Luxor Educational with Nile Cruise 22-27 Sep 14 - Cyplon Holidays

Monday 22 September

Flight MS762 Heathrow to Luxor Airport

Egyptair flight was a good one with good leg room and food was reasonable for airline food. However, it is important to know that they are a dry airline, so no alcohol can be purchased on board.

Visa must be purchased on arrival at a cost of £15 at the kiosk or £25 through the agents who are hovering at the airports to sell you a visa and avoid queues.

There are several young men offering to help with your luggage - these are porters and will always expect a tip.

Our flight arrived at 00.30 hours on the direct flight from London. There is a 2 hour time difference between Egypt and England with the exception of October when it is just 1 hour.

We then Checked in to Ra 2 Nile Cruise for 2 nights. This is a traditional ship which is starting refurbishment after 18 months not operating due to the unrest in Egypt. It is classed as a 5 star ship but the standards do differ from the ocean liner ratings and not quite as luxurious. However, the beds were comfortable and the airconditioning was very efficient. The food was good, served as buffet style for the 2 days we were on board; on one day we had a tasty barbecue up on deck. The staff were all very friendly and helpful and made the trip an enjoyable one.

The ship offers 4 nts and 7 nt cruises and can be offered as full board or all inclusive through Cyplon Holidays. It is also possible to combine a cruise with a stay in Luxor or one of the Red Sea Resorts or Cairo.
This is one of the best cruise ships on the Nile but definitely the best value when compared with other ships sailing on the Nile and the all inclusive option is great value with several excursions as well as selected drinks included. A glass of wine cost from £3.50 but it would be best to take a slightly better wine or a Cava type which was much nicer.

A Light Dinner was provided on Arrival comprising a selection of sandwiches/rolls.
Smoking is permitted on board throughout but there are doors which can be opened to allow flow of fresh air where needed or there are nice open air seating areas. The RA 2 are also offering 50 percent off cruise for the departure up to 24th October.

Tuesday 23 September

Overnight sailing from Luxor to Denderah arriving approximately 7am

Breakfast on board which is buffet style in an area where they will cook you eggs or omelettes. Some items not displayed can be ordered as well, like fresh orange juice.

We set of for an early morning visit to Denderah Temple - this was an interesting Temple dating back to more thatn 2000BC with the first ever recorded Zodiac and the only temple in Egypt to portray Queen Cleopatra with her son Caesarion.

There were less salesmen trying to sell Scarves and souvenirs at this temple at the end of our tour and the prices were a little higher here than they seemed to be in Luxor temples. However, you can barter but if you have difficulty with this you can always ask your tour guide to help as it can be quite daunting. I bought a nice scarf for £5 but there were cheaper ones available.

Buffet Lunch on board was a tasty barbecue on top deck.

Afternoon sail back to Luxor arriving approximately 7pm
This was a very relaxing experience with great scenery along the Nile and we were greeted from time to time by locals lining up along the Nile to wave and call out to us as we passed. Tourism is so important to them and the sign of cruise ships sailing along the Nile again is a very positive and exciting sign for them.

Wednesday 24 September

Breakfast on board.

We left for our morning visit to Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple. Here our guide brought alive the history of ancient Egyptian Pharoas and queens depicted in hieroglyphics on these incredible temples. The tour guide explained the stories of the Egyptian gods and it was a very cultural experience.

Lunch on Ra 2

We then Checked out of the Ra 2 and transferred to Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island for 3 nights
set in acres of its own private island, this was a very nice relaxing spot away from the hustle and bustle of Luxor. I would happily spend a holiday here either as a single centre or combination with a Nile Cruise.
The rooms were a good size and the air conditioning excellent. Food was very good with buffet style with a wide choice of foods at breakfast and evening meal. There were a few power cuts here but not for very long durations at a time and it did not cause too much of a problem.

Bar drinks were quite costly with a small glass of wine at £6.50 per glass but more cost effective to buy a bottle at £22 approx. the rate of exchange was 10 egyptian pounds to £1. Beer was approx. £6 for a glass/bottle. It had a very good gym that I used a couple of times and a good spa. They just happened to have an offer of £24 for an hours aromatherapy massage that I could not say 'no' to and a very enjoyable experience it was too!

Lead in prices from £469 per person B&B for a superior deluxe room plus an optional extra reduced rate for the hot air balloon.

18:30 Pick up at reception for Orientation and Dinner at the Emilio Hotel

This good 3 star hotel was centrally situated in Luxor. The air conditioning was less efficient here but the food was good buffet and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The local entertainment included musicians and belly dancers and dancing pantomine horses. The staff could not do enough for you and very willing to please.

Thursday 25 September

We left the hotel at 5.20 am for our sunrise balloon trip. This was an amazing experience and a great way to see the Nile and the valley of the Kings from the air. This was approximately an hours trip with Hod Hod Soliman and great care was taken throughout with a totally smooth landing. The price for this trip is approximately £75 and well worth it. I would definitely recommend this and in particular Hod Hod Soliman.

Breakfast in Maritim Kings Island

11:45 We were Picked up at reception for afternoon orientation of 4star Steigenberger Hotel, this hotel was in central Luxor with great views over the Nile and a short walk to shops and bazaars sold generally on half board basis.

13:30 Orientation of Sonesta St George and buffet Lunch which we had quite late and was a little disappointing but maybe best to eat early here.

17:45 Pick up at reception for orientation and Dinner at Sofitel Karnak Luxor - this is the only hotel I am aware that offers all inclusive in Luxor but it is situated on the West bank so a drive out of Luxor. They do however offer a shuttle bus into Luxor or you can travel across by boat to Luxor centre. We enjoyed a good buffet dinner here and the wine was approx. £5.50 per glass. This seems to be a good choice for families with more activities, and have good facilities including squash, gym, sauna (not offered by other hotels) and a good spa.

Friday 26 September

09:00 Temperatures during all trip have been 35-44c and today was 44c so we decided to spend the day relaxing, so enjoyed our time in the infinity pool (one of several but our favourite) here we got teams together to play water polo which was great fun. There is also tennis here and a good choice of activities in general subject to numbers.

There was an offer on massage as mentioned which several of us took advantage of and later we decided to see the sunset on the Nile on a feluga which was also a lovely experience. This is a small sailboat which is towed one way and you sail back. This cost just £3.50 per person and afternoon tea included would be £6.50 but notice needs to be given in advance to them to arrange this.

Dinner was provided by Sofitel but we were unable to view the hotel.

Saturday 27 September

Breakfast in Maritim Kings Island

09:30 MS362 LXR-(CAI)-LHR Group Depart to UK – Pick up at reception.

We had a good flight to Cairo and we were able to see the pyramids at Giza en route through the aeroplane and spent 3 hours in the private lounge at Cairo where tasty snacks and soft drinks were included. Lounges range from £16-25 per person and a nice way to while away a few hours with free wifi generally (alcoholic drinks and hot meals included at Heathrow airport).

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Egypt. At no time at all did I feel unsafe. However, it would always be best to take advantage of a local tour guide who can give you lots of local information and take you directly to the sights of interest - this can be arranged through your tour operators such as Cyplon Holidays.The people were all very friendly and helpful and are very pleased to see tourists travelling again to Egypt.

Thank you for all our sponsors Egyptair for the flights, Fadi from RA 2 for the cruise, the hotels for the accommodation and meals provided and Cyplon for the representation and arranging it all for us. Cyplon can tailor make your itinerary to Egypt and book cruise or single stay in Luxor, Red Sea resorts or Cairo.

I would certainly like to spend a full week cruising and staying in Luxor again and look forward to returning there soon.

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