Overall great, but with a few hiccups.
Oct 18 - Oct 27, 2023
Habiba made the whole planning and booking process extremely easy. She gave us a lot of great options and suggestions and took into consideration the things we did and did not want to do while in Egypt. Overall, the whole planning and booking experience was great. While we did still greatly enjoy the trip and our visit to Egypt, there were a few things that we weren't so happy with.
Our trip began in Cairo. After we landed at the airport, we were able to find our guide easily and he and our driver took us to our hotel. The guide (sorry I can't remember his name!) was very friendly and knowledgeable and told us a lot about Egypt and its history during the one-hour drive to the hotel. We were very impressed with our driver, as well. Cairo traffic is no joke, but he navigated it like a pro.
Our hotel was NOT what we were expecting, though. Great service, but the place simply was not done. Our itinerary said we were staying at the Great Pyramids Inn in Giza which, if you look it up on Tripadvisor, is a beautiful (completely built) hotel with a restaurant/bar on site. The hotel photos that were provided in our itinerary were extremely misleading. A completely different hotel. We were brought to the Royal Great Pyramids Inn (or something like that, Royal Pyramids Inn, I can't remember), which is still under construction. The first 4 floors are still being built and there was construction going on the whole time and there was a lot of dirt and dust from the construction. It looked nothing like the photos. Our room was very pretty and well decorated with a great view of the pyramids, but again, it wasn't finished. There were no towel racks or bars or hooks, nowhere to hang anything. Lots of hangers but no place to hang. We had to set our towels on a small table to dry them. 10 bottles each of shampoo and body wash, but no other toiletries (conditioner, lotion, etc.). The power went out for a little over an hour on our second day. That happens; not a big deal. It made us very hesitant to take the elevator in the building, but the staff insisted that we take the elevator anyway (I think because of all the construction mess on the stairs). The staff was incredibly kind and friendly, so that made it not quite as big of a deal that the hotel was totally different from what we were expecting. We were under the impression that there was a bar and restaurant on site. They did feed us the first night and breakfast was provided, but I would hardly call it a bar/restaurant. They were also surprised to hear that I am a vegetarian, even though I made that clear in our questionnaire before we started planning the trip.
A different guide took us to Cairo Tower the second night for dinner. We were expecting a nice romantic dinner, just the two of us, but our guide actually sat with us the whole time at dinner, and didn't eat anything. He was perfectly nice and pleasant, but it was a bit awkward. It also seemed like there were lots of issues with us getting into the tower and getting dinner because the guide kept having to get up to talk with the restaurant staff, and it took about 20 minutes for him to get our tickets into the tower. We weren't given a menu and were told that our options were chicken or beef. We were told that there were no vegetarian options, even though we noticed on our way out that the menu had plenty of vegetarian options. This was frustrating since I had included the fact that I'm a vegetarian in our questionnaire before we started planning the trip, so I would have hoped that some arrangements would have been made in advance. We also weren't offered any drinks or anything and had to ask for water after we'd been sitting there for a while. We saw after the fact that there were lots of drinks/wine/cocktails, etc. on the menu.
There were a few instances where our guides took us to places that weren't on our itinerary and which we would have expressly declined if we'd known in advance. Eg., we went to a papyrus store to "learn how papyrus is made" but it was really just a high-pressure sales pitch to get us to buy something. We were also taken to a jewelry store and a perfume store. Towards the end of the trip one of the guides pulled up to the front of an alabaster store. We said "we're good here, we don't need to go in" knowing that we'd just be pressured to buy something. I have no problems with these businesses or their sales tactics and I understand they're all just trying to make a living, but I would have appreciated a heads-up that we would be visiting these places. Because we would have said "no thank you." Our trip was jam-packed with sightseeing and we had very little downtime to begin with, so we would have preferred to skip those extra little outings that we didn't ask for.
It also seemed there wasn't clear communication with the timing of our itinerary at times. For example, we took a 3-night Nile Cruise and our itinerary said we would have lunch onboard on the last day before we departed on a 4-hour drive to the next destination. But we actually had to check out of the cruise at 8am that morning so we had to ask our guide to take us somewhere so we could buy lunch before we left.
None of that ruined the trip by any means. We still had a great time and got to see and do all the things we wanted to see and do. All of our guides and drivers were friendly and kind and helpful and, with the exception of the Cairo hotel, our accommodations exceeded our expectations.
We didn't stay here. The place we stayed looked completely different and had a slightly different name (Royal Pyramids in or Royal Great Pyramids Inn). The hotel in the photos is a different place. Our hotel was still under construction and looked nothing like the place in the photos.