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From the beginning to the end, it was a good experience with Viator, they put us in a five star hotel, service in the cruise was beyond our expectations, all of the crew was extremely helpful, a variety of food and the guided tours were very informative and fun, we will definitely recommend them without a second thought.
Very disappointed with the experience and how it was advertised. we booked a private tour with 5 stars hotels and cruise, but none of this was real.We stayed at the Hilton Ramses and the Le Passage Cairo hotels. The Hilton Ramses was a run-down hotel, with peeled wallpaper, rusty and disgusting showers, no minibar and a very dirty reception. This hotel seems as it had been built 20 years ago, and never received proper maintenance.The Le Passage, tough it was better that at the Hilton Ramses, it still was far from the 5 star quality advertised. We also had a weir situation, where we tried to use the pool, but the smell of kerosene coming from the nearby planes forced us back to our room.For the Cruise, we had the Grand Princess Nile, from Luxor to Aswan. Again, the cruise was advertised as 5 stars and it was far from it. We had a full board service, but the quality of the food was terrible. It was clear that the food was not cooked on board but only heated there. Also, there were some clear indications of the poor quality: we only had instant coffee for breakfast, during the whole trip there was no TV signal and the cruise had old furniture, dirty carpets and wore down towels, that were changed only if we actively asked for it. Finally, the tour was not private, and the optional trips were heavily overpriced. We shared the tour (Luxor to Aswan) with another couple. We had to accommodate our schedule to their optional excursions which lead to the schedule of the whole trip being very inconvenient. We wake up at 5 in the morning very day, even if after the excursion there was nothing else to do for the day. Also, most of the “must-visit” temples in Luxor and Aswan were pricey optionals. We blindly booked the tour, as we expected that Viator was going to give us at least all the major temples in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Instead of that, we had to pay overpriced rates to see the main attractions.On our trip to Abu Simbel we had very dangerous drivers that made things like overpassing other vans on curves and drive less than 50 centimetres away from the van in front of them just to save a couple of pounds in gas. Finally, we had a couple of shopping stops that were conveniently excluded from the description of the tour. We were taken to a papyrus shop, a perfume shop and a stone souvenir shop. It was clear that all the items in these places were a rip off.
I booked this this tour for the end of August 2018/ beginning of September 2018. Mr Saleh sent me my itinerary. I made some changes after I booked the tour and he was very accommodating. I let him know that I was a solo female traveler and he assured me that he would put me with his best guides and that I would be safe.
The guide that met me at the airport was very helpful, I arrived late at night but I think I was able to get through Customs and security much quicker having him take care of everything.
My Cairo guide Sobhi and driver were waiting for me outside the airport and took me to my hotel. My guide told me about the city on our drive. He got me checked-into the hotel and went over my itinerary and let me know what other tours I could add-on.
Sobhi was very nice and full of knowledge he has a formal education in Egyptology. He took great care of me and checked with me often on what I would and would not like to do during the tours as well as how long I would like to spend on each site/ activity which is one of the reasons I like traveling solo, I'm on my own schedule for the most part. In Cairo I saw the pyramids, the Cairo Museum and did an evening walking tour of Old Cairo with dinner.
My airport guide, driver and guide for Luxor/Aswan Reg were all also, nice and accommodating. In Luxor I saw the Luxor and Karnack temple, and rode a horse carriage through town. While Cairo is a very large city, Luxor is small and more intimate.
Also while in Luxor I did the sunrise hot air balloon ride that had views of the Nile, Hatshepsuts Temple, Valley of the Queens and Colssi of Memnon. I HIGHLY recommend this experience! After the hot air balloon ride we were able to get to Hatshepsuts Temple before everyone else about 7am which made for an amazing photo opportunity. This site was also a highlight for me.
From there we went to the Valley of the Kings where your ticket allows you to tour 3 tombs of your choice my guide recommended the 3 I should see. This was another very cool and impressive site.
I also saw the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo. My stomach got upset during the trip so my guide took me to a pharmacy and helped get medicine. He also, checked regularly to see how I was feeling.
In Awswan I did the tour out to Abu Simble about a 3 hour drive each way and took a boat from Aswan to the Nubian Village another highly recommended tour. The only sight I was underwhelmed with was the Asawn Dam, I didnt think it was worth paying anything to see. That could be because I live near a large dam Hoover Dam but It's something I would recommend skipping. I chose to skip the Unfinished Obelisk.
My guides took me too an oil shop, papyrus shop and an alabaster shop. At each location they show you how the items are made and give you the opportunity to buy something. If you don't want to buy anything or any more than what you have choose, just tell them no, thank you.
My Cairo Guide checked-in on me on occasion after I left Cairo and he as well as my Luxor/Aswan guide and Mr Saleh all checked-on me my last days before flying home which I appreciated.
I went with the 5-star hotel option which I recommend. The ship was not as nice as the hotels and they allow smoking inside the ship, the smell would travel into my room. Please note that you have to pay for wifi on the ship if you do not have a phone plan that works in Egypt.
I felt safe with my guides, they were my eyes and ears. They also told me how to interact with others and who/what I should avoid. The country takes security at the airports and tourists sites very seriously. There are metal detectors and armed guards at all the attractions.
With all that said, I would recommend this company and would book them again if I ever return to Egypt!
P.S. The guides are great at taking photos for you
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.
If I could, I'd give this review 4.5 stars. Overall, it was a really great experience. Our tour guides throughout the trip were consistently fabulous. Our tour guide through the Nile cruise, Refi Rike? was simply above and beyond--he had SO much knowledge of each site and is a wonderful storyteller. He was just so helpful throughout the whole tour! Our other guides were great as well. The airport transfers for us went off with ease. In terms of accommodations, we found the hotel in Cairo to be very nice, and the cruise to be simply okay. Be aware that a 5 star hotel in the US is NOT the same as 5 stars in Egypt! The cruise is comfortable and did just fine for the 4 nights we were on it.
A few people have mentioned annoyance with tipping--Egypt is very much a tipping culture, so even if you book a different tour, you'll still experience it. I wish I had brought MORE small US dollar bills, as they do take US money to tip. Also, bring cash and hit up the exchange spot in the airport. Withdraw as MUCH money as they will allow, because YOU WILL NEED THE CASH. For this tour, you have to pay for the entrance fees to the sites, and it adds up SO quickly!
What we wish we knew before we'd gone:
1. The cash thing see above
2. It's a private tour...like only you and the tour guide! This took us back at first, but it feels normal very quickly and we loved it!
3. The aggressive sales: on your first day, this tour company will give you the option to add more sites to your trip for added cost.... We added a bunch of things, which ended up being totally worth it! Abu Simbel, Luxor temple, Philae, etc were great...pyramid light show was not. They will aggressively get you to sign up for things, and they do cost extra. This made the trip significantly more expensive, and I wish we'd known this up front so we could add it in to the total cost. Make sure you budget a couple hundred extra per person. Also, know this--the aggressive sales is part of the Egyptian culture. You will experience this in every market. By the end of the trip, you will be a pro at saying No!
4. The tour guides are truly there to help you. Tell them if you are hungry/tired/thirsty/need a bank and they will accommodate! This was what was great about being with a guide--the trip can be tailored to what you like. The guides are SO friendly and SO helpful! Ask them to give you details on tipping especially the driver. We undertipped the first three days and felt like jerks when we finally figured out how much to tip!
Overall, this was a great trip that we'd recommend! Could you do it for cheaper if you booked individual tours at each location yourself? Probably. Could you stay in nicer hotels/cruise ship? Most definitely. BUT doing it all packaged together like this made things easy and SO convenient, we found it worth the price. Fabulous guides, well-planned itinerary--for us, it was great!
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
My family is still enthralled by our Egyptian experience last month! Since we arrived back in the U.S., our friends have been inquiring nonstop about going to Egypt after seeing our Facebook photos and videos. As soon as we arrived at Cairo airport, we were met by Hedra, the Blue Sea Travel representative who helped us get a stamp for our visa. In Cairo, Mohammed Sohby fully explained to us our itinerary and expertly shared his knowledge and insights. The tour vans were clean and would stop whenever we wanted to try local delicacies. The guides and drivers were very professional, patient and friendly with all our questions and needs especially with our 7 year old son. In our Nile River Cruise, our guide Refaie also exceeded our expectations. He was always cheerful and positive. Egypt is such a beautiful destination made more memorable by this tour company! We highly recommend them. Thanks again to Mohammed Sohby, Refai, CEO Mr. Salah, Hedra and to all the others that we have not mentioned. God bless and may you all continue to share your beautiful country to more visitors!
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