young lady walking away from Philae Temple - 4 enormous statues in the temple facade

This post aims to provide a concise clarification regarding the distinction between tours in Egypt labeled as ‘Private Tours’ and those that incorporate phrases such as ‘private time’ or ‘private visit’ in online descriptions or travel agency brochures.

You might be wondering why I find it necessary to write about something that, at first glance, may seem apparent to you.  However, I’ve encountered instances where travelers were significantly let down after realizing the distinction only during their visit, and I hasten to add that these visits were not booked with me.

Private Tour

A tour labeled as a ‘private tour’ in the headline implies exclusivity, ensuring that you, your guide, and your driver are the sole participants of the tour.  This means you will be the sole occupants of the car or bus, and you will have the exclusive services of your accompanying guide.  However, it’s important to note that during these tours, you will still share the experience of visiting pyramids, monuments, temples, and other attractions with other visitors.  The typical operating hours for these tours are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Private Visits and Private Time

A tour labeled ‘private visit’ or ‘private time,’ whether in the headline or content of an advertisement, promises an unparalleled and distinctive experience. During these tours, you’ll have exclusive access to a specific section of the monument, tomb, or temple for which you’ve secured and pre-booked private time.  It’s worth noting that your guide may or may not accompany you during some or all of this exclusive period.

Types of Private Visit/Time Access

There are two distinct categories for “private time/visits.”

The first involves locations, like a monument or a part of a monument typically open to the public, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza.  During private time in the Great Pyramid, you and your private group will have exclusive access, experiencing solitude within the pyramid for your specified pre-booked time slot between 17:00 in the evening and 9:00 in the morning—beyond the usual public opening hours.

The second type of ‘private time/visit’ pertains to rooms or spaces within monuments or temple complexes that are typically off-limits to the public but are now made available for private access.  For instance, the ancient Osirion at Abydos, historically restricted to the public, the inner rooms at the Temple of Hatshepsut, or specific closed tombs (such as Thutmoses III in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor fall under this category.

Cost of Private Time access in the monuments in Egypt

Exclusive private time/visits to the monuments of your choice are provided by a select group of agents, and we are fortunate to be part of this exclusive offering.  The cost for private time can vary among agents and may be subject to increases based on demand.  Currently, the estimated cost is approximately US$1000 per person per site or part of a site.  For instance, within the Saqqara Complex, there are three distinct parts available for private viewing, each individually priced at around US$1000 per person.  It’s noteworthy that private time bookings are extending well into the future, with reservations currently being made as far ahead as 2025, to the best of my knowledge.  Unless you are a VIP of very high standing, such as a President or Head of State, please do not expect to get off a plane in Egypt and be able to secure a private visit to any site in Egypt.

Is it possible to get a private visit for less than the normal rate?

Certainly!  It is indeed possible to secure a private visit at a rate lower than the standard cost by collaborating with other individuals who share a similar interest in experiencing exclusive access to specific monuments.  This collaborative approach allows you to divide the overall cost among the group, making it more affordable for each participant.  Currently, Mara House offers to coordinate and share such private visits.  Alternatively, you can join one of my personal group trips around Egypt, of which there are three scheduled for 2024.  Feel free to contact me via email to with any questions you may have arising from this article.