For travellers willing to step outside their comfort zone, who don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart with an open mind, an eye on the budget & a nose for adventure.
Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
International flights, arrival & departure transfers, visas, airport taxes, additional meals, drinks, optional sightseeing tours, insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians require a visa for Egypt. All other nationalities should check with the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information. If you require a double entry visa for Egypt you will need to obtain this from an overseas embassy prior to arrival. Single entry visas for most nationalities can be obtained on arrival at Cairo Airport. The current cost for most nationalities is US$15. You must pay in cash in US dollars, UK pounds, euros, Japanese yen or any other convertible currency to a bank located next to immigration. If you are arriving in Egypt by land from Israel you must obtain your visa beforehand.
If you are arriving in Egypt by ferry from Aqaba, Jordan, a single entry visa can be obtained upon arrival and costs approximately US$15.
All travellers departing Egypt at the Port of Nuweiba must pay a 50 Egyptian pound departure tax (subject to change). Your tour leader will collect this amount from you to pay at immigration control.
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up to date information.
Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A backpack is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A suitcase is also suitable although there will be times when you have to carry them on railway platforms and up and down stairs.
When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Bear in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
The unit of currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP). This is broken down into 100 piastres (PT).
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
Money is safest carried in the form of traveller's cheques; however, these are difficult to change outside of major cities and traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly outdated. With the introduction of ATMs in most areas more and more people are bringing a combination of cash and credit cards. Some ATMs, belonging to smaller banks, will not work so occasionally you may need to try two or three before you are successful. Look for ATMs displaying either the Maestro, Cirrus, Visa or MasterCard symbols. ATMs will allow you to access cash (in local currency) from your credit card and possibly from your savings account if it is linked to Maestro or Cirrus network. If you do decide to bring traveller's cheques then we recommend a combination of the two - half cash and half traveller's cheques. Traveller’s cheques can only be changed in large cities. If you are bringing cash, then the best currencies are US dollars, euros or British pounds. If you are purchasing visas, then US dollars or British pounds (notes only) cash are required. Be aware that most insurance policies will not cover for loss or theft of cash. Changing cash into Egyptian pounds is easy and your tour leader can assist with this. When buying things in Egypt, using the local currency, Egyptian pounds, is best. Credit cards are useful for large purchases such as carpets or gold from a large store, but generally speaking they are not accepted in many places. Local restaurants, markets, and many hotels will only accept cash as payment for goods or services. Please ensure you only use banks, licensed money exchangers or hotels. We also suggest you keep your receipts. Do not change money with street touts. This is illegal. When changing money please ensure that you are given some small denomination Egyptian pounds and also that you keep some with you at all times, as these come in handy for small purchases (ie. drinks) along the way and as payment for the use of public toilets. You will frequently find that no-one ever seems to have any change in Egypt!
You will need to take money with you to cover any additional meals and drinks not included in your tour cost. Other costs to consider are tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional sightseeing and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies, which could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and reimbursement will be made later by your insurance company. This is the situation where having a credit card may be useful.
How much money? It is impossible to determine how much money you will need. We survey a number of our customers and the amounts vary enormously. Please take this information in the spirit in which it is given. We recommend you try to take more rather than less; you can always take it home.
Your tour includes breakfast each day and several other meals as indicated in the itinerary. Most major entrance fees are included as well. You will, however, need additional funds to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost.
In our brochure we have indicated an appropriate allowance for additional meals (US$75). This is for FOOD ONLY and does not include drinks and snacks. We therefore suggest you allow between US$120-150 for your extra food and drink requirements. Beer and imported spirits are expensive (US$4 for beer and up to US$8 for spirits) so you might want to consider bringing a bottle with you. Credit cards are accepted in most good shops but restaurants will generally only take Egyptian Pounds. US dollars are the most useful foreign currency in Egypt.
In addition there are many things to buy in Egypt. Gold jewellery is a popular choice. On average, our clients spend between US$100-150 on jewellery and other souvenirs.
Finally, you should carry sufficient funds for additional sightseeing/optional activities you may wish to undertake. You will find a suggested list (with approximate costs) in your trip notes.
Most people will be bringing a camera. At some sites you have to pay between EGL 5-10 (USD 1-2) for permission to use a camera. The use of video cameras is forbidden in some places (Egyptian Museum) and some sites will charge up to EGL 50 (USD 8). At most places there is no charge but in general you are not allowed to photograph interiors.
In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. Some of these are now included in the cost of your airline ticket and paid for at the time of ticket purchase. Cairo: airport tax included in your air ticket. Nuweiba: port tax of EGP50 (approx US$8).
Throughout the Middle East, tipping is part of the fabric of life. The local word is 'baksheesh', which when translated into English falls somewhere in between 'tip' and 'bribe'. Everyone constantly tips everyone else and foreign travellers are expected to comply with this system. It is part of everyday life and is a form of remuneration for doing something, regardless of the standard of service. This is quite confusing for those used to the western concept of tipping as a way of showing appreciation.
Over the years we have found that most of our customers find this constant need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if you don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a very successful tipping kitty system. At the beginning of the tour, your tour leader will suggest collecting a set amount from each tour member. He/she will then distribute all tips along the way, on behalf of the group, to the local guides, drivers, porters and anyone else who provides services along the way. We have surveyed thousands of our previous clients and the vast majority clearly prefer this procedure. We hope that this system will also work for you. The amount will vary from trip to trip, but it usually works out to be about the equivalent of US$3 per person per day. If you are out on your own, for example at a restaurant, you should also leave a tip for the waiter.
Please note that the tipping kitty will NOT include a gratuity for your tour leader. They work hard for you and if you are happy with their service it is appropriate to tip them as well. The normal amount expected is US$2-4 (or equivalent) per day from each member of the group.
Please make your own way to the joining hotel unless you have pre-booked a private airport transfer, in which case you will be met near the baggage carousel. Look out for a Gecko's sign and/or your name. If you have not pre-booked a private arrival transfer you will find taxis available outside; make sure you agree the price before you set off into town!
You can arrive at any time on Day 1 but note that rooms are generally not available before 1.00 pm. If you are arriving very early we suggest you pre-book an extra night's accommodation. The tour briefing usually takes place tomorrow morning, after breakfast. Check the Gecko's noticeboard, in the hotel lobby, for details.
19 El Montaser St. off El Gayth street
Behind Shahrazad Hotel and the British Council – Agouza, Giza
Tel: 02-33460097, 02-33476729, 02-33028607, 012-51273
ش المنتصر من شارع الغيث بالعجوزة خلف
فندق شهرزاد و المعهد البريطانى - الجيزة 19
Hotel rooms in the Middle East and North Africa are generally available from midday, although this can vary a little from hotel to hotel. If you are scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until your room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's 'pre-tour accommodation' that will ensure your room is ready whenever you arrive. Cruise boats in Egypt are generally available for check-in from midday, although it maybe possible that your room is available before this time. If you arrive early you can normally leave your luggage on the boat and return later in the day to check in. Hotel check-out is typically around 10.00am. If you have a later flight you may be able to negotiate a late check-out with Reception. If the hotel is not busy the front office staff tend to be flexible and they may or may not choose to levy a charge (normally 50% of the ‘walk-in’ price). It is your responsibility to vacate your room by the stated time. If you ignore the hotel policy you may return to find that your belongings have been removed and put into storage.
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
Breakfast is included every day along with some other meals as indicated in your Trip Notes. You will need to budget for additional meals and some guidance on how much to bring is given in your Trip Notes. As a general rule, a light meal (pita bread sandwiches for lunch) will cost around the Egyptian pound equivalent of US$4-US$5. A more substantial meal (soup and main meal) will cost around US$9. A litre of water costs about US$1, while a bottle of beer will set you back around US$4. On arrival at Cairo Airport there is a duty free shop, where you can purchase a variety of spirits.
To make the journey more comfortable for all tour members we request that you refrain from smoking in all enclosed areas including the tour bus and in your hotel room.
Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is an interesting (although sometimes frustrating) time to travel in the Middle East. In the evening there is a celebratory atmosphere as people break their fast, and to witness all this is a real highlight. However, during the day, people must refrain from eating, smoking and drinking so if you encounter someone who is a bit grumpy, be sympathetic! Tourist sites are generally unaffected although some places may close early, but your leader will plan around this. Most hotels bars and tourist restaurants will remain open. Ramadan lasts for one month and the exact dates for each year can be found on the web at www.holidays.net/ramadan/dates.
Nile cruise boats must negotiate the lock at Edfu. As a result, boats arrive and depart Luxor continuously throughout the day. This printed itinerary is therefore only a guide and you may find you have more (or less) time in either Luxor or Aswan. The actual cruising time from Luxor to Aswan is about a day and a half and this journey is accomplished both during the day and at night.
As the days get warmer, temperatures can start to soar, particularly in Upper Egypt (Luxor and Aswan). From April to October, to avoid the midday heat, some days start very early (for example - 5am). Please be prepared for this - our schedules are designed to make touring as comfortable for you as possible.
Please be aware that more often than not these touts are not trustworthy and you are in danger of being scammed. If you are arriving a day or two before the tour starts, please consult the information boards in the lobby for general information, ask hotel reception for advice or call the Gecko's Cairo office if the matter is important.
Please note that in some instances during peak season clients will be travelling in a Nefertiti compartment as opposed to an open carriage with reclining seats. The Nefertiti compartment is a six person private cabin with non-reclining seats. Many travellers prefer this arrangement due to its additional privacy.
Periodically, due to protests or other unforseen events, there may be late cancellations of your train from Cairo to Upper Egypt and/or vice versa.
In these instances alternative arrangements may be made and can include remaining overnight in Cairo and fly to Luxor or Aswan the next morning. Due to the late nature of the changes, Gecko’s will arrange the flight and payment by you will be required locally. As a gesture of good will, Imaginative Traveller will cover the cost of your extra accommodation and transfers to and from the domestic airport.
10 Days GETN
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Tick the tombs at Saqqara, Egyptian Museum, the Sphinx and the pyramids. Catch the overnight train to Aswan on Day 3 – books, ear plugs and hand sanitiser are essential for the overnight train to Aswan.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Have a quick shower to wash off that "overnight train smell" before we head to the Temple of Isis. Hanafi Bazaar is the place to grab all of your essential souvenirs - beaded jewellery, silk kaftans, Nubian swords and sequined belly dancing costumes.
Meals included: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
Even Arnie would feel small at the enormous carved statues of Abu Simbel. Then cruise the Nile in style on our riverboat, complete with a bar and a rooftop deck. We'll stop at the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu on the way to Luxor.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Best bits: Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut. Get lost in the bazaar before our sleeper train back to Cairo. It's the end of the trip, so let loose and snore your heart out.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
The locals in Cairo say the best way to cross the street is to close your eyes and go. When in Rome (well, Cairo)! Felfela Takeaway on Sharia Talaat Harb is our pick for tastiest fuul - Egypt's national dish of spicy fava beans mashed on pita bread.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
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12 March 2014
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