5 Hour Activities


SAQQARA COMPLEX
Saqqara Road, Giza
sca-egypt.org

VISIT EGYPT’S OLDEST PYRAMID

Little visited, even by locals, Saqqara is a nine-square-mile necropolis comprising Egypt’s oldest stone monuments, including the Step Pyramid, erected in the 27th century B.C. for the pharaoh Djoser. The trip takes 45 minutes by taxi each way, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful carved and painted tombs in the country. Get your bearings and buy tickets at the small, elegant Imhotep Museum, just inside the entrance, devoted to Djoser’s vizier and architect, who first conceived of building in stone instead of wood and brick. Don’t miss the carved scenes of dancers in the mastaba tomb of the Sixth Dynasty courtier Meruruka; scenes of daily life, including a beer brewing and a parade of tame African antelope, inside the shared tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, overseers of the manicurists of pharaoh Unas; and the Serapeum, underground chambers containing 24 giant carved sarcophagi that once contained the remains of sacred bulls. A café on-site serves cold drinks and snacks, but we suggest you also bring a few bottles water from the hotel to keep hydrated. No need to leave at the crack of dawn, except in the hottest weather: if you set off from the hotel around 10 a.m. and head back around 3 p.m. you’ll avoid the heaviest morning and after-school rush hours.
The Saqqara Complex is on Saqqara Road, close to the Memphis archeological site.

SAQQARA COMPLEX
Saqqara Road, Giza
sca-egypt.org

BAB AL FUTUH
intersection Al Hosneya and Al Banhawy streets

CITADEL VIEW MISR STUDIO RESTAURANT
Al Azhar Park, car entrance on Salah Salem Road
+20-2-2510-9150
no alcohol served

AHMED SEDDIK
+201006768269
ahmed.seddik@gmail.com

STROLL THROUGH ISLAMIC CAIRO

  • Enjoy a day on your feet, exploring a route encompassing dozens of monuments encompassing a thousand years of Islamic history and architectural flourishes
  • Stop along the way to re-fuel and take in the panoramic view of Old Cairo at Citadel View Misr Studio Restaurant

Have a taxi or hotel car drop you at the massive Bab al Futuh, one of two remaining 11th-century stone gates of the old walled capital, and walk south along Al Muiz Li’Din Allah Street, Fatimid Cairo’s mile-long main drag, climbing minarets, visiting historic caravansaries, and passing through working souks devoted to traditional kitchen utensils, silver, abayas, and risqué lingerie in equal measure. Among the highlights: Beit El Seheimy, a preserved and fully furnished house that belonged to a wealthy 17th-century merchant; the Egyptian Textile Museum; the 13th-century Qalawun Complex, encompassing a hospital, school, mosque, and mausoleum of a 13th-century sultan; and Bab Zuwayla, a massive 11th-century gate whose twin stone towers afford panoramic views. From Bab Zuwayla, turn left up the Darb Al Ahmer, a street leading uphill past shops and monuments—notably the Blue Mosque, whose beautiful blue tiles decorate the mausoleum of a deposed nine-year-old Mamluk Sultan. Detour via the pedestrian entrance into Al Azhar Park, landscaped by the Agha Khan Foundation, and whose Citadel View Misr Studio Restaurant affords stupendous views of Old Cairo and serves fresh fruit juices, lemonade, just-baked pitas, and Middle Eastern salads and grilled meats. The whole route encompasses dozens of registered monuments encompassing a thousand years of Islamic history and architectural flourishes, as well as the Khan al Khalili bazaar. It’s easy to meander solo (most monuments are listed on Google Maps and are signposted in English as well as Arabic) and hail a taxi for the return ride to the hotel, but should you prefer a guide, contact Ahmed Seddik, whose clients include Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour and her family. (Seddik also does tours of pharaonic antiquity sites). Do the walk Friday morning before noon prayers if you dislike crowds. To see the working souks in their full glory, go any afternoon except Sunday, when many shops are closed.​
Bab Al Futuh is the huge set of stone gates at the intersection of Al Hosneya and Al Banhawy Streets. The Citadel View Misr Studio Restaurant is at the northernmost part of Al Azhar Park, on Salah Salem Road.

BAB AL FUTUH
intersection Al Hosneya and Al Banhawy streets

CITADEL VIEW MISR STUDIO RESTAURANT
Al Azhar Park, car entrance on Salah Salem Road
+20-2-2510-9150
no alcohol served

AHMED SEDDIK
+201006768269
ahmed.seddik@gmail.com

AL SORAT FARM
Behind villa of Dr. Magdy Agamawi, Esbat el Hawagat, Al Badrashin, Giza Governorate, Egypt
+20-122-211-8386
Open from 8.00 am to 7 pm.

RIDE ARABIAN HORSES IN THE DESERT

  • Ride Arabian Horses in the Desert
  • Discover rural Egypt on horseback
  • Reach hidden gems, untouched by typical tourist routes

The horse and camel stables at the Pyramids are an age-old tourist trap. Serious riders, as well as novices who want to experience the desert landscape from a calmer and more authentic perspective, hire mounts and guides from Al Sorat Farm, i. With advance notice, owner Maryanne Gabbani arranges home-cooked lunches for visitors and specializes in riding routes through farmland, rural villages, and the atmospheric, monument-strewn desert. Horses, including retired Arabian endurance racers and rescues from the Pyramids tourist trade, are matched to clients according to temperament and ability (rank beginners are welcome), and rides range from an hour to a half-day picnic jaunt. Along the way you may encounter wild foxes or migrating storks, as well as sands still littered with bones, abandoned sarcophagi, ceramic fragments, and pit tombs.
The Al Sorat Farm is in the desert, south of Cairo.

AL SORAT FARM
Behind villa of Dr. Magdy Agamawi, Esbat el Hawagat, Al Badrashin, Giza Governorate, Egypt
+20-122-211-8386
Open from 8.00 am to 7 pm.