Hey,[br][br]I just got back from the ‘Nile Discovery’ trip. Anyone want to know anything about the Topdeck Egypt trips? (Note: I believe all Egypt trips share the same first 7 days, so even if you are on a different tour, I might have some useful info.)[br][br]Mat
Here is some info:[br][br]ARRIVAL IN CAIRO:[br]- When you land in Cairo right away look for a guy holding a Topdeck sign. Don’t go in any lineup until then.[br]- When you find him, he will take your Passport and fill out a form for you. While he is doing this, he will show you the booth to buy the Visa from.[br]- For the visa, all you need is $15 (They seem to accept any major currency, but I used US.) It took me all of 5 seconds to buy the Visa, and the booth is open all the time.[br]- The guy will also help you through the lineup(s) and at baggage claim, and then take you right to the van, which will take you to hour hotel. (Which will be in the dirtiest, most dangerous part of the city.)[br][br]EXCHANGING MONEY:[br]- If you have a very late/early flight, if you can find a place in the airport to exchange money, get enough to buy a bottle of water or something to last you until the banks will be open. (A big bottle of water in the hotel will probably cost about 5 Egyptian pounds.)[br]- The banks will exchange money for you without any problem, and they seem to all know at least a bit of English.[br][br]ENTERING THE PYRAMIDS:[br]- You can choose to enter the Great or the 2nd Pyramid, but the 2nd one is cheaper. I entered the 2nd one, and it was pretty boring. The 3 Giza Pyramids were built before tombs were painted, so the walls were all bare, and the tunnel was very small. Still a good experience, though.[br][br]OVER NIGHT TRAIN:[br]- The “First Class Overnight Train” is of worse quality than the Eastern European trains, and one of the trips takes 14 hours, if it is on time. (The one back to Cairo takes more like 8 hours.)[br]- If you are in a big group, you might be split up over 2, 3, or 4 train cars.[br][br]NILE CRUISE:[br]- The cruise ship is great! Not the fanciest one on the water, but the beds are comfortable and the shower is perfect. [br]- There is a small swimming pool on the ship, but you will be sharing the ship with at least one other tour group, and there is a good change there will be children, who will always be in the pool.[br]- If it is too windy, you will use a motorized Faluka instead of one with a sale. Two sailing ones tipped over while we were there.[br][br]EXTRAS and TIPS:[br]- Entering the pyramid is worth it[br]- When in the Valley of the Kings, break away from the large group and do it on your own or in smaller groups. Some of the tombs are very small/narrow and when in big groups you could find you are spending most of your time waiting to move. Time is limited and you only get to see 3 of the tombs, so you don’t want any wasted time.[br]- Do the Abu Simbel optional tour. Well worth the early wake-up call.[br]- Listen to them when they say not to take pictures. I saw so many people have their cameras taken away, and you don’t get them back.[br]- Paying for the local fee, and the optional fees will cost as much as the trip did, if not more. And if you choose not to do the optional things, well, the optional things are about 3/4 of the whole trip, so make sure you have money.[br][br]I have a lot more information for anyone who wants to know more. This trip is well worth the cost, so enjoy![br][br]Mat
Hi Mat![br][br]Glad to hear you enjoyed the trip! What was your favourite part?[br]I was just wondering if there were any other experiences you had on the trip you could share, such as what was the food like and how big was your tour group (I know they have an average number). Also, did you find the trains safe and I’m not sure if your trip included any hotels other than the Cairo one but in general what was the standard like? I won’t be travelling with many valuable items but I do have a nice camera and just wanted to know whether the hotels have facilities to keep any valuables / are secure?[br][br]Any advice is appreciated!
Hey Kiki, I’ll do my best to answer those questions![br][br]It is hard to say what my favourite part was, as we crammed so much into just 8 days! I think it is a tie for seeing the Pyramids up close and being on a Nile Cruise. Also, the hot air balloon ride over the Nile, seeing the sunrise was pretty cool.[br][br]The food, or what we had of it is great, for the most part. Most of the breakfasts which are provided are boxed lunches to eat in the van during travel to or from a site. (There are a LOT of early mornings, like 3 or 4 am,) so no time to eat a real breakfast. The boxed lunches are nothing special… 3 pieces of bread, some jam, chips, and a juice box.[br][br]Aside from breakfast, lunch and supper (when provided,) are usually buffet. On the second and last day (for my tour) we were taken out to restaurants for the buffet, but on every other day we had it either in the hotel we were in, or the cruise ship we were on. In both places the food is great. It is usually a combination of many things, including: chicken, fish, beef, 8 different kinds of salad, potatoes, pasta, fruit, desserts. All of which are great.[br][br]My group was 17 people for the first 6 days. For the last day it was 10 people. This is because Topdeck merges groups for all parts which are the same… Some people were on a 14 day tour, and didn’t take the night train back to Cairo with the rest of us on the end of the 6th day.[br][br]The age of the people ranged from 19 to 33, where the average age was about 24 to 27. Also, there were more couples than singles. Oh, and if it matters, we had people from: Australia, England, Canada, USA and Columbia.[br][br]No, the trains are not safe. On the first one I got the feeling if I fell asleep for even a second the woman beside me would steal my hand-bag I had on my lap. (And the people in the group behind me later said they thought the same thing.) Also, if you are split up between cars (The tour leader has no say in what seats we get,) then you might not be with your tour leader for the 14 hour ride.[br][br]My trip included 2 nights in a Cairo hotel, 2 nights in the overnight train, and 3 nights in the cruise ship. The Cairo hotel has a sign in the rooms saying that it isn’t responsible for any valuables being stolen. They provide a storage locker in the lobby I think, but everyone chose to bring their valuables with them in their day bags. (IE: Phones and Cameras.) The cruise ship appears to be perfectly safe, although the cleaning staff enters your room three times a day, and will touch all of your stuff.[br][br]The Cairo hotel is a mixture of standards. The bathroom is pretty good (3 or 4 star.) The elevators are about 2 star, the roof top restaurant/pool is 3 or 4 star (mostly just for the view of the pyramids.) The rooms themselves… well, not that great, but good enough for a couple nights. One of the rooms had a 1 meter diameter water stain on the first night that smelled horribly of mold, and when we came back to the same hotel on the last day, the water was still there. Also, the traffic is very loud, and the windows block nothing. I tell no lie when I say every single car that drives on the road honks their horn every 10 seconds, and the traffic never dies down, not even at night. Unless you are very tired, or have ear plugs, you won’t get any sleep.[br][br]Any more questions? I’m more than happy to answer them!
Hi,[br]I will be doing the Nile Discovery tour in September and wanted to know how much extra cash in Egyptian Pounds is needed for the optional tours and other expenses. [br]thanks[br]
Hi Mat![br][br]Wow, thanks for all that info! I’m doing the Pharaoh’s Footsteps in October, so it’s good to have a heads up from someone who knows exactly what happens. My tour one of the longest ones - 15 days. So I’m a little worried when you say the local payment and extras almost cost as much as the tour itself. My tour does a lot that is optional in the smaller ones such as the abu simbel tour, so do you still think i’ll be spending a lot on extras?[br][br]I’ll probably be back with more questions! So thanks for your help! =)[br][br]Allison[br][br]Pharaoh’s Footsteps: Oct 18th, 2008.[br]Winter European Getaway: Nov 25th, 2008.
Hey,[br][br]In the way of extra expenses (except for the optional tours,) you will need to pretty much just pay for drinks. The price you pay for the meals which are covered by the tour doesn’t include any beverages. Prices for these range anywhere from 2.5 Egyptian Pounds, to 12 or more pounds. (One restaurant we went to charged us 12 Egyptian pounds for a small can of Coke. What a ripoff! So be sure to know the price before you order.) A large bottle of water is usually 5 pounds in most restaurants.[br][br]Other than drinks, it’s really just the ‘optional’ things. But honestly, everything is optional. I don’t think the cost of the tour paid for a single trip. If I had to guess, I would say what you pay for the tour (plus the local payment,) is just for the hotel/ships, transportation and to pay the tour leader and tour guides. Absolutely ever place you go to on the tour will cost you money. I believe the exact price for each place is written on one of the PDF forms, possibly the itinerary, for your trip. The prices range anywhere from 10 Egyptian pounds, to 50 British pounds. It really adds up, and I was annoyed with this because I didn’t think I’d have to pay any fees after the local payments. However, it probably won’t add up to be quite as bad as I said earlier. Find that form and you can figure out exactly how much you’ll be paying.[br][br]Hope that helps![br][br]Mat
Hey Matdelong[br][br]Wow, thank you SO much for all the information, its very much appreciated!! As you know the forum has been down for weeks so only read it briefly before it went down and now am busy planning for my trip at the end of the month! Can’t wait!! But am a bit sceptical about the train etc, would you believe I have a suitcase and no backpack - do you think that will be a problem?[br][br]I, like you thought it was going to be a cheapish trip but by the sounds of it it is not going to be…oh well, at least the sun will be out hey! Unlike this gloomy England at the moment. I am going to do the Mt Sinai optional tour so I better take something warm, but in general when you were there what was the temperature like at night? Pretty warm still?[br][br]Thanks so much for the info again :)[br]
Suitcase will be fine, several of the people from my group had them… they are a bit more inconvenient in the train station (lots of stairs,) but other than that I don’t see why they would be any worse than a backpack.[br][br]The train is pretty horrible, that is for sure. But if you manage to sleep for at least part of it, and if you don’t have a tendency to go to the bathroom very often (trust me, you don’t want to use the bathrooms in the train,) then you’ll survive. It depends on the seat you get a bit, too. Mine was in the worst possible spot.[br][br]The temperature was… hot. If you are going the end of this month it will for sure be a bit cooler than when I was there, but even then you will be very thankful for the AC in the hotel or wherever you are staying. I am from Canada though, so my definition of cold might be different. :)[br][br]Hope that helps! If you have any more questions, ask away![br][br]Mat
Hello Hello Matdelong[br][br]Thanks for the quick reply and cool, thanks about the info about the suitcase.[br][br]I’m from Zimbabwe but have been in the UK for a few years now so my temperature clock is a bit messed up at the moment, but I’m definately looking forward to the hot weather! :o)[br][br]Last night I was thinking and have a few more questions to ask, sorry [br][br]- are there any clothing restrictions when you enter certain sites/pyramids?[br]- how often do you get to do your washing, with it sounding a bit dodge in certain areas I want to take as little as possible[br]- what plugs do they use there?[br]- and last one, how are the internet services there??[br][br]Thanks again, its really apprecaited![br][br]Have a good Friday![br][br]Tash
Hi, sorry, one more thing, I think … you recommended the Abu Simbel optional tour twice, any special reaons why its so good? I looked at the price and its nearly ?50 so what is why I’m asking :)[br][br]Thanks again[br][br]:o)
Sorry for the long wait… been busy.[br][br]- For girls you need to have your shoulders covered and something else, I forget… but if you aren’t dressed appropriatly they give you a robe to use. This was only required for one church we went to, and we were only in it a few minutes, and it was boring. Everywhere else, anything goes. Just wear comfortable food-wear is all I’d suggest.[br][br]- I didn’t do my wash at all. I think some people managed to do it once, but I don’t know how easy it is.[br][br]- I don’t know the name of the plugs they use. The same ones as in Romania, and other areas of Europe, such as Austria. (220 v)[br][br]- The Internet service sucks, at least at the hotel we were at. (And doesn’t exist anywhere else.) You won’t have access to the internet while you are there, probably.[br][br]- I suggested Abu Simbel because when I was there I almost didn’t do it because of the 3am wakeup call and the cost, but then I enjoyed it. Also, if you don’t go you will be stuck alone doing nothing while everyone else goes. Two girls stayed behind from my group, and they spent the day at McDonalds. It is a nice site, but if money is an issue then you can skip it. The two temples are really interesting, and it is cool to see how they moved them, block by block.
Thank you SO much once again![br]You’ve really helped :)[br][br]I’m off on my trip first thing tomorrow - I can’t wait!!![br]And the temperature difference from here is just amazing … yay oh yay!!
How was your trip?
Hi Mat[br]i read your tips and found it really helpful. I am planning to go to egypt next year doing the pharaohs’ footstep tour and ive got some questions i would like to ask you. [br]1. when do you you pay for optional excursions, is it on the first day or you pay as you go?[br]2. The enterance fees in museums do you have to wait in line to purchase the ticket or is there an express line for tour people? because it seems like we dont have much time and i dont want to wait waste time.[br]3. Did u find egypt to be safe? I am a girl and going to be a solo traveller so i am abit scared.[br][br]Thanks in advance
Hey newen,[br][br]Sorry for taking so long to reply, but I don’t check the forum too often![br][br]I am glad you found the information useful![br][br]1) You pay some fees up-front on the first day to the tour leader, but I believe these are the non-optional fees… the places you are going to for sure… I can’t seem to think of any examples… it’s been a while.[br][br]For the optional fees, you pay those to the tour leader at the beginning of each day, if I remember correctly.[br][br][br]2) There is no express lane for tour people (anywhere,) but you don’t buy the ticket… you give the tour guide the money (or you give it to the tour leader, who gives it to the tour guide,) and he or she does the running around for the tickets (pretty fast.)[br][br]Lines are pretty much no issue at all, crowds are more of a problem… sometimes it is hard to move, especially in the Valley of the Kings. (I suggest doing that in smaller groups, of 2 to 5 people.)[br][br]3) Egypt is not safe, by a long shot. If you never trust ANY of the locals, never go anywhere alone, and keep your wandering of the streets to a minimum, you will be fine. (Also, don’t wear clothing that is too “revealing”… You won’t like the looks or the attention you get.)[br][br]Hope that helps![br][br]Mat
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who will always be in the pool.