I'm back!! :) :) :) :)
I will write a report soon, but wanted to let everyone know, I'm back, safe, no Covid issues and happy! I feel alive again .
The Jordan & Egypt- Petra to Pyramids tour is AMAZING!!!
I just got back yesterday and now I'm at work... so my report will be in soon.
Mil - Welcome back. To beat the crowd with questions, I'll jump right in.
Since I'm only doing the Egypt: Jewel of the Nile tour at this time next year my questions pertain to the Egypt portion of your trip.
1) Which boat were you on and how was it?
2) What were the temperatures like?
Thanks - My guess is that you will be inundated with information requests.
hello! glad to help.
I was on the Zahra , great boat, rooms are good sizes and service is Excellent! ( you actually have like a butler serv. per cabin ) - food delicious- Spa treatments also Amazing-
Boat docks every night ( no cruising allowed at night ..) so it is not so loud. - most of the cabins were Tauck's people, so It was great- you do wear mask around the staff, they do too... but if you forget it's not like you have committed a crime- staff is fully vax. and there is plenty of masks & sanitize dispensers all over, also they take your temp. every day as you come in from any site .
All together the cruising was incredible , very relaxing and you come out well pampered.
Temp.- Jordan was hot, but nothing that can't be borne , dry heat around mid 80's F.
Temp.- Aswan a little higher.. still dry heat .around mid-90's - breezy near the Nile- our hottest days were when we visited Abul Simbel and the Karnak temple...
Cairo Temp. was Mid-Low 80's- also dry and at the Pyramids breezy.
Overall we were told , that we had just missed the heat wave.. so, I guess we were lucky .
MIL thank you. I am looking forward to your additional reports.
Mil A few questions on Jordan when you get time.
Did you or anyone in your group hike to the Monastery? What were the logistics? Was there sufficient time to eat lunch and hike or did you have to choose? I'm not concerned about missing lunch as the breakfast is always very filling. If folks hiked, did they do it on their own or did they hire a guide?
How was the Amman City tour? Was it worth it? Did it take the full 5-6 hours. I'm trying to determine if I can schedule the Amman City tour and the Bethany Beyond Jordan tour in the same day. The Bethany tour is only 2 hours including driving time. If I schedule that as the first tour to arrive at the site when they open at 8AM I may have time to squeeze in the city tour and be back at the hotel in time to freshen up for the reception.
Dead Sea float - Did you do it? If yes, did you do it on your free day or was there time to do it after the Jeresh tour? The itinerary states we're back at the hotel after lunch and free the remainder of the day until the lecture before dinner. My concern of doing it on the free day is that I may not have met anyone yet and there will be no one to take my photograph. I've got to capture the moment.
Spa - How was it? Which one did you schedule?
As you can tell, I'm trying to fit in a lot of activities in a short period of time. I would love to enjoy the property but I'm not traveling to relax. The plane ride is long and luxurious enough for relaxation.
I'm falling asleep , but I would like to answer some as I can.. if not all I will continue tomorrow...
A group of 4 did the hike to the monastery on their own, no guide ..they say it was a tough hike but came back loving it. 2 or 3 others went to the royal tombs and then back to hotel.
In Petra you do get enough time to enjoy it and take all the pictures you want... Tauck literary opens the site early in the morning... first ones in... which it's great- as you walk down the Siq.
Lunch is a quick buffet round.. before anyone else is let in... Tauck reserves the entire rest. while having lunch- about 40 min. or so... then you can go on your own to either the Monastery or the Royal toms - those who choose to head back to the hotel can go by Camel ride or walking to the treasury where a golf cart will be available to take you back to the main entrance and on to the hotel, which it is across the St. - there is a third option the TD could request a golf cart from the rest. to the treasury where it will wait for the camels to get there and transfer a bigger # of people to the hotel.
The Amman city tour was Excellent! Yes, totally worth it. - it started around 9:00 am and we were back at the hotel around 4.
I do have the tour guide/driver info. if you need it,- he is totally reliable, drives a new Mercedes and he speaks perfect English, he is marry with kids and very respectful , he is an engineer that those the tours because he loves meeting people and for xtra money- his wife also a professional got layoff because of Covid.
I would totally recommend him- He took us to the Citadel, The roman amphitheater , the royal automovile museum , the Blue mosque and around neighborhoods ... also took us to a mall , for a quick stop so I could get my perfume and bought us a shawarma rap at super famous street stand.. I knew about it while doing my homework and yes! the food is super good and clean.
I wanted to do the The Bethany tour , but many people have told us there is a lot of walking to get to it and is somewhat abandoned- even the local Tauck guide agreed .
Dead sea Yes! I have done it before.. many years ago so I did it for 1/2 hour on the last day @ the hotel.
The hotel is fav.* food is excellent- specially the Lebanese rest,- do not miss! it's the best! the name is "Code." the italian is also good, breakfast are good but the lunch buffet is not.
The Spa expensive but Amazing! there is a tiny lady, her name is Tik* best massage ever! ask for her. she is pretty famous for being the best, but the others are also good
I did Spas at the Kempinski and also on the boat- gal is also very good- not too expensive- my 90 min cost me $120 , the Kemp. $200 totally worth it.
the pools- the round infinity is beautiful but tricky to get out... the inner circle has ceramic and it is very slippery- the big green one.. nice but the color is not appealing at all, as a matter fact I thought it was disgusting... The infinity at the italian rest. is the best also all the ones inside the Spa. - They have one that has dead sea water...
both souvenir stores are own by a young couple- super nice both and she has great jewelry good $$
Mil Thank You for your responses...Get some rest. We all are looking forward to your future report-outs the you get a chance..
PureLuxury feel free to ask as many as you like. It is easy for me to answer them .. then writing a full report, but I'll try.
Mil, thanks in advance for what I'm sure will be more reports and answers to folk's questions.
Sam- you may have beaten the crowd, but not me- I sent mil 3 pages of questions a week or more before her tour
I think I need to post info about the Oberoi Nile River boats since there is some wrong info out there caused by mis-labeled Google and Tauck photos. Tauck mis-labeled at least one photo of the Oberoi Zahra as the Oberoi Philea! Both are fabulous boats and generally regarded as the best of the Nile River cruisers.
While this is not an absolute because the boat schedules/assignments could change (they did on our first attempt at J&E in 2020- the Nile River portion of our small group tour and a few other departures were scheduled to sail on the Zahra, southbound from Luxor to Aswan.)
Tauck uses the Oberoi Zahra for the Jewels of the Nile classic and the J&E classic (standard size) tours. Built in 2007, the Zahra is the newer of the two boats, with more modern exterior styling, and has 27 cabins, 19 of which are assigned to Tauck.
Tauck uses the Oberoi Philea for Jewels of the Nile small group and J&E Small Group tours. The Philea is an older, larger, typical looking, Nile River cruiser- it is decorated to simulate an old side-wheeler. She was built in 1996 but underwent a major overhaul and reconfiguration in 2016. Originally configured with 50 cabins for 100 passengers, she was reconfigured with just 22 cabins and suites, 14 of which are assigned to Tauck.
Lololol!! Smiling Sam
AlanS is right, you may have beaten the crowd..... but he did send me 3 pages of questions a week or more before her tour :D:D
about 65 -67 questions if I remember well.
Mil - your description is a bit different than when I was in Petra with Tauck. Your description being newer may be the new approach, but I wanted to let people know that there is a chance that it varies from tour to tour. For us here were the differences from what you described:
1) Our lunch was a buffet, but the restaurant wasn't solely Tauck, others were in the restaurant at the same time.
2) The ride back from the Treasury was a horse and buggy for us, not a golf cart. From the restaurant to the Treasury was a camel ride as it was for you. For us golf carts were only upon special request, in either direction up or down, for people that didn't feel they were capable of the walk down or back up.
3) The horse and buggy ride from the Treasury stopped at the main entrance. We had to walk from there to the hotel (no golf cart option for this portion, which is only about a block).
To give people an idea of the transportation we had for the return trip from the restaurant to the Treasury (camel) and then from the Treasury to the main entrance (horse and buggy). We walked the all the way going down. Our trip was in September 2019.
The buffet situation was something the TD set up with the rest. to keep us safe of others (covid- new normal) weather it will be a permanent practice I'm not sure....
The transportation back to the Treasure is still by either Camel, walking or now (golf carts) - we did not see any horses.
Just remember...I'm letting everyone know my experience... This info. is related to the Sept. 26st 2021 tour.
Mil What was the process for the people who wanted to hike to the Monastery? Could they leave from the restaurant after lunch or were they required to take the camel back to the Treasury and start the hike from there. I guess this is more of a logistics question--from which location do you start the hike? I'm assuming if you wanted a guide you would have to go back to the entrance to hire someone?
I hope there is someone in my group who is adventurous and willing to take the hike with me. Also, I know it was warm when you were there, but what type of shoes did people wear to do the hike - Keen/Teva type shoe with good traction or a hiking boot?
Mil, your experiences, being completely current, are the most valuable. I guess I’m just pointing out that things adapt. Change is constant. What you experienced may be changed or adapted in a month. People need to be prepared for a range of possibilities.
I did a little recon and the flies, as you alluded are a function of temperature and moisture, pretty much like everywhere, excluding the trash/garbage option. So like lots of things when preparing for a tour I plan for the worst ( within reason ) and then am pleasantly surprised when things aren’t as bad as they might have been.
My experience hiking to the Monastery in Nov 2019 was people left lunch when they wanted to and had the afternoon free.
I did not find the hike difficult. It was basically climbing a lot of steps interspersed with landings. The hardest part was getting out of the way of donkeys coming down. For some perspective, when I was in Petra, I was in my early 60s. I bike about 80 miles/week and hiked a 14er about a month ago (THAT was the most strenuous hike I've ever done.)
BKMD Good to know. I'm physically fit and just hit the mid-50 mark! I'm not concerned about the hike. I would just prefer if others joined me. There are other observation points I would also like to visit to include the royal tombs, the colonade area, etc.
PureLuxury hi, the TD will ask you about your choices.. so he can set up all the camels or any other transportation.. you will be let free after lunch, I'm not sure how the hikers went back to the treasury, I do believe I heard by camels , but again not 100% sure.
No one ask for a guide to do the hike, but I'm sure the TD would set it up for you. the hikers were wearing regular sneakers.. no hiking ones, but it's up to you.
I got your point Smiling Sam.. but I also wanted to clarified about our experience and also want to make sure that everyone knows is always up to the TD's to accommodate what it's best for the group.. remember every group is different and has different needs-
the visits are guaranteed , no changes on the schedule.. but they can always make things go smoother...
Pure Luxury - I had plans to do the uphill with a few others. As it turned out, we all got done with lunch at different times (buffet filled with lots of non-Tauck people), so I did it on my own. met up with several others at the top and hung out for a while.
I walked all the way back to the hotel from the Monastery.
BKMD It was good to hear the buffet was reserved for Tauck guest. Hopefully those protocols will still be in place in December. I was a bit leery about eating buffet style with other folks who may not be vaccinated. I was willing to pass up lunch as the breakfast meal is very filling. I do want an opportunity to ride a camel. I think we get another chance to ride a camel in Wadi Rum.
As time marches on and tourist numbers continue to increase, I suspect opportunities for a Tauck-only buffet at the Basin Restaurant in Petra will become harder for the TD to arrange.
You will actually have several opportunities to ride a camel- with Tauck at Petra, Wadi Rum, and Giza and also on your own any place/time you have a free moment and there are camels close by. In many places you may need to fight off the camel herders- they make their money from people who want to ride or pose on a camel for a photo. They haven't been working much in the last few years so they can become quite aggressive, like other touts. I suspect the TD will attempt to keep you isolated from these folks as much as possible, but just be aware.
Thanks for the reality check . In regard to the camel ride, I'd rather have the TD arrange in a controlled environment. I've read crazy stories about camel herders holding people hostage on the camel until they are paid more money than was originally negotiated. If i'm on my own I don't have a problem paying the herders to pose next to the camel.
Mil Can you tell us about the dinner dining atmosphere on the Oberoi. Casual or cocktail dress attire? Was there enough time after arriving back to the ship to relax a bit or did folks hurry back, shower and dress for dinner?
As the weather was warm, I suspect your tour group used the outdoor lounging and pool areas. I'm hoping the December weather is pleasant--not too hot or cold as I enjoy being outdoors on a ship. I guess I should say not too cold as I know the temperatures will have cooled down considerably by that time. I was a trooper and even enjoyed being outdoors for a few short minutes at a time on the Antarctica cruise. It's something about being on the water....
Be sure to dress appropriately, whatever that is, for the camel rides. You can see what I wore for my camel ride in the photo above (hiking pants). That said, I still experienced a bit of chafing during the ride. Several members of our group had similar experiences to varying degrees. I may add some additional layer for the camel rides during my Egypt: Jewel of the Nile tour next year.
Mil - What was your experience and those in your group with respect to camel ride chafing?
Smiling Sam Thanks for the heads up! I was planning to wear hiking pants as well. I will now add a pair of leggings under the hiking pants--Robin
Maybe we will skip the camel ride in Petra!!
Maybe elephant rides are easier
I've mentioned this before, but with regards to Sam's comment, I can't stress enough the importance of wearing the appropriate attire when riding a camel (or horse).
During K&T in 2015 we went horseback riding during our stay at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club. We had sent out laundry so I was wearing some sort of smooth, slippery, travel underwear and a pair of Columbia PFG lightweight, quick-dry safari pants. Not to be too indelicate, but let me just say we both got saddle sores, you know where! However, mine never healed properly and I even had surgery a few years ago to remove it, but it didn't really work! I have a sore to this day - 6 years later!!!
So, if I decide to climb aboard a camel during J&E, it will be for a photo op (in front of the Treasury or the Sphinx) and not to ride!!
"As time marches on and tourist numbers continue to increase, I suspect opportunities for a Tauck-only buffet at the Basin Restaurant in Petra will become harder for the TD to arrange."
Yes, I'm sure that eventually will happen....
Ouch....Also, you left yourself open to so many remarks...I'll pass on commenting
PureLuxury good morning... Happy Friday!
Regarding the dinner- dining atmosphere on the Oberoi. It could be casual, but it looks better if you go cocktail. Yes, there was enough time after arriving back to the ship to relax a bit , shower and dress for dinner. I spend time at the pool 1st day and did a Spa treatment on the 3rd day..
I don't remember jackets being required but most guys did wear them , but I did notice.. my group did like to dress up more than other groups I've been in, which was really nice.
Weather was hot, but not many went to the pool... only 6 of us.. others went to their cabins.
Smiling Sam hello, Happy Friday .
I wore Capri pants, so I was fine... . But the TD did reminded everyone about it , they day before