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First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience

UK
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First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience
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Hi, first time travellers to Egypt giving something back to the forums that we took so much from before we went.

Briefly… a week on a Nile cruise followed by 3 nights in Cairo and 4 nights in Luxor. Whole trip booked through Longwood, who were very good throughout.

For thoughts on the Nile Cruise and Luxor please see the Luxor forum.

Cairo: 3 nights at the Marriott (Zamalek)

Cairo is MAD….. but is an experience not to be missed. If time allows, try to walk. Cabs are easy, but the traffic is awful. Walking in Cairo is part of the fun.

The Marriott is like a town in that you could live there with all the shops, restaurants, bars, etc. It’s totally clean, comfortable and the perfect place to come back to after an afternoon rushing around the craziness of the city itself.

We visited:

The Egyptian Museum : Good to spend a couple of hours here. Just don’t expect too much information about what’s what. Worth the trip for the Tutankhamun gallery alone.

Khan el Khalili: Just wander and sample the stallholders enthusiasm as they try and sell you all sorts of tat (there’s some good stuff too, but you have to look for it). Don’t just ignore these guys. They know you’re a tourist, you know they want to sell you something at a premium. Just play the game and have some fun. They’ve all got a sense of humour beneath the hard exterior.

Saqqara, Dahshur & Giza: The pyramid site at Giza is tourist town. Sure, the pyramids are huge and hugely impressive, but if this was London they’d be in Zone 2. You have to share the site with hundreds of others. So, go there, get your photos, maybe ride a camel (there are some that are looked after, see below) and get yourself off to Saqqara and Dahshur. Saqqara is merely busy rather than resembling Oxford Street at Christmas, but Dahshur is quiet. I went inside the Red Pyramid – no queues. Just me, a lot of steps (up and down) and the smell of what the bats leave behind. Met two people on the way in, one guy in the burial chamber, and two more on the way out. There’s nothing like standing inside a pyramid, surrounded by stuffy, smelly, hot air in a room that hasn’t seen daylight for 4,500 years. A real experience – just pray that the generator doesn’t fail…..

A mention here for our tour guide, whom we booked from home before we left. Karen is the Heart of Egypt (http://www.heartofegypt.com). We took a full day tour of Saqqara and Dahshur and a half-day tour of Giza with Karen and we were totally impressed. At Giza, Karen uses a particular camel ride vendor. His camels seemed in good health (I’m no expert) and the experience was well worth it. We went to a different vantage point to where everyone else seemed to go and the view of the pyramids was amazing. Karen will act as tour guide, chief organiser, photographer, translator, hassle shield, tip manager and shopping / restaurant guide. In a day-and-a-half we couldn’t find anything that she couldn’t handle - and we tried ☺. Even when a Cairo jeweller misunderstood our instructions and engraved a cartouche wrongly, Karen got it replaced for us and had the correct one couriered to our hotel in Luxor.

Thank you Karen, we’ll be back…...

merseyside
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1. Re: First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience
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Hi, looks like you had a fantastic time in Luxor and Cairo. Totally agree about the traffic in Cairo - it really has to be seen to be believed!

I still haven't been to Saqqara and Dashur but loved your comment about praying the generator won't break down ;-)

Nice to see a mention of Karen from Heart of Egypt. She used to come online here and give out some great information and help but haven't seen her for a while. Good that you took the time out to let the forum know she is still doing a great job as a guide.

Copenhagen
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2. Re: First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience
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Thanks for a great trip report, seems like you enjoyed your time in Egypt :-)

Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
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3. Re: First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience
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Thanks for your trip report - I'm yet to do mine - we stayed in Cairo for a week ( last week) and I totally agree its MAD !!

I would hate to drive a car in this city ! ..its dangerous just being a pedestrian...

EM.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience
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Thanks for your TR. Agree on the Museum. Poorly signposted, ran out fire extinguishers, not working camera's, no a/c, filthy, one way in one way out...in case of a fire....brrrr but the coffee at the cafe was excellent and as you said, worth the whole visit for Tutankhamun. Would have loved to drive in Egypt, the only city where a 3 lane highway turns out to be ok for 6 lanes.....unfortunately we were in a bus ;). Thanks again!

Tet

5. Re: First timers in Egypt - Cairo experience

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