The Benefits of Having a Tour Guide in Egypt
Understandably, intrepid travellers who embark on a Nile River cruise like the idea of breaking free from the crowd and setting out on their own to soak up the sites, but in Egypt having a tour guide, whether private or in a group, can really work to your advantage. The ideal guide will serve as your interpreter, chauffeur, historian, Egyptologist and bodyguard.
The Language Barrier
The first step is to make sure you and your guide communicate well. Even if they seem fluent in your native tongue, make sure you can understand their accent and assure they can answer intricate questions, not just "can you take me to the pyramids?" A good test of a guide's worthiness is how well they listen to your questions and formulate an itinerary based on your criteria and any special services you may require.
The streets of Egyptian cities, especially Cairo, are a maze of confusion to foreigners and routes to the outlying areas can be tricky, so having a guide with their own transportation spares you a lot of frustration. Although tour buses can limit your time, they will get you to and from destinations in safety and comfort. With your own private guide, you can arrive when you like and spend as much time as you want asking questions and satisfying your curiosity.
A professional guide will have an intrinsic knowledge of traditions so they can keep you from inadvertently violating customs. They also have intrinsic knowledge of the history and current theories regarding the ancient monuments. A guide is also a good storyteller who can bring valuable insights to mystifying sites like the Valley of the Kings and Queens along the west bank of the Nile and explain the intricate funeral rites they practiced.
One of the most disturbing elements of touring famous sites in Egypt for many visitors is the onslaught of hustlers and con men that descend on unwary tourists, especially at the Great Pyramids of Giza. A good tour guide will discourage these tedious hawkers and steer you towards reputable dealers who they have learned to trust. Likewise, tour groups usually discourage this type of harassment of their clients because they realise such advances can ruin a trip to sites people have waited all their lives to see.
The Egyptian government issues licenses for tour guides who have completed required courses in history, culture and have a good command of a second language. These guides are required to present their customers with a set price for standard activities that is set by the authorities. Any additional services your require beyond the basic tour can be negotiated based on an hourly rate.
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