Egypt Tour Testimonials
Details on the Nile, March 2012 Specially Arranged by Ker & Downey for [Keene Luxury Travel] Escorted by Ken Hutyra and Ngaire Keene Hutyra
I have finally gotten the chance to put into words what an incredible trip NILE was. Mark and I had always wanted to go to Egypt, and walk where the ancients had walked; nothing was so awe-inspiring to us, as citizens of a very "young" country. We were always a little uneasy about how to go about planning a trip like this; so much to see, how do you get from one place to another, and how safe is it, anyway? When we found out that NILE was going to happen, that was all we needed. What could be better? A group of friends, our favorite travel agent, and history all around us.
From the minute we stepped off the plane in Cairo, we felt like celebrities. Not for us the bus to the terminal, the line for immigration, then the line for the visa, then pick up luggage and find transportation. We were whisked away from the foot of the stairs as we came off the plane, and taken to an air conditioned lounge, where we waited in comfort with our drink of choice. Our passports were taken, all necessary things were done, luggage was collected, and we met up with it at the mini-van. We had a driver and and escort, who told us what we were seeing (after he presented me with a bouquet of flowers) on the way to the hotel. Once we got to our hotel, we were again escorted into a lounge while being checked in. Then we were escorted to our room, to make sure everything was just right.
Every tour, every excursion was done with our comfort and happiness in mind. We had a "do it all, top speed" group and a "do what we can, at our own speed" group. Each group had a driver, an Egyptologist to tell us what we were seeing, an escort from the Egyptian government, and most of the time there was a tourist police car escorting us. We were never really told about all of this, it was simply done because South Sinai Tours thought it was the proper way to treat us as their guests.
We had our own, very private showing of the "sound and light show" at the Giza Pyramids, in a venue that would hold about 2500 people. There were 27 of us, we all had front row seats. We were invited into the private home of Mr. Antoine, the president of South Sinai Tours, for dinner with him and his staff. His home is amazing, and the gardens are beyond description. He made us feel like honored guests in his home, and the food was some of the best we had, during our entire trip. On the way there, we were all on the "big" bus; I looked out the window and commented that the smaller bus was beside us in traffic. I was told that Mr. Antoine provided that in case somebody got overly tired and needed to go back to Cairo early.
Every single thing that one of us thought we might need, South Sinai had already thought of it and provided it.
For our trip out of Cairo, to see Abu Simbel and cruise the Nile, we had our Egyptologists along (one for each group), and Mr. Antoine sent along our good friend Hossam (he met us at the airport and delivered us back when we eventually headed home) to make sure every single moment of our trip was perfection itself. We never checked ourselves into a hotel room; we sat and chatted while it was done for us. On our Nile cruise, we ended up having the boat to ourselves, at every stop South Sinai was there with two buses and more of their staff to accompany us. Our escorts had assistants! Every bus had a refrigerator on it with an endless supply of cold bottled water.
The boat cruise along the Nile was wonderful. The food was perfect; I would go to every meal planning to eat lightly. I would roll myself out of the dining room after every meal; there was no way to eat lightly, the food was simply too good.
Every hotel we stayed in was 5* at least. Breakfast was included, and some dinners; I honestly don't remember how many dinners, but there were a lot of them.
If I were telling somebody who was planning a trip to Egypt who to talk to, it would always be [Keene Luxury Travel], because they would use Ker & Downey, and South Sinai Tours. There are none better.
Ray and I would like to thank you and Brown and Keene for the wonderful trip to Egypt and Jordan this past March. When we did a Suez Canal cruise back in 2005 Ray said, “we are coming back to do a Nile cruise and land tour”. Return we did and what a wonderful experience it turned out to be.
From the time we stepped off our BA flight, only to be met at the gate by Hossam, our wonderful logistic’s man from South Sinai travel, who led us to a VIP Lounge while he took care of our visas and luggage to our deposit at our beautiful hotel, the service was excellent. Felt like a celebrity or a movie star with this VIP service.
I think the fact that you arranged for two buses and two Egyptologists was the greatest thing for us as Ray was able to “do-it-all” with Hany while I could do just “the highlights”with Henry on those days I felt like it. The guides as well as the people we met in Egypt and Jordan made us feel truly welcome.
Egypt, for me, was awesome as well as magical. Our private Sight and Sound tour of the Great Pyramids sitting there, in front of the Sphinx, where Cleopatra as well as Napoleon once stood made you realize how insignificant we are. Hard to believe we were the only ones there when it normally holds hundreds. As if this wasn’t enough, to be taken to a private yacht for a dinner cruise on the Nile was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Another wonderful night was being a guest of our host, Antoine Riad, Chairman of South Sinai Travel, in his beautiful home for dinner. What a delightful man he is, so warm and welcoming to all of us.
I would be hard put to choose the most outstanding sites, from the Aswan Dam, Luxor, Cairo to Petra in Jordan and our fabulous Cruise up the Nile...shades of Agatha Christi....was fantastic.
If I had one complaint it would be, that the time flew by so quickly....it always does when you are having such a wonderful time with great people.
I have started a Blurb book on Egypt and Jordon and will let you know when it’s completed. Once again, many thanks Ngaire, to you and Ken for putting together this outstanding Nile tour.
Till our next adventure together,
I have been somewhat remiss in not sending you a note expressing Cheron and my appreciation for our trip to Egypt. I had intended to write a commemorative poem to express our pleasure but the loneliness of being away from Ken and you blocked my creative juices so I am herewith being more conventional.
As you know, NILE was the first group endeavor for Cheron and I. We could not have been more pleased. Not only were our fellow travelers truly a joy to be with, the services provided and the extra activities you created could not have been duplicated on our own.
We fully expected to be impressed with the many wonders of Egypt's past but we had not really expected the high level of travel services and friendliness of the Egyptian people. Tourism is the principal business in Egypt and it appears that everyone wants to leave a positive impression. I had a distinct feeling that Egyptians have a real fondness for Americans. We have been asked by several people if Egypt is safe to which we emphatically answer in the affirmative. At no time during the trip did we feel at all ill at ease. The local tour company with whom you associated, South Sinai Travel, had incredibly talented personnel in Hany, Henry and Hossam. Each was attentive, knowledgeable and friendly and each had a great sense of humor. The warmth and generosity of the Egyptian people could not have better displayed than by South Sinai's owner, Antoine, who opened his home to us for a wonderful dinner and evening of conversation and I presume it was Antoine who orchestrated the private sound and light show just for our group's viewing.
I think a true testament to the success of NILE is the fact that when it was time to return home, we both were sad that we had not extended our trip to Jordan. Often toward the end a trip I get antsy to get home but in this case, whether it was Egypt and the Egyptian people or you, Ken and all our fellow travelers or both, neither of us were anxious to leave the group. Thanks for the experience.
With our move from Houston to Hilton Head Island, June and I have neglected to tell you just how much we treasure our experience a couple months ago on NILE. In a word, it was fabulous. June often tells friends and acquaintances that It was the very best trip we've ever taken, whether cruise or land tour.
The tour group of 27 people was friendly and compatible, and everyone got along tremendously well with each other. The Egyptian travel agency we worked with, South Sinai Travel (SST), was extraordinarily efficient, We were met at the Cairo airport and even before passing through immigration and customs, we were whisked to a private lounge. While we waited comfortably there, the SST representative secured our visas, then escorted us as VIPs through immigration, helped us locate our luggage from the carousel, and then accompanied us quickly through customs. A very nice private minivan carried us across Cairo to our hotel, the Four Seasons in Giza, which was on the Nile and whose service and accommodations were outstanding in every imaginable way. The tone for our entire tour was thus set at the highest level from the outset, and so it remained.
The SST tour guidesincludedvery well educated Egyptologists who spoke English fluently, andat every site we visited they were able to give us a very knowledgeable description of what we were seeing and the history behind it.June and I were with Ken's "do it all" group, but our friend Adelene stayed with yoursmaller group for people who couldn't manage strenuous activity, and both groups benefited from having an outstanding Egyptologist along.
After several days in Cairo, we flew on a domestic Egyptair flight to Aswan. We and our luggage were expedited through airport security andthe airline check-in, and both the aircraft and the airports were excellent. At no time throughout ourtwelve days on NILE did we feel uneasy in any way about our safety or security. The SST guides managed every detail smoothly.The group tours in Cairo, Giza, Aswan, and Luxor were outstanding. Our hotel in Aswan was first-rate, and the Nile cruise ship provided recently refurbished staterooms and truly excellent food and service.
NILEwas a tremendous value and a wonderful experience from beginning to end. The only thing I would have changed was our choice of airlines fromJFK- CAI and then from CAI-JFK. June and I had chosen to fly on Egyptair, primarily because it had a direct flight, The aircraft were OK and the food service in Business Class was generally acceptable, but, it being Egyptair, there was no alcohol served on board during those two long international flights.
We loved the trip, Ngaire, and we would do it again. Thanks so much for this truly fabulous travel experience.
I have always been a lover of ancient Egypt. Having had a taste two times off of cruise ships, I really wanted to spend at least two weeks with a Nile cruise to see the ancient and new that I hadn't been able to with a drop in and out in one or two days. People say "Aren't you worried about going to Egypt?". To be honest, I knew that on a [Keene Luxury Travel] trip I would be well taken care of. From meet and greet, to our great guide leading us through departure, we were well taken care of with great security. The Egyptian government doesn't want anything to happen to tourists. We are an important economic driver.
We stayed at lovely hotels in the nicest parts of town. My husband and I walked along the Nile, went to markets and even the Zoo where we were the only non-Egyptians there and never felt uncomfortable. They did want to take our picture with their children. Your chances of being hit by a car is far greater than an attack. Crossing a street is an adventure. Being with a group is a plus. Not only is it well organized so you do feel comfortable, but it fun to share this adventure with other people who are well traveled.So if you are considering a trip--GO. The time will never be better.
Just a quick note to thank you for the awesome trip you organized. Jim and I are still talking about what a wonderful time we had in Egypt on NILE; it was one of our best "land based" vacations ever!
The guides from South Sinai travel were fantastic: in-depth knowledge, infinite patience, inexhaustible energy, and always smiling and willing to share their wonderful country with us. The private Sound and Light show at the pyramids was amazing. With only our group right in front of the Pyramids of Giza at sunset with the call to prayer in the background - priceless!
The sites were as awe inspiring as we expected. It's still incredible to think we were walking through temples that were many thousands of years old and the product of an advanced civilization with exceptional engineering and scientificknowledge before the Greek empire began its rise.
We were impressed with the quality of theaccommodations, the food, and most of all the people of Egypt.We didn't really know what to expect - youget a very distorted view watching American television - butonce we arrived it was clear the whole country is really dedicated to and organized for tourism. I was surprised to learn it was their biggest "industry" and also surprised at the truly international nature of the tourists themselves. We felt very safeeverywhere we went and that allowed us to relax and enjoy learning about the history and the culture of the country.
We always look forward to our adventures with you and are eagerly awaiting our next journey.
Egypt has long been on my wish list, but since I was a woman travelling alone, safety was a major concern for me. When I learned that Ngaire was organizing a trip to Egypt, I jumped at the opportunity.Knowing Ngaire's organizing skills, I knew that the trip would be first-class from start to finish. I can now say that my expectations were not only met but far exceeded.
The itinerary was excellent and well-executed. We were on a schedule to see the best that Egypt had to offer, but I really never felt rushed or overwhelmed. The hotels were excellent andwell-located. The tour guides we had in Egypt were flawless. Not only were they personable and knowledgeable, they were genuinely caring and catered to everyone's needs. They streamlined airport arrivals and departures (no small feat in a country with tight security).
We had security with us when we travelled in certain areas, and they werewatchful but never intrusive. At no time did I ever feel unsafe.
A real highlight and treatwas dinner at Antoine's house, the owner of the tour company. It was a lovely evening, with wonderful food and spectacular gardens to stroll through.
Another great moment was the private sound and light show at the pyramids. Since we were the only people there at the time, we satright up front(now I know how royalty feels!)and enjoyed the spectacularpyramids lit up in different colors.
The Nile cruise was very enjoyable, andI wish I could have spent more time in Lhave spent more time in Luxor. It is an open-air museum and Icould have stayed here for anotherweek. There is just so much to see in Egypt.
All in all, this trip was definitely one of my favorite trips ever. My thanks to Ngaire and Ker and Downey for planning this amazing trip!