Contributing editor Ted Scull explored Egypt by land and sea
with Lindblad Expeditions. His report follows:
CAIRO, Egypt -- While many travelers might shy away from taking
an organized tour, it is really the best way to navigate the Nile
The rewards of escorted travel include not having to deal with
overly eager "official" local guides, canceled reservations and
long lines at nearly every site during prime visiting hours.
Lindblad Expeditions accepts only 30 clients on its Egypt
programs, which are 10 or 16 days in length and include pre-tour
visits in Cairo and a post-tour stay at the Mena House Oberoi at
the Pyramids in Giza.
We flew to Luxor from Cairo for the eight-day cruise portion of
the program. We boarded the 30-passenger riverboat, the Hapi I, and
settled into roomy cabins, each with a refrigerator stocked with
complimentary water bottles to take ashore, a decent-size bathroom
and windows that opened.
One deck above, the lounge bar was the venue for pre-dinner
briefings, information discussions and entertainment; an adjacent
library lounge offered a selection of reference books.
Both buffet-style and seated meals were served in the
open-sitting dining room at tables for eight.
Complimentary wines accompanied lunch and dinner.
We traveled with two Egyptologists, who divided our group in
In addition to presenting their considerable knowledge, they
were experts in getting hard-to-obtain tickets to the Nefertari
The Nile in Upper Egypt is a highway for barges laden with
sugarcane and feluccas, traditional riverboats, transporting sacks
of fertilizer to farm landings. As we passed, we saw cattle and
goats drinking from the Nile and small boys who yodeled and
Lindblad's 16-day tour allowed more time at Luxor than the
10-day tour and included a visit to Dendera, an outstanding and
less-visited Greco-Roman site.
Because of security following the 1997 massacre of 58 tourists,
there was police presence everywhere -- from Egyptian guards in the
Valley of the Queens to a two-man gunboat shadowing us on the trip
Karnak and Luxor temples and the tombs of pharaohs in West Bank
represent Ancient Egypt at its peak.
Some of Egypt's best underground chambers are too small to
handle many visitors at one time, and some sites might not be open
on any given day.
However, the Lindblad program had arrangements in place to avoid
running into problems at the attractions.
As an example, at the popular Valley of the Kings in Luxor, our
group was admitted into several crowded sites, including
Tutankhamen's and Nefertari's tombs.
The only disappointment was Karnak's sound and light show, which
is really of little historic interest; the show at the Great
Pyramid outside Cairo was better.
Aswan was the most visitor-friendly city, and the streets that
parallel the river have a lively market atmosphere where one can
explore without being harassed.
We flew to Abu Simbel, where we stayed overnight at a hotel,
affording us the chance to stand on the banks of Lake Nasser as the
sun set behind the colossal statue of Ramses II.
The rate of the 16-day program was $5,150 per person double,
including accommodations; most meals ashore; the cruise and
on-board meals; domestic flights in Egypt; all shore excursions and
sightseeing, and tips to the Hapi crew but not to the
For more information, contact Lindblad Expeditions at (800)
397-3348 or visit the Web at www.expeditions.com.