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Highlights of this Itinerary:
The Shokan Mountain, the Sphinx, the Shitan Mountains, Lake Nasser, Bird Mountain, Abu Simbel Temple
Day 1| Aswan – Abu Simbel
Ready-Set-Go! An early morning pick-up and off we leave toward Abu Simbel. It is a three-hour drive to get to the Shokan mountains where we will start our safari. We will make two stops along the way: at the Sphinx and at the Shitan Mountains to take some photos. Then it’s on to Lake Nasser where we will take a short boat ride and take in the fabulous gold colored landscape surrounding us and absorb the beautiful panoramic view of Abu Simbel and Bird Mountain, known as the White mountain, from the midst of the lake. This evening we offer you an optional tour to the Sound and Light Show at Abu Simbel.
Day 2 | Abu Simbel – Aswan
After breakfast, we shall make our way to Abu Simbel, which was built in the 13th century BC in commemoration of Ramses II’s tactical victory at the battle of Kadesh. Imagine what gigantic effort and engineering ingenuity it took to relocate the Temples in a rescue operation in 1968 to prevent them from being inundated by the waters of the lake after the construction of the High Dam. As you stand to look up into the face of the Pharaoh, you are overwhelmed by a feeling of reverence. Not for the person as such but at the immensity of the human feat, at the touch of the eternal that statue stands for. Incredible. It shall be a sad moment when the time comes for you to say farewell and return to Aswan at the end of the day.
Egypt offers a wide variety of 3-star hotels. The prices range from $12 to $20 per person per night in a double room. I would suggest you check hotel directories for rates and locations. Backpacker services are not popular in Egypt, although a few are available.
The best time to visit Egypt is from October to May. It is the peak travel season, temperatures are milder though comparatively warmer than in the northern hemisphere. This is our High-Season with its two busiest periods: the Christmas/New Year period and the Easter Period, whereby hotels and cruises will put their prices up. This can mean that some hotels become really expensive, so making your reservations very early, even for the budget hotels, is strongly advised. The other 4 months are the low-season so to speak. May to September are the height of Egyptian summer, with very high temperatures, especially in Upper Egypt (Luxor and the southern parts of the country). However, this is the time for you to see Egypt in virtual peace and quiet, giving you the advantage of seeing the sites without any hassle either from school children or crowds of tourists.
Even though we arrange tours… the best BUDGET way is to do it yourself.
It is easier to sit back, have someone make all arrangements for you and just zip, worry-free from place to place (and some people wouldn’t do it any other way; it is a vacation after all LOL). But if you’re willing to put in the work, are flexible, easily adaptable, easy going and you’re willing to deal with haggling etc. it is not impossible to do Egypt without an operator.
In 10 days you can definitely visit three cities. You can even add Aswan in there. For most first-time visitors, 2 days in Cairo is enough. It is an overwhelming city, especially if you’re going about on your own.
If you’re going to do this yourself, I suggest at least securing ground transportation for the day. That can be a hired private car or taxi but you don’t want to be wasting time flagging down and haggling with taxis at every turn. Having pre-arranged transport will take lots of the hassle out of doing things yourself. Having a good guide book is essential but if you can, book a guide or two to break up the monotony and really help with understanding the sites and bringing them to life. There are many good budget hotels in Luxor, Cairo and Aswan, which can be booked on sites such as hostelworld.com. You pre-pay 10% of the booking when it’s made and then pay the rest on arrival. The hostels do tours as well.
If you’re a student, be sure to bring your ISIC card for 50% discount on tickets to the sites.
If you decide you need help arranging all or part of the trip, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Spend a couple of nights in Cairo, take the sleeper-train to Aswan, spend another two nights there while visiting Abu Simbel and the Philae Temple, maybe Kom Ombo too. Then you can take a cruise down the Nile to Luxor, spend two nights visiting the Valleys of the Kings and Queens and the Karnak Temple Complex. Then you can return to Cairo and from there head to a Red Sea resort, either on the Sinai Peninsula or the coast, for a few nights.
The high-season is October to May, making June to September (the summer months and the hottest) the low-season and therefore prices are at their lowest.
It has never been a problem, however you have to put up sometimes with annoying verbal harassment and this happens to Egyptian women as well. The best thing is to ignore and go on. It can sometimes get really irritating but reacting does not work. There is nothing forbidden in Egypt. You do not need to cover up or anything of the sort, yet to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to yourself, do please cover your shoulders and cleavage and do not wear shorts. It is just a matter of feeling comfortable and fitting in. Best footwear are sneakers as there is a lot of walking and it is dusty and sometimes the streets are in poor condition and dirty.
The ones recommended are: Yellow Fever (common to most parts of Africa), Tetanus and Hepatitis. Otherwise, just take the usual precautions when travelling to hot parts of the world. Drink bottled water, avoiding ice and unless you are in a well-known hotel and restaurant, avoid eating uncooked greens. Avoid roadside food stands. Bring a good insect repellent as the evenings might be full of mosquitoes. At all cost, avoid contact with street dogs, rabies is still a risk in Egypt. Make sure you have condoms on you, they are also available in all pharmacies. Carry a small medical kit for your needs, with painkillers and diarrhea tablets at hand at all times. We also advise you to carry a travel insurance.
On Organizing your Trip – Alone or in a couple or with friends and you wish to organize everything yourself, please let the hotel know of your plans before leaving. Should you get lost, the hotel will be able to act on your behalf. Also arm yourself with hotel address and telephone number, always, as you may need it. Be aware that you might be ripped-off. Like many tourist destinations, Egypt has its “wolves”, preying on unsuspecting, trustful travelers. Often the total cost will be more than if you had arranged it through a travel agent or your hotel and a lot less enjoyable.
On independent travel, for a first timer it is not advised. It much better to take a guide. You don’t need to book a package tour, groups can be arranged here. First and foremost, prepare yourself for a culture shock. Many seasoned travelers arrive and find it is unlike any other country they have previously visited.
On Dining Out, first time travelers are at a loss. It is best to seek out a hotel chain or a well-reviewed restaurant (ask around if you can) then you can be assured to get good, clean food. The price will be worth it. Never drink tap water! Wash and shower with it, but do not drink it.
On the Egyptian Language- Learn the basic words: La’ (no) and shukran (thank you). You will be needing them.
On Transportation – Taxis are a problem as they do not have a counter and pricing can be very tricky. Best is to use Uber or Careem or else have your hotel get you a cab and negotiate the price before you go on your ride.
In general, always take a bottle of water on your expedition. The heat will get to you.
Always carry local currency as it will make your life easier, especially when paying for groceries, taxis, touristic venues, museums and souvenirs. In big shops, restaurants and hotels you may use your credit cards.
On Tips – If you feel generous enough to tip one child, then expect to be followed by a hoard of others expecting to be tipped as well. Make sure you have a lot of small bills for such ventures as tipping is sort of expected and even the smallest bill (one pound) will be welcomed.
On Photography – Taking photos inside many temples is restricted, so please follow the advice of your guide and the keeper of the sites. In some places, please be aware that the government will charge you for taking photographs. Due to new policies put in place by the Ministry of Tourism, cameras are not permitted at all in the Valley of the Kings. Please exercise caution and respect when taking photographs of anything other than tourist sites. It is forbidden to take photographs of the police, anything of a military nature or indeed bridges, airports and public works. Respect should be given to Egyptian women, use discretion. Always ask permission before taking photos of people and expect to be asked for a tip in return.
On Clothing – Upon visiting mosques, please dress conservatively, i.e. half/long sleeved shirt and no shorts. In public areas, this would also be our advice. However, in some touristic areas such as the seaside, it perfectly fine to wear shorts and sleeveless shirts. Please remember to remove your footwear upon stepping into a mosque.
On Health – Bring a supply of your medication if you take any on a regular basis as well as a copy of your prescription. However, please be assured that your hotel or our staff will find you a specialized doctor should the need arise.
Egypt’s national airline is Egypt Air. Most major international airlines fly to Cairo.
Please check with your travel agent or your favourite travel website for more
Please visit https://visacentral.com/egypt-visa
Please note your passport should be valid for 6 months after the end date of your visa.