Cairo & The Great Pyramids of Giza to Luxor – Day 01 & 02 Travel Talk Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour


Egypt / Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered / Travel Talk Tours Jewels of the Nile

Today is the start of a new adventure as loneXplorer takes you along a journey to witness some of the most ancient sites in the world, travelling through Egypt and Jordan starting from the capital of Egypt, Cairo. This time I have been asked by Travel Talk Tours to come along on the Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruise tour which will take in all the fascinating sites of Egypt and Jordan over the course of 15 days, finishing in the capital of Jordan, Amman.

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About Travel Talk Tours

Who are Travel Talk Tours?
Travel Talk Tours are a British based tour company catering for budget conscious travellers in mind. Specialising in tours to exotic destinations such as Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Russia, they pride themselves on also catering to travellers looking for an opportunity to let their hair down with Sail Croatia and Sail Greece tours. For the first time in 2017 Travel Talk will add a new destination for travellers to experience; Iceland.

Travel Talk Tours also offer some impressive festival packages to some of the world’s best events from the La Tomatina Festival, Oktoberfest in Munich to the solidarity of ANZAC Day celebrations at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli Turkey.

About this tour

Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse
During this two week adventure with Travel Talk Tours our journey starts off in the capital of Egypt, Cairo before making our way south, down along the River Nile. Travelling by road to Luxor and Aswan, and checking out many of the famous monuments and temples along the way, we also have the choice of participating in some exciting optional extra activities. From Aswan at the bottom of Egypt and close to the Sudanese border, we jump on board a cruise ship and spend three nights sailing along the Nile back up to Luxor, checking out Edfu Temple and getting a brief glance at Kom Ombo Temple along the way.

We end up back in Cairo to explore the capital in greater depth with a city tour before we start heading east towards Jordan. Before hitting the border we arrive in Dahab for two nights of relaxation by the sea and then travel by road from Egypt into Jordan via a 30 minute crossing through Israel. We spend our first night in a new country out in the desert park of Wadi Rum before heading to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra, a real highlight. We’ll go for a swim in the Dead Sea on our way to the capital of Jordan, Amman where our tour will come to an end. Before bidding farewell to our fellow travel companions we’ll spend two nights exploring this exciting capital.

This tour of Egypt and Jordan can be taken in three different forms, however a number of people on this journey travelled on nine day Egypt tours that started in Cairo and ended when we returned to Cairo. Other travellers with the group also did fifteen day tours that followed the same path to Dahab and spent just short of a week there before returning to Cairo…


Day 01: Cairo – 26 November, 2016

Today is a very exciting time as I get up bright and early this morning to prepare to make my way to Cairo which will mark the start of my Travel Talk Tours trip around Egypt & Jordan. Spending four nights in the desert city of Dubai coming from Melbourne, it was an early departure from Dubai International Airport catching a taxi from outside Yassat Gloria Hotel & Apartments where the last four nights had been spent.

The flight today is with QANTAS affiliate airline Emirates, departing at 8:15am and arriving into the capital of Egypt at 10:25am local time, making the flight roughly four hours and fifteen minutes long.


Upon arriving at Cairo International Airport, every passenger that arrives for a Travel Talk tour will be greeted at the arrivals hall of the airport by a representative of Travel Talk. Your rep on arrival will go off and purchase your Egyptian visa for you which will cost you USD$25.00 at the time of writing this so it is best to have this amount with you before you arrive at Cairo to make things more simple. You’ll then be taken through the passport checking area where I was nearly denied entry because on my passport photo I have long hair and now I don’t, so the lady behind the desk didn’t believe it was me!

Once you have claimed your luggage you’re then taken outside to where your transportation awaits to take you to your hotel for the evening and if other people on the tour arrive on the same flight they will also share the ride with you. Travelling along the roads of Egypt but in particular Cairo, is a real eye opening experience as basically there are no rules on the road. People are constantly cutting each other off, people are standing on the side of the major highway and we even passed someone that was laying on the ground that had just been hit by a car with traffic on the opposite side of the road coming to a standstill.

Around 40 minutes later, after leaving the airport, you’ll arrive at the hotel. On this occasion the hotel in Cairo had changed and we were originally meant to start the tour from the Cataract Pyramids Resort however an email was sent out a few days prior to say that we would now be staying at the Pyramids Park Resort Cairo. Once arriving at the hotel we were greeted by George, another Travel Talk Tours rep and he checked us all into the hotel including giving us our room keys, explained how everything works and at this point will take the local payment that is required as part of all Egypt tours. The amount payable for the local payment is different depending on which tour you are doing. £190.00 (British Pounds) is payable for the fifteen day tours.

The Pyramids Park Resort is located as short distance from the Pyramids as the name suggests, however you won’t be within walking distance of them or anything else for that matter. The hotel is located next to a major highway so it can be a little noisy, but I didn’t notice any noise from my room. Breakfast in the morning is plentiful with a buffet of meats, salads, cereal, pastries and you can also have the chef make you an omelette.

The wifi at the hotel is pretty good. The hotel staff may tell you it only works in the lobby but I found it to work in my room which was a fair distance from the lobby without any problems and in other areas of the hotel also. Having said all of that unfortunately out of all the hotels we will be staying in along this trip this one is by far the worst one out of them all. The tour will stay here on two occasions, and for a total of three nights. On the first stay my sink was blocked and the bed wasn’t that comfortable, with both bathrooms in the rooms I stayed in not looking the cleanest. In general the hotel needs a bit of a refurbishment as it is a bit run down, just a simple coat of pain and a bit of TLC and the hotel will look great again.

The number of other travellers along the Egyptian portion of the journey was about forty, however not everyone is doing the same tour and we were split into two groups, either Group A or Group B. Although I’m doing both Egypt and Jordan, the tour for the first part will only focus on Egypt and as such you won’t be taken through any information about how the Jordan portion of the trip will work until we get back to Cairo in nine days time.

Group A was made up of everyone doing the Felucca (a small wooden sail ship) which was the biggest group and they had a larger bus. I was part of Group B which was a much smaller intimate group made up of everyone doing the Nile Cruise and also an additional couple of people doing the Felucca to make up some additional numbers in our bus. We’ll travel with everyone in Group A, however we travel in our own mini bus and the people doing the Felucca will go with Group A when we reach that point in the trip.

Most people travelling on this trip are only doing the nine day Egypt trip, these tours can be taken in three forms also…

Anyone that has booked to do the trip by land is encouraged to take up the Felucca option which they can change to for no extra charge. Additionally, anyone wanting to upgrade to the Nile Cruise can also do so but at an additional charge upon arrival into Cairo. The three tour options above can also be taken as fifteen day tours that include either the addition of Jordan which is what I’ll be doing or the other option is the spend a week in Dahab to relax by the Red Sea.

Depending when you check into the hotel the rest of the day is yours to do what you like. There isn’t much to do outside of the hotel, but there is a nice pool to sit by and to relax especially if you have only just flown in on the day the tour has started. As it is winter this time of year in Egypt, the pool wasn’t being used by anyone as it gets quite cool in the afternoon.

At 6:00pm everyone meets in the hotel lobby for the group meeting. We are split up into our respective groups where we meet our tour leader for the first time and are given an overview of what we can expect over the next nine days of the Egyptian tour. My guide for Egypt will be Shady whilst Group A will have Sam as their guide, both of whom are fully qualified Egyptologists which is a requirement in Egypt when being a tour guide.

After the group meetings we had the option to go out for dinner as a group on a cruise ship along the River Nile that costs EGP 300.00 or GBP 15.00. Dinner was a buffet and included entertainment which was a belly dancer and also a Tanoura Whirling Dancer which is similar to the ones you see in Turkey, who also did a number of tracks and was quite entertaining.

Once the show on the cruise was over we headed back to the hotel for the evening and got some sleep in preparation for a big day tomorrow that will include visiting the pyramids. This is one of the highlights of the entire trip as people come from all over the world to see the Great Pyramids of Giza. The day then cultivates in a long ten hour drive to Luxor where we will spend the night.


Day 02: Cairo to Luxor – 27 November, 2016

Day two of the Travel Talk Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruise tour begins after the buffet breakfast at the Pyramids Park Resort Cairo and after checking out of the hotel for our 7:30am departure it’s time to jump on board our respective buses for Group A and Group B. We leave our luggage in the hotel as we’ll be returning here later to pick it all up after we finish exploring Cairo for the day, so it was important to be on time so we could store it as a group.

Our first excursion of the tour is to the Step Pyramid of Djoser which was the very first pyramid built in Egypt and where the concept of building a pyramid as a tomb started. For most people they dream of visiting the pyramids as a young child and today for a lot of people on this tour that dream will be coming true.


We make the short trip to the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara which is on the Giza side of the Nile but further south where the entry fee is EGP 80.00 (AUD $6.00) and as we are here pretty early we just about have the entire pyramid to ourselves. Our guide Shady takes us around to the main entrance of a wall that once surrounded the area and explained the history of the area, the concept of the pyramid being built and explaining to us the function of the surrounding buildings.

Shady pointed out to us a number of key features in particular of how you can identify what parts of the structures are original and what parts are as a result of restoration works. We continue to walk through the temple entrance and as we approach the other side we now stand right in front of the main attraction here, the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser.

Background Story: The Step Pyramid of Djoser

The Step Pyramid of Djoser located south of Cairo in the town of Saqqara started its life off as a traditional mastaba consisting of one level. By the end of Pharaoh Djoser’s reign which lasted for approximately nineteen years it ended up being six different layers resulting in the first pyramid in Egypt and the tallest building completed by man at the time.

The burial chambers for the pyramid are located underground, consistent with burial rituals at the time, and not inside the pyramid itself. The architect of the pyramid was Imhotep, a familiar name from The Mummy series of movies however this Imhotep wasn’t evil but was one of the good guys.

VIDEO: loneXplorer @ the Step Pyramid, Great Pyramids & the Sphinx


While we were here Shady described to us how the Pharaohs every 30 years of rule (should they reach that long) would have to participate in what is called the Sed Festival. This entailed a number of challenges the Pharaoh would have to complete in able to prove that he or she was still strong enough to rule Egypt with one of the practices being to kill a bull. Although it was probable the bull would have been heavily drugged up to assist the Pharaoh.

To the side of the Step Pyramid there is another pyramid that you wouldn’t notice is there as it just looks like a mount of dirt or a small hill. Called the Pyramid of Unas we were able to go inside this one which was quite impressive with intact ancient markings still visible inside the tomb. To get inside you need to get down really low to walk which was a hard feat for me being so tall, fair to say that my legs were really sore for the next couple of days having pulled some muscles that hadn’t been used in a while. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take any photos inside and they make sure of this with a local going inside with everyone whilst we were at the pyramid.

From here we all had some free time to explore the site on our own as we made our way back to the bus and then started to head back towards Cairo to the star attraction for the day; the Great Pyramids of Giza. Entry to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx is EGP 80.00 (AUD $6.00) and upon arrival we make our way through security and get a prime position in front of the Great Pyramid.

Shady gave us some background information about the pyramids and makes it very clear that the aliens did not build the pyramids which became a bit of a running joke along the tour at other sites we visit. The other thing he cleared up was that the pyramid with the smooth top is not the Great Pyramid as most people think, it is the one we are standing in front of the Pyramid of Khufu.

We are then given some free time to get up close to the Great pyramid. There isn’t enough time however to walk around the pyramid which was a little disappointing. We are told that on the other side the hassling is a lot worse than what it is at the front of the pyramid so it was best that we didn’t go around there and let’s face it, the pyramid will look pretty much the same on all four sides. Whilst here you also have the option to go inside the pyramid for an additional cost. It was recommended to us that we shouldn’t do this because there isn’t much to see inside except for narrow passages and blank walls, so no one from the group decided to do it.

Background Story: The Great Pyramids of Giza & The Sphinx

The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only surviving members of the ancient seven wonders of the world. Collectively the Great Pyramids are made up of three pyramids named Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure with the biggest being Khufu and also known on its own as ‘The Great Pyramid of Giza’.

The Sphinx or Great Sphinx is a mythological creature that is half human and half lion, adorning the body of a lion with a human head. It is the largest and the oldest sculpture in human history and is believed to have been constructed some time around 2500 BC. From 1925 to 1936 the site was excavated with the Sphinx covered in sand right up to the neck.

In 1979 the The Great Pyramids of Giza along with the Sphinx were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

We then jumped back on the bus and we were taken to a viewing area where we could get some really nice photos of all the pyramids and where you had the option to go on a camel ride down the valley in front of the pyramids. I didn’t opt to do this as I’m not a huge animal person at the best of times and would rather capture some great photos of the area and to take it all in.

Once everyone had finished their camel ride it was time again to get back on the bus and we then made our way down to the next highlight of the day, the Great Sphinx. Once again this is one of those iconic monuments that you one day dream of standing in front of and it doesn’t disappoint. Our guide Shady takes us inside to get up close and most people oblige to take the obligatory kissing the Sphinx photo.

Just two blocks away from the Sphinx we drive down to our lunch stop for the day costing us EGP 80.00 (AUD $6.00) each. Most lunches that we are taken to along the course of this tour in Egypt cost EGP 80.00 (AUD $6.00) and are always some sort of buffet. The cost of lunch doesn’t include the cost of drinks, but as a rough guide a can of Coke generally costs between EGP 15.00 – 30.00 (AUD $1.00 – $2.00).

During our time in Egypt it is a requirement that tour groups are taken to official government industry shops to help support the local industries to make sure traditional skills are not lost to Egypt. The first one of these that we visit is a perfumery where they continue on the traditions of the ancient Egyptians by making perfume and supplying some of the world’s most famous brands in the process. During the visit you are given an explanation of how the scent is collected and of course are given the opportunity to purchase some yourself. Additionally the shop is full of many different types of perfume bottles that are quite interesting to look at and can also be purchased for pretty cheap prices as well.

The day has been actioned packed so far but we still have a fair way to go yet. Now after experiencing the inspiring Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Sakkara, we continue to travel on and make our way to Luxor. Firstly we will head back to the hotel to collect our luggage and before we depart we see George again at the hotel and pay for any of the optional activities we wish to do along the trip.

Side Note: If you have an international student card bring it along with you for half price entry to most attractions. If you don’t have one and you’re under the age of 30 you can purchase one from your Travel Talk rep for GBP 9.00 (AUD $16.00).

I’ve opted to do all the activities and I’ll cover those and the cost when we get to those along the course of this trip. At this point in time you are also required to contribute to a tipping kitty EGP 200.00 (AUD $15.00) and this covers tripping of the bus driver and all the hotel staff along the trip. If you are doing the Nile cruise you have to also contribute and extra EGP 50.00 for tipping the staff working on the ship. You can pay this and all the optional activities by cash or card, but you won’t be able to pay by card once leaving the hotel so it’s best to get it all done now and not have to worry about it for the rest of the tour.

Now that we start making our way towards Luxor it’s quite a strenuous journey taking us nearly ten hours to travel from Cairo to Luxor and we arrive at our hotel at around 1:00am. The tour will spend one night in Luxor now and another night here in a couple of days time after visiting the sites in Aswan and travelling along the Nile.


During the one night pitt stop the tour will stay at the Steigenberger Nile Palace Luxor Hotel which is in an amazing location along the shore of the world renowned River Nile. Once we arrive at the hotel everyone is straight off to bed exhausted from the long trip that included many speed humps and Tourist Police check points. However for Group B all our bags are on the Group A bus which was still 45 minutes behind us, so at around 2:00am we received a wake-up call to come down and collect our luggage, only then could we actually go to sleep.

Tomorrow we gear up for day 3 of the tour as the journey continues to take in the sites of Luxor and the impressive Valley of the Kings where tombs have been carved into the rocks within this desert landscape. It doesn’t end there as Travel Talk take the group to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut before continuing on the bus to the city of Aswan for the night in preparation for taking in some more ancient sites of Egypt. It’s another rigorous day as the journey to Aswan will take 5 hours and we arrive late in the evening again.

LOOKING BACK

Stopping Over in Dubai, City, Sea, Desert and the Snow (Coming Soon)

GUIDE BOOKS

A guide book isn’t cheating! Before you leave on your next adventure ensure you plan to get the most out of your trip and check out the range of guide books from Lonely Planet. The comprehensive guide books on Egypt & Jordan from Lonely Planet will give you an insight on what to expect on your Travel Talk Tours journey of these two amazing countries.

ACCOMMODATION ON THIS TOUR

Booking your accommodation has never been easier with our preferred hotel partner Agoda.

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loneXplorer travelled as a guest of Travel Talk Tours on the Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruise tour. The cost of the 15 day tour was covered by Travel Talk Tours however all reviews and opinions on loneXplorer remain those of the author and have not been influenced by the tour operator, accommodation provider or anyone else. For more information on all the reviews you see on loneXplorer and the links provided to advertisers please click here.


Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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