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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Cairo Tours - Excursions
Cairo Tours Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Walking Tours

In fume-filled Cairo, there are few obvious walking tours on offer and none in the blistering heat of the summer months. However, personalised tours can be organised through some of Cairo’s cultural organisations (see Culture section), or the Community Services Association (telephone number: (02) 350 5284 or 376 8232) and the American Research Center in Egypt (telephone number: (02) 354 8239 or 355 8683).

Official guides for individual tours can be organised through hotels and tourist offices, at a fixed hourly rate and a tip. Unofficial guides approach people in the street and range from the awful to the very good. Personal judgement is all that can be used and if unsure, visitors should refuse politely but firmly.

Bus Tours

Any hotel will be able to offer the standard range of bus tours for guests, generally incorporating the highlights of the Egyptian Museum, the Khan al-Khalili bazaar, the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Alternatively, a local travel agent, such as American Express (telephone number: (02) 370 3411), Misr Travel (telephone number: (02) 393 0010) or Thomas Cook (telephone number: (02) 356 4650) can also arrange tours.

Excursions

For a Half Day

Birqash Camel Market

The biggest camel market in Egypt takes place just outside the village of Birqash, which is about 35 kilometres (22 miles) northwest of Cairo. Every Monday and Friday morning, camel traders come from all over Egypt and as far afield as the Sudan, to sell their beasts in a hubbub of sounds, sights and smells. It is an impressive tourist attraction too and visitors will be asked to pay an admission fee. The most convenient way to make the 45 minute journey is to take a taxi. Visitors should negotiate a waiting time and most drivers will be happy to wait or come back at a pre-arranged time.

For a Whole Day

Alexandria

The Mediterranean port of Alexandria, named after Alexander the Great, and the setting for Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet, is a popular day trip from the city. Locals make the 225 kilometres (140 mile) journey northwest to enjoy the main promenade, the beaches and the cooler temperatures. The beaches are nothing out of the ordinary and are packed however, there are other attractions. The most recent addition is the Library (Bibliotheque) of Alexandria, established in October 2002 at a cost of $200 million and ambitiously planned to become a world class centre of knowledge. The Citadel of Qaitbai was built in 1479 supposedly on the site of, and from the stones of, the Lighthouse of Pharos, 1 of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

The museums worth visiting include:

The Graeco-Roman Museum
Royal Jewellery Museum
Fine Art Museum
Cavafy Museum
Naval Museum
Marine Life Museum


Beautiful palaces and mosques also make this a trip worth taking. Trains from Cairo (3 a day) take 2 hours, buses take about 3 hours and it is also possible to take a taxi from outside the Ramses train station. There are also numerous flights a day on EgyptAir.

Memphis and Saqqara

These two historic sites are about 3 kilometres (2 miles) apart, some 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of central Cairo, and easily reached by bus, rented taxi, coach excursion or even by camel or horse. However, a full day should be allowed as Saqqara alone extends for a good 7 square kilometres (3 square miles).

This is where the 1st pharoahs were buried, although they are now overshadowed in by the sites of the Valleys of the Kings and Queens in Luxor and the Great Pyramids. Several pyramids are here and, because much archaeological work still remains to be done at Saqqara, it may even be that one day it becomes Egypt’s most important historical site.

Saqqara was the resting place for the pharoahs when Memphis was the ancient capital. Memphis is the oldest known royal city in the world, founded in 3100BC during the 1st Dynasty, it was the royal capital for five hundred years and remained occupied in all for a total of 4,000 years. Unfortunately, not much remains today of what was 1 of the grandest cities in the world however the small museum and scattering of statues make a good appetiser for the more beautiful remains at Saqqara.