Cairo Mini Guide
Why Would I go to Cairo?
Cairo is, archaeologically, one of the most important cities in the world. Not because of its own history – the city itself is fairly recent – but because of the Giza Pyramid Complex and the Cairo Museum which holds some of the greatest archaeological treasures in the world. It also has the mighty Nile River and the huge and macabre ‘City of the Dead’
How can I get There?
Plenty of airlines fly into Cairo as it’s a major hub for Africa and the Middle East. You can also visit it on a cruise from Cyprus
What’s its Story?
The city wasn’t founded until just over a thousand years ago, yesterday really in comparison to the Ancient Egyptian civilisation. It became the capital of the country in 1250 and it has changed hands many times since. It’s the largest and most populous city in Africa and home to a burgeoning tourist industry. It was recently the scene of riots that spelled the end of president Hosni Mubarak’s reign.
What can I see When I’m There?
How long do you have? There’s the Giza Pyramid Complex, now almost absorbed into the suburbs of the city. The complex is the last remaining complete example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Here too is the giant Sphinx, an enigmatic statue that seems to guard the complex. In the city, the Cairo Museum is a must see where all the treasures identifiable with the Pharaohs can be viewed. Visit too the City of the Dead where a million people live and work in a cemetery.
What About if I Hire a Car?
Drive out into the Western Desert to see sand dunes as high as a mountain moving slowly across the landscape. See the nomadic Berbers herding their camels between oases and marvel, late at night, at the pitch black sky pinpricked with millions of stars.
What can I do Whilst I’m There?
Take a felucca trip on the Nile at sunset and listen to the noise of the city as it returns home after work. Watch the stars in the desert or join a jeep safari crashing up and down the sand dunes. For a spot of luxury, take a Nile cruise ship and glide along, visiting the sights along the river, or drop in at a papyrus factory to see how the ancients got the paper for them to write on.
I Want to Shop!
Plenty to buy there in the souks, which are the Arab market places; jewellery, trinkets, papyrus products, carpets and tapestries plus replica statues of Egyptian gods and goddesses.
What Should I eat There?
Fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful there with the fields irrigated by the Nile. Local specialities are the dates, fresh and dried, that accompany the traditional mint or black tea. Don’t bother eating camel meat – it’s not that special but perhaps try the Egyptian version of Turkish
Festivals and Parties
Being a Muslim country, most of the festivals are low key and celebrated mainly as families. You’ll be limited to those put on mainly for the tourists such as the son et lumière at the pyramids or various hotel based parties. Still, a party’s a party!
One of the most magical cities in the world, all your senses will be assaulted there. You have the must-see Giza Pyramid Complex where you can enter the Pyramid of Cheops just like early archaeologists did.
Walk around the Sphinx that has guarded the complex for millennia and finally visit the Cairo Museum where all the treasures from there and from the Valley of the Kings are richly displayed. For a macabre experience, hire a car and visit the City of the Dead where nearly a million people live and work in Cairo’s main cemetery.