Date of stay: 3 + weeks, December/Jan 2009/2010
Where you stayed: Tour accommodation
Travelled with: Travel Talk
Tour or pre planned:Tour – Egypt & Jordon Uncovered
Since I was 8, I had always wanted to visit Egypt. Having studied Ancient history through high school & also picked up an elective subject at university, it was amazing to see all the things I had studied in the flesh.
Of all the tours we have been on this would definitely be in the bottom half. It wasn’t terribly well organized and we often felt like we were being taken advantage of in terms of places we were taken to eat & shop. We were often taken to tourist restaurants and told this is the best place to eat, despite this my partner and I still often got sick and the prices were more then triple the price you would pay eating at local places. With regards to shopping, avoid buying anything at the tourist shops you are taken to, they are much more expensive then the markets for often the same quality.
The tour started in Cairo and our hotel was in Giza, the hotel was nice but a little far out. (make sure you pack your mozzie repellent as I got eaten alive in Giza) From Cairo we then took an overnight train to Aswan, this was not a nice experience so be prepared, you won't get much sleep. The hotel in Aswan was okay but again not close to town. From Aswan I would definitely recommend taking an optional trip down to Abu Simbel. Although it had to be reconstructed to higher ground after the Nile dam was built, it’s still a definite must see!
This particular tour had 3 options to choose from, by land, by cruise or by felucca. This refers to the journey you will take from Aswan to Luxor. We chose the land option & were very glad with our choice. We still got the felucca experience for an hour on the Nile (which quite frankly was enough time for us) this also meant that we arrived in Luxor to an amazing hotel a day before the others. This gave us time to do some serious shopping in the markets (remember when bartering divide the sellers opening offer by 3 or 4 and start there, don’t be afraid to walk away and watch the market sellers chase you to accept the offer) Those that chose the 5 star cruise were pretty disappointed with the standard of the boat and a few got sick from the food. In Luxor definitely check out Karnak temple, it’s the largest religious area in the world. Luxor temple can be seen from the fence so unless you are really keen I wouldn’t bother paying to go in. It’s also nice to see at night with the lights on it.
From Luxor we took another overnight train back to Cairo & then a bus to Dahab. Again our hotel was not close to town but okay, they had over booked the hotel and 6 people from our group were relocated to another hotel. We chose to do the Mount Sinai climb, I would recommend if you are not of a good fitness level or an asthmatic to consider the camel option and will take you ¾ the way to the top.There’s lots to do in Dahab, quad biking, snorkeling, diving, eating & drinking. Sit back and relax and enjoy the activities on offer.
Overall we found our time in Egypt a little exhausting as we were constantly being asked to buy things, haggling, asked for money or feeling cheated. This all changed when we got to Jordon.
We arrived in Agaba via boat. Feeling a little tired & jagged we were referred to a local Kebab shop. I have never had a better Falafel in my life, everybody was commenting and we left the Kebab shop with 6 extra Falafel kebabs for later. We then headed to Wadi rum, the desert that Transformers and a number of other movies were filmed. We stayed in a desert camp which was an amazing experience and the cooked food was amazing.
From there we went to Petra to see the hidden city, also in a number of movies. It was absolutely spectacular to see. We then went up to Amman (capital city) the citadel is good to see and in the museum you can see stone age and bronze age artifacts including some of the earliest examples of brain surgery. From there we came back down through Jordon and stopped at the dead sea, you can try all you want to sink but you’ll still float. The salty water is so strong that you may develop a rash if you have sensitive skin, mine didn’t take long to disappear.
Jordon was great and more organized. I'd recommend this part of our tour.
From here we progressively made our way to Cairo.
Points to highlight:
This tour could be done independently if you are a confident traveler. Egypt is an amazing country with a very interesting history both ancient and modern; don’t let the haggling and street harassment get you down. Definitely make sure you take a trip to Jordon, the people and country is beautiful. Be sure to pack repellent & sun cream. If you are female dress respectfully and pack a sarong in case your head needs to be covered up.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes, definitely
Would you recommend your tour: No – Travel talk
Would you recommend your hotel: Most were okay, Luxor amazing.
Overall rating tour: 1 out of 5
Overall rating destination: 5 out of 5