Ultimate Egypt April 11, 2010


#1

Hi,

I’m so excited about this tour but as I am travelling by my self I am also a little nervous.

I’m wondering who else will be doing this trip.

I would love to hear any thoughts, ideas or comments about the tour

I’m from Perth and looking forward to meeting everyone.

Tonja


#2

ihave recently done this tour (finished 24th jan) and i can give you some tips :slight_smile:

i went with two friends, and we had an excellent time! i definitely recommend this tour, because there is so much to see and do in egypt that you really will miss out if you spend less than 10days there! there were a few negatives, that i will tell you about, but the positives outweigh the negatives in a big way. overall it was an excellent experience!

we had two tourguides (one for the first 15days, and another for the dahab extension). our fist tourguide was excellent, he was an egyptologist, very knowledgeable and honest. our second tourguide i was happy with, but a few others on the tour were really dissatisfied with because we were unfortunate enough to have someone on our tour who was hellbent on making life hell for her roommate, and he was unwilling to help or deal with the situation.

one other negative - on the tour you will be taken to an alabaster place, and a gold and silver store. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM THESE STORES AS YOU WILL BE SOLD FAKES! from our group, one girl bought a ‘stone’ tablet, a couple bought an ‘alabaster’ scarab beetle, and another bought a ‘alabaster’ elephant. before the end of the tour, the scarab beetle had broken, revealing that it wasn’t genuine alabaster, the day after the tour ended, the elephant and stone tablet were broken in suitcases while flying, revealing that they were also fake, the stone tablet being plaster. dont be fooled by the fact that they do a little demonstration beforehand, they actually show you how to spot fake alabaster products, and because they did this none of us thought to check if their products were real.
i bought several silver items from the gold and silver store, one of which was a ring for a friend, who took it to a jewelers to be resized, and was told that it probably couldnt be done because it wasnt real silver. i bought a matching ring, had it sized there, which did have the little silver stamp on the inside. please check for the little silver stamp before buying any silver items in egypt. please let the others on your tour know about these issues too.

there was only one other negative about the tour, and that is that all of the optional activities can be done for around half the price if you do them independently from topdeck. on the way to dahab you will be asked to sign up to the activities and pay before you get there. that is because as soon as you do arrive, it is easy to find the companies that topdeck use, and the activities are a lot cheaper. however i do recommend doing sinai and the scuba diving with the group, because i never found where you could book those separately. i did the quad biking sans topdeck (the one in dahab is a zillion times better than the quad biking you can do earlier in the tour - you will find the quadbiking place next to the little bridge, it has a shisha pipe store next to it) if your interested, do quadbiking in dahab!

all of the optional extras are great, my favourite being the philae temple - do not miss this one, it is incredibly beautiful, and was a highlight of the trip for me.
make sure that you snorkel, dive or both in dahab. there are absolutely incredible reefs all along the coasts, including at the beach at the hotel(at the back of the hotel where you stay for the week, there is a little roped off beach, great if you have a spare hour or two). you can hire snorkels and fins at the hotel for around 50LE, but if you go into the main strip in dahab you can hire a snorkel and fins for 15LE a day (this was at one of the diving stores, cant remember which one!).

more tips:
if you are female and a tourist you will be hit on. alot.
bring an ipod and mini speakers for the feluccas!
when shopping, the first thing you will be asked is what country you are from. they ask you this to determine how much to charge you, so tell them you are from tasmania (“it’s a little island off new zealand…”). we were told about this towards the end of the trip, and ended up being charged alot less for the same items we had asked about in other places.

i hope all of this helps, and doesnt sound too negative. we really had an amazing trip, just look out for these few things to make sure you dont get ripped off. your going to have a blast!
all the best
amy


#3

Amy,

Thank you so much for your advice. I will definitely head to it.

As I am going to be travelling for 4 months after this tour I was not planning on buying much in Egypt as it would be difficult to carry it. But now after your advice I am no longer concerned about only purchasing smaller items. I will let the other tour mates know what happened to your group and the tricks to avoid these problems.

How was the felucca ride? I have already committed to the upgrade on the cruise ship as I was advised not to go on the felucca as the living conditions are appalling. Was it really that bad?

How many people were in your group? Was it a large group like Contiki tours of about 50 people, or was it smaller?

And finally, if you don’t mind me asking, how much did you spend roughly? As I will be travelling after the tour I have a very strict budget. I just hope itÂ’s not too strict. But your advice about the optional activities will definitely stretch the budget further.

Again thank you very much for your advice and sorry for the extra 20 questions.

Tonja


#4

happy to answer the extra 20questions, because i had absolutely no idea what was going on before i left!

actually the felucca was fantastic! the living conditions are definitely not appalling, but some people may not like it because you cant shower for three days. excuse the pun, but everybody is in the same boat, so the not showering thing isnt actually that bad, and i am the kind of person who has to shower everyday. the boat itself is shaded and covered in cushions, so its actually really comfortable and it presented a really good opportunity to get to know everyone on the tour. to go to the toilet the felucca pulls over and you have to squat behind a bush or tree, which sounds absolutely foul but actually turned out to be alot cleaner than most of the public toilets! you also have egyptian meals cooked for you by the felucca staff, which were some of the best meals i had for my time in egypt. i personally loved the feluccas, but if you are the type of person who cant do camping then it wouldnt be for you.

our group was unusually small, 9 people, but our tourguide told us he normally gets around 20-25 people per tour, although some tours (like the 8-day tour) get much larger groups.

im not entirely sure how much i spent on the tour, given that i did spend a week in sharm el sheik beforehand (where i went out a lot, and kept stuffing up my conversions and often payed too much for things!) and a few days after, and that i went to egypt intending to buy so much that i took half the country home with me. i think it ended up being around AU$2500, but its unlikely that you will spend that much if you are budgeting. there are quite a few extra costs, like entry fees to most of the sites, that are not included, and i know that this took me and the friends i travelled with by surprise. with an isic card (they will accept some student cards from some universities, but i dont think they always work) most sites are between 20LE to 60LE.

the big thing i forgot to tell you - go into an sta travel and get an isic card! this is a student/concession card (if this applies to you) but you may also be able to get a non-student card, im not sure. the card costs au$25, and will save you so much more that it is a must for egypt! with this id card you get about 50% off almost all of the sites you will see, and it applies in a lot of other countries as well, which may be handy for the rest of your travelling. they have info about it on their website.

hope all of this answered your questions, feel free to ask more if you need to :slight_smile:
amy


#5

Hi Amy,

Apologies for the late reply, the last week has been hectic. I just received my ISIC youth card today, thank you for the heads up. Unfortunately I finished uni a year ago so I can no longer use the student card. Hopefully places will accept the youth card as much as the student card.

Again thank you for all of your advice. But I have just a couple more questions (for now that is) and unfortunately they are related to money again. Did you take Egyptian pounds with you or did you exchange your money once you arrived in Egypt? Different people have told me different stories about what currency is widely accepted in Egypt. Some people have told me that the American dollar can be used anywhere, while others have said I have to take the Egyptian Pounds with me. What do you recommend?

Again thank you so much for your time and effort in answering all of my questions,

Tonja


#6

i was wanting to do the egypt beaches tour but im going to go on the tour alone, do people always go on the tour as pairs or r there lone travellers that go on them to ?


#7

Hi Tonja,

I went to Cairo last year and, at least there, they only accepted egyptian pounds. But there are ATM machines that you can get a good exchange rate from. I was staying with family friends and so they actually took us to a currency agent that exchanged the us dollars, british pounds, and all the euros i had collected during my travels at the same time. I wouldn’t recommend that route unless you are with at least one Egyptian male that can speak arabic just because it would be so easy to get scammed… you won’t get a receipt or anything.

Also be sure to learn what the Egyptian pounds look like because all their currency is in bills, not coins. Just make sure if you are handling large bills, that they are indeed pounds.


#8

A quick question. Can you upgrade to the cruise boat from the felucca when you are there or do I need to contact TD prior to leaving? How much is it roughly. No shower for 3 days OMG.