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Dec 15

Dec’15 – Jan’16: India, Egypt and Kenya Trip – Introduction

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Its that time of the year !! Time to go to India and see my family again. Last year, on our trip to India, me and my wife along with my parents did a short South-East Asia trip visiting Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phuket and Bali. This time we wanted to check off two items from our bucket list – Pyramids and African Safari. Yes, we have plans to go to Egypt (Cairo and Luxor) as well as Masai Mara Reserve close to Nairobi. I know that some folks might think its too risky and maybe even reckless to be visiting Egypt (especially in light of some recent bad news coming out of that region) but we are undeterred at this point of time.

Route map for 2015-2016 India-Egypt-Kenya Trip

Here are my trip reports and reviews that I will be posting over the coming months.

 

Note on Visa Preparations prior to travel:

Me and my wife applied for single entry Egypt visa at the Egypt consulate in Los Angeles. The process is very simple and for US citizens they don’t ask for any additional documentation in addition to completed application form, original passport and 2 photographs. That’s it. They collected the documents and told me to come back the next week same day and collect the passport. My parents on the other hand went through the travel agency to apply for the Egypt visa and have already secured it.

Kenya has e-visas and we have already secured those. The application process is very simple. Create an account at the Kenya e-visa website, upload pictures and scan of first page of passport and instant approval !! The only mistake I did was apply too early and my visa will already expire before I commence my journey. That’s why do not apply more than 90 days before the travel start date. I will reapply as soon as my current visa expires.

 


Cost (Total for 4 travelers) *:

Airfare:

  • $715 for 2 passengers from Cairo – Nairobi on Ethiopian Airlines
  • $294 for 4 passengers from Cairo – Luxor  on Egypt Air
  • $106 for 2 passengers from Luxor – Cairo on Egypt Air
  • $85 for 1 passenger from Bangkok – Kolkata on Spicejet
  • $591 in taxes and fees on award tickets (Los Angeles – Kolkata for 1 in business class, Kolkata – Cairo for 2 in business class and 2 in coach, Luxor – Nairobi for 2 in coach, Nairobi – Kolkata for 2 in business class and Nairobi – Los Angeles for 2 in business class)

Hotel:

  • $300 for 3 nights (2 rooms) at Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa for cash portion of Cash + Points booking
  • $86 for 1 night (2 room) at Le Meridien Cairo Airport for cash portion of Cash + Points booking

Miscellaneous:

  • $2480 for 3 Day – 2 Night Safari package at Masai Mara Game Reserve (includes  2 rooms at Mara Sarova Game camp, LandRover 4 x 4 upgrade from minibus, 7 meals, game reserve fees, guide + driver)
  • $180 for Egypt Visa ($30 for 2 in US and $150 for 2 in India using travel agents)
  • $210 for Kenya Evisa

Miles/Points/Certificates Redeemed:

  • 85,000 British Airways Avios Points for 1 one-way Business Class tickets from Los Angeles – Bangkok
  • 80,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus miles for 1 one-way Business Class tickets from Los Angeles – Kolkata
  • 110,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus miles for 2 one-way Business Class tickets and 2 one-way Coach tickets from Kolkata – Cairo
  • 60,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus miles for 2 one-way Coach tickets from Luxor – Cairo – Nairobi
  • 90,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles for 2 one-way Business Class tickets from Nairobi – Kolkata
  • 140,000 Delta Airlines Skymiles for 2 one-way Business Class tickets from Nairobi – Los Angeles
  • 40,000 Hilton HHonors points for 2 nights (2 rooms) at Ramses Hilton, Cairo
  • 72,000 Hilton HHonors points for 3 nights (2 rooms) at Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa for points portion of cash + points booking
  • 8,000 SPG points for 1 night (2 rooms) at Le Meridien Cairo Airport for points portion of cash + points booking
  • 88,000 Club Carlson points for 1 night (2 rooms) at Radisson Blu Nairobi

Miles/Points/Cash-back Earned:

  • Cash purchases were done with cards earning mainly Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards points
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