Egypt: Jewels of the Nile

2

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  • edited January 2020

    I'm perusing this trip and interested in 2021, probably Fall. As there's no pricing yet on the 2021 trips, I'm trying to figure out the offerings from the 2020 trips.

    It appears that the Philae starts $1000 (or more) greater than the Zahra trips. Is this because the Philae is used for all the Small Group tours? I don't see Small Group in the drop down - just the choice of ships. Also, the standard cabin appears to rise in price as you go up in decks, but otherwise the cabins appear identical (not including the suites). Is that correct?

  • edited January 2020

    Like with Jordan & Egypt, it appears the price difference is due to small group vs standard group.

    It appears Jewels of the Nile small groups will be on the Philea exclusively. Such is not the case for 2020 Jordan & Egypt tours (our small group is on the Zahra). The Zahra has 27 cabins and suites while the Philea has only 22. Looking at the number of cabins on each boat, Tauck group sizes, and river dates (no Jordan & Egypt sailings coincide with Jewels of the Nile sailings), all departures for both tours may (will?) also have non-Tauck passengers. Not that it matters, but a number Jordan and Egypt tour river dates on Zahra and a few Philea occur immediately before or after Jewels of the Nile river dates. I'm glad they do the scheduling! :D

  • The Tauck tour directors are paid more money on the small groups tours to compensate for the reduced amount of tips they will get. This also helps increase the price of the tour.

  • edited January 2020

    Hi BKMD and others - sent you inbox mail too. Yes, Philea is for small groups, about $1K more expensive and has about 5 staterooms less that could be 10 people less. Staterooms look to be the same size. Our outstanding Tauck Certified TA told us the Philea has been redone a few times with the most recent redo in 2017. He says the Philea is spectacular inside and he was able to book us what he thought is the best stateroom available (away from the Foyer etc.). Will be looking for feedback from 2020 travelers on great activities for those arriving a day early in Cairo and the Visa situation.

    THIS TRIP IS GOING TO BE SPECTACULAR !

  • Google is watching me closely. A timely article on my Google News home page:

    http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20200112-why-2020-is-the-year-to-visit-cairo

  • Thanks for sharing. Starting to look awesome!

  • Hi all! Lots of questions here! I arrived in Cairo last evening, flying from Miami to Cairo with a 2-hr stop in Frankfurt on Lufthansa. Really easy connection with plenty of time to spare. I’m on the Jewels of the Nile tour and am happy to answer questions or look for things for you in advance of your trips. The first hotel, Marriott Mena House is a showstopper, with a view of a pyramid from our rooms! The tour starts today, so I’ll try to check in here often! Judy

  • Chicago Travelers, if you could confirm or refute the information that I received from a Tauck representative and posted in a different thread that would be great.

    The rep basically said, fill out paperwork on the plane, get in the visa line at the airport, pay $25, proceed through rest of process as normal.

    Thanks

  • edited January 2020

    Thanks Chicago Traveler. We are on the Jewels of the Nile trip in March 2021. Already your comment on the Mena House is a great sign! Looking forward to hearing about your trip. Have fun and enjoy! We sent you a direct email. Look in top right corner of the Forum for "mail".

  • Hi ChicagoTravelers...Have FUN. Looking forward to your review of the trip. I'm on the December Petra to the Pyramids journey!

  • ****ChicagoTravelers****
    2:44AM

    Hi all! Lots of questions here! . . . . .

    Have a great time!!!

    Though many of my questions dealt with Jordan sites (I made the list for the Jordan & Egypt trip and sent it to you two weeks ago as an MSWord attachment to a forum mail) please answer what you can, but by all means don't waste tour time doing so!! Thanks.

    First "new" question (for me)- did everyone in the group get "Pyramid View" rooms?

  • Hi! Just answered the visa question in the other thread, but bottom line is to just forget about the visa. The airport rep will handle it for you. As for rooms at the Mena House, everyone had pyramid-view rooms. The rooms have small balconies, so you can get some great shots. But, the best view is from the seating area in front of the restaurant. But, don’t worry! You’ll get more pyramid shots than you’ll want! All of us were joking about not being able to stop. We’ve just returned to Cairo, and you all are in for a special treat, as this is truly a spectacular tour!

  • AlanS: I received your message but couldn’t open your attachment. Let me know if you still have questions!

  • edited January 2020

    If you are using a phone or iPad, it may not display MSWord documents. I copied and pasted just the Egypt questions directly into another message which I just sent. Thanks!

  • Hi all: We’ve just returned from Egypt, and I’ve received tons of questions. Instead of responding individually, I’ll try to answer most here.

    Photography: there are restrictions at many sites regarding cameras. Many charge an extra fee that Tauck does not cover. Cell phone cameras are allowed in for free everywhere, except when all photos are prohibited. Photography is permitted inside both Nefertari and Tut’s tombs. Nefertari’s will knock your socks off and Tut’s will not, as only his mummy and sarcophagus remain.

    You’ll visit the Valley of Queens first, then on for only a photo stop for Harshepsut’s temple. Then on to an after-hours tour of the Valley of Kings that begins at 5pm and ends after dark, Very atmospheric, and before entering one tomb, I had an overwhelming sense of an energy that caused me to well up with tears, and I had to step aside to compose myself. Our guide came over to tell me he’d seen the reaction many times before. We entered 4 tombs in all that evening.

    We entered only one pyramid at Saqqara, which was very difficult for some. You descend a wooden ramp and the entry is one person wide and you must bend quite low. Half-way in, there’s a place to stand and stretch before descending farther. Once in, the hieroglyphics are spectacular, but the climb back up is a relief.

    The Cairo Museum is quite a mixed bag, as much has already begun to move. We heard drilling and saws, and felt we were in a construction site. Only Tut’s treasures make it truly worthwhile. I’m sorry to say that after hearing various estimates on the opening of the new museum, our guess is that it won’t happen as they say by October. Our guides estimated sometime in the first quarter of 2021. After seeing the construction site, even that estimate seems too early. But, ???

    We were struck by the similarities between Egypt and India. The contrast between beautiful and ugly, the quiet desperation of some, the chaos and animals on city streets...it’s a lot to take in. I would not have missed it for the world. Six individuals cancelled the trip for safety concerns. We traveled always with an armed guard and in Cairo, with a police escort. Tauck is amazing, our guides and tour director, equally amazing. The local people either welcome you with their heart and soul or look at you with disgust. It’s all a profound experience. It changed me, and I’m positive it will change you, too.

    If questions, feel free to email me: [email protected]

    Judy

  • Thank you for this review, Judy. It brought back memories. I, too, was awed at the Valley of the Kings. One of my favorite memories is being in bumper to bumper traffic (I refer to traffic in Cairo as "Rome on steroids") next to a donkey cart and the donkey was head-butting the Toyota in front of him to try to get it to move.

  • edited January 2020

    ChicagoTravelers
    6:32AM

    Hi all: We’ve just returned from Egypt, and I’ve received tons of questions. Instead of responding individually, I’ll try to answer most here.

    Fantastic report!!! Thanks!

    I'll go back through my list to see if there is anything else I'd like to know or where I think I need more detail. For example, back in the "old days" (visited many places courtesy of Uncle Sam) you could slip the guard a few Dinar, Drachma, Pesos, Lira, etc. for the privilege of peaking into or taking photos of a "protected" room or object. In most cases the only reason the room was protected was because the guard made it so to "earn tips."

    Would it have been possible to pay to upgrade your Tauck-supplied ticket to a photo ticket at places where one was required?

    I realize that the temple of Hapshepsut is mostly a reconstruction, but it is impressive just the same. Did the temple form the backdrop to your group photo? Was there any time at all to take your own photos or ascend the steps/terraces to view it up close?

    Were you on your own visiting the other tombs in VOK's or with a guide the whole time? The tomb of Seti I is supposed to be the longest (at more than 120 meters), deepest, most completely finished in the Valley of the Kings, and ranks up there with Nefertari's.

    Was it just Tauck people after hours in Nefertari's and Tut's tombs?

    From your description it sounds like you might have entered the Red Pyramid (Dahshur)? Was the entry high up? Did anyone walk down backwards which is a technique often used to make it easier on the back? The itinerary indicates you "see" so I assume you only do drive-bys/photo ops at the other significant pyramids (or Mastabas?) in the Saqqara and nearby Dahshur necropolises- Step Pyramid of Djoser (Saqqara), Mestaba of Ti (Saqqara), Bent Pyramid, (Dahshur), Black Pyramid (Dahshur) etc.?

    Did anyone on your tour hire a local guide and driver (thru the concierge?) to go back to see more of Saqqara/Dahshur, etc. either during your free afternoon on Day 8 or after the tour, that you know of?

    Thanks again! Now I need someone on the first J & E departure to report back and get info on Petra day. :D

  • Thanks Judy for taking the time to provide feedback. We all appreciate it immensely.

  • Alan: Itsdefinitely possible to slip the guards money to look into or photograph closed rooms, as it happened on our trip. I don’t think it’s possible to do so, though, with cameras, as the Director makes the arrangements to not hold up the entire group.

    The photo stop at Hapshepsut’s temple happens quite a distance from the actual temple. Our group photo was in front of the Sphinx and not there. There’s time for photos but not time to get close, as we were behind a fence and not on the grounds.

    We were on our own in most of the temples and moved at our own pace. The guides spoke outside and then we entered. It was only Tauck people in the after hours visit to the Valley of Kings, several guards stayed late to let us in.

    The entry to the pyramid was not up high, but more ground level and at the back. To my knowledge, no one entered backwards. This is the entrance, but I can’t seem to find my notes for the name. Will keep looking! I’m not aware of anyone hiring a guide for free time, other than at the beginning and end of the tour.

    Judy

  • edited January 2020

    Judy, it looks like there will be a lot of unknowns and things subject to change. A Tauck agent I spoke with said we (J&E tour) have a 30 min. stop at Hapshepsuts temple for the group photo.

    Do you recall which places did not allow photography?

    Walking down backwards was a technique some people reported using at the Red Pyramid since the entry is long and steep.

    Looking at your photo, I'm positive that it is not the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the Bent Pyramid, or Black Pyramid as all are quite distinctive and aptly named! :) Now, whether it is the Red Pyramid or Pyramid of Unas or some other, I can't initially tell. The condition of the exterior and your description of the hieroglyphics make me lean towards it being the Pyramid of Unas or Teti. The entrance in your photo is different than what I see on the web for Unas which has a section of smooth casing stones behind it. The exterior of the Pyramid of Teti is also in bad shape and it also has extensive hieroglyphics on the interior, so it could be that one or the similar Pyramids of Pepi I or Pepi II ?!?!?!? However, after looking at the stones on the face of the pyramid and stones in the wall around the entry, I believe your picture is of the entrance to Pyramid of Teti (he succeeded Unas and married Unas' daughter :) )

    Did you get close to any other pyramids in Saqqara / Dahshur?

    So, it appears we could be visiting any one of the multiple pyramids that are open to the public, especially if we are on the other tour (J&E.) That is good to know. Thanks!

  • You’re correct, Alan, it was the Pyramid of Teti that we entered. We walked around the Great Pyramid, and getting a sense of the scale of the stones was quite remarkable. The guards there were very strict about not letting folks climb on undesignated areas. One thing: don’t take anything from locals that they claim is a “free gift”. They will hunt you down later for money and make a scene. The vendors are in most places overly aggressive, but the TD will give clear instructions. We had one unfortunate experience where two ladies were verbally accosted by a vendor and our guard had to step in. But, it did upset everyone who witnessed it. Some of the best shopping for us occurred in the airports and hotels, but the Khan el Khalil market is by far the most fun!

  • Judy, it's me again! B) Can we go back to your earlier post about the visits to the Valleys of Queens and Kings? You said, "We entered 4 tombs in all that evening." Again, while our tour schedule could be different, I'm trying to make a tomb priority list.

    Could you please clarify, did you enter Nefertari's in the Valley of Queens, then Tut's and two others in the Valley of Kings

    or Nefertari's in the VOQ (in the afternoon) and Tut + 3 in the VOK in the evening?

    Was the selection of the other two predetermined (by Tauck, the site admin, etc.) or did you have a choice of any tombs open that day/evening? If you had a choice, were you given suggestions?

    During my research I ran into a very nice, very colorful article about visiting the Valley of the Kings which would be especially helpful for anyone trying to decide on a tomb to visit, if we get to do so.

    Here is the link: https://www.planetware.com/egypt/thebes-valley-of-the-kings-egy-qena-valkng.htm.

    According to the article, the tomb of Seti I (also called Sethos I ?) is "one of the Valley of Kings' star attractions," however, according to the diagram, it is an extensive tomb with many pillared chambers so would likely take time to tour.

    Judy, would you agree, the statement by the article's author could be the reason for Tauck's schedule that day?

    "Timing: Tour groups based in Luxor hit the Valley of the Kings at around 8am, and from 10am, the bus tours from the Red Sea resorts arrive. Your best bet for the least crowds is to come here in late afternoon, or if you're an early riser get here at 6am, when the tombs open."

    Thanks again!

  • Hi: We viewed Nefertari’s tomb in the VOQ in the afternoon, and we were the only ones inside. Other groups and individuals went to other lesser tombs, as the price for Nefertari is about $100. It’s a shame for them, as it was simply amazing. We arrived at VOK just before 5 and waited for everyone to leave. We then entered and went into four tombs there. We did not have a choice, and the tombs seemed to be chosen ahead of time, as the guides were well versed. We did not, of course, have to enter any we didn’t want to. They gave their talks and we entered without them. The article you reference is super (although the photos are highly colorized) and there’s no doubt it’s a very touristy place. So, yes, I’m sure that’s behind Tauck’s decision to go after hours, but trust me, being there with just your group in the dark is unbelievable! Oh, Tauck also provided small flashlights for us to borrow that evening, which was very helpful.

  • edited February 2020

    ChicagoTravelers
    12:18PM

    Hi: We viewed Nefertari’s tomb in the . . .

    **Super!! Great info! Between the article at my link with beautiful, but post processed photos and other sources, many of which were conflicting, it would have been hard for me to choose anyway. Besides, I won't truly know what we might have missed.

    Of course, if nobody from the first few J&E tours weighs in, who knows what our tour will visit! I think I mentioned I've read the tomb of Seti I supposedly ranks up there with Nefertari's. I think 5 tombs and two large temples in one day should be sufficient! :o
    The bottom line, however, is that there is just too much to see and not enough time. ;)

    Our day in Luxor will be long and tiring- on J&E we visit Luxor and Karnak in the morning, then we return to the boat for lunch before we cross the Nile on the way to the VOQ & VOK. Hopefully I won't be too tired to get a good night's sleep since we have a very early go the next morning to fly to Cairo. Tauck ranks J&E as a 3 & 3 (Activity & Pace) but, from everything I have leaned so far, it might be closer to a 4 & 4!! :o

    To get to the west bank and VOQ/VOK did you travel by coach across the Luxor Bridge (12 km/25 min.) south of Luxor Temple), take the ferry, or did your boat take you to the west bank where you were picked up by a coach? It is a long way around via the bridge and adds about an hour to the journey.

    Which pyramid did you enter at Giza? Did you have a choice?

    Thanks!

  • Thanks, AlanS, for asking such good questions!!! And thank you very much to ChicagoTravelers for answering with so much detail - much appreciated!!!

    Reading about your adventures gets me more excited for my J&E trip this December.

  • I was watching some show on TV recently and they talked about a very large chamber that was discovered, by imaging, a the great Pyramid at Giza in 2017. They said the chamber is big enough to hold the Statue of Liberty. I googled it and couldn't find anything recent. Wonder if they talked about that?

  • edited February 2020

    BKMD
    3:56PM

    I was watching some show on TV recently and they talked about a very large chamber that was discovered, by imaging, a the great Pyramid at Giza in 2017. They said the chamber is big enough to hold the Statue of Liberty. I googled it and couldn't find anything recent. Wonder if they talked about that?

    All I could find was they were planning more scans from different angles and still working on remote probes- cable and balloon mounted- to send in after they drill a 1.5" hole. They want to be careful about speculation- look what happened about the supposed secret chamber hidden behind a wall in Tut's tomb- it didn't exist.

  • Alan: We boarded the Zahra at noon and visited the VOQ and VOK in the afternoon and evening. The next morning, we saw Luxor and Karnak and then sailed to Esna. We crossed the bridge to get to the tombs. In Giza, we toured the pyramids and sphinx (where our photo was taken), had camel rides and toured the Solar Boat Museum. We only entered the one pyramid that we talked about earlier. BTW, mostly everywhere you go on this trip will be sandy...almost dust, really...and some windy days can be a challenge. Take good shoes that can be washed or otherwise cleaned. My hikers are suede and the jury is still out if they can be salvaged or not. Our luggage also got dirtier than on any trip before. The pace, as you say, is brisk and the mornings are early. We didn't, though, have anyone stay behind on any day. The days pass so quickly and there's time to sleep when you get home!

  • ChicagoTravelers - what did you think of the Zahra? Rooms, food, etc. Thank you for sharing - this is very helpful.

  • FYI, prices are now posted on the Tauck web site for the 2021 trips. Significant increase over 2020 (GEM premium?)

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