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A Trip to Egypt
Rafiah Shaikh, Ras Tanura KSA

 Aug. 2002 - I was so excited and little bit nervous when my father revealed his travel plans for us during school summer vacation that we will spend this summer in Egypt.  I was excited because I always wanted to see those Pyramids, Museum and travel in the river Nile (the longest river of the world) and of course the main source of Egypt’s agriculture and water retirements.  I was also nervous when I knew that my father was planning to go by Ferry from Jeddah so that we can see the Suez Canal.  But later the plans changed and we traveled by air. 

Instead of going to too many details, I will give you some important information if any one of you is planning to visit Egypt.  Following is the summary of important items: 

  • There is no need to get visa for Egypt as the visitor’s visa is available at the airport at the cost of $15.  The same amount is charged at Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh (SR60) if you are close to Riyadh area, otherwise airport visa is enough.
  • Taxis are available at reasonable rates, but you will be asked more if the taxi driver knows that you are Saudi, Kuwaiti or Expats coming from the Gulf.  It’s a good idea to ask any local person for the trip price and bargain with the driver.
  • Nile trip by boat is available at 1 or 2 pounds for a half hour tour in taxi boat.  Special private boats are available at 30 to 35 pounds an hour.
  • Tickets for entry to Pyramids and Museum are 20 pounds per person.  But if you have student ID its half the price for school going children.  To see the real mummies inside the Museum the ticket is 40 pounds per person (all ages).
  • Hotels are easily available with 3-stars at 200 to 300 pounds and 5-stars at 400 to 500 pounds per day.  If you are looking for furnished apartment in Cairo you have to first see an estate agent or ask taxi driver and it’s very difficult to deal with local agents for apartment. 
  • The best areas for apartment are Zamalek and Muhandassin which are five minutes drive to Nile and Museum.
  • To visit Pyramids, please plan to reach Pyramids at 8:00 AM to spend a good time in the cool temperature as they close Pyramids entrance at the sunset.  Also, there is one Sphinx (lion shaped stone structure) and Sound and Light show which starts at night and tickets are expensive.
  • The places for visit in Cairo are : Pyramids, Museum, Nile Cruise by Ferry (expensive) or private boats (cheap), Salahuddin Citadel, Old Cairo, Husseini Mosque, Agricultural Museum, Delta Barrage (Nile), Kanatheer Khairiya (Nile), Snow City and Amusement Park.
  • Other places far from Cairo are Alexandria (2.5 hours by bus or train), Port Suez and Ismailia (to see the Suez Canal).  There are other far away places like Sharm Al-Sheikh, Ghardhaga, Aswan, etc. but travel time is too long for these three areas and the weather in summer is very hot.
  • In the Pyramids area there are three big Pyramids and six small.  Entry to Biggest Pyramid is 40 pounds but they are all the same and my advice is to visit the second Pyramid.  There is nothing inside except two chambers where King’s and Queen’s mummies (dead bodies) were kept some 5000 years ago.

If you are interested to read more about Egypt, following is the detailed information by area: 

CAIRO 

  1. While visiting Pyramids (located at end of Cairo – 6 to 8 kilometers from down town) make sure that you have enough drinking water and if you have children’s take their school ID cards.
  2. Visit the second (middle) Pyramid as it is easy to go down and inside of all Pyramids are the same.  The ticket for second Pyramid is 20 pounds for adults and 10 pounds for students.  Eight years and below are free.
  3. Do not ask for any guide as it will cost you extra money with no advantage at all.  Also, do not buy any items or perfume from the market at the Pyramids as the prices are 200 to 300 percent higher than the down town markets.
  4. It is really a wonder as to how people built those Pyramids 5000 years ago with 2 to 3 tons of stones each and there are millions of stones which were brought from Aswan to Cairo.  It took thirty years to bring the stones and ten years to build the Pyramids.
  5. You can go any time to Cairo Museum but morning at 8:00 AM is a good time to visit.  Guides are available but it is good if you get some other groups together and hire one guide for the group to save money.
  6. Do not miss to visit the real mummies which are kept in a separate AC room (eleven mummies are on display) You will wonder how 5000 years old bodies are still intact.  You can see their eyes, hair, teeth and looks like they are dead few months ago.
  7. It is very enjoyable to visit Nile couple of times while you are in Cairo.  The good times is afternoon after 4:00 PM and hire a private boat at 30 to 40 pounds for an hour’s drive.
  8. The best tour I liked is Kanatheer Khairiya where you can go by a taxi (30 pounds return) and then hire a boat at 150 to 200 pounds for two hours ride to villages on the banks or river Nile, where you can see banana and other plantation, see President’s palace and take a horse ride in the garden.  You can also visit the honey bee garden and buy original honey from the garden.

 

ALEXANDRIA 

  1. Alexandria is a wonderful place to visit.  It is on the Mediterranean coast and it is a live city 24-hour a day.  Hotels and apartments are available on the coastal area at bargain price.  You will see people on the beach all day and night long during summer vacation.
  2. While in Alexandria you can visit the Palace, Bab Muntaza, and Mamoora where there is a big Amusement Park for the children with all rides.
  3. You do not need an AC or even a fan if you are living in a multi-storey apartment building facing the Mediterranean Sea at there is cool breeze 24-hours a day.
  4. You may travel from Cairo to Alexandria by AC bus (20 pounds) or second class AC train (25 pounds).  It is nice to travel by train at least once to enjoy the ride.

 SUEZ CANAL 

  1. You can hire a private AC taxi from Cairo to visit Suez Canal.  The prevailing taxi fare for the whole trip is 300 pounds.  You can start 8:00 AM in the morning going straight to Suez city, see Suez Port and if it is allowed, you may travel parallel to Suez Canal going straight to Ismailia.  Sometimes due to security reason the road parallel to Suez Canal is close but you can still see the canal from a safe distance.
  2. In Ismailia, you can visit the beach and enjoy the boat ride.

 

TRAVEL TO EGYPT BY SEA 

If you like the travel by sea, it is a good idea to travel by Ferry between Jeddah and Cairo.  The tickets are cheap and other main advantage is that you can see the Suez Canal all the way from the Ferry.

Some Pictures of my Trip




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