When we decided to go to Egypt and Jordan, we reached out to Zicasso as we had a great experience with them last year when we went to Turkey.
Zicasso put us in touch with a trip planner from this tour company. The trip planner took all our “must haves” and created a fantastic itinerary for us. Not just that – he also provided us with a guide with helpful information that helped us throughout the trip (i.e.local customs, tipping based on the activities, etc.). Prior to us leaving, he followed up with us and managed curve balls that were thrown at us by the local Airlines who changed a flight.
After landing in Cairo, we were greeted by a travel specialist, who navigated us through the immigration process painlessly and lightning fast. The travel specialist did the same upon leaving Cairo. He also gave me a bottle of Egyptian beer few people have heard of. Thanks! Upon arrival at the hotel, we met our local guide, who became part of the family throughout the Egypt portion of our trip. He studied Egyptology and we learned so much about the more than 700 gods, the amazing history and ancient culture. Not just that – we also learned about today’s culture and food. We smoked shisha, went to super cool places and we had the best falafel imaginable (thanks to our driver). In his hometown Luxor, we went to a small and hidden away restaurant to try stuffed pigeon and various other dishes. Unbelievably good.
Our guide also navigated small issues for us, e.g. “protecting” us from souvenir sales people or when there were small issues with the hotel (our room at the hotel in Aswan got a second clean over). He became a friend. Hands down.
During our Egypt trip, we stayed at a luxury hotel in Cairo (excellent), the hotel at the Cairo airport (very good), the hotel in Aswan (good but probably a bit past its prime) and the hotel in Luxor (excellent). We also cruised the Nile. This was the first cruise ever for us and we found out that this is not our favorite way of travel. This does not mean that there was any major issue with the cruise. Not at all. The food was good, the staff was incredible and the state room was ok (bear in mind that it is a marine vessel and you don’t get the same level of comfort that you would get in a hotel room – this includes a lack of hot water in the shower at certain times). There is just too much downtime for us.
In Jordan, we met with our driver who chauffeured us to Petra, then to Wadi Rum and back to Amman once it was time to head back home. Petra was incredible. We toured it during the day (including the climb up to the Monastery and perfect guidance by our guide) and at night. I am glad we did the night tour for the atmosphere and music but probably would not do it again as I felt there were too many people to enjoy it more. We stayed at a hotel in Wadi Musa which was incredible and super conveniently located (just across from the entrance to Petra). For dinner, we went to a nearby restaurant to try the local fare. The second half in Jordan was a night at a luxury desert camp. We had a panoramic pod which let us sleep “under the stars”. Amazing. We also did 4x4 tour into the sunset.
Just from a pure trip prospective (not commenting on the sights which there are gazillions of reviews out there), we enjoyed the part in Egypt better as there was a more natural connection with our guide which let us experience the country also a little bit off the beaten track. While in Jordan everything was very good, we had lunches etc. at typical tourist buffet places (unlike in Egypt with the only exception on the cruise). Not that they were bad, but it’s not the same.
A few words on logistics and safety/security.
The trip planner and this company organized transfers at every junction. Some were more personal (see my comment for Egypt)and others were more business-like. But they took care of everything – from immigration to check in. This was brilliant as it removed for us the biggest hassle in countries where you don’t speak the language.
Before we embarked on our journey, I was asked by many about the safety in Egypt. I want to point out that Egypt and the UK have the same safety rating by the US Department of State. We never – ever- felt unsafe. The biggest safety threat was probably crossing a street as a pedestrian in Cairo.
Thanks to Zicasso for putting us in touch with this travel team who did a wonderful job in organizing the trip and following up with his local folks throughout the journey.
And – of course – tremendous thanks to all the local guides, drivers and transfer agents.
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