Africa,  Cairo,  Egypt,  TDM,  Tips

Egypt in 12 days (Luxury): Cruise, Cairo and Abu Simbel – Itinerary, Budget and Tips

Note: this article is a summary of the trip we made to Egypt in November 2018.I hope this article gives you an idea of the cost of the trip and helps you plan it as there are many hidden costs in Egypt (especially related to tips, which we will ask you for as it is a bit like in the US, you are expected to tip for any service received).


In blue the program supported by our Egyptian agencyIn
purple the program
supported by
our cruise company (Gréements du Nil)
I will
mark in italics all
extras we will pay (i.e.
not part of the program).

Day 1 – Friday

Flight Istanbul – Luxor (284€/person), arrival in Luxor at 6pm.
Request for an Egyptian visa on arrival (25$).

Our Egyptian agency picks us up at the airport and brings us to the Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel.
Night visit without guide of the Luxor temple (140LE per person or 7€), which is 6 minutes walk from the hotel.
Dinner & Drinks (5€ to 10€/person)

Overnight at the Sofitel Winter Palace 5* hotel (link Booking, room in the *antique building* (very important), with view on the garden)

The travel diary is available here

Day 2 – Saturday

Breakfast at the hotel.
Today, private visit accompanied by a egyptologist’s guide :

  • Visit the Valley of the Kings (only the tombs of Rameses VI and Sethi 1st, the agency had to pay an extra fee but they are the most beautiful and less frequented).
  • Right to take pictures (300LE)
  • Visit of the Valley of the Queens (only the tomb of Nefertari, the agency had to pay an extra fee for this visit, but it is the most beautiful tomb in Egypt, less frequented and it isn’t known if it will remain open for a long time)
  • Visit of the Colossians of Memnon
  • Visit the temple of Hatshepsut
  • Lunch & Drinks included
  • Visit Luxor Temple

Dinner & Drinks (5€ to 10€/person)Tips
for the guide: 300LE or 15€ for twoTips

the driver: 150LE or 7,5€ for twoSound
and light
at the Karnak temple (250LE per person or 12,5€).
Private driver round trip with waiting: 150LE for two (7,5€)

Overnight at the Sofitel Winter Palace 5* hotel (link Booking, room in the *antique building* (very important), with view on the garden)

The travel diary is available here

Day 3 – Sunday

Breakfast at the hotel.

Today, we start our Nile cruise with a French speaking guide
7h30. Departure from the hotel the visit of the temple of Karnak
Mini-van route to EsnaThe
crew will welcome you, visit the boat, installation in our cabin.
Lunch, Navigation.
at will all dayNight
on the boat, in El Hegz

The travel diary is available here

Day 4 – Monday

Navigation to El Kab
Walking tour and visit of the rock tombs dug in the mountainside.
Resumption of navigation and lunch on board.
Landing at Edfou
Barouche to the temple.
Visit the temple dedicated to the god
Horus of Behedet.
Tip for the carriage driver: 10LE to 20LE or 0,5€ to 1€ for two
all day

Night on the boat, in Fawaza.

The travel diary is available here

Day 5 – Tuesday

Walk to Ramadi around the swamp and in the crops to meet the farmers working in their fields of alfalfa, sugar cane or date palms
Lunch on board
Stroll in the village of Bassaw and visit of a farmer’s house
Gift for the farmer who welcomed us: 25LE/person

DinnerDinnerDrinks all

Night on the boat, in Bassaw or at the foot of the Horemheb speos (depending on the mooring possibilities of the moment …).

The travel diary is available here

Day 6 – Wednesday

Visit of thequarries of the Jebel Silsileh djebel
Very short navigation and walk from 2 hours toFaresin the palm groves
Lunch on board
Tip to the sailor who accompanies us: 25LE/person
DinnerDinnerDrinks all

Night on the boat, in Maniha

The travel diary is available here

Day 7 – Thursday

Morning sailing to Kom-Omboand its temple.
Visit the nubian village of DarawThis is certainly one of the highlights of the trip, a visit from a real local market.
Tea in a local café: 10LE/person
Tip to be foreseen: 25LE/person (several meetings that may lead us to give a tip)
Lunch on board.

Sailing to Aswan.
at will all day long

Last night on board a few kilometers north of Aswan.
Typical evening on the banks of the Nile with the crew
Tip for the crew (6 days) (55€/person)

The travel diary is available here

Day 8 – Friday

Disembarkation around 8:00 / 8:30 am to go by vehicle to the temple of Philae dedicated to Isis, located on an island 5km south of Aswan.
The Egyptian agency comes to pick us up directly at the temple of Philae to take us in a mini-van.
At 1:30 pm, the mini-van leaves Aswan for Abu Simbel.
Arrival at 16:30 in Abu Simbel, at the Nefertari hotel.
18h15 sound and light show in front of Abu Simbel, the best sound and light show in Egypt.
Dinner at the hotel
Drinks (1€/person)
Gratuities for the staff (1€/person)
Overnight at Nefertari 4* hotel (in Abu Simbel)

The travel diary is available here

Day 9 – Saturday

6h. Pictures in front of Abu Simbel temple, empty (the first tourists arrive around 7am)
7h. Private visit of the temple of Abu Simbel accompanied by an Egyptologist’s guide in English.
Right to take pictures (300LE)

9h. Departure for Aswan in a mini-van
Visit from the unfinished obelisk
Sound and Light show in the temple of Philae
Visit of the souk (if motivated)
Overnight at Citymax Hotel Aswan 4* in Aswan
Tip for the guide (2 days) 500LE for two
Tip for the driver (2 days) 300LE for two

The travel diary is available here

Day 10 – Sunday

Breakfast at the hotel
Our guide takes us to theairport and the plane takes off at 8:55 Cairo
Another English-speaking guide welcomes us in Cairo and takes us to the Egypt Pyramids Inn (with a direct view of the Sphinx)

  • Visit of the egyptian museum and the treasure room of Tutankhamun
  • Visit from the mummy room (the Egyptian agency had to pay an extra fee for this visit)
  • Right to take pictures at the museum (50LE or 2,5€)

Tip for the 250LE guide for two
Tip for the driver 150LE for two

Sound and Light show in front of the Pyramids (250LE/person or 12,5€), the entrance is only 1 minute walk from the hotel.

Dinner & Drinks (5€ to 10€/person)
Overnight at the Egypt Pyramids Inn(link Booking, with direct view of the Sphinx)

The travel diary is available here

Day 11 – Monday

private visit accompanied by a egyptologist’s guide :

  • Visit of the pyramids of Giza
  • Visit from inside the Great Pyramid(the Egyptian agency had to pay an extra fee for this visit)
  • Visit of the Sphinx
  • Visit of the museum of the solar boat(the Egyptian agency had to pay an extra fee for this visit)
  • Camel ride (25€/person + 1€ tip/person)
  • Lunch
  • Visit of Saqqarah: Mastaba of Mereruka, Mastaba of Kagemni, Serapeum, Imhotep Museum, Tî Tomb, Teti Pyramid(the Egyptian agency had to pay a supplement for this visit)
  • Right to take pictures in Saqqarah (300LE)

Tip for guide 250LE for twoTip
for driver 150LE for two

Dinner & Drinks (5€ to 10€/person)
Overnight at the EgyptPyramids Inn ( linkBooking, with direct view of the Sphinx)

The travel diary is available here

Day 12

BreakfastTour of
Islamic Cairo

The agency takes us back to Cairo airport
Tip for the 250LE guide for two
Tip for the driver 150LE for twoLunch
& Drinks (5€ to 10€/person

Flight Cairo – Casablanca (168€/person)

The travel diary is available here


  • Program with the Egyptian agency: 1240$/person or 1 094€/person
  • Program with the sailboat (dahabiya) on the Nile (Nile Rigging): 750€/person
  • Flight Istanbul – Luxor: 284€/person (because we are coming from Istanbul)
  • Flight Cairo – Casablanca: 168€/person (because we leave then for Casablanca). If you make the round trip from Paris, it is possible that you get cheaper fares than us
  • Supplements (visa, tips, extra visits, food, drinks): 280€/person. This amount is to be withdrawn from the Egyptian ATM (5 600LE/person).
  • International transfer fees (payment from the Egyptian agency (in dollars) via Azimo and non-SEPA transfer (in euros) for the boat): 90€ in total

TOTAL : 2 621€ per person ALL INCLUDED, double room


This program is not the cheapest.

On the contrary, it is one of the most luxurious programs to cover all known (and tourist) sites in Egypt. It is however optimized to the maximum because we go through an Egyptian agency for a 100% personalized itinerary without shopping stops. As we have no shopping stops and opt for private tours with our Egyptian agency, we have to give a lot of tips to the guides and drivers (12€/day/person), which raises the bill a little bit.

This tour includes one of themost luxurious and emblematic hotels ( Winter Palace in Luxor).

All our hotels have the advantage of being only 5 minutes walk from the emblematic places (the Sphinx, Luxor temple, Abu Simbel temple), allowing us to visit these 3 sites on our own at 6am if we wish (or late in the evening for the Sound and Light show).

The sailboat on which we are sailing is a dahabiyafrom Les Gréements du Nil agency (which I recommend, read my opinion here), a traditional boat, which has the advantage :

  • to be on the water from the 1st day (unlike cruise ships which stay at the quay during your visits to Luxor for 2 days)
  • on a human scale (14 people max. vs. 200 on a cruise ship)
  • to be truly all-inclusive (whereas cruise ships charge for excursions + extra drinks)

This luxury has a price: 750€/person, instead of 300€ for cruise boats (even cheaper if you go on an organized tour).

Note: we have been upgraded to a more luxurious boat, for the same price El Khedewi. The cabin at El Khedewi would normally cost 1000€/person

With this program, we wanted to make the most of Abu Simbel.

Most tourists leave Aswan at 3am to visit Abu Simbel for 2 hours. This is due to the lack of hotels in Abu Simbel.
We chose to sleep in Abu Simbel to attend its sound and light show in the evening
, then revisit it the next day at 6am, before the arrival of tourists from Aswan at 7:45am. We will be able to have the whole site to ourselves. The sound and light show is for those who sleep in Abu Simbel as we do, but especially for those who cruise on Lake Nasser. It’s better to be there when the visitors of this boat disembark in Abu Simbel (every Thursday/Friday), otherwise the show may simply be cancelled. Or else privatize the show by buying the 10 tickets (the show is broadcasted if there are at least 10 customers, that is 2500LE = 125€)

We also choose to take almost all the visits with supplements (solar boat, visit of the inside of the pyramid, the treasures of Tutankhamun, the tombs with supplement…) because they are worth it and above all, there will be less people like that.

It’s not luxurious enough for me

If this program doesn’t seem luxurious enough, you can replace the dahabiya by a smaller dahybiya (5 persons max, like el Khedewi 1000€/person), or by a steam ship, the SteamShip Sudan at 2000$ (1000€ more per person than our dahabiya, but its program includes a stop in Dendera).

And you can swap our small City Max hotel in Aswan for the mythical Old Cataract(Booking link, which raises the bill to 150€/night/person extra).

And barter our pension in Giza by the mythical Mena House (link Booking, which raises the bill to 100€/night/person more).

We purposely didn’t visit Alexandria, or the Red Sea this time, but it’s only a postponed part.

Is it possible to reduce the cost?

Yes of course, with the same program, but you will have to manage to negotiate transportation and accept shopping stops.

  • For the boat

    • it is possible to go through an honest Egyptian agency. It can have more advantageous rates (agency rates). However, you must give the exact name of the boat otherwise they may book an equivalent boat for you, which you do not want => saving up to 100€/person

  • For guided tours :

    • Option 1: It may be cheaper to book the one-day guided tours (in Cairo and Luxor). The risk is that despite the mention “private tours”, you will be taken to the shopping stops, which represents 1 to 2 hours lost per day. And it is possible that your guide isn’t an Egyptologist => saving up to 75€/person

    • Option 2: you do everything by yourself by privatizing a cab in Luxor, and taking Uber to Cairo. However, you will no longer have a guide and will have to read the explanations on your Routard. You will be more exposed (no more guide to keep away the beaters), will be ripped off a little more (not too nasty scams between 2€ and 5€), but you will have more freedom => saving up to 200€/person

  • You manage for the main routes (airport => hotel, Aswan => Abu Simbel … it’s up to you to negotiate and know for which route you have to give the copy of the passport 1 day in advance to the transport company). You book yourself the hotel and the internal plane => saving up to 100€/person
  • If you take away the visit of the super expensive tombs like Nefertari and Sethi 1st=> saving up to 100€/person (but frankly it’s a great pity because if there are only 2 tombs to visit, these are the ones)

Intotal: between 2076€ (in total autonomy, without additional graves) and 2300€/person (with day guided tours and shopping stops, paid graves)

It’s still too expensive for me

If you want to pay less, you have to change your program and opt fororganized tourson cruise ships of 200 people.
I have estimated, with flight included, a program where you visit the must-see (without the visit of the paying tombs of Ramses VI, Seti 1st & Nefertari, without entering the pyramid, without the mythical hotels) at 1670€ all inclusive per person( I have talked about it here

Basically, the tour organizer will sell you an all-inclusive price of 1099€, but when you look closely, the options, tips, drinks and dinners not included would represent about 570€ extra per person.

You can also go backpacking, without taking a cruise on the Nile (but just a one hour felucca ride) for 965,5€ all inclusive per person. The detailed itinerary and budget for this 6 days backpacking trip are here

Following many requests (by private message and in comment), here is the Egyptian agency we left with. The agency is held by Mr. Mohamed Zakaria.

(replace [at] by @)
You can contact him on WhatsApp too: +201005803223

The plusses :

  • Always on time
  • an Egyptian SIM card + 3Gb of data offered upon our arrival in Egypt
  • Customer comfort is their priority
  • Accompaniment from start to finish
  • Very competitive rates, in addition you contribute directly to the local economy without foreign intermediaries
  • We asked that no stop shopping be included in the tour, and this was respected (it should be pointed out that this includes extras)
  • All our requests for additional visits have been taken into account and respected.

The – : many are related to the fact that it is an Egyptian agency, but not related to the quality of the agency

  • It is necessary to have a good level in English to contact and exchange with this agency because the boss of the agency only speaks English, and Arabic of course (however, he can arrange to find you guides in French – except at the airport). They are used to organize group trips in English and Italian, but not yet in French. To have guides in French, it has to be a private trip.
  • We had a new guide every day – which is normal practice in Egyptian agencies. However, the quality of the guide can change from day to day. You should tell the agency that you want the best guides, Egyptologists.
  • It is advisable to come with a program already established, and as precise as possible – and send it to the agency – because the agency cannot guess what you want to visit
  • When you go through an Egyptian agency (and not a French one), the payment is made in foreign currency, it’s normal: 50% deposit to be paid by bank transfer, in US dollars, we went through Azimo to limit the fees (see our article on Azimo). The rest can be paid on the spot, in cash, or by bank transfer a few days before the event
  • Meals are included in the program (unless otherwise indicated) but drinks are charged ($2 to $3 per drink)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *