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EGYPT tour questions

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1. Posted by BeZehBeh82 (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

Can someone help me out, I have a few questions about Egypt.

I am arriving in Cairo on Sept 02.09. Will stay in Egypt for about 10-14 days. How easy is it to find/book a tour from my hotel that I will be staying at?? Should I book tours way ahead of time, or will it be fairly easy to tour around the city/country.

I would like to make it south to Luxor and Awsan for about 4 days to check out the area. Is it possible for me to take a train or flight down there, and then sign up for tours while I am down there? Or do I have to pre-book the tours.

I am not sure where and when I will be at each destination, thats why I haven't booked things in advance.

I will finish around Dahab and do some diving for about 4 days.

thansk for the help

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

I would like to make it south to Luxor and Awsan for about 4 days to check out the area. Is it possible for me to take a train or flight down there, and then sign up for tours while I am down there?

Yes to all.

Take the overnight sleeper train to Aswan, you should be able to buy the tickets at Ramses train station in Cairo. There is a luxury train just for tourists, it costs around 60 USD to get to Aswan from Cairo. Totally worth the money. You have to pay cash in EUR or USD. Check out www.seat61.com for more info on trains in Egypt.

You can arrange tours in Luxor and Aswan with your hotel in Luxor or Aswan. It is not worth it to book these tours in Cairo, all you do is pay more because the travel agency in Cairo wants a cut too.

A typical tour from Aswan is the tour to Abu Simbel, it costs around 15 USD without the entry fees if you go in a small minibus. Most backpacker hangouts can arrange this tour. You need to inform them about 1-2 days in advance, so if you are on a tight schedule I recommend that you book your hotel in Aswan through a booking engine like hostelbookers or hostelworld (or the accomodation link on this website) and then call the hotel and ask them to arrange for the tour.
Tours from Aswan leave around 3 am and you have to pay by 3 pm the day before. Ask for the long tour that includes Philae Island.

There are similar day tours around Luxor, also easily arranged with your hotel, but when I was there I found it to be better to do my own thing. To see the Valley of the Kings and all the other sights on that side of the Nile I took the ferry and then rented a bicycle.

From Aswan you need to take the train to Luxor. Tourists are not allowed to use the bus to get in and out of Luxor. From Luxor I recommend taking the luxury overnight sleeper train back to Cairo. Alternatively go by bus to Hurghada (possible with a few tricks) and take the ferry to Sharm and continue from there to Dahab. Although if you wanted to dive you could just as easy do this in Hurghada.

Egypt is a backpacker's paradise, as long as you got a decent guidebook (Lonely Planet Egypt is standard) travelling around the country is very easy.

You can pick up the LP Egypt in some bookstores in Cairo and in many bookstores in Luxor.

[ Edit: Edited on 18-Aug-2009, at 11:00 by t_maia ]

3. Posted by BeZehBeh82 (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

Thanks for the advice t_maia!!

How long is a good time to stay and visit in Egypt for? Would 2 weeks be a good time to see a bunch of stuff?

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Would 2 weeks be a good time to see a bunch of stuff?

Yes and no. Two weeks would be enough for a rushed trip Cairo-Aswan-Luxor-Cairo, concentrating on the highlights only. But to really see the country (and do some diving in the Red Sea) I would recommend 3-5 weeks.

EDIT: Saw your other post about your trip and I would recommend taking a week of the 2 months you had planned for Thailand and the surrounding countries and use that week for Egypt. So 3 weeks Egypt and 7 weeks South East Asia. This will give you enough time to enjoy Egypt properly without rushing around so much.

[ Edit: Edited on 18-Aug-2009, at 15:21 by t_maia ]

5. Posted by EllenAbdel (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y

I would like to draw some attention to the Westbank of Aswan, it really worth a visit and it not so well know.
There are some interesting sites: Monastery of St. Simeon in the desert, the Tombs of the Nobles, the Mausoleum of the Agha Khan etc.
And the Nubian area with over 20 traditional villages is completely different.
Very quiet, beautiful nature (desert, Nile, green agricultural areas), friendly and hospitable population.
It is even possible to rent a bike and discover the area on your own.

6. Posted by joshuag (Full Member 16 posts) 7y

t_maia,

Once again you have saved the day. I was going to post virtually the same question as BeZehBeh82 and you answered all of my questions perfectly. I am pretty much going to take all of the advice you have given. I will be in Egypt for 4 weeks. I am going to start in Cairo (visit pyramids, museum) then take a train to Aswan, take day tours from there (including Abu Simbel), then to Luxor, make a trip or two across the Nile to the Valley of the Kings.

Then because I'm taking one of your earlier post suggestions of visiting Jordan and Syria along the way to Turkey, I will also check out the Sinai peninsula and so a bus from Luxor to Hurghada would be a good shortcut - so it would be interesting to know what you mean by "possible with a few tricks" - by this do you mean enlist the help of a local to purchase the bus ticket for you? Or perhaps you mean... "pay an extra small fee" to the ticket cashier? Wouldn't the bus driver notice an obvious tourist such as myself?

I guess I can always fly from Luxor to Hurghada, I've checked prices online and it's bareable (time is more precious than money)

7. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

I will also check out the Sinai peninsula and so a bus from Luxor to Hurghada would be a good shortcut - so it would be interesting to know what you mean by "possible with a few tricks"

There are a few travel agencies/travel agents that arrange you to go by private taxi or small minibus to a place on the road between Luxor and Hurghada and then you hop on the bus to Hurghada. Unfortunately I have only seen this in action coming from Hurghada, so I am not sure how this works out of Luxor.

To be on the safe side I would recommend taking the night train to Luxor instead of Aswan, tour Luxor, go from Luxor to Aswan by train and then take the bus from Aswan to Hurghada. AFAIK there is one bus a day that goes from Aswan to Hurghada, it is supposed to go via Luxor, but in reality bypasses Luxor and passengers to and from Luxor are taken to the bus in taxis or minivans.

Although if you are headed for the Sinai from Luxor it can make more sense and be more comfortable to take the night train to Cairo and then the bus from Cairo to the Sinai. Saves you the trouble with the ferry from Hurghada to Sharm-el-Sheikh. (The ferry is relatively expensive.)

8. Posted by BeZehBeh82 (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

Great advice so far!
As for Dahab. I think i will be there for about a week next week. Anyone reccomend a good place to stay? I would like someplace where there are some cool backpackers/travellers to hang out with for a while.
And also, I have 2 place booked for 3 nights, is it safe to say that it will be easy to roam aorund and find a place to stay without having to reserve in advance??

9. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

is it safe to say that it will be easy to roam aorund and find a place to stay without having to reserve in advance??

Yes, I think it will be. You might have to walk to the next hostel a bit further down the street if the first one you found is full but that shouldn't be too big a problem. Hostels are almost as frequent as touts in Luxor and Aswan so don't worry.

I guess I can always fly from Luxor to Hurghada, I've checked prices online and it's bareable (time is more precious than money)

If you are going to fly a distance within Egypt I would recommend flying Aswan-Cairo or Aswan-Sharm-el-Sheikh.

With 4 weeks you should have enough time that you are not forced to take such measures anyway. I would plan on 5 days Aswan, 5 days Luxor and 7 days Cairo and the rest for the Red Sea, the Sinai and maybe also the Oases Tour.

The Oases Tour is a slow alternative to taking the night train to Luxor. Essentially you visit the Western Oases that are a string of pearls west of the Nile Valley. You start out in Cairo with a bus to Bahariya, then go on to Farafra, Dakhla and then to Asyut and from Asyut you catch a train to Luxor.

http://www.egyptmyway.com/maps/western_desert.html

[ Edit: Edited on 04-Sep-2009, at 11:33 by t_maia ]

10. Posted by BeZehBeh82 (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

wow that was quick!!

Its 8pm in cairo.
what should I do tomorrow? 1 last day here.. I have seen the museums and pyramids.. now what?? lol

[ Edit: Edited on 04-Sep-2009, at 11:03 by BeZehBeh82 ]