Most Inspirational Moment
The engravings in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings made us think of the hundreds of artisans who worked in each of them, of how the work has endured, and how their descendants are the Egyptians of today. The paintings of everyday life in the tombs in Saqqara, which are almost five thousand years old, were quite moving.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Ahmed was very helpful and knowledgeable. I pestered him with questions constantly, and he was always eager to share his knowledge and enthusiasm. He was also very helpful in dealing with our transfers, which were not with the rest of the group. Akmar was also very helpful in getting us through Cairo Airport and into the hotel when we arrived after midnight. He had lots of good advice on dealing with the many hawkers and vendors that one encounters.
Advice for Potential Travellers
February is in the high season, and the tour boat was part of a flotilla of fifteen to twenty identical vessels travelling to the same docks at the same time. The temples and tombs (with the exception of Memphis and Saqqara) were very crowded. Experienced guides suggested that late September is an ideal time to visit when the heat is not too oppressive (although warmer than February) and the crowds are much smaller. Be prepared for lots of early mornings. Don't miss the trip to Saqqara. Abu Simbel was fascinating, but be prepared for eight hours on a bus. Take some small denominations in Egyption currency for baksheesh in various locations. Toilet attendants expect 5 EG - less than 20 Euro or USD cents.
For the cost of this trip, too many of the venues are expensive add-ons. We understand that marine safety standards in Egypt are not the same as those in western countries. The cruise boats had no safety drills, and no life jackets. Likewise the small ferry boats at Philae and the felucca at Aswan (which was a really delightful part of the trip) had no life jackets. At both places, we did see at least one other group wearing lifejackets in these vessels. Given the demographic and probable range of fitness and swimming skills in our group, this should be addressed. We have been on much more basic vessels in non-Western locations - including a trip on the Amazon over a decade ago - and lifejackets were provided.