Back in October 2010, I decided to visit Egypt. As I was travelling by myself on my first solo trip as an eighteen year old, I opted for my first (and only) organised group tour; the 10 day Egypt Encompassed tour with Oasis Overland, a UK based company which doesn’t seem particularly well known in Australia.
Just so it’s clear, this review is 100% my opinion and based on that alone – Oasis has had nothing to do with it!
The first thing that drew me to Oasis Overland was their excellent price. The Egypt trip was about $650 AUD (395 pounds) for 9 days. Of course, like with most tours, it really is more like 7 days by the time you account for the fact that the first day is arrival and the last day is your departure. That said, however, I still think this tour really is unbeatable value as it includes transport, accommodation and guide services. You do have to pay extra for optional trips and extra meals, however there is no pressure so it is easy to stick to a tight budget or indulge a bit more, depending on what you wish to get out of the trip.
The trip itself was great from the moment I arrived in Cairo. There was someone waiting to collect me from the airport despite my plane being delayed several hours, and we had plenty of time for the sights: The Great Pyramids and Sphinx (complete with a camel ride!), the National Museum and a visit to see how papyrus and statues are made. Later, we travelled on to Luxor for the Valley of the Kings and Aswan for Abu Simbel, which is absolutely phenomenal. For all of these trips, we were accompanied by an Egyptologist who provided plenty of insight into the history and significance of the sights. During this time we were also able to go to a perfume dealer and a market; both of these were great experiences but I do think that if you are looking for the best value, you are better off looking elsewhere.
Our main guide, Anna, was fantastic and the other travellers were really friendly. Even though this trip was short by Oasis’ standards, we became quite close over the short period and I have kept in touch with several of those I met on the trip.
All in all, I was really happy with the variety of cultural and historical activities available on this trip, and felt I was able to make the most of quite a short time in Egypt because of it. My only concern was that on the way back from Aswan, most other travellers continued onto Sharm Al-Sheikh where I returned to Cairo, and I was expected to catch a train back to Cairo alone, which was a bit intimidating for me as a young traveller. However, I decided to fly and found this a much more comfortable option.
I’ve actually decided to book with Oasis again for my trip to Africa in 2014, which is some indication that I was very happy with their service!