We booked our own desert 4-wheeling excursion, and had a blast. One thing no one mentions though, is that you need to take an anti-emetic if you have a weak stomach (two of our co-passengers lost their lunch). The fake oasis dinner was a lot of fun, and the belly dancer was great. Ali, our driver, was great, too.
This would have been a total '5' if it weren't for some of the transportation: Spice Jet is the Indian low cost air line, and the seats are so jammed together, my spouse could not lower the tray in front of him, and I was pinned in my seat when the person in front of me reclined his seat (leading to very bad back spasms). Also, don't drink the water provided by the train (Neer Rail, I think). According to the doctor we called (Delhi belly is their version of tourista) it's problematic at best and likely the cause of the ailment. The Taj Mahal is fantastic, and the rickshaw ride through Old Delhi could be a thrill ride at Disneyland.
Chennai Resort Rating:
Prior to the trip to New Delhi, we stayed a night at the Temple Bay resort at Mamalapuram (sp?); it was wonderful. We had a fish pedicure and an oil/chile massage (ready for barbecuing). The site is gorgeous - with the biggest swimming pool in all of India (if not the world). It was a lovely, relaxing stop.
One of the wonders of the world, it was incredible - it's one of those sites that one doesn't really believe in, even when there. It was very hot; they walk into Petra is quite long (but interesting), and the way out even longer - even with the horse ride back to the entrance. I almost got heat stroke, but I would not trade the experience for anything in the world. Our guide, Achmed, and driver, Emad, were helpful, knowledgeable, and very friendly. I cannot recommend this enough.
This was a nice stop, but there isn't a lot to say or see. But it is neat.
Felucca Tour Rating:
It's amazing how much cooler it is on the Nile, the felluca driver was a lot of fun (he even provided entertainment). It was great.
Karnak Temple Rating:
The road of the sphinx, the hypostyle hall, and the giant scarab at the temple of Karnak are all famous - what surprised me was the number of columns that still maintain some of the colors in which they were originally painted. This place is huge and deserves a lot more time than we were able to give it. Our tour guide, George, and our driver, Hammada, were great. Hammada taught me three words, I can now count 4, 5, & 6, in Arabic (not that I'll ever need to, but I can).
Queen Hapshetsut's Temple Rating:
This was my favorite site - the temple is minimalist and could (other than the statuary on the columns) be placed in any modern city. It's a must see.
Valley of the Kings Rating:
This would have been a 5 if we were in better shape. The stairs prevent one from truly experiencing the incredible tombs.
Upper Egypt Rating:
A surreal experience, and one I will treasure for the rest of my life. The Egyptians like Americans (they don't like Libyans, e.g.) and the sites are almost unbelievable. The history and the wonder is awesome (in the truest sense of that word). We could have stayed for several days to really see the sites, but the taste we had was sufficient to make us want to come back.
We saw the Djoser (aka Zoser) Pyramid (the prototype for those at Giza) the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx, had a wonderful meal at an authentic Egyptian restaurant, and took a boat ride on the Nile. This is the tour of a lifetime, and our guide, Kareem, was one of the nicest, friendliest, and intelligent guides we've ever had. He knows everything, and he can explain it compellingly. Amad, our driver, also enhanced our experience. Everyone should come here before they die. It's truly a trip that cannot be topped.
This is a lovely medieval town on the coast. The people are friendly, and the town is 'walkable' for many. We did find that smoking seemed to be an indigenous habit, and for non-smokers, this can impact one's enjoyment of the place.