Egypt:Jewels of the Nile - October 6th tour play by play

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  • I second BKMD's comments with a couple of slight changes based on my trip in October.

    I commented during my trip that I felt Adel was the best local guide that I'd ever had, so I grade him whatever is higher than outstanding. :D

    I think we had more like two hours in Abu Simbel. I didn't feel rushed to see everything and still have a soft drink in the gift shop area before having to board the bus.

    I'm not sure the best solution to the logistics issues, but I think it would require an additional day in both Luxor and Aswan to allow flight times at more reasonable hours. That would likely require an additional day on the boat just moored at the pier in Luxor. In Aswan, I think an additional night at the Old Cataract would be nice. There really wasn't time to enjoy/appreciate the hotel amenities as much as I would have liked.

  • Yes, we barely had time to explore the Old Cataract. It's a fabulous, historic hotel. I did the tour and saw the Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill suites. And there's a personal connection for me, being a retired cataract surgeon. :) Even with the current itinerary, I don't get spending the extra day on the boat in Aswan while it was docked. Seemed like we were living in a trailer park on water.
    :) Probably a cost factor.

    It's 6: 30 PM here and I'm ready to fall asleep :)

  • I wish you safe travels home. I have enjoyed reading about your tour.

  • In Luxor the boat is likely cheaper and eliminates the need for another pack and move step between a Luxor hotel and the boat. For us, at least the boat was parked right behind a nice hotel, so if needed/desired you could use some of its amenities.

    My suggestion for extra days was simply a suggestion to eliminate the crazy early flight departure times.

  • BKMD
    8:10AM
    Tauck's Covid form is a joke.

    Unfortunately I am going to have to agree with you on this. Just back late last night from the Rhine cruise and had similar situations. I will post a review in the next few days about our cruise in a separate thread.

  • BKMD - I PM'd you about this but thought I post here as well. One of your comments about tour logistics was about Abu Simbel.

    On day 7, departure to the airport for the trip to Abu Simbel was at 6:30 AM.
    We only spent 1 hour AT Abu Simbel, then back tot the plane to return to Aswan.

    Since your tour group size was 1.5 times larger than mine perhaps that is why you got less time onsite at Abu Simbel than we did.

    It would take your group 1.5 times as long for everything associated with airports. So when you landed at Abu Simbel it would take your group longer to get loaded onto the bus taking you to Abu Simbel (so perhaps you arrived later than we did). In addition, perhaps your group had to leave the Abu Simbel site earlier than mine to allow enough time for your entire group to get through security at the airport. So arriving at Abu Simbel later and leaving earlier meant you had 1 hour less onsite than my group.

    This is just conjecture but I think it makes sense.

    I know I had never considered this before, but for tours that have in-tour flights the size of your tour group can make a noticeable difference.

    Larger group sizes means earlier departure times from hotels and tour sites, later arrival times at hotels and tour sites whenever there is a flight day.

  • IIRC, the flight left for Abu Simbel about 30 minutes late. Perhaps the group size and Adel's loquaciousness made up the difference.

    At the farewell dinner tonight, our TD mentioned that Tauck has received a lot of comments about the early starts and as a result, will use a charter plane from Cairo to Luxor, which should allow a departure about 10 AM.

    Just killing some time now before heading to the airport. I believe 9 of us are on the 2 AM flight to FRA.

  • Hi all. We are getting our paperwork together for our "Jewel of The Nile" trip in January. Just looking at the Camel Riding Waiver. WOW. They make it seem like an extreme sport!!! Any comments, experiences or thoughts would be really helpful. I thought this would be a lot of fun.... Never thought of myself as Lawrence of Arabia on a runaway or stampeding camel... :#

  • Just looking at the Camel Riding Waiver. WOW. They make it seem like an extreme sport!!!

    MotherOfPoodles...I rode the camel in Petra - from the base of the Monastery back to the Treasury. There were many other opportunities to ride; however, it was one & done for me. The Camel/Camel handler thought it was a good idea to race- It wasn't much fun for me. When we were taking photographs at the Pyramids, there was an opportunity to ride. I indicated I only wanted to get atop the camel for the photo and no ride was needed. No one appeared to have any major issues, but many people opted not to ride.

  • There are a few things you should know, that you will realize once you see a camel up close and see someone else mount and dismount. There are plenty of YouTube videos.

    First, unless you get a very young one, camels are tall- you will be sitting much higher up than you would be when sitting on a horse. The next thing you need to know, since you will mount and dismount the camel while it is sitting down, is how a camel stands up and sits down. Getting to their feet they raise their hind quarters first, so you need to grab the saddle horn firmly and lean way back so you don't fall head over heels over the camel's head. When they sit down, they lower their front legs first- again you need to lean way back. If given the choice, you also need to decide whether to straddle or ride sidesaddle. There may or may not be stirrups.

  • I’ve ridden camels both in Petra and Egypt. In Petra the camels are tethered together in 3’s. They go pretty slow, and Alan is right it’s learning how to mount and dismount. The Egypt ride is very slow and not very far, just to get a few pictures. It’s an experience. I disliked the horse and cart ride in Petra much more. The driver was whipping the hell out of that horse making it go way too fast over the gravel road. The gal that I was in the buggy with could hardly wait to get out!
    This is a great trip, you’ll have a blast. just be prepared for all the wee early morning departures.

  • Can we expect colorful sunrises and sunsets in Jordan & Egypt ? Any location better than others for great color ? Looks like 7am Jordan sunrise and 5:30pm sunset now.

  • edited November 11

    Cuzin GJ - Yes.

    Cairo is smoggy so you get smoggy sunsets, which makes for a red sun.

    You get both colorful sunsets and sunrises from the Old Cataract hotel in Aswan.

    I’m sure you will in a lot of places.

    Old Cataract Sunset

    Old Cataract Sunrise

    Here is a Cairo red sun sunset taken from the St Regis

  • thx Smiling Sam. appreciate info. Appears to be special adventure every day.

  • edited November 11

    cuzin GJ
    10:34AM
    Can we expect colorful sunrises and sunsets in Jordan & Egypt ? Any location better than others for great color ? Looks like 7am Jordan sunrise and 5:30pm sunset now.

    It is somewhat dependent on which cruise - Jewels or J&E and which day, but you won't generally start touring for the day before sunrise and you'll be done and back at the hotel or on the ship during sunset, so that limits the opportunities to get good photos during those times. I'm sure there are opportunities if you get up early or, as in the case of Petra, stay in the site until just before you board the bus for the Bedouin dinner in little Petra. You might also be able to get a sunrise shot from the river boat, but there are hills nearby that restrict line-of-sight distances. The best idea might be to ask your TD or local guide for the best opportunity.

    I know at least one person who hired a cab at the end of the day to take her from the Mena house back to various spots on the Giza plateau for more photos of the pyramids- that might yield some good sunset photos. I believe mil took some sunrise photos of Elephantine Island looking west from her balcony (all our rooms faced west) in the Old Cataract hotel. Check out her review. I think the only sunrise shot I took was when the boat was docked in Luxor on the morning we flew to Cairo which was a very early go. There wasn't much to see looking east because of the city and mountains, but I was able to take a few early morning photos of the hot air balloons floating over the fields and Thebian hills to the west. The low light, however, causes the colors to be muted. In general, much of what you'll see - buildings, temples, pryamids, terrain, etc. will be earth-toned. Also, the air can be filled with dust and/or humidity which can also result in muted colors and less than sharp, crisp, photos.

    Not quite sunrise, but here is an early morning photo of the Giza plateau and the pyramids of Khufu and Menkaure taken from our room at the Mena House.

    For some great sunrise and sunset photo opportunities- try Peru & Galapagos! :)

    .

  • Here's one from the Mena House well after sunset, about 1am when we arrived.

  • Sam that is an amazing picture.

  • I've been home from this trip for 6 days now and after pondering the trip in retrospect, and doing my best to isolate my bag loss (still not found) from my feelings about the trip, this trip ranks at the very bottom of my list of Tauck tours and I would not recommend it in its present configuration. Why?

    Because the travel logistics (three very early departures, with one at 4 AM, discussed above) on this tour are so poorly conceived, it takes away from the enjoyment of the trip. For example, the day of our return from Aswan to Cairo, the Old Cataract hotel opened up breakfast just for us at 5 AM, so we could have a 6 AM departure to the airport. What did we do on this day that made it so important to leave before sunrise? Upon arrival in Cairo, we toured the Old Egyptian Museum, ate lunch, then had the rest of the day free (2 PM onwards). This is just one example. I won't go into more.

    Maybe the trip should be extended by one day to present a more "relaxed" itinerary. Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for a week at the beach, but just something more civilized. Until then, I can't recommend this trip.

  • edited November 14

    We make the effort to get up on tour, but are not morning people, so I looked at both tours years ago when we first booked and decided the logistics, travel (all in one direction), shorter on-tour flights, etc. were much better and why we chose the Jordan & Egypt tour. Some people have taken the Israel & Jordan so select the Jewels of the Nile to avoid duplication of Petra. If it were me and in hindsight, we would have accepted the duplication and done I&J then J&E. There is enough to see to fill two days in Petra, e.g. Do the Monastery climb during the first visit and do the Wadi al Farasa/High Place of Sacrifice trail, Royal Tombs, or Treasury overlook climb during the next visit.

    But still, there were some very early goes. It is an adventure not a vacation! :D I can sleep when I get home

    Our J&E Go Sheet (see extract below) had disclaimers in several places: "Please note timings on the ship may change according to the Nile Cruiser schedule" so you can't expect to follow the same schedule. I expect the same goes for the Jewels tours. From all the different variations of timing since J&E restarted just before COVID, I really think ours had the best itinerary. There is so much to see and so little time, you must make the most of it. We did some add-ons at the end which were the icing on the cake.

    Day 2: (Red Sea - Jerash) Breakfast starts @ 6:30, Meet at bus @ 8:00

    Day 3: (Red Sea - Petra) Breakfast starts @ 6:00, bus @ 8:30

    Day 4: (Petra) Breakfast starts @ 6:00, Meet in lobby for Petra walking tour @ 7:50

    Day 5: (Petra - Wadi Rum - Aswan) Breakfast starts @ 5:15, bus departs @ 6:30. Flight to Aswan departs Aqaba @ 1:00 pm

    Day 6: (Abu Simbel) Breakfast starts @ 5:30, Coach departs for airport @ 6:50. 2 hours + at Abu Simbel. Flight back to Aswan @ 1:00 pm. Embark Philea. Sunset sail on felucca.

    Day 7: (Aswan - St Simeon - Philea - Kom Ombo) Breakfast starts @ 6:30. Coach departs for St Simeon and Philea Temple @ 8:00. Ship departs Aswan for Kom Ombo @ 12:00 pm. Walking tour of Kom Ombo upon arrival followed by short visit to crocodile museum. Ship sails for Edfu @ 5:00 pm .

    Day 8: (Edfu Temple): Breakfast starts @ 7:00. Bus departs @ 9:00. Lunch aboard. Afternoon- sailing, leisure time

    Day 9: (Karnak, Luxor, VOQ, VOK) a long, BUSY day! Breakfast starts @ 6:30. Bus departs for Karnak and Luxor temples @ 8:00 am. Lunch aboard. Bus departs for VOQ/VOK @ 2:30 pm. Dinner @ 8:00 approx

    Day 10: (Fly to Cairo & Egyptian Museum) Breakfast starts @ 5:30. Bus departs for airport @ 6:30. Lunch at Ritz Carlton. Arrive at Mena House @ 4:00 pm (approx)
    :
    Day 11: (Giza & Saqqara): Breakfast starts @ 6:00 am. Bus departs @ 8:00. Arrive back at Mena House @ 3:30 (approx)

    Day 12: (Old Cairo, Islamic & Coptic Quarters): Breakfast starts @ 6:00 am. Bus departs @ 8:00 am. Lunch at Mena House. Free afternoon. Farewell @ 6:00 pm.

  • BKMD,

    Your post tour summary was well written. I wholeheartedly agree that being on the go all the time can be quite tiresome, especially with early morning starts. Sorry that your suitcase is still missing.

  • BKMD Welcome Home!

    I am so sorry your luggage is still missing--such a bummer. In regards to visiting Aswan, I too would have been very disappointed spending a day docked - regardless of the luxury nature of the Oberoi vessel.

    I agree with AlanS on tour selection. I chose the J&E tour over just Egypt because I really wanted the Jordan aspects and two nights at the Old Cataract Hotel was a major plus. My Israel & Jordan tour was booked after but taken before my J&E tour. As to not duplicate (time and $$$) the Jordan portion of the tour, Tauck allowed me to end my I&J tour at Masada. In hindsight, It would not have been such a bad idea to have visited Jordan with both tours. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Jordan.

    I can't speak to the inconvenience of the early morning departures as I'm an early riser so waking up at what some consider an ungodly hour is ok for me. After my first Tauck tour, I realized these are not what is considered "normal" vacations. Yes, we may be able to fit in a nice spa treatment, but even that has to be "fit" in the schedule.

    Hope your luggage arrives to your home soon and in good condition.

  • BKMD Hoping your luggage finds its way home.

  • Thanks all. I chose this tour because I had done the I/J tour before. I'd go back to I, but not J. :)

  • In my evaluation of the Jewels trip, I suggested they upgrade the pace level of the trip to a 4. Like BKMD, we had many not just early starts, but middle of the night starts. Checking out of the Mena House, luggage pulled at 3:30 in the morning, or at the Old Cataract Hotel was about the same. I was up an hour earlier to get ready, meaning I was up at 2:30 in the morning. I never felt rested, but the adrenaline from all the exciting places kept me going. I’d do this trip again in a heartbeat, but was not prepared for the long days and short nights. AlanS, your schedule seemed much more sane than mine! I love they idea of going on the Israel/Jordan trip and Egypt to Petra trip. I’d love to get back to Petra again and may one day replete the Israel trip o do that. It was a fascinating trip worth doing again.

  • I have no problem with busy days. As a matter of fact, I prefer them. I felt the free time on the boat was boring. I spent time on the bike in the exercise room. (Funny side note on that - I do quite a bit of biking at home (about 100 mi/week), so I know my stats well. I found on the exercise bike, I was moving about 50% faster than usual, then finally realized it was calibrated in km and not miles.) I also don't mind long travel days or early starts if there's a purpose to it (as was the case in Patagonia), but this trip, waking up very early to catch a flight, then have the afternoon free seems pointless.

  • I think some of the early departures are because they are using commercial EgyptAir flights. They may have to go to all charter flights, in addition to adding a day or two to eliminate the early departures.

  • We chose this trip because it spent more time in Egypt than the E/J tour, and are doing I/J in the autumn. We don’t like early flights either, but we have come to expect them. It is the price of covering a lot of ground. After this review, we may just do carry on since we have to change planes in Frankfurt. I am quite sure if I didn’t have my bags, my trip would be ruined. Just an aside ( which has nothing to do with this trip) - if any of you have done Tauck Ponant cruises, you should look at the Ponant website. You may find some surprises( eg - I found they had me in their system and based on my 4 Tauck cruises I had achieved “ Admiral” status - that mean s 7.5% off of allPonant cruises , 20% off on board purchases and services and free on board laundry. Clearly , Tauck does not pass this along to people who take Tauck/ Ponant cruises. )

  • Mother of Poodles: where on the Ponant site did you see you were in “their” system? I don’t see how taking a Tauck Ponant trip would qualify us for any of the amenities that Ponant offers. I’ve been on three Tauck Ponant.

  • edited November 15

    You have to create an account with them. Go to the "log In" and create an account.

  • Tauck does like to start tours ahead of the crowds. I think that’s why on this trip it necessitated the extra early starts.
    I’d love to figure out how to pack for a trip and just do carry-on!

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