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A piece of paradise in Cairo

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We drove into Cairo on a Friday, which meant that everything was closed. We were mainly in the vast city, with around 20 million inhabitants, to arrange our Sudanese and Ethiopian visas, but since that was impossible on a Friday we decided to get the mandatory visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza out of the way.

When you drive up to the hill approaching the pyramids you are stopped by the “tourist police” (the sort who want to sell you a camel ride). Even if you don’t want to stop, you have to, because they jump the car and you’d have to kill someone to get through. Anyway, after working our way up the hill and using our windscreen wipers to get the fake-police off the Landy, we got to the checkpoint where we were checked and paid the 3 pounds (about €0.45) extra to go onto the terrain with the Land Rover. It would be an understatement to say I would have easily paid double, since we got some fantastic photos as a result. The visit itself was a bit disappointing, since the area is obviously crawling with tourists and people offering crap to them.

Luckily, we were able get a better view of the pyramids the next night, since we found a great campsite in the garden of the Isis Guesthouse & Camp site. The green garden seems like paradise when you first walk in from the dirty, dusty streets of Giza. The campsite next door (Kair Sahara) was marked on the map (Tracks4Africa), but has actually closed down. Omar sits at the top of the street all day and will welcome you and arrange anything else you may need. Chabel is the gardener and live-in security guard and was a great friend to us. The downside is that it is quite far out from the centre of Cairo, and the metro also requires a taxi-ride.

Anyway, that night, while we had dinner, Hilal and Sue walked into the garden. They lived in the appartment that Hilal had built for him and his family. It towers over Giza and is among the highest in the area. We were invited to take some photos of the pyramids from the rooftop as the sun was setting. The results can be seen below, with compliments to Twan and thanks to Hilal & Sue.

The area is great: the pyramids are some distance away and when you leave the premises you walk into the ”real” Egypt. Small shops, busy streets, camels, oxes, donkeys, sheep, vegetables covered in flies and many people staring at the two white men walking down the street. We even stopped at a small shop to have two delicious €0.44 hamburgers.

Meanwhile, we have arranged both visas, which will let us get through easily until the Kenyan border. Time is pressing though, because we want to be in the south of Egypt before the elections on the 23rd of May. The unstable situation in Sudan is also reason to hurry, since the country is pivotal on our route.

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