It would seem that after hundreds of years with little changing in Egypt, suddenly and overnight EVERYTHING is changing.  So here are my main tips if you are planning a trip to Egypt now.

  • If you want a Nile Cruise – that must be your first booking.  Then organise the rest of your trip around it.  If you want a GOOD Nile Cruise around Christmas and New Year you need to book about a year in advance.  Places are limited at that time as it is the time of highest demand.
  • Book your hotels in advance.  This applies especially if you want the best hotels as Egypt is in high demand again.
  • Book your tours in advance.  Don’t leave it until you get to Egypt to do this – you could find yourself without a guide or transport to sites.  And public transport does not cover all tourist locations not do taxis
  • Book your flights early, especially the internal ones as supply is not meeting demand now.  In 2022 and 2023 I have had guests having to cancel tour reservations in both Cairo and Luxor just because they could not get flights and the overnight train was also fully booked.
MISTAKES TOURISTS MAKE in planning sightseeing:

The desire to see and experience as much as possible can often lead to rushed itineraries, missed opportunities, and a superficial understanding of the places visited.  Here’s an elaboration on this point:

1. Overpacking Itineraries: When travelers try to cram too many destinations and activities into a short trip, they end up spending more time traveling between places than actually experiencing them.  This is especially true of Cairo where the traffic is always chaotic.  It’s essential to strike a balance between exploring different sites and having enough time to truly appreciate each one.

2. Underestimating Travel Times: Tourists often underestimate the time it takes to get from one place to another, again especially true of Cairo

3. Failing to Research Properly: Relying solely on internet sources can lead to misinformation and poor planning.  It’s important to use reputable sources, read reviews, and consult with travel experts who have firsthand knowledge of the destination.  Most people know next to nothing about the places they are going to visit – the result is that after about 2 days of listening to a guide, they are “templed out”.  They can’t even retain what they heard, let alone take in any more history.  There is no need to overdo the research but I advise doing just enough research on specific sites to give you a clear idea where your personal interests lie.

4. Disregarding Personal Preferences: Not all attractions will resonate with every traveler.  Some people might be more interested in history or the personalities associated with various sites, some to the ancient religions, while others are more drawn to the architecture or the arts.  Tailoring the itinerary to personal interests can lead to a more fulfilling journey.

5. Neglecting Downtime: Constantly being on the go without allowing for downtime can lead to exhaustion and burnout.  Incorporating periods of relaxation and leisure into the itinerary is crucial for recharging and absorbing the experiences.  I have seen many tourists under the impression they have caught the Egyptian Tummy Bug when, in fact, it is heat stroke and sheer exhaustion they were suffering from.

6. Skipping Guided Tours or Local Insights: Guided tours can provide valuable insights and context that enhance the understanding of historical and cultural sites.  Professional local guides offer perspectives that guidebooks and online resources might miss.  For example if you decide to visit the West Bank sites in Luxor – did you know there is a central ticket office for many of the sites there?  Or that if you get a taxi to the Valley of the Kings you could be left stuck there unless someone takes pity on you and gives you a lift – because taxis do not frequent it looking for customers.  Or at Giza Plateau in Cairo.  One might think, as I did one time, that it would be no problem to get a taxi from Giza to Downtown.  Well, there are plenty taxis but they will rip you off because they know you are stuck.   The same applies to the sites in Medieval Cairo, so you could turn up a monument and find you have to go elsewhere to buy the entry ticket!  Going with a guide can save you from problems like these.

7. Underestimating Cultural Differences: Being unaware of local customs, traditions, and etiquette can lead to unintentional disrespect and uncomfortable situations.  Researching the local culture and behaving respectfully is essential.  Your professional guide is your best advisor on this.

8. Trying to discover the “Hidden Egypt”: Quite often tourists believe people who come up to them offering to show them something hidden or special.   The truth is nothing is actually hidden.  However, there are places that not many tourists go to because it is easier for guides and travel companies to take people to the same places all the time – no problem with that, except that sometimes the usual places are not as interesting as the less frequented ones.  The usual sites are just the places that visitors have been advised not to miss for the last 100 years or so.  And why would anyone bother to expand on that if they are making enough money?  So, if you just google correctly you can find all the “hidden gems” yourself and don’t get conned into following a stranger.

In the end, travel is about quality over quantity.  It’s better to explore a few places deeply and meaningfully rather than skimming the surface of many.

WARNING: You can totally disregard anything you have read or heard about Egypt being a cheap place to visit.  It was but it no longer is.  Prices for the locals for everything from food to power to transport are soaring.  Government subsides are gone.  A whole range of new charges for licences, permits etc and new regulations have been introduced – all adding to increased costs for locals as well as tourists.  Do not try to do Egypt on the cheap, you will regret it.  Having started as a tourist myself, I can promise you that you have no way of estimating the number of hidden costs you will encounter once you arrive, and that will lead to a stressful rather than relaxing and enjoyable holiday.  The same can be said for any country.  For example, on my numerous visits to the USA I never got used to the prices displayed on goods not including the sales tax etc. which made my shopping experiences there always more expensive than anticipated and more stressful than enjoyable.

  • Spend less time researching ALL the sites in Egypt
  • Spend more time researching the sites you have chosen to visit.

To expand on that –

  • take my word for it and go with the sites listed on my website for a first visit.
  • read my stories and see what grabs your imagination
  • do further research into the history and the people who used or lived in the monuments/buildings you will visit, that you have an interest in.

A temple or a monument (unless you are an architect or such) is only a heap of stones and mortar if you don’t know the PEOPLE who used it.  Most guides will only give you the official history they have been taught and to be honest, I find much of that information very “dry”.  Finding info outside that is not actually easy……

I will give you an example.  Google “Gayer Anderson House” and choose the “Images” tab.  Now imagine yourself being walked through that house in 1 or 2 hours.  That house is amazing but no guide could possible tell you all the stories, the history of the house or about Gayer Anderson himself in a full day.

On the other hand – read my stories on the Gayer Anderson House on this site and then look at the google images again.  The experience of walking through that house knowing the lives of the former owners etc is a priceless experience.  The same goes for all the sites in Egypt.

CHILDREN: – You can and should (in my opinion) prepare your children, whatever their age, for their visit to Egypt by telling them the stories of the places they will visit BEFORE they come.  Being prepared in this way is even more important for children than it is for adults.  You do not want a bored, overwhelmed child with you in a temple or tomb- it’s not fair on them.  I have seen children tour Egypt with their faces more or less permanently glued to ipads and mobile phones.  That is so sad and un-necessary.

Book your best experience now at Mara House in Luxor