Egypt

School terms keep kids in school and parents sane. Holidays can be boring to kids if they are left alone. Discuss vacation ideas and how to make good use of the free time for both children and adults.

Egypt

Postby raisintan » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:58 am

Hi,

Has anyone done a packaged tour to Egypt with kids? Pls share your experience. Thank you.

raisintan
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Re: Egypt

Postby laughingcat » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:40 pm

I am also keen to hear feedback from folks. My boys love history.

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Re: Egypt

Postby Dnls_mum » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:39 pm

Spent 2 days in Cairo some years back as part of our Mediterranean cruise. Our ship docked in Alexandria for 2 days and i arranged a private tour for our family of 6, staying one night in Cairo. There were my parents, DH and I and DS1 and DD. DD was only 3.5 yo and DS1 was 12. DS2 did not join us for that trip. We went to the pyramids, sphinx, Egyptian museum, saqqara step pyramids and ibn Tulun mosque. DD was only 3.5 then but till today (she is no 10) she remembers the pyramids , sphinx and her camel ride. That was all that she remembers of our 12 nights Mediterranean cruise. So it is definitely worth bring even small kids. It is a place that you will never forget.

Our trip was before Arab springs so the Egyptian museum still had a good collection of mummies which I heard may have suffered some damages during Arab spring.

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Re: Egypt

Postby jetsetter » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:27 pm

I hired a private guide+driver and booked a 4-nite Nile Cruise to cover some ancient cities. No kids then, but got a pair of old folks. The thing is most ancient cities and temples look alike to old people who don't appreciate Egyptian history/geopolitics/mythology or are unfamiliar with the Old Testament. Your professional guide's tour commentary could be incredibly heavy-going for a casual tourist who is merely interested in the Pyramids or who just wants to look at mummies because they'd read King Tut comics or Agatha Christie's detective novels or watched some Indiana Jones, Cleopatra or Mummy flicks before. I observed that my MIL started to space out after the 3rd temple. To be fair to her, most temples/relics kind of appeared homogenous to the layman after a while - colossal camel-brown monuments with hieroglyphs built on sprawling deserts. My FIL even labeled the photos wrongly after he returned from the trip. I had to help correct some Egyptian temple/pharaoh/pagan names for him.

Security is of course of utmost concern. You must have heard about the Luxor massacre. I was somewhat wary when I visited the Temple of Hatshepsut, though I went during what was supposed to be a relatively peaceful period (Mubarak was still in power). Do keep tabs on any domestic uprisings/terror attacks/coups before booking your tour.

Food - should not be a problem if your kids love kebabs, naan/pita (unleavened bread), hummus...Egyptian food is rather similar to Arabian/Mediterranean food.

Stamina - because most of the attractions are in the desert, your tour coach or car might not be able to drop you off in front of them. You need to wear good walking shoes and trek towards the site on foot. Bring bottled water along if you're travelling there in summer.

Curse of the Pharaohs - I think young families are not 'pantang' about entering tombs (Valley of the Kings/Queens or the Pyramids). My superstitious MIL was extremely resistant towards going underground, so she ended up waiting under the hot sun for us to emerge from the tombs. There are many tombs for your info! She was ok with the Great Sphinx though. You need to pay extra to go into the Pyramids of Giza. Some tunnels could be pretty narrow and low for tall Caucasians, but I suppose it's not a prob for your short kids! Kids will love the underground adventure cos they'd have read all about mummies in Magic Treehouse books and the like. Btw, some HK tourists complained about the foul stench/poor ventilation inside the Pyramids, so they applied some TCM ointment under their noses before burrowing in.

Talking about ointments - we brought along many bottles of camphor oils for our Egyptian guide, driver and porters. The Egyptians are mad about Qing Cao You. No prizes for guessing why they like this scent so much! https://www.perfume.com/article-perfume-and-the-egyptian-mummification-process

Nile Cruise - Kids might get bored and restless if they haven't got their electronic devices with them to play with. River cruise ships are not gigantic like your Royal Caribbean, so don't expect to have KTV lounges, swimming pools or jackpot rooms onboard. Get them to read Death on the Nile on the deck to kill time, until the ship reaches the famous Aswan Dam. I love this dam!

Somewhere close to the Aswan Dam is an island where the Temple of Philae sits. You need to disembark from your cruise ship (if you're on a Nile cruise) and take a felucca to this beautiful island. There're Corinthian influences there, so go read up on your own hor.

Also around Aswan, you'll see traces of the former Soviet Union, e.g. Russian-Egyptian Friendship Monument. As you know, Nasser was one of USSR's BFFs in the Middle East during the Cold War. You may want your kids to read up on Egyptian-USSR geopolitics. My knowledgeable guide was going on and on about USSR until my ILs disengaged! They were simply not interested in ME geopolitics.

Egyptian Museum in Cairo - must visit cos mummies of a couple of "Ramses" and treasures from Tutakhamun's tomb are exhibited therein.

Shopping - You will like the souks! I enjoyed buying exotic souvenirs at Cairo's Khan el-Khalili souk. There were a couple of modern but tier 2 shopping malls 10 yrs ago: City Stars, City Square, Mall of Arabia...There should be newer and bigger ones today.

There are many mosques and Christian churches e.g. Coptic Church to visit in Cairo, so you can extend your stay in the capital city. Btw, there was an explosion near Coptic Church a few weeks ago...oops...

If you explore Cairo, you'd notice there's quite a lot of colonial buildings and cafes. Haha, need me to inform you that Egypt was a former British protectorate? Egypt was under British rule from 1882. Lasted until 50s after the Suez Crisis. We purposely cabbed to the famous Cafe Riche to have dinner and coffee. Cafe Riche is a must-visit as it was the historic place where several anti-British revoluntionaries during the 1919 revolution met at the basement to organize their activities.

Oh oh and did you know prior to British rule, Egypt was part of the Ottoman empire? Haha...I'll leave your bright and inquisitive kids to read up on the Turks before flying over. I'm very sure everyone will suffer from info-overload after 1 week in Egypt, cos we're talking about 7,000 years worth of history to digest!

I didn't cover Mt Sinai and Suez Canal during my 9-day tour. You might want to include them, e.g. joining one-day tours from Cairo.
Last edited by jetsetter on Fri Dec 30, 2016 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Egypt

Postby laughingcat » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:11 pm

Thank you jetsetter and Dnls_mum for such detailed sharing. :please:

Jetsetter, did you arrange the private guide + driver in Singapore? Can share the contact?

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Re: Egypt

Postby Dnls_mum » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:48 pm

We used the services of Emad. A great guide who took good care of us. He customized our itinerary for us and arranged transport and driver. We communicated via email. He now has his own travel company. This is his website:
http://www.hadedatravelegypt.com

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Re: Egypt

Postby jetsetter » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:21 am

laughingcat wrote:Thank you jetsetter and Dnls_mum for such detailed sharing. :please:

Jetsetter, did you arrange the private guide + driver in Singapore? Can share the contact?

No, it was arranged by dh's corporate agent in the ME. It's been 10 years, so most likely the contact is outdated :( You can fly to Cairo directly, and join local tours. Otherwise, many TAs in Singapore should organise Egypt tours every year. Due to time constraint, our SG outbound guides may provide 'touch N go' commentaries, which are in fact more palatable for young tourists i suppose? :shrug:

To add on:

I was rather intrigued by monolithic obelisks. There's this Unfinished Obelisk in Aswan that almost all tourists will visit. It's still embedded in the quarry. You will get to go there too if you join a packaged tour.

Image

If your kids have been to Paris, in particular, Place de la Concorde, you can tell them that that Paris Luxor Obelisk is the 4000-yr-old TWIN of the other one at the entrance of Temple of Luxor. They were built for or to exalt Ramses II. I dunno about you, but boy...was I exhilarated when I saw the other twin left behind in Egypt!

Image

Image

There is another pair of twins dubbed the Cleopatra's Needle currently in London, as well as in NYC's Central Park. They weren't from Luxor Temple, but they were originally a pair iirc. I'd tell kids all these inter-relationships, western imperialism, archaeology, to excite them about Egypt!

If they've been to the Vatican or Rome, they might recall there is 1 obelisk in the middle of St Peter's Sq (Vatican) and another in the heart of Piazza del Popolo (Rome). Those are not Roman creations but were uprooted from ancient Egypt.

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Re: Egypt

Postby elenang » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:50 am

Thanks jetsetter! Added to my bucket list!

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