An honest review of Travel Talk Tours; Egypt and Jordan
Hello friends! It’s been a while. We’ve been some busy little travelers this past year that we’ve been away. We have a quite a bit to catch up on, that’s for sure! We’re gonna make this first blog post fairly simple. We’ll get into the nitty gritty details in the next few posts about our recent trip to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. For today, I just want to get started on a little review of the company we chose for that trip – Travel Talk Tours.
We ended up choosing to do a tour of Egypt and Jordan, then traveled through Israel on our own. We’ve never done a tour before, but it seemed like an easy choice for this trip since there is SO much to see. Visiting Egypt has been a childhood dream of mine. It just seemed like such a daunting task trying to fit everything. There is a lot to do and see in these countries. Since it is a much different type of trip than visiting somewhere like Europe, it gave us peace of mind having the transportation and planning figured out for us.
We’re very glad we ended up doing a tour and 100% recommend seeing this part of the world in this way. We brought along two friends on this trip and I think we all agree that this was the trip of a freaking lifetime! It was so fun to experience it all with each other! If you’re on the fence about visiting any of these 3 countries, I can confidently say that you should definitely GO!
Since I couldn’t find a ton of resources on this specific tour, I’ll breakdown what we did, how much it cost us, and all the things I wish we would have known ahead of time. I hope this is helpful and I hope one day you all make it to see this part of our world!
We chose Travel Talk Tours for our Egypt and Jordan adventures. We ended up going with them for a couple of reasons.
They offered the most options when it came to itineraries and the routes that they followed throughout Egypt and Jordan.
They cater to a younger, more adventurous crowd which appealed to us since we love meeting other likeminded travelers. Their demographic is 18-39, although we did have a couple travelers who went over this age range. They got along just fine, so if you happen to not meet that age criteria, don’t let it deter you!
The other reason is their price point. Travel Talk’s base price is pretty cheap for what is offered. They basically cover all hotel rooms, breakfasts, and the transportation between stops. Compared to a few other tour companies this is the best bang for your buck. We’ll get more into the pricing in a bit.
We chose the 15 day Egypt and Jordan discovered by Nile Cruise. We were choosing between the Nile Cruise and the Felucca tour and we’re VERY grateful we went with the cruise. I’ll definitely go in to more detail in the next post about our actual days spent in Egypt, but lets just say that when we were all needing a toilet every 15 minutes, it was really nice to retreat to our own room to do so. 🙂 The felucca is basically a sailboat that they turn into a big bed that sleeps 10-15 people. A lot of our group went with the felucca and loved it, although it was a bit more of a rugged experience. The bathroom is located on a little motor boat that follows the felucca and will come close when you need it. The felucca group did get to swim in the Nile and have beach bonfires, so it just really depends on what kind of experience you want.
The accommodations of Travel Talk are exceptionally nice and most of them are 3-5 star hotels. A few of the places we stayed were the nicest hotels we had ever been to. Which was a nice surprise because I’ll be honest – I didn’t expect that in Egypt. A lot of our preconceived ideas about the country were shattered, in the best way!
We started in Cairo and ended in Amman, Jordan. We spent 11 days in Egypt – about 9 days on the Africa side and 2 days on the Asia side on the Sinai Peninsula. Then we journeyed to Jordan for the last 4 days. Although there’s always places you wish you had a little extra time in, I think this amount of time in each place was really adequate for all the major sites and monuments. Here’s a look at how our route went with the number of days we spent at each stop.
As you can see, we covered a lot of ground, which meant we ended up spending quite a bit of time in our bus. We had two 9 hour bus rides from the North to South of Egypt and back. Then a decent drive over the border into Jordan. But in our opinion, it’s a give and take. Given the amount of time, we were bound to have some long rides in order to see everything. Travel Talk really does a great job of maximizing your time to really get the most out of your trip.
Along with that, they do a great job of showing you all the touristy and famous sites, along with experiences you wouldn’t normally know about or see online. They mix the tourist and local stuff really well to make it still feel like you’re getting a unique experience instead of a super generic tour. For example, we went to a lot of local bazaars and had dinner with local families. For the price, we felt like we got the most convenient and comprehensive tour of Egypt and Jordan.
Travel Talk actually does a decent amount of discounted pricing throughout the year and it’s worth it to wait for that. We bought our tour when they were doing a 2 for 1 sale, which gave us a significant discount. I recommend signing up for their email subscription so you know when their next sale is coming. We got our tours for $1260 per person, saving us almost $500 on each tour. On top of this price we paid $250 per person in cash when we checked into Cairo. I’m still unsure what this totally went to, although it was described online as a local payment.
The pricing of our same tour is currently $1700, but now includes the local payment. The biggest thing to note is that the tour is not all inclusive. It doesn’t include any of your entrance tickets, meals outside of breakfast, tips, visa, or transportation to the airport. This isn’t the case for all of the tours, so look into the fine print when deciding on which suits you best. We didn’t have to figure out our transportation from the Cairo airport to our first hotel, but did find transportation out of Jordan. Make sure to factor a taxi price into your budget as well.
I’ll be completely honest, there was a lot of extras that we paid for on our own. There was about 6 optional activities in Egypt and 4 in Jordan. We knew we probably wouldn’t be back to this area for a while so we partook in everything! This added to the feeling that everything was a “once in a lifetime” thing. We did almost every single activity and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you do the same! Be prepared to pay a decent amount on top of your base tour price and budget for the extra expense. If you’re a single person, it won’t be as bad. As a couple we paid quite a bit more than we had initially anticipated – but still recommend doing everything extra!
We paid for all of our lunches and most of our dinners, averaging about $10-12 per person per meal. Breakfasts were almost always provided and they were always a large spread. Our cruise meals were included, so for 3 days we didn’t worry about buying any meals.
Another thing we didn’t initially realize we were paying for was our entrance tickets to the monuments. This ended up being a pretty significant amount of money. Again, if you know how much to budget for it, it doesn’t have to seem like so much. That’s why we’re here to help, since we had literally no idea what we needed to save!
On our first night in Cairo, we were given a list of the optional activities that we paid for in advance that night. As well as paying for the activities, Travel Talk also collects a mandatory tip for the hotel staff and the drivers. This goes for Egypt and Jordan. At the end of our time in Egypt, we gave a cash tip to our guide Mo and another cash tip to our guide in Jordan. Although this is technically optional to tip your tour guide, we recommend budgeting this in because your guide is well deserving! It’s up to you how much to tip, although Travel Talk recommends $3-5 a day as a fair price.
In Egypt, NOTHING is free. Culturally, there is a tipping system called the backsheesh. You will hear it for just about everything. Someone opens the door for you, tip. Someone offers to take your photo in front of a monument, tip. It can be really overwhelming and at times pretty annoying, but it’s part of the Egyptian culture! We just made sure to ask Mo when it was actually appropriate and when we should give someone a backsheesh. Make sure to keep some small bills and coins on you when the backsheesh occasion occurs.
Price Breakdown Per Person
Local Payment: $250
Travel Insurance: $182
Entrance Fees: $140
Optional Activities: $360
Approximate Egypt Total: $758
– The Jordan Explorer Pass includes a 2 day entrance to Petra and waives your tourist entry visa fees.
Entrance Fees: $25
Optional Activities: $78
Exit Fees: $13
Approximate Jordan Total: $352
* Approximate Total per person : $2,802 – this will depend on the extras you choose, souvenirs, etc. and doesn’t include your flights!
Having a guide
This one doesn’t need too much explaining. A guide felt essential, especially in Egypt and was also nice in Jordan. We just couldn’t have gotten the same background history on our own. Our experience in Egypt really wouldn’t have been the same without our tour guide, Mo. He was local to the area, born and raised in Aswan and had studied immensely to be a tour guide. We got to explore a lot more on our own in Jordan but our guide Osama was very helpful when it came to the history of the country and the attractions we visited.
Tour size vs. group size
This one is a little hard to explain but I’ll try my best. Since there are so many different options for tours, Travel Talk breaks people up in to smaller groups based on your itinerary. Lets say there was 100 of us that started our journey in Cairo all together. We got broken up into 3 groups – A, B, and C – of around 30 people. Most of our group (B) was on the same tour through Egypt, but some split up before we headed to Jordan. Some people from group C ended up on our Jordan tour – so we got new friends for that leg of the trip. This smaller size group ensured none of us could really get lost and we got a more intimate experience with our guide and each other.
Having the itinerary taken care of/ease of travel
I mentioned this above already, but it cannot be understated. Egypt was a daunting place to plan and the fact there was an itinerary that felt just for us was amazing. Our itinerary hit everything I wanted to see and even things I didn’t know I would’ve missed seeing. The fact that all of our inner city and inner country transportation was taken care of gave us total peace of mind. Especially since the public transportation is basically non existent. Having a nice air conditioned bus in 100 degree weather was the cherry on top.
We felt very safe
This could have been due to the fact we had a really nice bus (the nicest out of all 3 groups!) or maybe that we had a security guard on board with us at all times. Either way, Egypt and Jordan were both 10 times more safe than we anticipated. Cairo was probably the place we felt most unsafe – but in a city of 21 million people, I think that’s normal. We also had a full blown police escort when the 3 tour groups caravanned to southern Egypt and back. The Egyptian Tourism Board actually requires this for tour groups. They are definitely taking precautions to make tourists feel safe!
Meeting new people while still getting privacy
You guys know we are big proponents of hostels, we love them. We love the experience that hostels bring us getting to meet new people. This tour gave us the luxury of having our own room but still getting that hostel style experience with our group mates. This was probably one our favorite elements of the tour. If you’re a single on this tour, Travel Talk will bunk you up with another single, most of the time. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get your own room for a night or two! Either way, everyone will be meeting up in the common areas to hang out so you’ll get a chance to meet new people no matter what.
The extra expenses
This can be avoided when you know ahead of time how much to budget or at least a ballpark range. You also don’t have to partake in every optional activity and can save money by not doing lunches with the group. We recommend not doing that, but if you’re really on a tight budget it might help.
The time spent traveling between places
This just comes with the type of trip this is. I’m not sure there’s a way to avoid this unless you have an unlimited amount of time to visit these countries. Even then, you’re probably not interested in doing a tour if that was the case.
Not enough time in some of the monuments
This one comes with the territory too. It’s already hard to herd a group of 30 or so people through a monument. Then add the time explaining to them the vast history and then also giving them free time to explore on their own. We spent extra time in some places we wish we didn’t and didn’t get enough in the places we really wanted. Sometimes it just works like that. Our guide was really gracious to our group and let us go off on our own if we didn’t want to listen to his explanation. He always gave us a time to be back at the bus and let us make our own decisions.
Go in with an open mind! Like I mentioned above, sometimes we can’t get the best of both worlds. Yes we spend a lot more time in the bus than we initially anticipated, but your options are seeing the most you can or spending an extended amount of time in Egypt. Given the timeframe, we had to maximize our time the best we could. This also goes with your preconceived ideas about the country of Egypt itself. We had our own ideas about its safety, culture, people, religion, etc. We learned a LOT and we’re really grateful we had a local guide to show us the good, bad, and ugly of his country. He really changed our view of the Egyptian people.
Egypt and Jordan are both Muslim countries. If you’ve followed this blog or know Kenny and I at all, you know we love to find the best local beer when we travel. This was probably the biggest culture shock we experienced – alcohol is almost NON EXISTENT. Egyptians smoke like its a national pastime, but you won’t find a corner bar anywhere in the country. Now, they know that most tourists aren’t Muslim. There are duty free stores to buy booze, open at very specific times. For certain times, like the cruise or felucca, your guide will get a list of alcohol you want and bring it for your convenience to enjoy. Don’t plan on finding anything you’re used to in the States, and to be honest, don’t even plan on liking what you’re drinking. But if you really have a hankering for a beer or liquor, there will be at least one option from the duty free stores. Just something to be aware of, since it was very different than anywhere we’d ever been. We’re gonna talk a lot more about this in our podcast episode on Egypt, coming soon!
If you’re on the fence between the Nile Cruise and the Felucca, I’d still say go with the Cruise. Most of our group went with the Felucca and had a great time, but we loved our intimate and relaxing time on the river boat. The felucca is definitely a very unique activity, but if having a bathroom close by is important to you, go with the cruise. We might have missed the beach bonfires but I think we got just as fun of an experience with the cruise staff and small group activities.
Do all the optional activities! A lot of them are things you might not ever get to do again in your life so why not live it up while you’re here!
At some point during your time in Egypt, you will probably get sick. Almost everyone on our tour got sick. Drink only bottled water and for the first couple days try not to eat anything raw or uncooked. Travel insurance was mandatory on our tour but I’m so glad we had it just in case. We went with World Nomads and definitely recommend having insurance for this trip!
Okay folks. There you have it. Our very in depth and honest review of Travel Talk – and why you should use them for your next vacation! Let us know any other questions or comments you have below!
Til next time,
The Traveling Taveners