This woman has put together the Egypt trip of a lifetime! I am forever grateful my cousin found this tour, I cant put into words how happy my family and I are (aged 22-41). Our lives have been enriched and refreshed. We just finished the 14 day tour this November. Everything was perfect- the accommodation (hotel, ship, mara house) all fine quality, the destinations (hidden treasures without tourists), the service/care given to each individual, the educational guides through each location. Wow, wow, wow. I cant fault it.This was exactly the holiday I needed from my busy/stressful life.
My husband and I just got back from Egypt and we had a wonderful time staying with Mara House during our time in Luxor. We took up her 3 day Luxor package (you can find the details on her website) which we found to be a great deal. PRE-TRIP EXPERIENCE Mara was very responsive to my emails, and she also helped to answer questions I had about the rest of Egypt e.g. the situation regarding protests in Cairo. She was also very accommodating in holding my preferred dates until I could confirm my availability. On arrival to Luxor, although she was out of Luxor and busy with her group tour with other guests, she still made the effort to check-in on us during our stay, which we really welcomed. ACCOMMODATION (a) Room comfort The room we got was HUGE. We got a spacious living area attached to the bathroom, and an equally spacious bedroom. Our room was beautifully decorated and reminded me so much of home. Everything is also very clean. The bathroon is a wet bathroom with no shower partition but this didn't bother us because we are Asian and many Asian countries have this sort of bathroom design. The bathroom uses a water heater that pre-heats a fixed volume of water when switched on, so you have to wait 30 minutes before using it, but the water is nice and hot once it is ready. If you indulge for too long the hot water will run out and you will need to wait for it to heat up again, but the amount that is heated each time is honestly sufficient for a normal length shower for one person (and even sufficient for two people if you don't indulge). The bedroom has both air-conditioning and a fan that is available for use. Wifi was hard to access as we were at the very top floor of the house but since we had a local sim card with plenty of mobile data, we didn't mind this. The comforts of this accommodation aren't meant to match the luxuries of a 5 star hotel, so I think it will be very unfair to expect it to be of the same standard as that of a 5 star hotel. (b) Location Mara House is located in a residential area away from the main tourist belt. The airport is quite close at about 20 minutes drive away, and Luxor train station is at an easy walking distance. We enjoyed a walk to the train station to explore the fruits and vegetable market and we were not hassled by anyone along the way; it is safe and a great look at local life. If we had more time in Luxor, I would have liked to walk all the way to Luxor temple and enjoy the beautiful promenade along the Nile. Also, I wouldn't call the streets outside Mara's House ugly. I think they have a very quaint charm to them (in fact I think the street can be very pretty with its colours--have a look at my picture if you'll like). This is REAL Egypt. If you do not like how real Egypt looks then you will probably have to stick strictly to the tourist belt and luxury hotels for the sanitized version of the country. You might want to bring earplugs just in case, as the locals had a wedding party on one of the nights here, so it got quite noisy. But for the rest of our time here it was very peaceful and quiet. You will hear the call to prayer in the early morning, but we went back to sleep easily enough once it ended. (c) Hospitality & Food Although Mara was not around, Amr and his team still provided amazing hospitality in looking after us. Bottled water is complimentary and the snacks and drinks provided for sale are as good as local prices (way cheaper than back home, and also without any trouble of bargaining or facing any hassling). You'll get a good taste of Egyptian fare here and this was actually some of the best Egyptian food we've had on our trip. Everything is hygienic as well and we had zero stomach troubles during our stay. I have attached a photo of the Salahadeen feast we enjoyed as part of our package. On our last day we wanted to get some souvenirs before returning to Cairo, so Amr actually took us out personally at night to the money changer first as we needed some EGP, then he took us to a trusted store and reminded us to bargain very hard ;) TOUR PACKAGE We took up Mara's 3 day Luxor Package which covered one half day visit to Karnak temple and Luxor temple, one full day visit to Abydos and Dendera, and one full day visit to the best sights of the West Bank (e.g. Valley of the Kings, Temple of Queen Hatshepshut, Medinet Habu, Tomb of the Nobles and Tomb of the Workers). There is a packed lunch provided for the long day to Abydos & Dendera (we had tuna mayo sandwiches with chips, chocolate croissant snacks, and water--simple, but good enough for me!). For the tour of the west bank we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the Nile and the food here was really good! We had a great time on tour with Mohammed, and while visiting the Valley of the Kings it was revealed to us by other tour guides that "we were very lucky to have him because he was their professor"!!! I liked how his explanations were simple enough for the normal tourist who was not crazy about Ancient Egyptian lore e.g. my husband, while at the same time I could go a bit more crazy asking about every single detail I saw on the walls... Note: Do NOT miss Dendera!!! It is mindblowingly beautiful. I have attached a photo of its beautifully first hypostyle hall with its restored colours. CONCLUSION Mara House served all our needs perfectly and was a home away from home for a country that could get a little difficult at times even for seasoned travellers like my husband and I. I feel the need to mention that my husband and I are usually independent travellers and we did try visiting several sites in Egypt on our own without a guide... but going with a guide really makes a huge difference to your understanding and appreciation of the sites especially those from Ancient Egypt. For example, in the Temple of Philae in Aswan we were absolutely clueless as to what we were looking at even though I had found some information online as a reference of things to look out for. So I fully recommend going on tour with a good guide to the sites in Egypt as much as possible. Lastly, I'll like to mention that finding a host / tour provider that you can trust in Egypt is absolutely essential in keeping your trip pleasant. As an example of how things can go sour very quickly, we unfortunately booked a horse riding day trip in Cairo that worked in "Egyptian ways" e.g. the tour ended up unlike what was marketed on their website; the guide didn't bring us to a place where we had already paid entrance fee and then claimed to the owner it was a miscommunication issue due to language; the guide badgered us mid-tour for MORE tips when we already gave him 10USD at the start (as was requested by the owner to solve the problem of no change), the 3 hour ride became just 2 hours... Thankfully we had none of that #@#$ during our stay with Mara. No feelings of being shortchanged or cheated, no feelings of being hassled for tips during your tour or being told your tips are not enough, and really just genuine, SINCERE hospitality, so that you can remember your trip and all the amazing sites you've seen with fond memories forever!!!! Thank you, Mara, Amr, Mohammed, and the rest of the team with Mara House Luxor!…
I joined a small group tour during Nov 2019 with Mara House tours. Everything was taken care of in such a great way. The tour included a wide variety of experiences. The tour manager Ahmed and tour guide Mo really spoiled us with many surprises and were always available to support us in any way needed and more! Ensure that your tour include a stay over at Mara House in Luxor for at least two nights for a special Egypt experience. I felt safe at all times. The security in Egypt is of very high standard. Apparently recently voted second best in middle east and eight in the world. They also have a special Tourist Police unit which is very visible and caring towards tourists. Do yourself a favour and visit Egypt with Mara from Mara House to plan and organise your tour.
Mara's guesthouse was just what I was looking for as a solo traveller not wanting an anonymous hotel. Mara and her staff bend over backwards to help you with whatever you need, the house and rooms are lovely, clean, comfortable, Mo the guide was superb (and the sites absolutely spectacular), the food just excellent. Lots of stories and good tips too. Recommend.
I would highly recommend Mara House. Mara was very helpful in organising my stay and tailoring tour options to suit the time I had available. She was also very accommodating, allowing me to return to the room after my day of touring and rest and shower before my flight in the early hours of the following morning. The house itself is beautifully decorated and comfortable, and I really appreciated the fact that it wasn’t on the ‘tourist strip’. The tour itself was brilliant. Mohammed was very knowledgable and friendly and made my tour of the Valley of the Kings and associated sites, plus Luxor Temple well worth the visit! Ahmed the driver was also wonderful. Overall I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Mara House to anyone visiting Luxor.