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Pyramids of Egypt • Giza • 4 • How to Get There

by mythic44

How to Get There

Arrive by plane – Cairo International Airport is the second biggest airport in Africa with more than 16 million passengers a year. It is well served by Egyptair the national carrier and its Star Alliance partners (Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, BMI, LOT and Continental), Sky Team (Air France, KLM, Delta, Alitalia), Oneworld (British Airways), Gulf Carriers (Emirates, Etihad) as well as budget carriers TUI-fly and Jet-Air-Fly.

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Go ahead and exchange some money in the airport – best to do this before going through customs. ATMs for all major cards are available in the arrival halls. Visas are available at the bank counters before immigration. They are USD 15 and can also be paid in other currencies. Change is given in EGP or USD.

The airport offers “Exclusive Services” that picks you up at the gate, does all immigration procedures for you and picks up your luggage while you wait in a comfortable arrival lounge for US$50, not including the visa fees.

Visitors are allowed to buy duty free articles on arrival. If you are visiting European or American friends, they are always keen to get your passports to get more booze and cigarettes than the excepted quantity at customs. At the airport, the additional quantity is 4 bottles of alcohol. At the checkout, a customs official will check your passport and give approval for the purchase. You can be accompanied by the person picking you up.

free shuttle bus runs between the two terminals and the bus station every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. Taxi drivers trying to lure you at the airport will try to tell you otherwise regarding the shuttle bus, but if you go outside the terminal, you will find the free shuttle bus.

Getting around

You will find that it’s useful to have several maps handy if you are looking to get around Cairo on your own. Spellings of street and place names can vary from map to map and from map to actual location, and not every street will appear on every map.

Getting in by metro – Metro Line 2 now runs from Cairo haram’ in Arabic’); they include the green public 900 and 997 buses.

By taxi – The Pyramids may be nearer than you think, so it’s possible to take a taxi to the Pyramids from any part of Cairo at a reasonable cost, and it’s certainly the fastest and easiest method. There are essentially two options for this, unmetered & metered:

Older black & white taxis – meters are not used, so don’t forget to haggle. Taxi drivers will nearly always want to take you to see their “brother’s” perfume shop, or their “father’s” carpet warehouse on the way – if you don’t want to waste time doing this, and being put on the spot to make a purchase – just make it very clear that you only want to see the antiquities.

Solid-yellow and solid-white taxis – These are metered and air conditioned. You might save yourself the hassle with the black and white taxis mentioned above, and at almost the same cost, if not less depending on your skill. On the other hand there are stories of drivers of white and yellow cabs fixing the meters, which would hardly be surprising given that it happens all over the world.

By bus – From central Cairo, the optimum way to get to the Giza Pyramids using public mass transit options is by bus routes 355 or 357 – a large white, air-conditioned coach with CTA (Cairo Transport Authority) on the side. Travelling every 20 minutes from the airport and Heliopolis, the bus stops (or doesn’t – you may have to flag it down!) at the Abdel Menem Riyad Station in Midan Tahrir, next to the Egyptian Museum, before continuing out to Giza and the Pyramids.

Even cheaper and more interesting is taking the ordinary buses 900 or 997, costing 50 piastres, from the big central bus station under the overpasses, close to the museum. There are three lanes, and they leave from one closest to the rundown controllers’ booth (as of late July 2010). Be careful when about getting down, most people will be honest and help you, but you may encounter scammers who take you to their camels instead of to the pyramids. For 997, the correct spot is along a long avenue, after you’re spotted the Pyramids and the bus has done a U-turn and then turned left — get off when you a see a blue sign for the Light and Sound show.

Accomodations – General accommodation options are somewhat limited within the Giza district – most travellers tend to stay in and around central Cairo itself and travel out to the Pyramids for at least part of the day. For people determined to stay in close vicinity and / or for whom cost is no issue, there are a number of very comfortable options:

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