The Nile in Cairo



Description:

The Greek historian Herodotus described Egypt as the “Gift of the Nile”. It is certainly true that without the Nile, Egypt would not be the country it is today. Cairo, too, would not be the same: the river plays a big part in the city’s life. Although certainly not at its most beautiful in Cairo, the River Nile provides a welcome tranquillity in the fog of fumes and traffic horns that make up much of the modern city. The Nile divides Cairo in two, and contains a number of islands. The Nile in Cairo trip will give you the chance to explore the River Nile in Cairo: you will see it from above; you will promenade next to it; and you will sail on it. The Nile in Cairo trip will also point out some pleasant water-front dining options, and it will give you the chance to explore the two main islands of Cairo. Finally, don’t worry, the Nile in Cairo trip also includes the chance to visit some of Cairo’s top tourist attractions.

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Author: Nicholas Rowlands


Day 1 - Cairo


Start your day visiting the endlessly fascinating Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Aim to arrive by 9 am, to try to beat the crowds of tour groups that descend on the museum. The Egyptian Museum is huge, and not very well laid out or labelled, so you might want to hire a guide there to help you navigate all the history. Whether you do or not, make sure you see the diorite statue of Chephren and the bizarre Amarna art downstairs, and of course the treasures of Tutankhamen on the first floor. The spooky mummy room is well worth a visit, although it costs extra to enter. After this, it’s time to get your first view of the Nile! Take a taxi to the Cairo Tower on the island of Gezira (more commonly known as Zamalek). Ascend to the viewing platform on top for spectacular views of the Nile, and of course the rest of Cairo. If you are lucky enough to have acquired some Egyptian coins, you can even use the telescopes up there for even better views. There is a lovely café where you may want to have a cup of coffee or an ice-cream, in order to linger over the view a while longer. Once you have had your fill, head down to base level, and walk north up the east bank of the island. Gezira is a large island, and the bottom half of it is very green. Although the main roads are quite busy, it’s still pleasant to stroll along next to the Nile here. Keep going north until you reach 26th July bridge: this northern half of the island is what is more properly known as Zamalek, and is home to expats, embassies, posh restaurants and boutique shopping. If you still have the energy, circumnavigate the north tip of the island, until you arrive at Sequoia restaurant (if you’re fed up of walking, take a cab). Have lunch at Sequoia, enjoying a ringside view of the Nile. Spend the rest of the afternoon checking out Zamalek. It’s well worth popping in to al-Sawy Cultural Centre on 26th July Street, to see if they have any events on that interest you. In the evening, have dinner at the Hard Rock Café at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. OK, it’s hardly authentic Egyptian, but it’s an incredible – not to say surreal – experience to sit munching spicy chicken wings whilst watching the Nile float lazily by! You might want to finish your evening by taking a stroll to the nearby 6th October bridge. It certainly isn’t picturesque, but this is where lots of Egyptians hang out at night – chatting, drinking tea, or gazing reflectively at the water. Keep an eye out for the young courting couples enjoying an intimate moment in full public view (so there is no chance of any scandalous allegations). You could even try to hire a brightly lit motor-boat from near the bridge, and have a night-time spin around the river.


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Zamalek

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Location:

Northern tip of Gezira island
Cairo, Egypt


3

Cairo Tower

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Location:

Next to Al-Ahli Sporting Club
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

visit website


4

Sequoia

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Location:

3 Abou el Feda Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 27350014 - +20 (0)2 27356050 - +20 (0)2 27356051 - +20 (0)127302228 - +20 (0)127302229
fax: +20 (0)2 27366359
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Al-Sawy Cultural Centre

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Location:

26 July St.
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 27366178
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6

Hard Rock Cafe

Location:

Grand Hyatt Hotel, Corniche El Nile
Grand Hyatt Cairo
11519 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2532 1277, +20 (0)2 2532 1281, +20 (0)2 2532 1285
fax: +20 (0)2 2532 1289
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Day 2 - Cairo


Start your day by heading to Dr Ragab’s Pharaonic Village. This is like a living museum, or pharaonic theme park, and although it’s kitsch and cheesy, it’s quite good fun if you are in the right mood. From your point of view, this is another way to experience the Nile – as you take a boat trip around the waterways of Jacob’s Island, and are transported back to the Nile as the ancient Egyptians would have experienced it. After this, take a taxi to al-Manyal Island (often known as Roda Island) to visit the huge Nilometer there. These structures were used to measure the height of the Nile, and so to predict the extent of the inundation of the yearly flood, and therefore how good harvests would be. The year’s taxes were based on this calculation! Take your lunch at the nearby Nile Lily Boat, on the west bank of the island: 70 al-Malik Abd al-Aziz al-Suud street. This is almost like a swanky cruise ship, anchored in place, and stuffed full of restaurants. El Mundo is particularly to be recommended: beautifully cooked cuisine from around the world in tasteful surroundings, with a stunning Nile view. Spend the afternoon exploring Coptic Cairo, the old Christian quarter of Cairo. The beautiful cobbled streets of Coptic Cairo are a wonderful place to meander around, taking in all of the religious monuments. Start your visit at the Coptic Museum (opposite Mar Girgis metro station) and spend an hour or so there, tracing the evolution of Coptic Christianity. Make sure you also visit the Hanging Church and the Cathedral of St George, before walking down the cobbled alleyway that leads to the picturesque, enclosed religion compound behind the main street. Here you will find numerous other churches, including the Church of St Sergius, where the Holy Family are believed to have sheltered. Don’t miss the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest in Cairo, and take the time to check out the book shop that spills into the main alleyway: it’s one of the best places in Cairo to pick up books about Egypt, the Middle East, and different forms of religion. If you have time, the oldest mosque in Cairo, the Mosque of Amr Ibn al-Aas, is well worth a visit. You can get there by walking along Mar Girgis street, or by wandering through the serene Coptic cemetery. Make sure you also find time to visit the craft shops along Mar Girgis street: the vendors are very friendly, and poking around the bric-a-brac can turn up some antique gems. There is also a covered souq called Souq al-Fustat on the right of Mar Girgis street, just before the mosque, which contains traditional craft-work. In the evening, enjoy the belly dancing and music on the Scarabee cruise boat whilst you have your dinner, floating down the Nile.


1

Dr. Ragab's Pharaonic Village

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Location:

3 El Bahr El Aazam St
(Jacob's Island, Giza)
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 571 8675
fax: +20 2 568 9266
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2

Nilometer

Location:

Southern tip of Roda Island
Roda Island
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)


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The Religion Compound

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Location:

Mari Girgis Street
Old Cairo
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


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Scarabee

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Location:

Corniche el-Nil Street
11511 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2794 3444, +20 (0)2 2794 3198
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Day 3 - Cairo


Start early and aim to get to the Pyramids before 9 am, in order to beat the crowds and the heat. Once at the Pyramids, take the time to explore the site fully. If you aren’t claustrophobic, it’s well worth paying the small extra fee to enter one of the pyramids. There isn’t really anything to see, but the sensation of being inside such a vast mass of rock is incredible. Make sure you also allow enough time to visit the Solar Boat Museum. Once you are done, drive to the Great Sphinx (included in the Pyramids ticket), stopping at the pyramids viewing point along the way. Have fun playing with perspective when taking photos of the Sphinx: if you get your positioning right, you can appear to be patting him on the head, and even kissing him! Once you are done, head to Khan al-Khalili. You’ll probably be wanting to eat lunch by now, so grab a fateer in the Egyptian Pancake House. After this, spend an hour or so wandering the narrow maze of alleys, haggling for souvenirs, and joking with the effervescent stall holders. When you need to take the weight off your feet, head to the world famous al-Fishawi coffee shop, and complement your people-watching with a cup of thick, black Turkish coffee, and perhaps a water pipe. There are a number of beautiful Islamic monuments in the area that are well worth exploring. Make sure not to miss al-Azhar Mosque: one of the most significant mosques in the Sunni Muslim world, and seat of arguably the oldest university in the world. It’s fine for non-Muslims to visit, though you must be conservatively dressed, and women will be asked to cover their heads. Time dependent, you may want to check out some of the monuments either north or south of Khan al-Khalili, along Muizz li-Din Allah street. Don’t linger for too long, though, because you want to head down to Maadi in time for sunset. Maadi, in the south of Cairo, is another quite green, affluent area of expats and embassies. Take a taxi down to the Maadi cornice, and ask to be dropped off at the local ferry. From here you can organise a felucca to take you for a sail on the Nile. It costs about 60 LE an hour, although this price can be negotiated. Note that you will be expected to tip on top of this. Maadi is the best place in Cairo to do a felucca ride, since there are no bridges to get in the way. With nothing but the sloshing of the water and the slapping of the sails to keep you company, you can lie back and almost forget that you are in one of the largest cities on earth, and just enjoy the spectacular sunset. After your felucca ride, say a long, lingering goodbye to the Nile in Cairo by having your dinner at the Maadi branch of the Grand Café, just next to the ferry dock.


1

Giza Plateau

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Location:

Sh. Al Ahram Road
Old town of Giza, 5 miles into the desert
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 385 0259
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Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

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Location:

Off Hussein Square
(Across from El Azhar Mosque)
11211 Cairo, Egypt


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Al-Azhar Mosque

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Location:

Al-Azhar Street
Opposite El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 59 3893
fax: +20 (0)2 59 3893
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5

Felucca Ride on the Nile

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Location:

Maadi ferry, next to Grand Café
Maadi Cornice
Cairo, Egypt


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Egyptian pancake house

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Location:

Midan Hussein
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2024505871


7

Grand Cafe

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Location:

Merryland Gardens
near TGI Friday
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 20 2 451 2316


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