Trip Report Jewels of the Nile October 2021



  • Sounds like you took the Mereuka tour? Hopefully you had a choice which tour that day?

  • edited November 2021

    Franlovestravel - everyone has an opportunity to see everything. There are a few times when smaller groups go into tombs, due to space restraints. The rest of the group is close by. On the afternoon you are referencing, we were at the Saqqara area. The tomb of Mereruka is very impressive. While our guide took 12 of our group of 24 into the tomb for a thorough tour, the rest of us visited the tombs of Teti and Kagemni. (Although Teti is very steep and you have to walk down bent over, so not everyone went in it). Then the guide took the second group into Mereruka for a tour. That was the only tomb where the guide accompanied us. At the Valleys of the Queens and Kings, the guides are not permitted to accompany the tourists into the tombs. So, our guide spoke about the tombs outside their entrances.

  • Perfect! Thanks for the clarification. You’re the best!

  • edited November 2021

    Lotusgirl, not that it matters, but I believe the Tomb of Teti was actually a pyramid not a mastaba. From the photos I've seen, all that remains above ground is a rubble or mound pyramid. Most of the pyramids in the Saqqara area originally had smooth sides and were sheathed in white limestone like those at Giza. Over the years, the limestone was removed and re-purposed elsewhere by locals. That exposed the interior, above-ground structure. Unlike the Giza pyramids which were made from stone blocks, the Saqqara and Dahshur pyramids were constructed from steps and an accretion of small, locally quarried stone and rubble (and in some cases, like the Black Pyramid, mud brick) fill. Once the limestone sheathing was removed, the interior was exposed to the destructive effects of wind, rain, and gravity. The burial chambers and passageways were either made from limestone or granite blocks or cut into the bedrock, so are generally still intact. One of the biggest examples is the Black Pyramid in nearby Dahshur.

    Pyramid of Teti:

    Black Pyramid:

  • You are correct, Alan. Our guide did talk about that.

  • edited November 2021

    Once you know that, it opens up a whole new appreciation for the Saqqara and Dahsur landscape- just about every hill or large mound is probably what is left of a pyramid!

    I was surprised to read that the tombs and passageways of many, if not most of the rubble pyramids have been excavated and visited- talk about dangerous and scary! I guess that is one reason it took 14 years for them to reopen the Step Pyramid to the public. I saw a Nat Geo program that showed all the work required to stabilize it. In another show researchers entered into a pyramid where the center had collapsed. They had to be very careful as they approached the suspected location of the burial chamber. They actually reached a point where they could see sky. The sides of the collapsed central area were very steep so a landslide or cave-in was very possible. Not an endeavor for the faint of heart or anyone with claustrophobia! :o

  • Lotusgirl - Thank you SO much for your report! It has been so interesting to read and so helpful, along with others’ questions and your responses. We fly out the day after Thanksgiving for the Nov 28 trip and I am so excited. Lufthansa’s changing schedules have been frustrating, but Tauck Air has been great to work with and changing our flights to avoid long layovers. One question I have that after reading the 28 pages of the emailed “green book” and not finding it (but maybe I just missed it) - what do we need in the hotels and on the boat to charge phones and iPad? Thx!!

  • LornaDoone - The Oberoi Philae website doesn't provide any specific help with respect to electronic device power charging requirements. Here is the list of the room amenities from the Oberoi website.

  • The last item in the bathroom column- what an evil device! >:):D

  • edited November 2021

    Always good to assume that the hotels and boats have nothing more than electrical outlets with 120 or 240v and country or region-specific sockets. The good news is that virtually every charging device made now is dual-voltage (it'll say something like 110-240V on the charger). So, travel with a set of the chargers and the whatever plug adapters are used in that region and you'll be ready for all contingencies.

  • We brought 2 of the European 2 prong adapters and that was sufficient.

  • We are having trouble finding a place for our stateside Covid test that issues a document with a lab stamp or QR code. Anyone else who has gone to Egypt have a problem with this or any suggestions for us?

  • Juaniceg - try googling PCR test for travel (name of city with major airport near you).

  • Thank you Lotusgirl for your detailed review!!
    -In the literature I can find, it appears the windows of the staterooms do not open on the Oberoi Zahra. In theTauck literature and Oberai literature they do not mention that the window open in the staterooms-even on deck c. Did you sail on her and do the windows open?
    -In one review, the writer said on the Oberoi Zahra that Egyptian food was not generally served, mostly European with an Indian bent. Did you have Egyptian options at most meals?
    Your trip sounded lovely (except the heat!).

  • Debby - yes, we were on the fabulous Zahra. No, the windows do not open. Food was excellent. One evening was devoted to Egyptian foods. On the other nights, the menu consisted of 3 or 4 appetizers, 2 soups and 4 or 5 entrees. One entree would be Indian food. There was generally a fish dish, pasta and lamb or beef.

  • Hi. How were the rooms, as I think we have the lower deck, cabin 102, according to our "Green Book". Is this bad? Should I tru to go for an upgrade? Also, do you find yourself needing much local currency?

  • As we looked into the Qr code, you take the PCR test and send the results on line to Jordan and they send you back a Qr code to bring with you printed. Is this correct?

  • Debi - the rooms on the Zahra were very nice. I did not hear any complaints about them. We converted $50 to Egyptian pounds, and that was enough for us.

    The tour that we took covered Egypt only, so I am not familiar with the testing requirements for Jordan.

  • Just curious, has anyone completed the Jewels of the Nile or the Jordan/Egypt tour on the Philae? So far, all I've seen are trip reports for the Zahra voyages. If so, I'd love to see some pictures from the boat, like Mil did for the Zahra.

  • Can you wait until March? :D:D

  • Might have to. :(

  • Maybe not that long. We're taking the 12/10 J&E on the Philae. I'll try to post a report with pictures when we get back if no one else has done so by then.

  • Thanks Wayside!

  • Thanks for all this great information. I can hardly believe I leave in a little over a week! I feel so much better prepared for this experience because of all the comments shared. 🤗

  • I just read elsewhere that the Avenue of the Sphinxes opening ceremonies are scheduled for November 25.

  • edited November 2021

    A number of travel publications and websites acknowledge that the Oberoi Zahra and Philea are the reining king and queen of Nile cruisers.

    A question for you J&E and Treasures travelers- I know you visited the mortuary temple of Djoser, and had the opportunity to enter the nearby mastabas of Merurka and/or Kagemni, the pyramid of Teti which are all grouped together, but did you drive a bit further south to neighboring Dahshur and get close to any of the pyramids there (Bent Pyramid, Red Pyramid, Black Pyramid, etc.) or did you just view them from afar?

  • we did not see them at all. - as we visited the valley of the Kings- last tomb was Teti's and this was late afternoon ,so it was already night time and we went straight to the boat.

  • Mil - Thanks, but those pictures, based on what I saw in the titles are of the Zahra (the boat you were on). I'm looking for pictures of the Philae, the boat I will be on. I have seen the pictures of the Philae websites, but pictures from travelers, like the ones you provided from your trip are oftentimes much more enlightening.

    It appears that Wayside may be the first Tauck traveler on the Philae that has said they will post some pictures. Can't wait.

  • Alan - I do not think that most of our group realized that they could see the Red and Bent pyramids in the distance from the area near the Step Pyramid. There is an upper level area where people like to take pictures of the Step Pyramid. The opposite view takes in the view of the Bent Pyramid,etc. Once I was done with viewing, I walked back down and asked our guide about it, she confirmed that I was correct in my assumption and spoke about those Pyramids.

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