Had an excellent trip with diverse experience across Morocco. The trip was very smooth and great value for money, highly recommended!
Had an excellent trip with diverse experience across Morocco. The trip was very smooth and great value for money, highly recommended!
Just spent the last 10 days in and around Egypt with our tour company 'Encounters Travel'.
Where oh where do I begin? This will take some time, so please, sit back, relax and enjoy this feedback!
I've previously travelled to Egypt 11 times and this was my 12th trip. Was supposed to travel last year but owing to the uprising out there, the tour was cancelled until August 2014 at a reduced price.
From the moment we landed in Cairo, we were treated like Queens by the tour rep 'Khalifa' who gave us the most sincere welcome as he greeted us at the airport. We were also given a little canvas goody bag with a t-shirt and welcomed wet wipes! :-)
The streets of Cairo bustled with activity, the drive was approximately 90mins but gave us the opportunity to take in all the sights and sounds this wonderful city has to offer.
We could see the pyramids on our approach and how lucky we're we when we turned into Pyramids Road directly in front of the Great Pyramid to be informed our hotel was literally across the road from one of the most famous landmarks in the world!
The hotel - Mena House is truly outstanding, deserved of it's 5 star rating. Our room overlooked the pool and was reached by a short walk or a golf cart buggy away from main reception (this is available 24/7)
Khalifa waited until we'd checked our room to make sure everything met our standards and all was ok. Ok? It far exceeded our expectations and we couldn't ask for anything better.
The following day, after a hearty breakfast we again met Khalifa with 3 other ladies who were on the same tour. All were from the UK and fortunately we all seemed to 'click' straight away.
This is a busy tour, lots of travelling and early wake up calls so Khalifa made a suggestion of flying down to Aswan rather than spend over 12 hours travelling south by mini bus. Yes, this was an extra monetary add on but it only cost £100 as it also included an extra night at the Mena House Hotel AND a night at the Sonesta hotel in Luxor plus a flight from Luxor back to Cairo. As a group, we all agreed to pay the extra and soooo glad we did as the roads are not the best and we actually gained extra time by travelling this way! If you're offered this option, I'd say 'jump at it, you certainly won't be disappointed!'.
Our first excursion was to the Pyramids and Sphinx then a short drive down to Saqqara to visit the Step Pyramid. Our tour guide for our duration in Cairo was 'Mo', his enthusiasm and knowledge knows no bounds. So very, very informative. We had plenty of time to venture and take photos and was surprised at how very quiet it was which was a welcoming surprise!
The following day, Khalifa escorted us to the airport and sorted everything for us before we took the 90minute flight down to Aswan. 90mins instead of 12 hours plus, no contest!
We were met by the Aswan Encounters tour guide Ed and taken to our next 5 star hotel (Helnan Hotel) that overlooked the Nile. Again, beautiful hotel with lots of amenities.
Following morning was an early start to join the convoy down to Abu Simbel. 3 hours later, we arrived and everybody was in awe at the splendour before them. Ed had arranged a wheelchair for me from the hotel as I have mobility problems and walking long distances is an issue for me but again, nothing was too much trouble for our guide to sort out.
Later that day, we joined our Cruise boat (upgraded to a suite instead of a cabin, so again, was pleasantly surprised) while the other 3 from our party joined their Felucca. We were supposed to have a guide accompany us but I asked Ed if we could travel on our own as I didn't feel a guide was needed on the 3 day cruise. A few phone calls later, this was arranged without any fuss whatsoever.
Three days of total relaxation followed, with plenty of food and lots of entertainment - all inclusive but drinks were extra. Much fun was had by all on board. We stopped at Kom Ombo and Edfu for passengers to visit and buy local goodies from the traders.
Eventually we arrived in Luxor where we disembarked and on to our next hotel, the 'Sonesta'. We met up with the 3 others who'd sailed up by felucca and we eagerly swapped stories of our travels.
The following morning we drove over to the West Bank and visited the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut's Temple, Colossi of Memnon and a local alabaster factory where we were given a talk and demonstration. After a long day, we returned to the hotel and said our farewells to Ed who returned to Aswan and was handed over to our next guide who would ensure our safe arrival to Luxor airport early the next morning.
3 of us left Luxor the following day (the 2 others on their way to Hurghada to spend a few days at the Red Sea) and after a short flight of approx 75mins, we we're greeted by a very smiley Khalifa at Cairo airport.
We had an hour or so back at the Mena House Hotel before Mo (tour guide) came to take us to the Cairo Museum then out for a late lunch. You could spend weeks in the museum, spectacular to say the least and yet again, impressed with Mo's knowledge.
We were offered to go to the market for last minute trinket shopping but think we were all rather tired and just wanted to return to the tranquility of Mena House Hotel.
The following afternoon, Khalifa had arranged a late check out for us, we set off back to Cairo airport where we said our farewells and boarded our flight back to the UK.
As stated above, I've been to Egypt numerous times but NEVER had an experience like this, nothing was too much trouble for all the Encounters Staff, they surpassed all expectations as did the standards of the hotels, food, cruise boat. From the moment we booked, 'Encounters Travel' ensures the smooth running of your trip and the welfare of it's clients. Nothing is too much trouble for them, they truly made this trip most memorable.
Would like to thank Anthony who's the UK Rep. Khalifah the Egyptian Rep. Mo and Ed the Tour Guides - you were all fantastic, helpful, knowledgable and you truly made our trip most memorable and entertaining.
I can't squeak highly enough of 'Encounters Travel' and look forward to booking with you again to your other worldwide destinations.
It was a fantastic tour to see the beautiful harmony of the nature and animals. The tour crew members were knowledgeable and very helpful throughout the tour despite some unexpected challenges. My wife and I traveled with two other couple friends of mine and we all were very satisfied with the experiences. It is a great value for the price. Two thumbs up!
I went on the Spicy Tagine tour to Morocco in March 2014, and I must say I enjoyed it a lot, every day was full of new experiences, new places and new emotions.
Our group was just the right size - 14 people, from different countries, more or less the same age (which is important, you know), we made friends very quickly and enjoyed each other's company... keeping in touch after the trip. Our guide Zou-Zou, a very open and cheerful person, somehow managed to make everyone feel happy:).
I think that the tour programme is well-thought-out. It covers mostly all interesting sights in Marrakech and southern Morocco. A very good combination of history, culture, nature and entertaining. And 3 days in Essaouira in the end of the trip is a perfect time for relaxation before going back home. I really think that adding Essaouira to the trip helps understand how diverse this beautiful country is. So if you have an opportunity to stay in Morocco for 12 days, I would recommend you to go there as well.
As for the hotels where we stayed during the trip - I liked most of them, but for the hotels in Tinerhir (which was more basic) and in Zagora (maybe I just had bad luck with the room). Breakfast could also be more varied in southern Morocco hotels.
The time in a berber desert camp was an exciting & unique experience: camel ride to the desert to see the sunset, stargazing was awesome, a night in a berber tent... well, the last one was really less exciting for me, but I know many people who enjoyed it:).
The whole trip is very well organized, so you don't need to worry about anything, just enjoy a good company and a fabulous country of Morocco.
Huge thanks & looking forward to another trip with Encounters Travel, next time to Nepal:).
We got back recently from a 9 day tour of Morocco, specifically the south. Wow what an amazing experience. Our guide Idris, and our driver Monir felt like long last family by the end of it. They were so helpful and friendly and even took time to teach us Berber and Arabic. Always smiling and full of information and questions it felt like we were travelling with friends rather than on a tour. The group we were apart of were a variety of ages, backgrounds and beliefs and Idris did a fantastic job at uniting the group and we left with 9 new friends. I have been on many group tours and it is very very very rare that everyone wants to hang out together every single evening.
We did encounter a sandstorm the evening we were supposed to sleep in tents in Merzouga. Idris very quickly found us all comfortable options to sleep in rooms and avoid eating Sand all night.
Thank you so much for an amazing experience and we are looking forward to our return to Morocco and many more Encounters Travel adventures in the future :)
It was my first trip to India and with Encounters. I was told I might be charged single supplement but not until after I booked, I was charged 55% more than the price they listed which I think it's not reasonable. The pace of the tour was very slow, we went back to the hotel early or mid afternoon (if we had lunch before going back) almost every day with no optional tours or suggested activities for us. Most hotels we stayed were below the average standard (I will give 3 star or lower) and almost all in very remote locations. Some local guides were aggressive, one guide even lured us to a very expensive restaurant and ordered something not on the menu... The last two days were completely waste of time, only hours of driving from city to city with nothing to see or worth to stop. I don't think I will join their tours any more, it's not worth it.
Thank you for your review. I’m very sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy the tour as much as you, or we would have liked.
It was unfortunate that we were not able to pair you up with another single traveller on the tour, but we do try to make the single room supplement rules for the tour clear on our website and tour dossier, and these should also have been shown on the site through which you booked the tour. I’m sorry if this was not made clear enough when you booked.
I’m not sure about the 55% price difference you mention. I can see that you bought the tour at a discounted price and while we have reduced our prices for the tour this year, you still paid significantly less than this year’s tour price, and also almost exactly the same amount as the other people on the trip.
When designing our itineraries we try to balance out busy sightseeing with free time to explore the places you’re visiting a bit more independently. The first few days of the tour in Delhi, Agra, and on to Jaipur are actually pretty full, with a whole day of sightseeing from around 09.00am to sunset in Delhi on Day 1, 4 hours driving plus visits to Sikandra, Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal on Day 2, and then around 5 hours driving plus visits to Fatehpur Sikri and a couple of hours at Keoladeo National Park en-route to Jaipur on Day 3. We then intentionally slow the pace down in Jaipur and provide two half day sightseeing tours with free time in the afternoons. Jaipur is a fascinating city and one which we find people enjoy exploring on their own, or booking an optional extra tour such as kite flying, market tours, craft workshops etc.. I accept that these optional tours may not have been explained as well they could have been in Jaipur and we’re putting together some new literature explaining these.
The last two days of the tour start with a drive from Jaipur to the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. We get there by lunchtime and the afternoon is free to explore on your own or with a member of staff from the hotel to see the village and mansions. The idea of this stop is to experience the slow pace of life in a sleepy Rajasthan village and have some more leisurely time after the pace of the big towns you’ve been in before. I understand that you went to a party with the hotel manager that evening. The next day then returns you to Delhi and we’ve found that our travellers generally like to arrive by mid-afternoon so that they can do some final sightseeing or shopping themselves in the afternoon/evening before flying home the next day. Again, I accept that we could have done better in explaining your options for this free time and we will work on improving this for future travellers.
With regard to the guides and restaurant meals, the guides can only responsibly take you to restaurants that are more geared up for visitors than locals and have less spicy food and good hygiene. This does make them more expensive, but the guides pay for their own food and you should not be asked to cover it. They may sometimes suggest interesting local dishes for you to try, but you should not feel obliged to choose anything you don't want. I’m looking into this further.
Overall, I am sorry that you didn’t enjoy the tour as much as expected. We remain happy with the general pace of the itinerary, but will look at doing better at explaining the various options available during the free time on the tour. We’d love you to travel with us again, and hope you’ll reconsider trying another tour or destination in the future.