As promised, here is our feedback on the holiday. We would recommended your services to anyone without hesitation – and have already done so to all our friends.
The holiday was absolutely brilliant and quite magical. From sunrise over the desert to sunset over the Nile, we loved every minute. We packed so much into the two weeks, it is hard to believe we still had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the superb sites in this fascinating country.
The organisation was impeccable. We were always met on time, transfers were efficient, and we always felt safe and confident that we were being well looked after.
The choice of hotels and accommodation was perfect. All the hotels exceeded expectation in terms of the rooms, the location and the service. Tabuna camp was utterly fabulous and unique. The Hadeel was the finest dehabiyya on the Nile without exception, with a superb crew under the attentive and efficient command of Mr Mohammed. His quiet, courteous and unassuming presence ensured they catered for our every need. For example, he observed that we looked a little apprehensive walking the gangplank to the shore, so the next time we disembarked, one man on the boat and one on the shore held either end of a pole to use as a hand rail; he organised a sumptuous picnic on a boat as we encircled Kitchener’s Island and a picnic in a mango grove; and there were so many more instances of his attention to detail. We couldn’t praise him and his crew too highly.
The guides everywhere were hugely knowledgeable and responded to our enthusiasm by customising our visits to suit our interests; plus, they all had a great sense of humour so it was fun to spend time with them. Having spent a week with Hussem, we felt we were beginning to understand a lot about the country, its history and people, and were quite sad to say goodbye.
The drivers were professional, efficient and safe. In particular, Saleh was exceptionally knowledgeable in the desert and enabled us to go on to the dunes and also negotiated extra trips to archaeological digs which were, strictly speaking, off limits.
We have a few suggestions that we feel travellers might find useful.
Baksheesh: The specific advice you gave us (over and above that in the books) was invaluable – without it, we would have felt a bit overwhelmed by this custom as it is not something we are used to. When you are with guides, it’s not too much of a problem, but if you are on your own, people can spring up out of nowhere to guide you a few paces then tell you the dollar you give them is not enough for their ‘six habibi’. On the Hadeel, the two other guests gave their guide some money at the beginning of the week so he sorted it all out for them; that’s a good idea.
Son et lumiere at Giza: This was done in the mid 1950s and was missable.
Pyramids: Fabulous. Make your own decision on whether to go in – we were fine and we are not young! - but, if you do, come backwards down the steep tunnel steps.
Language: We only learned a few words but they were much appreciated, and encouraged our hosts to try to teach us more – which caused much amusement.
Currency: Try to get some small notes as soon as possible. Coins are pretty much non-existent. We didn’t need as many dollars as we thought – Egyptian currency is better for most things – but they were accepted so it was not a problem.
Mosquitoes: We were not troubled, however we took 200mg of thiamin (vitamin B1) daily as a preventive and used a clicker (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zap-It-Mosquito-Bite-Relief-Device) on the one or two bites we got. These devices were unknown there and created much interest (not least among the customs men!). Perhaps you could send some to your colleagues!
Digestive issues: You will experience some disruption to your normal system (although it was never a problem) so do take diarrhoea tablets with you. Bottled water was always available. Always carry it with you.
Clothing: We dressed modestly, which was appreciated. We were not expected to cover our heads, even in the mosque, but it was appreciated that we did so. However, a sunhat or headscarf is essential for visiting temples etc. in the day as there is often little or no shade.
I hope this is useful information. If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch. And we repeat: thank you for organising a truly wonderful holiday.
with kind regards
Wendy and Di