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Trafalgar Tour - Best of Egypt


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Overall Experience: 8 / 10
Start Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Egypt is a Lifetime Destination. This country contains so many unbelievable treasures and indescribable temples and monuments, it's a shame not to visit there at least once.

Before going on this tour, we had the opportunity to listen to a series of audio lectures on Egyptian History. This turned out to be a fantastic idea. At most of the sites we visited, we already had a bit of background information that allowed us to better appreciate what we were seeing. If you're planning to take a trip to Egypt, it's definitely helpful to do some reading (or listening) to the history beforehand.

Overall, I felt that Trafalgar did a pretty good job with the tour. Our tour guide was pretty good, although not excellent. There were a number of sites we visited where he provided no background information. He didn't appear to be very knowledgeable, but after talking to him for some time, we discovered that he did, in fact, know quite a bit. He was just reluctant to overwhelm us with information. It was also disappointing how there were some attractions where we didn't have nearly enough time to see the things we wanted to. We only had one hour at the Valley of the Kings, and every member of our group felt incredibly rushed.

Most of the tourist sites that we visited were extremely crowded. We had no idea Egypt had such a huge tourist industry! Before leaving, we were skeptical about Egypt as a tourist destination, and were a little nervous about how safe everything would feel. There were so many tourists at the main sites, that it felt completely safe and comfortable. The "Tourist Police" were everywhere. Unfortunately, all the tourists have created a side industry of vendors that try to sell tourists things. Bargaining is something you'll need to try your hand at when you want to buy souvenirs (be sure to see the bargaining rules below). The local "sales people" are very aggressive, and I even had one "sales person" grab me with a fair bit of strength.

We visited in late February, and the weather was beautiful! It was a bit cool early in the morning, but after the sun rose, it warmed up to approximately 25 degrees Celsius every day. The south was between 5-10 degrees warmer than Cairo, but even Cairo was comfortable.

Egypt, as a whole, is a very poor and polluted country. There is a great amount of poverty everywhere, which may be partly why the souvenir sales people are so aggressive. Cairo is a very, very dirty city. In our free time, we took the subway to an area that was a bit off the beaten track, and walked to a large bazaar. I couldn't believe the dirt and filth on the streets. People smoke everywhere, and that doesn't help things. Even outside of Cairo, Egypt is dirty. When sailing down the Nile, we were lounging on the top deck of the ship when we passed a factory. We quickly ran off the deck, since we were being covered in the ash from the factory that was raining down on us.

The tour started in Cairo, where we spent our first night. We then flew to Luxor, and enjoyed a 4-day cruise down the Nile. The boat was adequate and comfortable, but there were certainly other boats we saw that were much nicer. On more expensive tours, there are probably better boats. Hotels were also adequate and comfortable; but certainly not luxurious.

For most of the days on the tour, we received ample bottled water. As we were advised not to drink the local water, this was definitely appreciated! We never needed to worry about where to buy water. I didn't see any documentation that mentioned this before leaving, so it was a nice plus when we arrived. Not all tours offer this - there were other tour groups on our boat, and they did not receive bottled water.

For this review, each day of the tour will get its own page. The review continues with Trafalgar's Best of Egypt - Day 2.

Rules for Bargaining in Egypt

The people selling souvenirs in Egypt are fantastic at extracting money from you. Most north american tourists are visibly different, and people can instantly tell you're a tourist. Most of the vendors speak adequate english, and are anxious to sell you anything you need. Following these rules will help you save money when dealing with the local merchants.

  1. Expect to get ripped off once or twice before you learn the system. Make sure it's only for small amounts - you can buy pretty much any tourist item in Egypt for less than $5.
  2. Don't name a price unless you're prepared to pay it. If you do offer a price, make it very low. When they ask "What are you willing to pay", your best answer is to say something like "Very low" or "Not that much!". If you don't name a price, the sales person will keep lowering the price until you agree to buy.
  3. Do comparison shopping. If someone gives their best price to you, check with another vendor before buying to see if they can beat that "best price". Often, the simple act of walking away will cause another "best price" to be named.
  4. All the tourist vendors sell the same stuff - you can always buy what you want later if you walk away.
  5. Have a price in mind that you're willing to pay, and never pay more than that. If your price is really too low, you'll realize it after multiple vendors fail to meet your target price.
  6. Be prepared to walk away if you have any doubts about the sale.


Trafalgar doesn't sell the tours directly, so you will need to book through a travel agent. Expect to pay approximately $1700 per person for this tour. There is also an optional excursion to Abu Simbel, which you pay for at the time of booking. It costs approximately $250, but is well worth it. For us, it was one of the highlights of the trip.

review contents

Best of Egypt Overview
Rules for Bargaining in Egypt
Day 2 - On your own, in Cairo
Day 3 - Karnak and Luxor Temples
Day 4 - West Bank of the Nile
Day 5 - Edfu and Kom Ombo
Day 6 - Philae Temple, Unfinished Obelisk, and more!
Day 7 - Abu Simbel and Cairo
Day 8 - The Pyramids
Day 9 - The Pyramids!
Day 10 - Optional Excursion to Alexandria

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