Jewel of the Nile Trip report Jan 2022
Here are some of the differences in our tour from what Tauck shows on the website.
We arrived a day early at 330pm from Frankfurt. One of my bags didn't make it, most likely because we only had a 1-hour layover. I'd put another set of clothes in my carry-on, but it didn't matter because my bag made it to the Mena House at 830pm anyway. That was nice and Tauck handled all of it. The covid checks inside Egypt were different for everyone. For me, they looked at my PCR test then asked for the vaccine card then let me in. My wife was only asked for her Vaccine card. Others only showed their PCR test. The attendants were asking for one or the other apparently. Hardly anyone had QR codes.
With our extra day we slept in and then decided to go see the Khan el Khalili souk since it wasn't included in the tour because of Covid concerns. We went around noon, and it was pretty sparsely populated. Got some great pictures at the lamp store at the south gate. We asked the hotel to get us a driver who took us around all day and walked us through the souk and showed us some of the sites near the market including the al moez ladin allah al fatemi street. It had a lot of very old and historical mosques and was near the Khan el Khalili. He also took us to a few shops that sold better quality cotton items and we picked up some Papyrus. When finished he drove us back to the hotel and dropped us off. Having someone show us around was worth the extra expense.
The tour itself was very smooth. We had 23 on our tour and only 4 had dropped out. Our guides were Manal and Adel and both of them were excellent. Luggage was a non-issue on the charter and Air Egypt trips. There were ATM machines at both hotels and when we were on the Zahra they let us charge $100 to our room and gave us Egyptian pounds with a %5 transaction fee.
We found that all the sites were very sparsely attended although Karnak did get pretty full by the time we left. Valley of the Kings and Queens were almost deserted. Great for us but a bit sad for Egypt tourism.
The Synagogue was still closed but the walking tour of the Mosques and Churches was really enjoyable. Manal had one of the mosque attendants do the call to prayer for us in one of the Mosque mausoleums. With the echo and his beautiful voice, it was truly special.
The last days at the St. Regis went as follows.
The tour ended on Feb 1st and a few of our party left that day but we scheduled our return flight at 1am on the 2nd. The St. Regis gave us a late checkout at 3pm. We took our PCR test on Feb 1st at 10am and got the results by 4pm. (Everyone on our tour tested negative). We had a recommendation to visit the Zamalek area across the river. We walked across the street (No easy feat) and crossed the bridge and visited numerous shops, bookstores, jewelry stores and art galleries. Shopping there was pretty nice, and we got some very nice quality items for a very affordable price. We ate dinner at the Tianma restaurant (All the restaurants in the St. Regis are exceptional) then got picked up for our flight at 1030pm. The shops we really liked in the Zamalek were Fair Trade Egypt and Ateeq designs. Both used Egyptian craftsmen and women to make their items.
Our trip was a once in a lifetime experience and I'd suggest anyone with extra time go to the Khan el Khalili. It was a great experience.