I had wanted a trip which took in all the main sites of Egypt - the Pyramids, the Nile, Aswan, Luxor - and this was just perfect. A great mix of historical sites, modern Egypt, optional activities and relaxation.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Going to Abu Simbel was one of the top highlights for me. I would definitely recommend paying the extra to fly as opposed to spending over four hours on a coach each way. When we arrived, our coach between the airport and the site broke down. George and the driver were straight on the phone and another coach appeared lightening fast to pick us up and get us on our way - cannot fault them in the slightest for how that slight issue was dealt with.
The optional excursion to Philae Temple, the Aswan High Dam and the unfinished Obelisk was brilliant. Philae was one of the most beautiful temples we saw and really should not be missed. And the engineer in me was fascinated by the dam and monument.
- What did you think of your group leader?
George was excellent. Incredibly knowledgeable and obviously very passionate about Egyptology and the history surrounding the sites we were seeing. He was never short of a pop quiz or a little anecdote about the key players in Egyptian history. "We're not entirely sure... but we have two theories!".
He always knew of good local places to eat and where to go to sample the culture, from walking through the local markets to watching the sunset over Luxor Temple from a rooftop bar.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
I had studied the weather and picked October as the temperature range should have been 25-35 degrees throughout the country; however we ended up in the middle of a 45 degree heatwave! Thankfully there was a constant supply of reasonably priced bottled cold water in each of the buses we used and George was a star at finding the best bits of shade in each of the locations, so the heat was never a big problem.
The dress code is more relaxed than you may think. The only place we were asked cover up shoulders and knees was at the Citadel in Cairo. In all the other main tourist destinations, vests and shorts were perfectly acceptable. That said, I would avoid walking around Luxor in anything too revealing as many of the females in our group had a bit of hassle from incredibly persistent street vendors wanting to sell us horse-carriage rides, boat rides, taxis, felucca trips and anything else you can imagine. Luxor was the only place where they would not take no for an answer and it became tiresome to the point where we ended up eating in the hotel restaurant in order to avoid dealing with them any more than necessary.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
If you want a tour that will enable you to really experience Egypt and see all the sites, then this is the one for you. I feel like I really got to experience most of what Egypt had to offer and with a great group and fantastic guide.
Take extra money because there are so many optional excursions and extra bits and pieces you can do. Six of our group went camel riding next to the pyramids which was an amazing, slightly scary, experience but one not to be missed (ask your guide to organise the camel trip for you to ensure you get a safe, enjoyable ride).
You can tailor the holiday to your own needs as well. I also went on the hot air balloon (cameras are allowed, regardless of what the notes say), a horse carriage ride and quad biking in the desert, all on the free day in Luxor. Others in the group spent the day relaxing by the pool, so it really is up to you to spend the time as you prefer.
If you want to see the pyramids before they are completely swallowed up by Giza, go soon. In fact, stop thinking about it and go now!