Nuestra experiencia booking and traveling with Egypt United Tours through Cairo and Luxor.
Planning for our trip to Egypt took several meses of research. We knew we wanted to hire a private tour guide because we wanted a personalized tour. We wanted to learn about Ancient Egypt from local tour guides themselves. Traveling as a couple also means that we don’t want to be lost in a sea of tourists ahí tratando to take the pictures. Being a group tour was also not a good idea, considering Egypt’s unfortunate low vaccination rates against COVID-19 and not knowing with which tourists we would be lumped with. Finally, we wanted the comfort of having a private driver to guide us through the bustling streets of this ancient capital. For these reasons, I contacted my college friend Ahmed (who’s from Egypt) and asked him if he could recommend anyone. Sure enough, he recommended us to UTS. I reached out to Egypt United Tours and in a day Hamad provided us with a tour itinerary jam-packed with all the history and culture we could handle. Pero uno tiene que ser realista – we wouldn’t have enough time in a day to visit all the places they were proposing. Bueno, in theory yes, but that would require waking up at 7am and coming back to the hotel super tired! Besides, we had that Marriott Titanium status to take advantage of and that breakfast at the Cairo Mena House was not worth skipping. Entonces I began to look up all the places proposed on Google Maps and asked Laurie which locations she preferred to visit. We sent Hamad back an updated trip itinerary and negotiated the new price. Mira, it never hurts to ask if you can get a lower price, especially since we weren’t going to visit as many sites! The updated list still had some places that we had to wake up early in the morning in order to beat the crowds – the Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple in Luxor por ejemplo. Sometimes, if you want to have “the place for yourself”, hay que levantarse con el gallo. Otherwise, what we wanted to make sure was to have as much flexibility with the start time as possible. We wouldn’t know if we were going to wake up late because of the jet lag. Of course, if we started too late, then we might miss out on some sites due to some early closures. Always remember, the tour itinerary is a plan, but always expect your plan to have to change once you are in the country. Cosas pasan mi gente.
When we landed in Cairo, we were welcomed by our driver for the evening, who helped us pick up our bags and make our way to the car. On our way to the hotel, we picked up Hamad (Head Owner of the Tour company), which was admittedly kinda odd since it was nighttime. However, he did give us a breakdown of our tours in Cairo and was otherwise very welcoming. Our tour guide for our time in Cairo, Amal, was fantastic! She was very knowledgeable of all things Ancient Egypt (she studied Egyptology) and she made us feel very comfortable in Cairo. ¡Como si era una amiga de años! Our experience with her got us thinking about how we didn’t even request or ask if they had female tour guides. I noticed that Laurie felt at ease when she realized Amal would be guiding us. And she hooked it up with the best sugarcane juice we’ve ever tasted! It’s definitely a learning lesson we will keep in mind for future trips. A quick shoutout also goes out to our drivers who took us around Cairo. Mira, soy de Miami and I’ve seen some traffic but admittedly Cairo’s traffic requires some excellent driving to get around the gentio and the cars that were around.
In Luxor, we were greeted by Ahmad (Head of the Luxor Branch) and our time with him was more awkward than with Hamad. He was trying to sell us hard on flying the hot air balloons, which sounded cool but we didn’t want to take up at 5 am for them. He also joined us for what I had intended to be a romantic river cruise on the Nile (which as you know ended up as a bust because the winds died down jaja). Finally, he walked us for 10 minutos to the restaurant I wanted to take Laurie to instead of requesting the van (perhaps the driver was unavailable). We’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was just really trying to make sure we were going to have a good time and experience. Perhaps he saw our itinerary and thought we were being boring jaja. Or perhaps he thought we were more of the “hand-holding” type of tourists and not the independent type. We did have another female tour guide assigned to us for Luxor, Heba, and she was great too! She was a bit protective of not letting us out of the van to get more that delicious sugarcane juice (we reassured her we wanted to see how the juice was made), but as with Amal, she was very informative and walked us through all the sites.
We would definitely recommend the tour company, and make sure to ask for Amal and Heba as your tour guides! They were wonderful individuals who are truly happy to share about their culture. Make sure to (over)communicate your trip wants to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Overall, Egypt United Tours wanted us to have a great and memorable trip and we definitely had it! From making the unexpected pilgrimage to a cavern where the Holy Family stayed, to visiting the Pyramids of Giza up close, and paying our respects to King Tut, Egypt United Tours made sure that we got to these locations safely and that we had an amazing experience.
Our tips to consider when booking a trip with a tour company:
1. Create the tour that works for you – visit a few sites and immerse yourself at each site.
2. Use Google Maps to scout the places you want to visit – that way you avoid long transits between sites.
3. Negotiate your tour price – nada se pierde by asking for a discount!
4. Tip your guides and drivers well – they are making sure you have a great time!
5. Be mindful of crowds and times of arrival to famous sites – levantate con el gallo or visit later in the day.
Vamos viajando. The world needs to see us!