Alexandria to Cairo and around Cairo

Trip Start Jul 26, 2010
Trip End Oct 31, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 16

Another early start was needed to get through to Cairo as we needed to apply for our Sudanese visas as soon as possible. These take a month anywhere else in the world, but you can get them in a day in Cairo. At least we should say, "technically" you can get them in a day.

We arrived in Cairo, and you're probably going to think we’re just making it up now, but somehow the traffic has got even worse! The Pyramids of Giza also just suddenly appear out of the middle of a suburb which was a little strange since every picture you see is of wide open dunes next to them, this is only the case on their other side.

We pushed on to the Salma camp site and pitched our tents for the very first time on the trip. This was done because we thought we would need Corrie to drive around town and didn’t want to leave everything in the open. It was a very basic place but with a couple pyramids in the distance, peaking over the houses, we really couldn’t complain.

We immediately set off in a shared taxi to central Giza, to get a letter of recommendation from the South African Embassy in order to apply for the Sudanese visa, which sounds as pointless as it is and really just government making things difficult. As it turned out the Embassy had moved and we had completely wasted the afternoon. The day was somewhat saved however since we met a taxi driver named Mamdo, who knew exactly where the SA and Sudanese Embassies were, and we organised for him to collect us the next morning.

To anyone going to Cairo, Mamdo is seriously awesome and worth every cent! Sure, he drives a 1970’s Peugeot 504 stationwagon with no aircon, no seatbelts, no lights nor a speedometer. But as he told Dave in broken English, “This is Cairo, you go too slow to hurt in accident”. Not that he knew how fast he was going with a broken speedometer as he weaved through the insane traffic at top speed. His number is 0105235431, give him a call. He knows how we think and quotes a more than fair price straight up. No negotiations.

Our day ended with a real beer with actual alcohol in it, which is amazing after the 0.0% beers in Libya and 0.5% beers in Tunisia.

Day 17

We were picked up by Mamdo first thing and went straight to the SA Embassy where we applied for the letter but could only come back in the afternoon to collect it. As previously mentioned, Corrie was running a little hot in traffic so we wanted a new Ford fan and while waiting for our letter, Mamdo took us out to 6 October City, a industrial area outside Cairo where the dealer was. This turned out to be another dead end unfortunately when the guy happily told us he had the part and it would only take 6 weeks to get there. Spoon has therefore removed the aircon radiator, which sits in front of the main radiator, in order to improve airflow and luckily this seems to be doing a lot of good.

We picked up the letter from the SA Embassy but as it was nearly 2pm and during Ramadan everything was closing down and there was no time to go to the Sudanese embassy. So with little other choice and the temperature at 45C we headed back to camp to find a cold shower, shade and lots of water.

Day 18

Our new best friend, Mamdo, picked us up again first thing in the morning and we headed directly to the Sudanese Embassy. We had originally planned to drive ourselves to all these places but Cairo is a massive expanse of one way roads and almost zero town planning in the suburbs, so really needed someone who knew the way. Surprisingly this Embassy was very efficient and we applied in under an hour and were told to come back in the afternoon (a little negotiation needed) to collect our visas after USD100 each was handed over (this is the actual cost, not a bribe, we promise).

So with hours to kill we headed to the Egyptian Museum, which really is a must, and wandered around looking at the different Egyptian periods, Tutankhamun, mummies and all the regular touristy things. After that there was time for some stuffed pigeon for lunch before successfully getting our visas approved and back to camp to cool off under the shower. On our way back Mamdo now turned into tour guide and took us through Garden City, Old Cairo and Islamic Cairo amongst others, showing us the over 1000 year old Mosques and a grave yard that people are living on top of. Apparently it’s quite a status thing to live there and the spot is passed on from generation to generation.
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