Most Inspirational Moment
Visiting the pyramids on Christmas Day was a pretty amazing way to start the trip! Karnak temple was wonderful, huge and impressive, and although busy I found a quiet spot to sit and take it all in. The Valley of the Kings was great - being able to go inside tombs which almost look freshly painted was just awe-inspiring. And after all that, sitting on the sundeck of the boat cruising along the Nile and watching the world go by was a pretty good way to spend a couple of restful afternoons.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Ahmed was amazing and made us feel so welcome in Egypt! He gave us lots of information in a really engaging way, using the group as characters to tell us the complicated history of the pharaohs. He managed a good balance of guiding and free time for us in the places we visited, and always made sure we had coffee time at the end of a visit. He gave us good advice on how to deal with vendors and was clear about where was (and wasn't) good to shop. Ahmed was always smiling and cheerful, even at 3am! And he was great at dealing with any problems (when I had an issue with a hotel room, he fixed it straight away). A brilliant guide!
Advice for Potential Travellers
The one thing I would change is when I arrived - the group flight arrives late in Cairo (and later for us as we had a two hour delay at Heathrow) so we didn't reach the hotel til gone midnight and left at 7.30 the next morning for the pyramids (and then the following day is a very early start for the flight to Luxor). I'd highly recommend coming in a day early to avoid that first morning exhaustion, but also to see more of Cairo, as there is a lot to see that I didn't get to (the Coptic cathedral, the Citadel). I'd also say do as many of the optional excursions as you can - Philae Temple in Aswan was wonderful and Abu Simbel, while an early start (and a pricey trip) was well worth it.
On days 6, 7 and 8 there is only one included activity (the one-hour felucca ride) and everything else is optional. Given that our whole group chose to visit Philae Temple, it would be great to include this in the itinerary for everyone, otherwise it's possible to have 3 full days with very little planned if you don't want to pay for optional trips, or don't feel confident going off by yourself. The visit to the mosque in Cairo was a little uncomfortable - I would lose this and the bazaar from the itinerary and perhaps visit some of the other historical sites in Cairo instead.