewing the antiquities that had been moved to it’s shores when the Aswan Dam was built. So uncrowded, lovely. Later we went on a Nile River boat cruise but liked our Lake Nasser experience better.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
Lake Nasser- we spent several days on a small boat viewing the antiquities that had been moved to itís shores when the Aswan Dam was built. So uncrowded, lovely. Later we went on a Nile River boat cruise but liked our Lake Nasser experience better.
We didn't go on a Lake Nasser cruise, and that sounds lovely. But we did go on a small, traditional boat called a dahabiya from Esna to Aswan for 4 nights, and that was heavenly. There were a grand total of 11 passengers and 5 or 6 crew members, and it was one of the (many!) highlights of our trip. This is an entirely different experience than a large cruise boat, and it really gave us the sense of the ancient world of the Nile, with its slow and gentle ride down the river.
https://www.nile-dahabiya.com
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 11:01 AM
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Buongiorno carram,
You mentioned scenery. Maybe check out the oases in the Western Desert, such as Siwa, Farfara, Bawiti and Dahkla. Two main points of interest there are: 1) Al Qasr, an ancient mudstone castello and 2) the White Desert, a unique area with white limestone abstract shapes carved by Mother Nature--ottimo!
That, plus a million silver stars each night by the dunes.
Tante belle cose.
I am done. The new museum too
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 11:05 AM
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I think I may have found a good solution:
Direct flight from Rome to Aexandria arrives very early am 2 nights in Alex
Train to Cairo (I presume they are frequent and a nice way to travel) 3 nights in Cairo
Early am flight to Luxor 3 nights in Luxor
Board our small Dahabiya for 5 night cruise
Disembark in Aswan spend 2 nights (possibly take a day trip to Abu Simbel depending on our energy level)
Fly from Aswan to Rome

What do you think? If we don't go to Abu Simbel is 2 days too much in Aswan?
Thank-you for your precious posts!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by zebec View Post
Buongiorno carram,
You mentioned scenery. Maybe check out the oases in the Western Desert, such as Siwa, Farfara, Bawiti and Dahkla. Two main points of interest there are: 1) Al Qasr, an ancient mudstone castello and 2) the White Desert, a unique area with white limestone abstract shapes carved by Mother Nature--ottimo!
That, plus a million silver stars each night by the dunes.
Tante belle cose.
I am done. The new museum too
I wish! Sounds amazing but I think it is worth a separate trip! Grazie Zbec!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2022, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by carrom View Post
I think I may have found a good solution:
Direct flight from Rome to Aexandria arrives very early am 2 nights in Alex
Train to Cairo (I presume they are frequent and a nice way to travel) 3 nights in Cairo
Early am flight to Luxor 3 nights in Luxor
Board our small Dahabiya for 5 night cruise
Disembark in Aswan spend 2 nights (possibly take a day trip to Abu Simbel depending on our energy level)
Fly from Aswan to Rome

What do you think? If we don't go to Abu Simbel is 2 days too much in Aswan?
Thank-you for your precious posts!
Your plan is much, much better! And there is plenty to see in Aswan. There are numerous islands with temples on them that had also been raised due to the building of the Aswan dam. The most well known is Philae, but there are others.

Tourists have done day trips to Abu Simbel but I canít imagine doing so - it really is a 4-hour drive there to get there and I canít imagine driving 8 hours in a day for one site.

And, if you do squeeze out another day, add it to Luxor. You wonít regret it.

I agree with you, too, that the idea of going into the desert doesnít make sense on this trip.

Are you working with an agent or will you work with your hotels for a driver and guide? You will need someone to take you around and having a (good) guide is highly recommended. We worked with an agency and some guides were better than others. We did have a wonderful guide in Luxor if youíre interested.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 01:00 AM
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Thank-you Progol, I am quite relieved that you approve . I ended up finalising the flights last night so no morebig changes allowed!
I am not working with an agent. We generally self drive and aren't too fond of tours but I would be very interested in your Luxor guide. Or other reccomendations.
Any tips on accommodation from anyone would also be welcome. We generally prefer small independent hotels but there seem to be few nice ones. In Cairo we thought of staying in the old part or downtown rather than the pyramids area. in Alexandria too we would prefer somewhere where we can walk to places. The Windsor or Cecil appeal though they have some horrible reviews. Any thoughts?
Thank-you!

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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 03:50 AM
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carrom, I’m glad your itinerary finalized! That’s great!

We didn’t go to Alexandria, but if we did, the Cecil was where we would’ve stayed. A friend who spent part of her life in Alexandria swears by that place.

We were in both Cairo and Giza. In Cairo, we stayed on Zamalek island, which we loved. It’s a respite from the chaos of Cairo. I didn’t care for our hotel, Hotel Longchamps, but there are other hotels in the island. I would recommend staying there as Cairo downtown is chaotic and not especially attractive.

In Luxor, we stayed in the Winter Pavilion, which is part of the Winter Palace hotel. The Pavilion is the newer part of the hotel, and is the budget wing , but it’s a great hotel and shares all the amenities with the elegant Winter Palace. I recommend it highly.

In Aswan, the place to stay would be the Old Cataract hotel, which is a historic gem. I wanted to go there very much, but it is very pricey. We stayed in the Movenpick on Elephantine Island, which is also a luxury resort hotel (and no bargain, either) and service is excellent. There is a dedicated ferry that takes guests the short ride across the Nile and most rooms have views of the water. It was very nice (though I still wished we could’ve stayed in the Old Cataract) but lacks the historic character of the other.

We adored our guide, Mohamed Eldaw (or El Daw). The best way to contact him is through WhatsApp - the number (including the Egypt exchange) is +20 106 940 1987. His name should come up in a search on WhatsApp. Tell him Paule referred you (and that is Paula with an ‘e’).

Personally, I wouldn’t want to self drive in Egypt. I would recommend that you ask for a driver in the various hotels you stay in as it is pretty chaotic and confusing. There are taxis, of course, and that might be the way to go, though it is nice to have the comfort of having a driver.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 01:09 PM
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Progol, I contacted Mohamed and he replied right away. We have agreed that I will get in touch again as soon as our plans are clear. Can I ask approximately how much did you pay your guides? Was it by the day? Did Mohamed also do the driving or are drivers and guides hired separately? And is he what they call and Egyptologist? Sorry to ask so many questions but you've been such a help!
Winter Palace and Old Cataract are already showing as full on most days so will speed along with all my bookings . I really like the look of Al Moudira in Luxor.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 01:37 PM
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Hi, carrom,
I worked through an agency, Djed, so I didn’t book him directly. I don’t know what the rates would be. They also provided drivers. I don’t think it would be hard to find a driver, but I really don’t have any recommendations here. Once you have a hotel, you can ask them for recommendations and you could also ask Mohamed. We did tip the driver and guide per day, but that’s the expectation when you work through an agency. I’m not sure how to handle it if you hire someone directly.

I don’t know Al Moudira, but it looks lovely. It’s on the West Bank, the opposite bank from the city of Luxor but is where most of the sites are located (Valley of the Kings, etc), except for the Luxor and Karnak temples, which are on the East Bank. Some of the folks on our boat stayed there and really liked it.

Last edited by progol; Dec 5th, 2022 at 01:43 PM.
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 02:53 AM
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hi! Has anyone stayed in or visited Benben Resort on Heissa island near Aswan?https://dharahotels.com/en/aswan/benben-hotel/
It looks very nice but I am concerned that the location may be complicated. Any thoughts?
Thanks!
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 05:02 AM
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The place looks lovely! It is not convenient to town but, really, how much do you need to get into town? How will you be touring? Since we worked with an agent, our guide arranged the boat to take us to the islands of Philae and Kalabsha, which would certainly be more convenient for you, since you’d be right there. I imagine the hotel would be able to arrange that. Of course, it’s much less convenient to get into the town of Aswan, but unless you’re interested in shopping or eating in town, you probably won’t need to visit. It looks like a wonderful resort, with great views of the island of Philae.

Movenpick hotel, though on Elephantine island, is certainly much more convenient to town and the private ferries are very frequent, if you want access to town.

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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 09:58 AM
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[QUOTE=progol;17419270]The place looks lovely! It is not convenient to town but, really, how much do you need to get into town? How will you be touring? Since we worked with an agent, our guide arranged the boat to take us to the islands of Philae and Kalabsha, which would certainly be more convenient for you, since youíd be right there. I imagine the hotel would be able to arrange that. Of course, itís much less convenient to get into the town of Aswan, but unless youíre interested in shopping or eating in town, you probably wonít need to visit. It looks like a wonderful resort, with great views of the island of Philae./QUOTE]

I think we will go for Benben. Old Cataract had a room for one night only and was horribly expensive! You are right I don't think we will be going into town much and perhaps we can do that as soon as we get off the boat before checking in. Your Luxor guide Mohamed says he can provide a service in Aswan also so we'll look into that. Thanks as usual for your comments.
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