Well we are back from our amazing vacation to Egypt! Before I get into really sharing photos (which is going to take forever as I took nearly 1100 images) I wanted to post an overview of general thoughts on the trip, if I wait until after the photos are done I will have forgotten everything. I have several things I want to cover, the tour company, our tour guide, our group, thoughts on doing a group tour in general, the best and worst things about the trip, recommendations for others who might want to go on a similar trip in the future.
Our tour was booked through a company called Egypt Uncovered. The tour we picked was called Splendours of the Nile. I believe the company in Egypt that runs the tours there is called Lady Egypt. They did a great job organizing the tour, everything was taken care of and ran very smoothly. The price was good as well. The biggest complaint I have is that I had to call the UK to pay for the tour and I had to pay a fee to use a credit card for it (but I wasn't about to give my bank account information to an unknown company over the phone).
Our Tour Guide and Our Group:
We had an amazing group of people on our tour. Our tour guide Hamdi was wonderful (so much better than the tour guide we had on our day trip to Alexandria and several of the other guides we saw during our trip). His English was really good, he was knowledgeable, nice and above all fun.
Our group (see photo below which also includes Hamdi) was wonderful. It was 11 people which felt like the perfect size. Just big enough that you had a variety of people to talk to or walk around with. Small enough that it wasn't cumbersome to keep everyone together. We saw some groups that had 30 or more people which seemed like it would have been just too many people.
I think we were very lucky in the people that were in our group as well, I can honestly say I enjoyed hanging out with all of them.
Mike - Abu Simbel tour
Michele - going inside the second pyramid
Mike - haggling/people constantly badgering you to buy junk from them
Michele - poverty, squalor, baksheesh (especially for toilet paper)
I really thought I wouldn't like doing a group tour, I am not the most gregarious person. I actually really liked it though. Maybe because it was a small group, but a decently long enough trip that I had enough time to really start to get comfortable with the other people in our group. I think any bigger of a group would have been too much for me. I was actually really sad that things worked out so that we didn't get to say goodbye to several people. I hope we can still connect with them on the tour groups message board. I would totally consider doing a group tour again in the future, especially in a developing country.
I would recommend looking for tours that limit the size of the group. I also liked that this company was targeted to multiple English speaking companies so we met other Americans, people from England and from New Zealand, that made getting to know everyone even more fun. I would also recommend the idea of a planned tour in a country where you know nothing of the language, it is still underdeveloped and not everything is safe. It was so much easier to know that everything was already taken care of. I wish we had done more research on how we wanted to spend our free time but we kind of booked this at the last minute. But I know better for our next tour. Though I have to say the downtime itself was a bit of a godsend after being out in the heat seeing things all day. Also totally would have been worth it to upgrade out of the sleeper train, it was AWFUL!
Hopefully I can start with the real posts tomorrow!