Egypt – Land of the Pharaohs - 28 October-11 November 2010 (This tour is no longer available)
The first night was quite a culture shock, as we had little time to meet with other members of the group prior to going to our rooms, plus the hotel was on a main road so beeping horns could be heard all night and the Imams call to prayer woke us in the morning at 4:45am! However, we became accustomed to this background noise over the 4 nights. Overall, a comfortable hotel with good facilities (bank and shops), and a very impressive view of the pyramids from the bar on the top floor.
Sound and Light show at the pyramids on the Saturday night was a lot of fun. Lovely scenery and interesting commentary. It was great to go together as a group.Coptic church and mosque visited on Sunday 31st, really enjoyable. Bazaars less relaxing but interesting! I felt we had a little too long there (2.5 hours), we felt a bit captive for the local vendors and stayed for lunch in a not very appealing restaurant! Would have preferred more time for the Coptic church and souvenir shops and museum/cafe (which seemed a bit rushed) than the Bazaar.
Driving to St Catherine’s very interesting with all the checkpoints, and bribery with newspapers and bottles of water along the way! Very beautiful location for the Morgenland hotel at St Catherine’s, but I had a dirty room, and it was a hectic buffet experience for dinner, especially the first night. Many members of the group fell ill in the days during or after arriving at this hotel.
Walk up Mount Sinai – A big highlight. Walked in the morning, 10ish, with no-one else in sight. Peaceful and beautiful. Awe inspiring views and stillness at the top of the mountain.
Sharm El Sheik – Nice to have an afternoon’s rest, lovely swim in sea and lie on the beach.
Luxor – Fab location for hotel near the Luxor temple. Beautiful views from the top where we had breakfast and dinner. Very efficient, friendly staff and good arrangements within the hotel for affordable drinks in the rooms etc. Enjoyed staying at the temple until it got dark to see it lit up. Valley of Kings, Queens and Hatshepsut temple very interesting but exhausting – hot and very little opportunity to find shade.
Highlight of Luxor – Felucca ride on the Nile to a banana island (organised by Mr Muscles and his Uncle who were very fun) and return whilst the sun was setting. They asked us to be silent for a while so we could just soak up the atmosphere as we gently floated back – beautiful, relaxing and peaceful.
Aswan – Very good hotel in Aswan, very helpful since many members of the group were unfortunately quite poorly at this stage.
Abu Simbel – Stunning hotel location on lake Nasser, also very convenient as a short walk to the temple. Really enjoyed the sound and light show in the evening also, very relaxing and scenic.
Wednesday 10th –Pure endurance. Up at 4:30am for flight to Aswan, then waiting at small airport for 5 hours. Then flight to Cairo, landing delayed due to traffic over Cairo. Then horrific journey through rush hour traffic to hotel in Giza – arrived finally after 1.5 hours battling the traffic at 6pm exhausted. Was difficult to understand why we were staying so far from the airport when we had to be up early for a morning flight out of Cairo the next day. I would recommend trying to get a shorter transfer time between flights and/or staying in an airport hotel to cut down the time travelling.
Overall it was a fascinating holiday with full-packed, demanding agenda and incredible sites, history and experiences. Well organised and lead by both Gill Cape and Raymond our local guide. Leader Gill was calm, confident and experienced and also very effective at resolving issues and negotiating local arrangements. Egyptian guide Raymond a very cheerful and experienced man, gave useful descriptions of places and advice to handle the local vendors.
Group gelled together really well and were very supportive, caring towards each other and lots of fun.
Tips for this holiday
An umbrella for protection when exposed to the midday sun a good idea. Also I would recommend advising everyone to buy an anti-bacterial hand spray/gel and to use it every single time after handling money and before eating.