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Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Swansea, MA
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Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Just starting to plan a 2 week trip to Egypt and I need some advice. I know it is not recommended to drive your self but my husband and I are willing to take the risk. Just hear me out.......I plan to fly in to Cairo, explore that area and drive to Aswan as my final destination and fly back to Cairo. I know the drive from Cairo to Luxor is about 9 hours. Is it a scenic drive? I am told that traveling in a convoy is not necessary anymore. Are there places to stay midway that we can break up the trip? By places to stay I mean high end places. Unfortunately most people dont drive so it isnt covered in guide books in depth. I dont have any specific itinerary in mind yet.

Scotland, United...
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for Luxor, Nile River Valley, Egypt
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1. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Simple advice is Don't!!!

There are NO motorways, few filling stations/garages and certainly no 'services' as we understand them

You need a 'charter' (police pass) to use many sections of road. In some of the areas between Cairo & Luxor, I understand from reading brochures/Guide books that you need a police guard to step out of your hotel

Are you aware of the distances involved?

Is there an Egyptian version of the AAA?

Have you seen how the locals drive? I doubt if you can even imagine the driving style if you have never been to Egypt, or Syria etc., but things like traffic lights, lane markings are there purely for amusement.

As in Damascus, most Cairo taxi's are not considered a taxi until they have a minimum of one dent per body panel, with 2 or 3 being the norm!

In the USA you are taught to drive in a lane without changing lanes often, stop at lights, and you stop if pedestrians cross in front of you in case you hit them and get sued.

NONE of this applies in Egypt.

I haven't seen any car-hire companies around, but no doubt the Hertz's of this world do exist in Cairo.

Could I suggest, before you plan much further that you contact the major hire companies and ask them the feasibility/costs etc. or even if they will actually rent you a car!

Edited: 03 August 2010, 17:24
England, United...
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2. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

.I agree with the points raised by eLaReF.

Many Egyptians have never taken a driving test and from what I'm told the exisiting test is laughable, and anyway can be passed for the right baksheesh!

I have an Egyptian friend in Luxor who drives tourist coaches around Egypt for a living and although he will drive to Cairo in his car if he has to he will not drive there with his family. He says they are too valuable and are safer on the train. That tells me alot. (Drivers of Licenced Tourist Vehicles do have to take Driving Tests and also do refresher courses - theory and practicle).

I believe you can get self hire cars from Cairo Airport but from what I have heard, hiring a car in Egypt is very expensive compared to other countries. I think you would also need to ensure that your own travel insurance will cover you for driving in Egypt.

Hiring a car and driver is relatively cheap in Egypt and the society is much more geared to it.

I refer to you to Travel.State.Gov from which I take this excerpt:

The information below concerning Egypt is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Egypt, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of road fatalities per mile driven, is a challenge. Even seasoned residents of Cairo must use extraordinary care and situational awareness to navigate the hectic streets of the capital. Traffic rules appear to be routinely ignored by impatient drivers. Any visiting Americans thinking about driving in Cairo should carefully consider their options, take the utmost precautions, and drive defensively. Drivers should be prepared for unlit vehicles at night; few, if any, road markings; vehicles traveling at high rates of speed; vehicles traveling the wrong way on one-way streets; divided highways and connecting ramps; pedestrians constantly dodging in and out of traffic; and a variety of animals on the roads. Most traffic lights in Cairo appear not to function, but rather intersections are staffed by policemen who use subtle finger movements to indicate which cars may move. Pedestrians should also exercise extreme caution when traversing roadways, especially in high-volume/high-velocity streets like Cairo's Corniche, which follows the east bank of the Nile River. Motorists in Egypt should be especially cautious during the rare winter rains, which can cause extremely slippery road surfaces or localized flooding.

…state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1108.html

I can understand your wish for this kind of adventure as I love to drive wherever I am too, preferring the freedom and independance, but in reality it doesn't always work out that way in some countries and can become a very stressful and dangerous occupation.

Cairo
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3. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

I would not reccommend self driving!!!

Maps are nearly impossible to find, signposts/directions are confusing to nonexistant. When locals don't know they way they ask others(do you speak arabic?), and they will give directions even if they don't now the place or how to get there. Don't say that you will use Satnav/GPS, because maps are pretty poor for too, thats if you can get them, most of the main Satnav don't have maps for Egypt and the ones that do only cover then main cities.

Then there is the driving here, basically choas, no rules!!! Just about ever car has a bump dent or scratch. It takes a good month at least of living here to understand the system, if you could call it that. Every day you see crashes, which nearly always erupt into arguements/fights as no one has insurance.

When you can get a car with driver for much the same as a rental and sometimes even cheaper... why bother?

london
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for Nile River Valley
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4. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

The others are right. You can't appreciate what Egyptian driving is like unless you have been there.

I recommend flying, or train if you like, to Aswan. You can get a car and driver back from Aswan to Luxor and see the road. There are several important historic sites on the way. Or you could do the circuit the other way round.

Luxor is in between Cairo and Aswan. It is the second major centre for sightseeing after Cairo and though I love Aswan it is third.

Swansea, MA
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5. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

The driving part is decided. I have seen Egyptian driving on YouTube. I don't plan to drive in Cairo. I may just fly from Cairo to Luxor and rent a car when I get there. I have GPS road maps with turn by turn directions so I am not concerned about finding my way. Just trying to get an idea of best route to see most beautiful/scenic areas of Egypt.

England, United...
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6. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Good luck if you think you can just hire a car when you get to Luxor airport.

Out of curiosity I've just been searching the net and have so far looked at 9 sites that suggest you can hire a car in Luxor but when you put the details in 'Search Not Foud'. I've also used variables such as changing my search dates, manual vs automatic etc.

If you do find something and go ahead with this I hope you will write a full report about your experience from the searching and booking stage through to the end of your journey.

Just a point about GPS, I could be wrong here but I thought GPS was banned in Egypt. You may want to check this out before relying on it. Certainly it is not always easy to get a good signal for mobile phones, wifi etc so you may also encounter a problem relying on GPS too. (That being said, I'm no techy!).

Zeeuws Vlaanderen
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7. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Don't underestimate towns like Luxor or Aswan. Those are very large cities. And also driving on the roads there and on the countryside is dangerous. Forget every idea you have about rural scenic villages. Driving in Egypt is madness. Everywhere. Apart from that, you will encounter police everywhere, who will stop you, want to know where you are going. Egypt is no country for driving around at leisure.

England, United...
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8. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Yes, wjgmspeedy is correct about the police being everywhere and they are not just talking about 'cops on the street', although there are plenty of them visable and otherwise. There are numerous Police Check Points that you have to go through - to enter and exit towns and also areas within towns and cities. They soon get to know cars driven by expats on regular routes but will stop them if they are not sure. Papers have to be shown, explanations given of journey etc.

Scotland, United...
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for Luxor, Nile River Valley, Egypt
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9. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

Re Satnav, it certainly was banned, but I read recently that either the ban has been revoked or is about to be. Can't find where I saw it however.

Re high-end places, they don't exist out of the major centres i.e Cairo & surrounding areas, Luxor, Aswan. Abu Simbel doesn't have anything at that level. (I'm ignoring Sharm as 'Not Egypt')

Any chance of posting the you-tube link so we can see what you saw?

Cairo
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10. Re: Self driving tour of Egypt. Desperately need advice!

GPS, was approved for use in Egypt May09, then problem there was no maps. As i live in Cairo I have been following this closely, and have discussed it extensively on a Egypt Expat forum, from my research, none of the major/big name GPS systems have maps for Egypt, only NDrive have maps for Cairo and surrounds, Desert highway to Alexandria, Alexandria, Sham and the highway Cairo to Sham. There is another one called Eze Zee Drive that I saw for sale in a stall outside Egypt Duty Free CityStars, it looked pretty dodgy...

I would be very interested in what make of GPS you plan to use and would really appreciate if you can tell me where you got the maps from.