First of all, if you can afford to travel to Egypt, GO. It is an experience that you will never forget. It will open all your senses. I strongly recommend Memphis Tours for their thoroughness, details, highly knowledgeable tour guides (every guide got one or multiple degrees in Egyptology, some working on a second Master's), and communications.
Back in late September 2022, when the Coronavirus was rearing its head again and the threat of the flu and RSV virus were looming on the horizon, I made plans for this trip to Egypt. It would be our first trip outside of the country since the Covid pandemic.
I was first drawn into Travelodeal for the inexpensive price. But after understanding the fine print, the economy package would not work for me and my family. Also, I did not like the bait-and-switch and pressured selling tactics. I went through a list of recommended tours and sent out my emails requesting for information.
Memphis Tours was the first to respond. Others responded days and weeks later. I figured if it took them days to respond to my request when I had not paid, it might take them longer if I encounter any difficulties during the trip. By then, I was so impressed with Memphis Tours that I did not bother responding to other tours.
Samaa Osama Elnagdi was my Travel Consultant from Memphis Tours. To rate her FIVE Stars would be an insult. We know there are Five Stars that border on 4 1/2. This is a true Five Stars, bordering on Ten. She was prompt, answering all my questions and alleviating my obsessive-compulsive disorders. She responded to my emails at all times of the day, even on weekends. I booked my own flights to Egypt and the dates did not match the tour timetable, but she was able to rearrange and made it works. I added Abu Simbel and Alexandria to my tours. Money well spent. If you are going to spend good money for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you may as well spend extra to see everything that needs to be seen. Sama was honest. Never tried to sell me anything. She sent me a thorough itinerary describing in detail each day of my trip. She booked for intra-Egypt flights. There are contact phone numbers in case of emergency. When the airline changed their flight numbers and the Nile cruise ship changed from Minerva to Royale, she kept us informed. I was so impressed with her thoroughness and offered to give her a Tip for her excellent service, but she declined.
Flying in January, with inclement weather, I did not want connecting flight. As such, I chose Egypt Air, flying out of Dulles Airport in Virginia. We arrived in at 5:30 in the morning in Cairo (a 10 hrs flight to and 12 hrs back).
The Tour Manager waited for us inside the airport, after passing security, before we got to the Baggage. From then on, we are taken on a private tour, just our family of Four. We were doted on and pampered every step of the way. The communications are excellent. We felt that Memphis Tour had created a bubble for us. We felt protected and safe the whole trip. We never had to wait for them. Actually, we were often a few minutes late. Even when we were early, the tour guide would be there in the lobby, waiting patiently. "And smile when he/she sees me, 'cause they made that way". An old American song.
We stayed at the Hilton Pyramid Golf Hotel for the first night. We were tired and did nothing but slept most of the day. Though check-in was not until 3 pm, we were allowed in our room before 9 am. The hotel has a bomb-sniffing dog, very friendly. And a metal detector before you entered the building. We felt very safe. The hotel is old but clean. Unfortunately, it is in the middle of nowhere. You cannot walk outside the hotel, except for a dirt path around the golf course behind the hotel (cannot walk on the golf course). Our attempt to cross the highway was unsuccessful. The restaurant in the complex served really good food and the prices were reasonable.
We flew to Luxor and visited Karnak and Luxor Temple. From the cruise, you can walk to the Temple and the market. We did an optional horse carriage ride and sugar cane drink. We got to see how the people live, children playing in small streets.
The Nile cruise is quite memorable with "pirates" attached their canoes to the ship and trying to sell their items to the guests on the upper deck. We visited the West bank seeing the Royal Cemetery, the Valley of the Kings, and Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and a brief stop at Colossi of Memnon. Then upstream to the Nile, we went. The cruise ship was small and perhaps a third full. But the food preparations were extraordinary. Foods were served buffet but gourmet. There are chefs preparing fresh pasta, Egyptian foods, and carving meats.
We stopped at Edfu and Kom Ombo for the temples. The cruise continued to Aswan where we visited the High Dam, the Unfinished Obelisk at the stone quarries, and Temple of Philae.
Our tour guide Eid Mohamed is unbelievably great. He loves his country. He loves its history. He gets excited when he tells us about the landmarks. We felt very safe with him. He was always early. When we were divided with the horse carriages, he let me and my son go ahead and he stayed with my wife and daughter to make sure that they are protected. My whole family really felt safe during the whole visit with him. We did visit the Nubian village and got to handle a baby crocodile.
We did an optional excursion to Abu Simbel. It is a long drive. But the view is magnificent. It is a must excursion and we are glad that we did it.
We then flew back to Cairo and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel and Casino. This hotel has the best breakfast buffet of all my travels. The rooms are modern, and clean and have nice balconies. The staffs are kind and very accommodating. They allow us to check out late since our flight was not till the evening. The Gym is large. There are restaurants and of course Casino inside the Hotel. This is luxury accommodation, taking care of all our needs. Our bags automatically appeared in our rooms and down to the lobby.
We visited the Pyramids of Giza, and rode the Camels (I tipped generously but thought the Camel guide was a bit greedy. He wanted us to tip him while we were riding the camels instead of back at the base so he does not have to share his tips with his boss), visit the Sphinx, and visited the Egyptian Museum and Khan El Khalili market. We did not buy anything as we were not interested in price negotiating.
We did a day tour of Alexandria. We visited the Qaitbay Fort, the Roman catacombs, and the Alexandria library.
A special shout out to Chiko, our driver for Cairo. He weaved in and out of traffic like a Nascar driver, but without crashing. He thoughtfully brought us water bottles and candies at times. He was up early before sunrise to get us to the airport on time for an early flight to Luxor. He drove us around town the whole day in Cairo in the mids of traffic madness. He worked late into the night on our last day, delivering us safely to the airport for our flight home.
Overall, I am very impressed with Memphis Tours for this fantastic trip. Their careful attention to detail, their selection of very knowledgeable tour guides, the extensive itinerary, and high-caliber drivers. They have been doing this for a while.
I can recommend them highly without any reservations.