Aug 25, 2009
After 19 cruises I finally decided to do the normal tourist travel. However, after finishing this trip I have come to the conclusion that nothing beats cruising and I am in the process of planning my next one, this time in Europe. Below is my review and tips for visiting Cairo on your own.
Cairo; A large congested and dirty city with many sights to see around the Giza area which is on the outskirts of Cairo. Due to the location of the historical sights, I recommend that you stay at a hotel in the Giza area or you will be in traffic often as you travel to the sights. Cairo airport is about a 45-one hr ride from the airport. If you are meeting anyone at the Cairo airport be aware that are two arrival terminals (they are about to finish building a third terminal that will be connected to terminal #2). I arrived in terminal #2 and my wife in terminal #1(we where on different flights due to my work). The terminals are NOT connected and are about 2 miles apart. There is a shuttle bus that run’s every 15-30 minutes connecting the terminals, there are also numerous characters inside and outside of the terminal offering assistance (be aware that they will ask you for a tip) and transportation, AVIOD these characters if you want a transportation to Cairo I recommend that you arrange with a private vendor, I arranged with Ahmed(firstname.lastname@example.org) and he was waiting for me with a sign at the designated place. If you want a cab, walk out of the terminal, SEE which cab you will ride in, agree on a PRICE before entering and insure that the price is TOTAL for ALL the passengers. Mind you I speak “Arabic” but this is the advice I give all travelers, start the trip in hassle free fashion. Magictours was about $2.00 more and I arranged everything on the internet and the car was air conditioned. Be aware that most taxis in Cairo are NOT air conditioned.
In Cairo I stayed at the “Husa Pyramids Hotel” in Giza, it is a basic 3 star and I would not stay there again, even though the service was excellent, the hotel is very noisy and the rooms and hallways’ are much run down. Rather then go via cab to every site on my own (listed below in no particular order) I made a deal with Ahmed( email@example.com) to use their transportation and guides which was included in the price. Ahmed was very flexible and did everything they could to please me, I would not hesitate to recommend them(magictour2008) to anyone traveling to Cairo, they are very honest and wanted me to be happy(email Ahmed at the above email). In addition, the car provided was alwasy air conditioned and comfortable, a late model Hyundai and the guide spoke excellent English, as I mentioned I speak Arabic and did not need a guide, but it was great for my wife and the guide provided valuable insight. I pulled up to many of the sights in our car and smiled when I saw the masses of people with the cattle car affect all of them waiting for the other to climb into the large buses. Private transportation was the way to go. Below is a listing of what we visited and my overall comments;
1. Egyptian antiquities museum + (make sure you visit the mummy tomb which is optional and cost extra). Superb museum that you can spend an entire day at, there are very few signs so having a guide was great.
2. Mosque of Sultan Hassan and the Madrasa (school), visit only if you have spare time.
3. Citadel (Al-Qalaa) + Grand Mosque, well worth it.
4. Hanging church over the Roman ruins. A must visit, early Christian history, plan to spend at least an hour or more.
5. Light and Sound show (Pyramids), kind of old and needs updating, if you go DRESS warm as the winds blow nightly and it gets cold. You can also grab a bite to eat at the place. Only attend is you have free time
6. Ride the Felucca on the Nile, it will cost you 120 Egyptian pounds for an hr, but it is like going back in time.
7. The Giza Pyramids and sphinx. Wow what more can I say, plan to spend an entire morning at the place, the "solar boat" is a must.
8. Saqqara pyramids- oldest pyramids in Egypt, I was not impressed
9. Dashur Pyramids- the Red Pyramid, simple great and do go inside
10. Memphis, the old capitol, a waste of time awful.
11. Al-Azhar Park- a lovely park, sights and sound in the evening worth it.
12. Tower of Cairo- very cool, you can do this and the Fellucca ride as they are very close.
13. Khan el Khalil Bazaar- do not waste your time.
14. City of the dead- just drive by, another poor section.