My Review of Travel Talk Tours - 9 day 'Explore Egypt' tour.
This is the first post of a two part blog posts covering my Egypt experience.
Egypt has always been on my travel bucket list since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations, how they lived and what they left behind.
So when my boss granted me leave for 12 days, I knew I wanted to ‘get away’ and explore somewhere new. After friends recommended Travel Talk Tours, I found the perfect tour which catered for my timeframe and budget – '9 day Explore Egypt' tour. Within a week I had booked the tour, my flights, and insurance, then six weeks later I left for a tour which would see another childhood dream come true.
From start to finish, this tour was a ‘whole package’ from local culture, history to adventure - all rolled into 9 days. The tour was packed full of experiences one only can only get in Egypt. Add local knowledge, thanks to our local guide, and the trip exceeded my own expectations.
As I am a solo traveller, I agreed to be matched up with another solo traveller to share hotel rooms etc. I met my ‘room buddy’, other tour members and our travel guide on the first day of the tour. There was a great mix of tour members on this tour – different ages, different careers/jobs, and nationalities. Some were travelling with friends, some with partners and some were solo travellers too. There were about 26 of us in total. The tour started with welcome drinks and bonding over a dinner cruise on the River Nile.
Once the tour was in full swing, I found myself face to face and touching distance to some of the most beautiful and magical wonders and artifacts imaginable. Some highlights included: walking in the sands at the Great Pyramids of Giza; exploring the tombs of kings and queens at the Valley of the Kings; wandering the ruins of numerous historic temples such as Luxor temple, Edfu temple, Karnack temple, Komombo temple just to name a few; and cruising the River Nile.
Whilst on tour, I celebrated my 36th birthday. It’s not every birthday I get to brag that I cruised the River Nile, explored Edfu temple and experienced my first ever horse and cart ride for a birthday. And to top off an amazing day, the cruise staff surprised me with a happy birthday display in my room and a freshly made birthday cake for the night’s dessert. I was spoiled and can’t think of a better way and with better people to celebrate with.
Below was the itinerary and highlights break-down of our days:
Day 1 – First day
This was the official first day of the tour. Everyone was flying in from all different destinations during the day and were being met at the airport by our tour guides. That night we all met for welcome drinks and dinner/entertainment evening cruise.
We were up early to visit the Giza Patueau and get up close and personal with the famous pyramids of Cheops, Chephren, and Mycrenos. Then it was a trip to Sakkara to visit the breath-taking Step Pyramid and other ruins. That afternoon saw us on the coach travelling at least eight to nine hours to the city of Luxor. We arrived at approximately 1 am.
Day 3 – Hello Luxor
Taking mercy on us, we could sleep in until 8 am then it was up and on the coach on our way to explore and wander the striking ruins of Karnak Temple and the east bank of the River Nile. That afternoon again saw us driving five to six hours to Aswan, getting into our hotel at midnight.
Day 4 –
Up early (there is a common theme developing with our mornings 😉) and headed to the Abu Simel temples. Whilst there we were caught sand-storm for four hours which resulted in us missing other temples as we had a deadline to meet for our cruise. That night we were invited to a local house for a local traditional three-course meal and Hanna-painting. A late river cruise on a Felucca boat involved singing and dancing with the boat crew.
Day 5 – happy birthday to me
Today we cruised the River Nile and slept in (to catch up from all the early mornings and late nights). After breakfast, we explored the ruins of Edfu temple via a traditional horse and cart. The afternoon was spent on the cruise and engaging a bit of RnR and catching some sun.
Day 6 –
We said goodbye to our cruise after lunch and we were back on the road back to Luxor. That night we had the opportunity to explore the Luxor temple and had dinner at the local Irish pub.
Day 7 –
We had the opportunity to go hot air ballooning or sleep in. Mid-morning was all about exploring the Valley of the Kings and several tombs, visited a local stone and gem factory and had an Egyptian BBQ for a late lunch. Then it was back on the bus travelling six hours back to Cairo.
Day 8 – Last full day
A full day checking out the new and old Cairo. It was amazing to check out the incredible National Museum of Egypt and walking amongst the mummies, then visiting a local mosque and the Hanging Church. The afternoon was spent experiencing the atmosphere of a local Cairo market.
Day 9 – airport drop off
This was considered the last day of the tour. All day airport drop-offs.
As you can gather from above, there is a lot of daily coach travel which is to be expected given the geographical size of Egypt. Food was either traditional food or whatever food you could purchase from corner shops or petrol stations.
Budget-wise, I couldn’t complain. At first, I struggled with how much it appeared I was spending and visiting an ATM to withdraw money. You always feel like you are forever handing over money; be it entrance fees, tips, food, using toilets, buying water – it was very tiring and overwhelming. But once I sat down and figured out just how much I was spending (1 Egyptian Pound (EGP) = 0.0411 British Pound (£)), it didn’t feel so worrying. For example, say an entrance fee is EGP 150, that’s approximately £6 – this can put things into perspective when monitoring your cash flow/budget. The one thing I would recommend is to consider what you want to spend then withdrawn a good amount, so you don’t get caught not having enough on you to pay for little things that pop up. And not all ATMs work or accept foreign cards – it’s just a tip. I found I spent generally around £20 to £30 per day (that everything including food; water; pop-ups like tipping and using toilets; and entrances etc). I even shouted myself to two 90-minute messages. I budgeted £500 and I kept to my budget without a problem. Don’t forget to tip your travel guide..
My tips if considering this tour:
- Make sure you have $25 USD on you to pay for your visa at the airport – it makes it easier for your airport pick to purchase your visa especially if you have the right amount of money
- If you suffer with any breathing conditions or sinus (like me), bring medication and mask – I struggled to breathe at times given the amount of sand and dirt in the air
- If you suffer with a sensitive belly (like me), be prepared that some of the foods may not agree with you so take precautions
- Be respectful of the culture and lifestyle – don’t be one of these idiots who wears short dresses or/and skirts, then wonder why you’ve been given a hard time by the locals (or your tour mates). Be respectful of the places you’re visiting
- Egypt is not really the ‘let’s get drunk and party’ kinda place – if you want to be young and stupid and want to party every night then consider a different tour
- You will feel like you are always handing over money or being hustled to purchase something – it’s because you are. Sort your budget and stick to it but remember, you’re in Egypt; if there is something you want to see or do or experience and it’s been offered as part of the tour, then do it. You won’t be disappointed
- Be prepared to be on your coach for some long stretches and some of the roads are bumpy as hell. Don’t forget travel sickness medication
- You will have the time of your life and experience so many ‘wow’ moments so don’t forget your camera, photo, GoPro – whatever you use to capture the moments because there will be plenty of them. And don’t forget any backup storage and external battery packs.
Egypt was a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip for me; check out my post about my personal thoughts and feelings about Egypt itself. It was more than just ticking off another country from my travel bucket list, it was the ability to get up close and personal with an ancient civilization that wowed me since I was a young child. This tour, with the awesome crew and tour guide, made this trip one I will always remember and write home about.
Have you been to Egypt? Have you done this tour before? Did you enjoyed this post? Feel free to share and/or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.. xxx