I can't say enough about one of the most fantastic trips I've ever had in my life!!!! There were a few things I'd like to change, things that I'd do differently--but the trip, as designed by the companies Viator and Explore Plus Holidays was exceptional. Everything I needed was right at my fingertips and the care taken to ensure my complete comfort and whim was handled with the utmost precision. This is the company I would recommend, in a heartbeat, to provide the most amazing trip possible to Egypt.
When I go back, I'm starting with the fine folks of Explore Plus Holidays. The guides, Ibrahim and Ragab, worked so hard to make sure every aspect of the tour exceeded my expectations. And, they succeeded. Thank you!!! And the drivers, Joseph and I can't remember their names, kept us safe and out of roadside dangers!!!
I chose this company on a guess. Viator had done a decent job for me before, so I took a chance and tried them again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I shall trust you, again, for my next trip. This was an amazing experience.
My one suggestion would be to include entrance fees into the price. I really felt nickled and dimed TO DEATH!!!!! Give me one set price--I'd pay happily! But having to fork out fee after fee after fee was the MOST disappointing aspect of the entire trip. I understand the reason--but, folks, I'd rather pay those fees up front than have to pull my wallet out every single time I wanted to see something important. I know you warned us up front that entrance fees are not included, but half-way through the tour, I was ready to give over my first-born just to skip the part of having to pay yet ANOTHER entrance fee.
If you want to see Egypt--in the best possible way--go with these folks!!!
The tour offers just accommodation and not even always food. Everything else is extra: All temple entrances, tips (They insist a bit too much on that) etc. But the optional tours are just totally overpriced, basically I spent more money for that than for the whole tour. The knowledge of the guides was ok, but not overwhelming; a few times they could not answer my questions, or even gave me wrong info.
1 All tours that were agreed upon were delivered seamlessly, we did not miss a single thing. We did not have to worry anything about the schedule or any arrangements. We really enjoy to just waking up and being told what will we do during the day.
2 The guides were professional and knowledgeable, with detailed explanation everywhere we go. We've learned much more about ancient Egytian culture than we will ever learn by reading books or watching documentaries.
3 Top class cruise experience with SunRise cruise named Semiramis III with 5 stars service. Staff were friendly and the food was delicious.
4 We commuted from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan to Cairo by flight. That offered much more comfort than having to travel by train or by car.
5 The tour agency booked a wonderful hotel LePassage by the airport with free shuttle the day we leave Egypt. The flight was at 1am midnight and we finished our tour by 3pm, reached the hotel and had a brief rest and shower before taking our flight. That was very very considerate and we appreciate it very much.
1 5 shopping excursions that were conveniently excluded from the brochure took us by surprise: carpet making, essential oil perfume, stone crafts, papyrus, cotton garments. All items we purchase in these locations were clearly a rip off compared to what we can find in the market outside.
2 We would appreciate this tour to clearly show the prices of OPTIONAL tours in its brochure. Of course nobody obliged us to take those tours but we realize that the tour will be lacking in content without these optional tours and when we added them, it turned up to be a considerable sum :
- Sound and Light show at the Giza pyramids : 35 USD/per person
- Saqqara caved church Ibn Tulun Mosque : 59 USD/per person entrance fees 7 USD/per person
- Luxor and Karnak temple: 49 USD/per person entrance fees 13 USD/per person
- Abu Simble Temples: 129 USD/per person entrance fees 9 USD/per person
- Philae Temple: 32 USD/per person entrance fees 6 USD/per person
3 We did not expect a camel ride when our guide brought us to the Giza pyramids. We were at the bottom of the pyramids when our guide said now, let's go onto the camels. Only when we asked about the price did he explain that we needed to fork out another 60 USD for the 30 minutes ride. Having said that, it was a pleasant experience.
4 The optional tours were top class, we had our private coach, drivers and guide. However expect a minimum tip of 100 Egyptian pounds per day for a guide this is what we were told by the guide, and maybe half of that for each driver. Not to mention waiters and other services on the cruise. If tips are not up to their standard they might ask for more. I would prefer to pay one lump sum price, all tips inclusive, without having to worry about breaking money into smaller sum, or not tipping enough.
5 Beware of your personal belongings! Keep all your cash with you at all times, even if you are on a private coach.
6 We felt like we were in a touristic bubble where all the prices were artificially inflated, and we did not have a chance to take a glimpse into real Egyptian life, market and its price, until very late in the trip when we explored the market in Aswan within walking distance from our cruise.
Overall, we would still highly recommend this trip, as being one of the most interesting trips we've done in our lifetime. Egypt is blessed with rich cultural heritage and a lot of the things wouldn't not have been possible if we'd done it on our own. The tour agency ExplorePlusHolidays has done a great job and definitely merit a 4 to 5 stars review. As long as people subscribe to this tour with the right expectation, one will definitely have a wonderful trip.
PS: Try to break your money as small as possible because you will encounter a lot of strangers asking for tips everywhere, be it in the toilet, in the temples or on the street. You should ignore them and be more stern if necessary when they hassle you too much.
I booked this tour, and immediately Mr. Salah confirmed on Whatsapp the details of my trip, answered quickly all my messages, and sent pictures and names of representatives at Cairo airport and guide. After the arrival, inside the airport, Mr. Hedra was waiting for me, helped with the visa, filled the form, no line, and carried my luggage, we went with the driver until Mr. Sobhi, the guide in Cairo, joined and while crossing the City to Giza explained a lot about his country and culture. The tour to the Pyramids was like a dream, he was explaining to me, considering my previous knowledge, and cared about everything during my stay. At Cairo Museum he showed details that i could never learn without his help. In Asswan, outside the airport, Mr. Ahmed was waiting. We visited the Dam, the unfinished Obelisk, and the next morning, very early, with a kind driver, we traveled 300 km to Abu Simbel. That was incredible! And 300 km back to Aswan where the Nile cruise started. All the tour I was asked if everything was ok, and that makes me feel very comfortable. In Edfu he told the driver that he should be very careful and that was very nice, because I was afraid of the horses running fast, that could be dangerous especially due to my sight retina problems. It was a pleasant trip. In Luxor he was the best guide I could expect, his family is from Luxor, and he explained not only the temples, sculptures, monuments, and all the precious treasures everybody can see: he also talked about his family, culture, social rules, habits. We had interesting conversations in different languages also Russian, and different subjects incl. Football World Cup. I really spent a wonderful time in Egypt, both guides speak perfect English and are great photographers: they know exactly where I should stand in each place, what is very important for a solo traveler, who has to ask others, not always experts, or just take selfies what is more difficult because of the sun... Now i keep all those memories, and share them with family and friends as Señora Travels. Thank you for this wonderful week, my first time in Egypt.
The good: Very good guide on the cruise. Mahmood was full of information, stories and answered all our questions. He gave us ample of time at the sights and was not pushy at all. Noor, the guide who took us to the museum was wonderful and very lively. Overall, the itinerary was well managed. While the boat was dated, the service and food was decent.
The not so good: I had to chase at least three times and heard only the day before what our detailed trip was going to look like. The initial guide in Cairo was very pushy with all the 'additional tour packages'. Our airport transfer on the last day did not show up and we had to arrange for a car last minute on our own. The constant tipping is very annoying. Unlike every where else in the world where one would expect to tip only when the service is good and required, on the trip there was constant demand for tipping at each point irrespective of how the service was. The hotel in Cairo was really dated and the breakfast was horrible
Overall, shop around- there are plenty of others providing similar services and your punt may pay off with a better operator
An exceptionally organized tour reserved by VIATOR, operated by EXPLORE PLUS HOLIDAYS by the local operator SEA BLUE TRAVEL. Thanks to Mr. Salah Saleh CEO and to the different guides for different locations, Mr Fat-hy, Mr Mohamed Hassan, and Mr. Mohamed Abd allah. They were all very professional and helpful. Me and my wife had an incredible time and got to fully experience Egypt Egypt is safe!
I truly had the most memorable experience in Egypt with Blue Sea Travel, Inc. booked through Viator! My vacation felt more like traveling with family. I never felt out of place. My tour guides Refai and Nour were the best! Every step of the journey from Cairo to Alexandria to Luxor, and up and down the Nile, I always had a historical expert who not only knew their information but loved Egypt. Book this trip now!!!
Trip to Egypt was good in the sense we saw what we had planned out. I will give you what I thought was good not so good below.
Good: We were met when we arrived in Cairo, helped with the Visa obtaining and transported us to hotel from the airport. Following day we were taken to Pyramids, and the museum. Day after that we flew to Luxor, again we were met by guide at the airport and taken from there to see the Luxor temple and Karnak temple after that we boarded the boat to Aswan cruise actually started following day. While still at Luxor we were taken to Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut temple. On the way to Aswan we saw Kom Ombo Temple. We reached Aswan, from here we went to see Abu Simbel via road. On the way back we saw Aswan Dam.
All the transportation that was provided was good, the guides spoke well enough English for us to be able to understand the places we visited. Food provided on the Cruise was good the crew on the ship was good and helpful.
Not so Good: Hotels provided were Okay, not 4 or 5 stars, they were old and in need to upgrading. Food provided for breakfast was good. Boat for the cruise was again old, but it was not crowded and like mentioned crew was nice. What annoyed me more was the tipping everywhere for everything, vendors would latch on and try to get you to rent or buy things, if your persisted they would leave, but would be immediately followed by another. We were 5 people in the group and ended up 2 rooms, I had expected 3 rooms 3 adults in the room was crowded. After we returned to Cairo we were put up another hotel just the kids stayed the night that was again was in need to upgrading room smelled, since I did not stay the night I did not care.
Overall as far as sightseeing was concerned the company did a good job, I would figure out tipping expense into the trip also any additional trips that you take will have to be purchased. Would I do it again? I think so, but would ask for different hotels.
Our second tour guide for the river portion of the tour was outstanding. He was knowledgeable on the history and invaluable as we toured the various sites. The tour guides and transportation were always on time. There was a visible security presence at every site visited and my family never felt in danger.
Recommend that you start in either Aswan or Luxor, take the boat trip, and then end the trip in Cairo for one day only. You only need 1 day in Cairo. See the Egyptian museum and the Giza pyramids. Memphis is a letdown after seeing Luxor.
Definitely recommend seeing: Abu Simbel, Philae Temple, Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, and Hatshepsuts Temple. The entry tickets to each site not included in the tour add up and eat into your cash on hand.
The hot air balloon ride in Luxor is expensive but was incredible as you are able to get a real feel for how immense Luxor was as the capital. We had an experienced pilot who landed us right back where we took off.
Credit card: Some places charge you the 3 VISA/MASTER CARD transaction fee. Double check that the hotel/boat accepts credit card. At check in for our boat, I marked that we would pay our drink bill with a credit card but on the last day as I settled our bill they told me that they could not accept credit cards.
Screen going to the additional sites: We felt that the Cairo tour guide rushed us through the Egyptian museum in order to take us to the Egyptian crafts and schools where he receives kickbacks. For example papyrus store, perfume store, rug school, camel ride, and jewelry store. Haggling is expected and everything we purchased in Cairo we could have gotten for 1/5 to 1/4 the price later in the trip.
Boat and Hotels: Our boat and Cairo Hotels were supposed to be five star accommodations but were closer to a high 3/low 4 star.
I would recommend that you coordinate the additional tours in advance of arrival. I think that I could have gotten them cheaper. We arranged our additional tours with our Cairo guide once we arrived in Cairo. Our Cairo tour guide insisted that we pay for part of the cost in cash. In hindsight, I think that he kept the cash and told his boss that I only paid the part that I charged to my credit card.
Bring at least 100 in 1 bills and 50 in 5 bills. You are expected to tip every driver, baggage handler, and guide. Even though you pay a fair price for the tours that include a vehicle and driver the company apparently does not pay them well. They will be visibly offended if you do not tip.
With many countries visited, this trip is one of our top 3 favorite trips of all time! There are no words that can adequately describe the feeling of walking through the ancient temples and seeing the majesty of what the ancient Egyptians created. There are also no words to describe the bar none service and friendship you feel with the people you encounter on this trip. Mohammed was our AMAZING guide in Cairo. He provided great insight into the culture, historical perspectives, and cuisine. Refai was our guide for the remainder of the trip in Luxor to Aswan. His story telling really brings the history of each location to life. He is perceptive, funny, a great listener, and adjusts his style based on what you need. This trip was magical from start to finish! From laughing uncontrollably while playing Pictionary using our different cultures to learning some Egyptian dances during sunrise on the Nile River Cruise, you could not make up an itinerary like this. The guides specialize in you and its apparent. If youre on the fence about this trip as I was initially, dive right it. It exceeded every expectation we could have placed on what this trip could be. Request Refai and Mohammed if theyre available. They are the best!
1 bring cash. Most places insist on cash. Even if cards are accepted, the machine may not work. ATMs were not always reliable.
2 You will also want to do the optional tours because you will have free time and WILL want to fill it exploring this gem. Highly recommend Abu Simbel, hot air balloon etc...
3 Tipping is a part of the culture in Egypt. This is not specific to this tour but to Egypt no matter how you travel there. It is not astronomical. It just goes back to my original tip of bringing cash.