IÂ’ve done this tour so I thought I would try to answer some of your questions…
If you don’t spend much at the markets (and I donÂ’t think anyone can/will) $1000 CDN should be enough (excluding local payment maybe). Top Deck offer you a few up-grades while you are on the tour (ie: from the felucca to a 5 star cruise liner - which I recommend mainly because they have toilets unlike the felucca) which only cost something like an extra Â£20 for 3 nights so be prepared for a few extra costs not on the itinerary (not anything too expensive though Â– allow another Â£50 max). Everything over there is kinda junkie - as one of the stall men shouted at me one time ‘I sell the best junk in town’ so your only other main expenses are the optional excursions (which you will know about), and food/drink. Food is cheap and itÂ’s hard to find many places that sell alcohol so you wonÂ’t spend too much on that either.
There are ATMs everywhere and I recommend not carrying around too much money for safety reasons really. I think I got four lots of Â£200 out and that lasted me (I went a little bit crazy on the cheap silver and gold though). Cash is very much king over there (not plastic). The tour guide will pay for a lot of things for the whole group which he will need exact cash for. But our guide made regular stops at ATM machines for the group.
It does get cold during the night so I recommend a mid-weight sleeping bag. PLEASE REMEMBER to take it on the train trip down to Aswan (I almost froze to death on that damn thing) and take it up Mt Sinai because you wait in sub-zero temperatures until the sun comes up. I also recommend a little (blow up) pillow because you do a lot of travelling on this trip and if you can get a few hours sleep in you will feel better for it.
Yes, itÂ’s something silly like 2am - it’s totally worth it though - a highlight of the trip for almost everyone on the tour. The next few days are leisurely so you can make up on the lost sleep the following days along with snorkelling in the afternoon - yay. It was warm (due to lack of fitness) walking up the mountain (I wore a light jumper) but take a jacket and sleeping bag with you for once you are up there waiting for the sun to come up Â– itÂ’s COLD up there. If you only take ONE piece of advise from this email TAKE A TORCH with you - I didn’t and tripped over every rock all the way up the mountain (because itÂ’s 2am = pitch dark, duh) and destroyed my knees for months. I’m in no ‘super fit’ state and I made it fine and so did everyone else. The camels only take you half way up which happens to be the easy part of the walk, itÂ’s the last half which gets hard but the guide stops every 20-30 minutes for a break and drink. I canÂ’t stress the torch enough Amy Â– there are camels coming at you in the dark, massive drops just off the path, massive rocks you need to jump over, etc. Pay the Â£5 for one, trust me.
I wouldn’t recommend wearing shorts and a tank top - you will get hissed at (like I did) especially if your blonde like me Â– I stuck out like a sore thumb. Wear something modest Â– you will feel more comfortable. The less flesh the better. In December/January I was wearing Â¾ shorts and t-shirts and it was perfect (not sure about April).
A day backpack is recommended - you take a lot of day trips and need water, jacket, mozzy repellent, glasses, Imodium (yes, I said that), etc… Just when you go through the markets maybe put it on your front. ItÂ’s ok to look like a dork Â– no body knows you over there. They still think being called Â‘Baby SpiceÂ’ is a compliant. There werenÂ’t many times I felt too threatened over there though.
Ps: After the Indiana Hotel in Cairo the accommodation gets better Â– just FYI (itÂ’s the dump of all dumps).