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Getting Around

The Nile flows through Egypt from south to north. Lower Egypt is thus the north and Upper Egypt is the south. That's because the country slopes downhill toward the Mediterranean. Going upriver means heading south to Luxor and Aswan and going down the Nile means heading north towards Cairo and Alexandria.

Alexandria and Cairo are crowded cities, and walking in the streets is generally not very pleasant. Walking in Luxor and Aswan, however, is a pleasure. These towns are not crowded and there is a pleasant country atmosphere. Hiking as a pastime is not popular in Egypt and should not be under-taken in remote areas without a local guide. That said, there are interesting hikes and local people may be willing to act as guides in the Eastern Desert, Sinai and the Oases.

From the Airport

All airports in Egypt have a taxi service to city centers, operated on a flat fee basis (ask your airlines). In Cairo transport includes limousine, taxi, and bus. Curbside limousine service is offered by Misr Limousine (tel: 259-9381).

Official Cairo taxis are predominantly black and white and Alexandria taxis are black and orange. There are also Peugeot taxis in a variety of colors and sizes, but they all have an emblem and number painted on the driver's door. Fees are the same as the limousine service.

The Airport Bus Service operates from Terminal 1. The bus leaves when full and stops at Midan Tahrir in downtown Cairo, in Mohandeseen, and along Pyramids Road in Giza. There are also regular city buses but they are not recommended for they are often too crowded for foreigners.

Public Transport - By Rail

The Egyptian State Railway is a government-owned system founded in 1851 which services the entire Nile Valley down to Aswan, the Red Sea cities of Suez and Port Said, the Delta and Northern Coast cities of Alexandria (two stops) and Mersa Matruh. There are at least half a dozen through trains a day on major routes. Fares are inexpensive, but unless one is traveling with a tour, tickets must be purchased at the main railway stations ( in Cairo at the Ramses Station at Midan Ramses).

There is one privately-owned train operating in Egypt, the Wagon Lits sleeper with first, second and third class compartments. The train travels overnight from Cairo to Aswan and back again, leaving Cairo at around 7 in the evening and arriving in Aswan at 9 the following morning. Bookings are one week in advance through a travel agent or from Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits Egypte:

9 Sh Menes, Heliopolis-Tel: 290-8802/4;

48 Sh Giza, Giza - Tel: 348-7354, 349-2365.

Public Transport - By Bus

Air conditioned buses link most parts of Egypt to Cairo and Alexandria. Seats may be reserved up to two days in advance. There is also a fleet of cheaper non-air-conditioned buses. Although bus times may change without notice, departures are so frequent that schedule changes are not a problem.

The principle carrier to Aswan and Luxor is the Upper Egyptian Bus Company, 4 Yussef Abbas, MN. Tel: 260-9304, 260-9297/8. Departures are from 45 al Azhar and the terminal at Midan Ahmed Helmi. Two buses a day complete the run to Aswan, departing early morning and arriving in the evening.

To Alexandria the main carriers are the West Delta Bus Company, Super Jet, and the Federal Arab Land Transport Company, which leave from behind the Hilton.

Private Transport - Car Rental

Driving a car in Egypt allows a great deal of freedom. Streets are congested in the cities, especially Cairo, but highways throughout the country are not.

Car rental agencies exist at most major hotels. Foreigners must have an International Driver's License and be at least 25 years of age to rent a car in Egypt. Some agencies offer 4x4s, with or without a driver, for desert travel. You will need your passport, driver's license, and a prepayment. Credit cards are accepted.

Public Transport - By Taxi

If you did not have a chance to be on a taxi in New York City or Rome, take an Egyptian taxi for one of the experiences of your life. Taxi drivers seem to need to fill every empty space of the road . All taxis have orange license plates and are identified by a number on the driver's license and identify number attached to the dashboard. Sharing a taxi is not unusual. For the tourist, it is more expensive but easier to get a taxi from a hotel where they line up and where you can fix the price beforehand. But if you find yourself in need of a taxi on the street, be aggressive. Stand on the road, wave your right hand and yell your destination to all taxis. A taxi will stop for you.

Official prices are strict and meters should be used. If this doesn't happen, take the car number (which is listed beside the meter) and report it to the police. It is preferable to ask the driver if his meter is working or not. Most taxi drivers are honest and seldom take advantage of tourists, but it has been known to happen. At your destination, pay the fare in exact change. No tip is expected like other International cities.

Taxi drivers are friendly, many speak English, some are college graduates moonlighting to supplement their income, and most are very eager to be hired by the day. If you plan to visit a number of sights and wish the driver to wait for you, this can be done.

Taxis in Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Esaphagas and Sinai are easier to find (they line up at all hotels) but for the distance traveled they are more expensive than those in Cairo.

Desert Travel

Use common sense. Bring a compass. Check your car. Be sure to have a good spare tire. Drive on loose sand as you would on snow. If your wheels get stuck in soft sand, put a rag under the back tires and move out slowly. If you spin your tires, you will sink deeper in the sand. If your car breaks down along the road, don't abandon your vehicle; even in remote areas another vehicle will pass by. If you break down on a desert track (you should never leave the main road for long distances with only one vehicle), hike to the nearest road and wait. On all desert travels, have ample food, water, salt tablets, a hat and sunglasses. Cover the head and the back of the neck.

Top up your tank at every gas station, as the next one may be hundreds of miles away. If your tank is small, carry a jerry can on long hauls like Dakhla to Farafrah (390 km/243 miles). Dehydration can sneak up on you in desert travel. In an emergency one teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of sugar in a cup of water will revive you.

Desert driving is very monotonous. Remember you are still on a highway. When you wish to pass, sound your horn very deliberately, in order to make it clear that you are going to do something extraordinary. Egyptian drivers need an extra signal, since nearly all of them over use the horn even when no one is around. Another bad habit is blinking the high beam at night. When a car is approaching he may blind you. Blink back and he may stop. He may be checking to see if you are awake.

Distances between Cairo and other cities:

Alexandria (Delta Road) 140 Miles 225 Kilometers

Alexandria (Desert Road) 138 Miles 221 Kilometers

Damietta 119 Miles 191 Kilometers

Barrages 15 Miles 25 Kilometers

Minya 151 Miles 236 Kilometers

Asyut 224 Miles 359 Kilometers

Luxor 415 Miles 664 Kilometers

Esna 449 Miles 719 Kilometers

Edfu 484 Miles 775 Kilometers

Kom Ombo 521 Miles 835 Kilometers

Aswan 550 Miles 880 Kilometers

Port Said 137 Miles 220 Kilometers

Ismailia 87 Miles 140 Kilometers

Fayyum 64 Miles 103 Kilometers

Bharia Oasis 197 Miles 316 Kilometers

Farafra Oasis 262 Miles 420 Kilometers

Dakhla Oasis 413 Miles 690 Kilometers

Kharga Oasis 366 Miles 586 Kilometers

Rental Agencies

Avis, 16 Maamal el Sukkar, Garden City
Tel: 354-8698

Bita, 15 Mahmud Bassiouni
Tel: 774-330, 753-130

Budget, 5 Sh el Maqrizik, Zamalek
Tel: 340-0070, 340-9474
85 Road 9, Maadi
Tel: 350-2724; 1 Sh Muhammad

Ebeid, Heliopolis
Tel: 291-8244

Max Rent-a-Car, 27 Sh Lubnan, Mohandeseen
Tel: 347-4712/3 Fax: 341-7123
Also for four-wheel drive vehicles with or without experienced desert drivers. Branch office in Sharm el Shaykh

Sunshine Tours & Services, 106 Muhammad Farid
Tel: 760-559, 393-1955

Limousines are available for those who want to travel in style:

Bita Limousine Service, Gazirah Sheraton
Tel: 341-1333, 341-1555
Marriott Hotel
Tel: 340-8888

Budget Limousine Service, Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel
Tel: 355-7171 x 8991

Limousine Misr, 7 Aziz Bil-Lah, Zeitoun
Tel: 259-9813/4

Egyptrav, Nile Hilton
Tel: 755-029, 766-548, 393-2644

The roads from Cairo to Upper Egypt are the longest, most congested, and most dangerous in Egypt. Most traffic moving south from Cairo must travel a route along the western shore of the Nile. In recent years a new road along the east bank of the river has been under construction. Although it too is a single lane road, it is less congested.

It is not advisable to drive at night; vehicles stop dead on the road and turn out their lights; unlit donkey carts move at a snail's pace and are usually not seen until it is too late, and long distance taxis and overloaded trucks travel too fast and are driven by drivers who use "stimulants".

There are gas stations throughout the country, with those operated by Mobil, Esso, and Shell offering full service with mini-markets on the premises. Fuel, inexpensive and sold by the liter, is available in 90 octane (tisa'iin) which is super, or 80 (tamaniin), regular. 90 is better for most purposes. Road signs are similar to those used throughout Europe. Driving is on the right hand side of the road. Speed limits are posted on major highways and are enforced by radar.

Custom Trip Planning

Road to Egypt works with you to plan your Egypt experience at a pace and taste that suits your wish list and your budget. Choose from our suggested private tours or let us customize a program just for you. Contact us and speak to one of our tour designers.

Private Tour FAQ

Find answers to common questions about our Private Tours of Egypt. If you need further assistance, don't hesitate to call us. We're always happy to help.