Al-Azhar Park, conceived and funded by the Aga Khan. Photo by Yasser Nazmi.
Most Egyptian visitors tread the same basic Cairo tourist trail of mosques – especially Mohamed Ali mosque, Khan el Khalili bazaar (souk), the incredible exhibits in the quite disorganised Egyptian Museum. Also perhaps the City of the Dead and Heliopolis if they’re a bit adventurous, and of course the pyramids and Sphinx on the edge of the city at Giza.
Then it’s off to Luxor after an evening of Stella beer, stuffed pigeon and belly dancing.
Bad move. This way travellers end up surrounded by tourists all day long in a very crowded, artificial and stressed, anti-holiday environment.
The cure? Ensure you have enough time to head off to lesser-tourist locations where 5-day tour parties fear to tread.
Cairo is a very exciting, vibrant and rapidly developing city with lots of things going on. Women dressed in black and covered from head to toe rub shoulders with modern young teenagers wearing jeans and colourful head scarves. The traffic is noisy and polluting and refuses to stop at traffic lights, yet we saw few traffic jams and no accidents. There is some sort of order in what looks like chaos, which is probably the best way I can describe Egypt.