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Highlights of the Maasai Mara from AAC team member, Sarah Taylor

Jambo! (which is Swahili for “hello”). I am just back from Kenya’s Maasai Mara and enjoyed 8 glorious nights staying at Rekero Camp, Naboisho Camp and Angama Mara. The Mara is still the premier game viewing experience and I was thrilled to have multiple “big cat” sightings including several cheetah, lion and the elusive leopard. Besides great game viewing, other highlights included fantastic accommodations, picnic breakfasts on the open plains, an authentic Maasai village visit and sundowners. Look for my full trip report later this week.





AAC Staff Safari to Tanzania - October 2013

Saskia De Gouveia, Monica Kowalski, Karen Liza, Jessica Fraser and Sarah Taylor with their fantastic guide, Hillary MandiaThe AAC team of Saskia De Gouveia, Monica Kowalski, Karen Liza, Jessica Fraser and Sarah Taylor with their fantastic guide, Hillary Mandia


Our Guide - Hillary Mandia

On arrival at Kilimanjaro we were greeted by a beaming Hillary. His appearance was immaculate, neatly pressed and proudly wearing his AAC cap and shirt. His greeting was warm and sincere. Hillary enquired about our flights and brought us up to date on the rest of the group and what to expect for the rest of the morning. We found him to be well prepared with regard to our itinerary. The safari vehicle was kept immaculate and the cooler filled with water.  He shared a wonderful humor, a positive attitude that kept our group going in the most tiring part of the day. He loves his country and has superb knowledge of the game, birds and parks. He is extremely articulate and confident and made us feel comfortable and safe at all times.

Hillary was well known to most camp managers and staff and always obliging in answering questions. He went out of his way to incorporate game viewing into our already busy schedule by knowing the best routes to take and the conditions of the roads.

Hillary exudes professionalism and is a suburb ambassador for AAC.

By choosing to go the private safari route, and with the right Tanzanian tour guide, your dream vacation to Tanzania can be a truly exceptional experience. A private guide can make your Tanzania safari amazing:

With a private guide you are stuck to a groups’ schedule. Also, when traveling with a large group, you are frequently forced to stay in the ‘mainstream’ safari areas. By traveling with a local guide on a private safari, you have access to more remote wilderness areas—places seldom visited by other tourists. You also have a more flexible schedule that allows for off the beaten path exploration and a guide who can take you to the amazing places that no one else knows about. 

When it comes to tour guides, there is no replacement for hands-on experience, lifelong knowledge, and their past work ‘in the field’ that private guides have to offer. Many have past experience as park rangers, biologists, and conservationists in Tanzania’s national parks. 

Private guides can introduce you personally to the food, history, people, language, and culture of Tanzania. A private guide who both lives and works in Tanzania is the best person to keep you safe during your vacation. Your guide will be familiar with the rules, regulations. 

Hillary Mandia


Lake Duluti Lodge

After you go through a typical African village, you turn into a driveway that is an instant oasis of tranquility. The property is contemporary African chic, but feels very homey and cozy. Lovely, groomed grounds, built on a hillside, so perhaps have elderly folks situated closer to the main lodge. Pathways are concrete/stone.  Rooms are chalets with plenty of space, nicely appointed. Bathrooms are large with tub. Lovely pool area on a nice lawn up on the hill (steps) to catch the breeze. Nice outdoor shaded deck at the main lodge. Friendly staff. I would want to stay here and would highly recommend.

Lake Duluti Lodge

Tarangire Safari Lodge
The lodge is beautifully situated overlooking the river and a valley with herds of eles and buffalo. The main area has plenty of seating areas for guests to sit and relax and enjoy the views. Nice bar area with battery charging station. Dining room also large with unobstructed views. All the rooms/tents are built along the ridge, so all have nice views of Tarangire Park. Pathways are compacted sand. Tents are basic but nicely done with thatched roof and outdoor seating on a small patio. Bathrooms have one sink with good amount of counter space. Location in the park was great. Would recommend as an introductory property for a first-time safarier.  

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Lobby was welcoming in typical African décor. Curio shop on the left as you enter.  Staff was friendly. Continue in, and there is a lounge on the left, and bar with large seating area to the right, and outdoor patio seating, with view of a waterhole. There is also another lounge with computer/internet. Dining room is large. They had a nice show during dinner with singers and dancers moving around the dining room. Dinner was off the menu. Food was OK. Breakfast was buffet style and good. They have a BBQ once a week on the upstairs deck outside. Pathways are concrete/stone.  

Rooms were spacious, even with a triple, but a little bland in decor. Dressing area with desk and two chairs upon entry and an armoire. Bathroom has a roomy glass-enclosed shower only (no tub), with pedestal sink. Beds were comfortable with mosquito netting, but fan is outside of netting, so you can’t feel the fan. There’s a desk and chair in the bedroom and a bench to place luggage. Small outside back patio with two chairs, but no view except onto other rooms. Escorts were always lingering on the path to walk you to the main area (as there is no fence and wildlife is frequent)..  Nice pool area where they serve lunch at individual patios with tables and built in thatch roofs. They can handle disabled travelers as they have ramps everywhere. There are hyrax (dassies) everywhere!  Would recommend this property to a first-time safarier. Works for those with mobility issues as long as they are close to the main area. Although a large property, it does have nice intimate areas around the property for families.

Tarangire Sopa Lodge

Managers are very friendly and welcoming. L-shaped main area is open with thatch roof. Comfortable seating areas on one side, and dining tables on the other side. Looks out to the fire pit on meticulously raked sand. View from the fire pit is ok, with a bit of overgrowth. Paths to the rooms are loose sand. Tents are on raised platforms with nice views and lounge chairs on a deck under thatch. They have a nice lookout platform down some stairs where they can serve private dinners. I found it to be very cozy, and liked this camp a lot. One of my favorites. Would recommend this property to those that want a bit of luxury and seclusion – honeymooners especially. 


Little Oliver’s
Just a little further down the hill, and nearly identical to Oliver’s. Similar main area in décor and layout. Quite a distance to the tents. Very spacious tents, with desk and chair, a wardrobe closet that separates the bedroom from the bathroom.  Indoor and outdoor shower (no tub), and sink with a view. Managers are very friendly and welcoming – always smiling. Liked this camp equally to Oliver’s and would highly recommend.  



The large, open main area is covered with thatch and catches the nice breezes. Plenty of seating under thatch and out in the sun with palm trees for partial shade. Wooden walkway leads to the lovely pool area with nice view of the plains. Lots of loungers and some dining tables under partial thatch. Lunch was buffet style and food was average but the dining room itself was a bit sparse. Behind the buffet line, the wooden walls could have used a coat of paint as the doors and walls were noticeably dirty. Nice little shop to buy wines and beverages. Very spacious interiors with mosquito netting with basic, minimalist design, but perfectly functional. Outlets in the tents for charging, safes in rooms. Desk and chair in the rooms as well as seating area. Bathrooms have shower stalls only and single sink. Small outside porch with 2 chairs and table in the sun. Standard rooms had two double beds, larger outside porch. Staff was friendly.  


Manyara Ranch
Manager was welcoming. Tents are spaced nicely apart and are built on a platform on the ground. To get into the tent, there are flat rocks as steps to get onto the front porch. Those unsure of their footing might hesitate, although the rocks are not loose. The tents are not huge, but perfectly functional, with wardrobe closet, a desk and chair, and a chest to hold extra blankets. Showers are tented on all four sides in the middle of the bathroom and separates the toilet from the sink. Chairs are lined up outside the main area for sundowners, but without a fire pit. Main tent area is a large dining room table and just a couple of cushy chairs. The view is out onto the plains. This camp is simple and masculine, but intimate.

Manyara Ranch

Escarpment Luxury Lodge
Grand entry pathway into the lodge with welcoming staff and manager. Feels like a designer boutique hotel. Décor is very stylish with African feel with masks, and skins and organic materials, topped with feminine “bling”. Blue and purple glass chandeliers are unexpected, but compliment the satin pillows and chenille throws. There is internet access and a TV for viewing pictures only (not to watch TV). The main lodge has a wrap-around balcony for guests to have sundowners. Lovely pool and bar situated on the west side of the lodge for a great view of the sunset. The entire lodge overlooks Lake Manyara. Dinner was outside on the lawn, with live entertainment. Dinner was BBQ, buffet style and food was very good.  

Rooms are chalets and are very large and very nicely appointed. Beds with mosquito netting, and seating areas. Plenty of room when set up as a triple. Bathrooms have double sinks, a bathtub and indoor and outdoor shower.   Toilet and shower are separate rooms with doors that close for privacy. Large balconies for each room. Breakfast is buffet style and is very good. The property overall is very elegant, and would definitely be recommended for anyone who loves style and for honeymooners. Recommend also for the upscale traveler.  

Escarpment Luxury Lodge


Kitela Lodge

Nice surprise! Did not expect this lodge to be as great as it was – located in the Karatu area (2 hours from the crater). Twenty large units with 2 inter-leading rooms, 24-hour power, wifi in the public areas. The lodge grows its own veggies. Lovely swimming pool!  Awesome option if crater properties are unavailable and for the price point it is a great budget option.

Kitela Lodge

Gibbs Farm
The BEST property in the Karatu area!  Twenty units all decorated in a cottage theme – very homely and comfortable! No pool but amazing garden areas. We saw the Star House which is stunning - 2 double beds, en suite, fireplace, indoor and outdoor shower. The biggest attraction to this property is all the additional activities on offer – Maasai medicinal walk, garden walk, naturalist talks every night, bike riding, hiking to waterfall – they have an authentic gallery filled with local artists paintings – honeymooners get Amarula at turndown! 

Gibbs Farm

The Manor at Ngorongoro
Felt like I was visiting a lodge in Constantia, South Africa!  Beautifully appointed with magnificent gardens, horses on site and a billiard room. The older clientele will LOVE this place! Twenty rooms with a family house too which is double story – exquisite! Offer wine tasting, wifi in the common areas, coffee tasting, and mountain biking, spa and massage center.  

The Manor at Ngorongoro

Property is located 5 minutes to the crater gate and is 1 ½ hours from Tarangire – they even do day trips to Tarangire. Twenty cottages (triples are not a problem and they have 4 family units) – this Swiss owned lodge has all the bells and whistles!  Solar power, butler service, spar and massage centre, fireplace in each bathroom, mini bar is inclusive – lovely honeymoon option!


Lemala at Ngorongoro
In the Ngorongoro Conservation area on the slopes of the crater tucked away is this precious intimate well run mobile camp. The staff are super friendly and eager to please – the drop in temperatures was the only negative but their bedding together with the bush babies in the bed made for a delightful stay!  Nine tents available. They offer Maasai bomas and walking – A+ property that captures the African feel! 

Lemala at Ngorongoro


Dunia Camp

This 3 ½ year old camp that Peter manages is charming and has the Asilia touches throughout! Eight tents that can do a triple room! The gorgeous tented lounge features comfy chairs and sofas and open to the view.  100 % solar, wifi is coming, flush loos with bucket showers – can re charge equipment in the mess tent – delicious food and hand wash laundry! Superb camp option in the Southern Serengeti! 

Dunia Camp

Pioneer Camp 
Ten units including one family tent! No disabled access but has a great pool. This one year old property has solar back up, wifi in the common areas and has beautiful views! Beautiful spacious rooms (however tall people do have to duck every time you enter the tents or main tent). 

Pioneer Camp


Serengeti Serena Lodge
A great option for groups or budget travelers – very African feel with sixty six rooms. Great views of the Serengeti – they have a pool and do buffet style breakfast and dinner while lunch is a la carte. Had a lovely lunch here, for lodge food it was quite good!  

Serengeti Serena Lodge

We woke up in the luxurious Four Seasons Serengeti Lodge – 5 Star!  Our Savannah room was quite comfortable and luxurious. The view of the Serengeti from our balcony was breath taking. This is a very large lodge with 77 rooms, 2 Terrace suites with plunge pools, 5 villas, 1 being the presidential villa (which was extraordinary – over the top). For families they can accommodate 4 in most rooms. For honeymooners they can upgrade if available and offer sparkling wine and fruit basket in room. They charge for WiFi, Boma Dinners are $50.00. Breakfast buffet at 6:30am/Modified lunch/ Dinner buffet at 7:00pm. Food was very good. This is a good property for big groups, corporate incentive groups, people who are scared about staying in a tent. Sadly it offers no adventure or warmth. 
 Four Seasons Serengeti Lodge – 5 Star!

Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp – The manager, Ibrahim walked us around, he did a wonderful job. This is a very well-run camp and very organized. 16 Permanent Tents – facing the plains or kopjes (rock formations), Meals are plated, breakfast 6:30am, lunch 12:30pm, dinner 7:30pm. Bush dinner is extra fee. Manager showed us around to spotless kitchen. Free WIFI all over. Guests can keep their valuables in the safe in the Manager’s office. It was a very peaceful relaxing feel – very nice. Tent#2 great Kopi view, #11 & 12 best for physically challenged or elderly, #12A great plains view and very private. Property is all paved walkway – easy for physically challenged. I really liked it for clients that don’t have big budgets.

Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp

Serengeti Shared Camp – (mobile camp) The staff greeted us with the biggest smiles, cold moist towels and fresh squeezed juice! They were all wonderful! Such a great welcoming! Abu and Abel showed us around. Abu is the camp manager. Thirteen tents were immaculate, nicely decorated, had everything you could want!  They can accommodate triples in tents. Laundry is included. Meals at 6:00am, 1:00pm, and 7:00pm. All local drinks included. This was a wonderful camp. We toured the “kitchen” tent! Met the chef! Although the scenery was not that great, clients can feel so well taken care of. Excellent “bush” experience! I would love to stay. 

Serengeti Shared Camp


We slept at Migration Camp. permanent structure tents – very nice, with a decadent feel. Tents are kind of a far walk from main lodge and dining room. Lauren is the manager. This would be a difficult camp to stay at if elderly or physically challenged. WiFi in main lounge only. The sunset deck is beautiful for sundowners! Very nice pool. Extraordinary view! You have great opportunities to see the Migration. Guided walks are $75.00 pp. After dinner the staff came out with a cake for couple that were celebrating their anniversary on a private deck – they were singing “jambo, jambo” very festive and fun! The view of this place and the beautiful tents make this a very special place for me. 

Migration Camp

The next morning we had to get up very early at 3:30am for our balloon ride! It was very exciting! we had an unbelievable experience on the balloon! I would highly, highly recommend our clients not to miss the opportunity to do this! It is so peaceful in the balloon, so quite, the scenery is so magnificent. – Unforgettable experience!  After the amazing balloon ride we were treated to a fantastic champagne full breakfast, with freshly prepared omelets, meats, pastries and fruit. In the middle of the Serengeti such a luxurious breakfast! Our pilot was so knowledgeable and entertaining – over all an excellent experience! 

Olakira Camp is located very close to the Mara River, in Northern Serengeti; this is an excellent choice to stay at to see the migration (July-Nov). This camp can accommodate 23 guests and it has 27 staff members! There are 9 tents; families of four can be accommodated. Bucket showers and colorful robes in tents. Breakfast and lunch are buffet; dinner is served a la cart. The dining room and main lounge tent are decorated very nicely. The Manager – Martin was very profession and kind. Location, location, location!.

Olakira Camp

Sayari Camp is a lovely camp in the Northern Serengeti, not too far from Olakira. Kathryn and Ross – a great Zimbabwean couple, manage this camp. Sayari is decorated with modern furnishings, very clean and chic. The pool is a rock infinity pool – very inviting. The tents are beautiful. They have 15 tents, 33 guests. The tents can accommodate families of 3. Honeymooners are treated with champagne on arrival and private dining if so desired. Wildlife is abundant here -  hippos, elephants, lions, hyenas. Guest that day had seen a river crossing!  WIfi in designated area only in lounge. They want to keep a “bush” feeling, social area for socializing, not being on electronics. (very nice). 24/7 electricity.  Small spa, offer massages in Tent, mani/pedi services.  Blow dryers available lend out. Curio Shop. We had a delicious lunch here – freshly prepared and so tasty!  

Sayari Camp

Lemai Serengeti -  very chic! Very modern, all decorated with light colors – kinda “quirky” This camp features individual bungalows with shaded screened-in porches offering epic views and a great breeze.  It would be very difficult to stay here if at all physically challenged as the rooms are built into the rocks and cliffs. Great view from main lounge and dining area! – loved it! They were serving afternoon tea and cake, looked delicious. The bar area looked fun.

Lemai Serengeti

We slept at Ubunto Camp, this is a mobile camp. A very, very nice camp. David is the manager; he has a great sense of humor. The tents were very clean and comfortable. (we had a triple) The dinner we had here was amazing – delicious and freshly prepared. We ate at a communal table, met the other guest all very interesting and entertaining.  We had sundowners at the fire pit (known as “Bush T.V.”) The stars were extraordinary! The service was excellent! I would highly recommend staying here!  What an amazing way to end our safari in Tanzania! Ubunto Camp and the staff took my breath away! 

Ubunto Camp


This was my first safari! I always wanted to go and one of my questions was about the food….of course because I love to eat!!

A person like me that has never been in Africa worry about the food and sometimes you think the food can be a problem over there.

Now I have the honor to say that the FOOD WAS EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!

After been traveling for almost 24-hours…we got to Lake Duluti Lodge like around 10.00 p.m. and there was the chef waiting for us to make a delicious dinner!

Lake Duluti Lodge delicious dinner  Lake Duluti Lodge delicious dinner  Lake Duluti Lodge delicious dinner

Lake Duluti Lodge delicious dinner  Lake Duluti Lodge delicious dinner

I need to admit the I was kind of scared to try new dishes…so I told my traveler partner (Saskia) I hope that I like the food in here…and she said “Let’s bet something – if there is any…ANY food that you don’t like on this whole trip then I will take you out to lunch when we got back to the states BUT if you love all the food in this entire trip…YOU need to take me out to lunch.”  Now I’m still waiting for the day to take her out to lunch!!! 

The photo below shows why I need to take Saskia out to lunch ☺

Lake Duluti Lodge delicious dinner

She recommended the soups ☺ and I tried them all!!! Every time we were having lunch or dinner and it was soup on the menu I was not scared at all to try it because I was 100% sure that was going to be delicious!


Every morning when I wake up I was looking for breakfast!! Having breakfast on safari was amazing! It was really nice to wake up and go to have breakfast and find all the different foods on the table (sausages, bacon, eggs, fresh fruits, cereal…etc) And the most important thing…find those happy faces of the waitress waiting for you to serve you breakfast. When I was at home my breakfast was only a cup of coffee but when I was on safari my breakfast was a little bit of everything ☺ definitely enjoy each breakfast!!

Lake Duluti Lodge delicious breakfast  Lake Duluti Lodge delicious breakfast

Lake Duluti Lodge delicious breakfast  Lake Duluti Lodge delicious breakfast

Lake Duluti Lodge delicious breakfast  Lake Duluti Lodge delicious breakfast


This was the most incredible breakfast experience!!! To have the privilege to have breakfast in the middle of nowhere was amazing!!!

I could never imagine that you can have breakfast in the bush…Now I closed my eyes and remember looking at that beautiful table set with the champagne and the coffee and the delicious food!! Also you can enjoy the nice sound of the river and see the hippo and the crocodile was a great experience ☺ 

This was my favorite breakfast on the whole safari and I think everyone who goes to Tanzania will love to live this experience.

Bush Breakfast  Bush Breakfast

Bush Breakfast  Bush Breakfast

Bush Breakfast  Bush Breakfast


Enjoy lunches and all the different camps and lodges was a tremendous high plus on this entire experience!!! Every day it was a yummy lunch…

For me this was a great way to learn about different kind of foods. The presentation of each plate was always well done. The taste of each meal was delicious and one of the best highlights was the waitresses because they always have a smile on their faces!! Very nice people!!

Lunches and picnic lunch  Lunches and picnic lunch  Lunches and picnic lunch

Lunches and picnic lunch  Lunches and picnic lunch

Lunches and picnic lunch  Lunches and picnic lunch

The only part of the lunches on the entire trip was one of our picnic lunch boxes…was our first picnic lunch which was not that great…the hard boiled eggs were a bit weird and the chicken was not very tasty.


After been out for a whole day it was always nice to have some happy hour time and of course a magnificent dinner.

magnificent dinner

I think we all enjoyed our dinners at the different places on this trip! 

After having excellent breakfasts and lunches every day you will think “ok, what is for dinner?” and I can only said the dinner was better and better every day.

Dinner at the various camps and lodges are different because of the environment. Both are excellent but to have dinner in the tented camps was the most amazing experience I ever had on my life!!!

I also can say that I was very impressed of the portions of each meal…each was just PERFECT!!!

All the vegetables were FRESH!!! And perfectly cooked.

magnificent dinner  magnificent dinner

magnificent dinner
magnificent dinner magnificent dinner

Having dinner under the stars definitely gives you a taste of an African meal!!!

magnificent dinner  magnificent dinner
magnificent dinner  magnificent dinner
magnificent dinner  magnificent dinner  magnificent dinner

fire place outdoor  fire place outdoor
magnificent dinner magnificent dinner  magnificent dinner

- by: Saskia De Gouveia, Monica Kowalski, Karen Liza, Jessica Fraser and Sarah Taylor

Egypt Trip Report by Sarah Taylor

Cairo, Luxor, Aswan 
and a 4 -night Nile Cruise 
July 11-19, 2010

Egypt Trip Report by Sarah TaylorI am back from one of the greatest adventures I have been on. Although brief, my trip to Egypt is registering in the top 5 trips that I have ever gone on.

July 11
We arrived Cairo after a very smooth direct flight from New York -JFK. We were met at the airport and quickly driven to our hotel, the Oberoi Mena House.
Our check-in was handled smoothly and we were quickly whisked off by golf cart to our roo m which was located in the Garden Pyramid wing. This wing has been recently renovated and the rooms are gorgeous.

We ate dinner at the Khan el Khalili restaurant as we wanted something quick and simple. The menu had a nice mix of continental and ethnic cuisine. I enjoyed the kofta (lamb meatballs that are grilled) which was wonderful. We went back to our room and got ready for bed as tomorrow was going to be busy with a full day of touring.

July 12
I was wide awake at 4:00 am and ready for the excitement to begin. The breakfast buffet was served in the Khan el Khalili restaurant and offers a nice range of pancakes, eggs, grilled tomatoes and some interesting sausages made from chicken. There was also a decadent table filled with pastries, croissants as well as fruit and yogurt.

Egyptologist, Mohamed NabilFollowing breakfast we met our Egyptologist, Mohamed Nabil , in the hotel lobby. We know from selling safaris that the right guide makes the trip! A bad guide can leave a sour memory for the client - and a great guide can surpass even the pickiest client's expectations. That is what Mohamed did for us. In a word - he was AMAZING! Warm, funny and with a great sense of humor, he brought ancient Egypt to life for us. 

He was delighted to answer all of our questions (and trust me, we had a lot!) Everything from the culture, religion and debunking the myth that aliens built the pyramids (ha! Ha!) - Mohamed was patient and articulate, explaining everything to us. We were truly blessed to have him as our Egyptologist!

Our first day of touring consisted of Memphis, Sakara and then back to Giza for lunch followed by the Pyramids and Sphinx. Memphis and Sakara are about 45 minutes outside of town and it gave us a wonderful chance to see the rural life of Cairo. Memphis was the first capital of the Old Dynasty and dates back to 3100 BC. We saw a giant statue of Ramses II carved out of limestone (dating back to 1224) which is housed in an open -air museum.

A short drive took us to Sakara and the Step Pyramid. The scenery of this unique pyramid standing in a sea of desert is really spectacular and there were few tourists around which made the visit special. Following lunch we headed back out to the Great Pyramids and then on to the Sphinx. Visitors have the opportunity to climb into the Cheops Pyramid.

We were actually done around 3:30 pm and had the rest of the day at leisure which was ideal as it gave us a chance to go for a swim in the hotel's gorgeous pool. We had dinner in the Moghul Room, the Mena Ho use's famed Indian restaurant. They offer 2 seatings, 7:00 pm or 9:30 pm so we took the earlier one as tomorrow was a busy day. The food was fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Indian food.

July 13
We had a morning departure of 7:30 am and stopped enroute in downtown Cairo to pick up Mohamed and then it was off to the airport. We had a 9:00 am flight to Aswan and then a connecting flight to Abu Simbel. We landed in Aswan and right on the tarmac boarded our next flight to Abu Simbel. It was a short little flight to Abu Simbel.

Abu Simbel is absolutely spectacular! The main temple is dedicated to Ramses II and besides the spectacular hieroglyphics inside the true wonder of the site is that it was completely moved. I n the 1960's when the Aswan High Dam was built the resulting flooding threatened to destroy the temples. UNESCO stepped in, disassembled the temples and reconstructed them 200 feet above the original location.

Abu Simbel is absolutely spectacular!

We flew back from Abu Simbel to Aswan. I was so excited to arrive downtown Aswan where our ship was docked. The Sonesta Moon Goddess is fantastic! It's a small ship intimate in size and every cabin has a balcony. We met the ship's Manager who informed us that we had been upgraded to a one -bedroom suite. The suite was lovely with a separate toilet from the shower/sink area. The living room had panoramic windows and a large sofa with two chairs.

The ship held lunch for us (the time was about 3:15 pm) so we ate and then regrouped as we had a late afternoon felucca ride which was magical.

Following dinner we went up to the pool deck for some peace and quiet. The desert air was blowing in and it was such an odd thing to experience. The best way to describe it is that someone has turned on a blow dryer on super hot heat and aimed it at your face.

July 14
Today was such a delightful surprise. We got in the van and headed off to a launch site where we boarded a small boat to Philae Temple. This place was fantastic! Besides the temple being a unique and gorgeous hysterical site, there was a great breeze blowing and since we were there early, not many tourists.

Philae Temple

From there, we went back to downtown Aswan and then boarded a felucca which sailed us to the Botanical Gardens, a garden oasis and a p erfect place to wander around and enjoy the breeze. The ship sailed at 12:30 pm to Kom Ombo and docked around 3:30 pm. Mohamed suggested we tour the temple at 5:00 pm when it had cooled down a bit. The temple at Kom Ombo is walking distance from the ship and a lovely site to tour. On the way back from touring, there are quite a few shops selling trinkets and galabeyas, which everyone buys for the galabeya party which was the following night.

Egypt Trip Report by Sarah Taylor

The ship set sail at 7:00 pm for Edfu and tonight was Captain's Cocktail Party. It was nice to see everyone get dressed up.

July 15
This morning we were scheduled to tour the Temple of Edfu. We toured the Horus Temple at Edfu from 9:00 am until 10:30 am and then back to the ship as it was setting sail for Luxor.

Temple of Edfu

We met in the lounge as Mohamed was going to give us a talk on Luxor and the Valley of the Kings and Queens which we were going to visit tomorrow. This was so educational and insightful and really one of the highlights of the trip for me.

The cruise from Edfu to Luxor is some of the most scenic on the Nile and we enjoyed viewing it from our balcony. Everyone got dressed in their galabeyas and a traditional buffet dinner was served on the top deck. Then it was down to the disco for some dancin g and games. It was really fun!

July 16

Early morning wake -up and quick breakfast and then we all met at 7:00 am for an exciting day of touring. First stop was the Valley of the Kings. Tour guides cannot enter the tombs (as the noise would be too great with each one trying to talk over each other) , no cameras are allowed and they have put plexi -glass over the hieroglyphics from the floor up about 6 feet to prevent people touching them. It was unfortunate that the antiquities department don't put little signs in front of some of the more important hieroglyphics so travelers don't miss the important things. We visited Ramses III, XI and IX as Mohamed thinks they are the best explain of the brightly painted tombs.

Then we went on to the Valley of the Queens and Hatchepsout Temple - both of which are spectacular.

Egypt Trip Report by Sarah Taylor

I had been joking about the vast number of alabaster factories in Luxor and realized that it is inevitable that visitors will stop at least one during their stay. That being the case, I figured I needed to see one for myself and asked him to pick the best one. It was actually a really nice experience. The staff did not hassle you and there is every type of stone souvenir but it was the alabaster that really shines. I received my favorite souvenir on my trip from this shop - a gorgeous alabaster vase.

Then it was back to the ship for lunch and some time to relax (we had to pack as this was our last day on the cruise).

We had a special evening planned - the 3 of us were heading off the ship for some shopping in the Luxor bazaar and then dinner at the Steinberger Lebanese restaurant followed by a visit to one of the cafes along the Nile. We had a wonderful time!!

July 17
Everyone was asked to be out of their rooms by 8:00 am so we met Mohamed and left for touring the Karnak and Luxor Temples. The Karnak Temple is blow -your-mind amazing! One of my favorite sites during the entire trip!

Following our morning of touring we went to our hotel, the Sofitel Winter Palace. We quickly changed into our swimsuits and went down to the pool. We spent all afternoon there and it was the perfect way to end the Nile cruise portion of the trip. I would strongly recommend we encourage all clients to add the extra day in Luxor as it will give them a chance to regroup and relax.

Mohamed met us in the lobby at 7:00 pm as he was flying back to Cairo this evening and we were headed off to the Karnak Sound and Light Show. The beginning of the show was fascinating as seeing the temple lit up at night was lovely but then it took a cheesy turn and ran a bit long (but I still enjoyed it)

Egypt Trip Report by Sarah Taylor Egypt Trip Report by Sarah Taylor

July 18
We had the 9:00 am flight to Cairo as we had another full day of touring. We met Mohamed at the Citadel and toured the Sultan Hassan Mosque and then the Mohamed Ali Mosque. We went to the Khan el Khalili Bazaar and ate lunch at the Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant (owned by the Mena House and located off the main alleyway of the bazaar). The food was delicious - probably my favorite meal and the best kofta of the trip! Shopping in the bazaar was fun and thank goodness for Mohamed as he was the one who wheeled and dealed for us.

Shopping in the bazaar

Our last stop for the day was the Four Seasons Nile Plaza. There is only one word for this hotel - SUBLIME!!! They gave us a Nile view room on the 19th floor and oh my, what a view! We had farewell drinks with Mohamed in the 3 rd floor 'Bar' - we all agreed it had been a fantastic week! One that we would never forget!

- by: Sarah Taylor