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Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
37 posts
209 reviews
570 helpful votes
Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

The Watania Sleeping Train is a fairly convenient way to get between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan, the main destinations served by this train. General information on the trains can be found at http://wataniasleepingtrains.com/Watania/Price_list_%26_Schedule.html, although this site has some access problems and is not overly reliable. You can also get the same general information and book your tickets for this train online at http://e7gezly.com/sleepingtrains/. This site tended to work much better and seems to have more up-to-date information.

Online booking process: tickets for the Watania Sleeping Train can be booked online at http://e7gezly.com/sleepingtrains/#get_tickets_div. The site is fairly easy to use and requires a credit card to place your order. There is a 2.5% booking fee and a 3.0% credit card fee added to the ticket prices. For foreign citizens, prices are US$80.00/adult (US$84.46 with fees) for a single cabin, US$60.00/adult (US$63.30 with fee) for a double cabin (prices are per person), and US$47.00/child (US$47.47 with fees). Prices include dinner and breakfast served in your cabin. Once you select your travel date, the site will show you the departure cities and trains (one-way or round trip) that are available for that date. After you complete your order on this site, you will simply receive a notification that "Your order was successfully created, thanks". After a few hours, you should receive an e-mail with the subject message "Your order at E7gezly.com has been completed successfully". This e-mail contained a summary of my order along with a note that stated "You will receive your ticket within the next 2 hours". However, this first e-mail already contained a PDF file that was to be used as the actual ticket. You will need to take this PDF ticket with you on the train.

At The Station: on the ticket, you are advised to arrive at the train station and be on the platform at least 30 minutes before your departure time. Note that this does not mean that the train will operate on time. On my trip, the train was at least 30 minutes late leaving the Giza station and arrived nearly 2 hours late into Luxor. I recommend that you factor this possible delay into your travel plans. At the Giza station, there are a few small shops to buy snacks or water, as well as a small restaurant. Keep in mind that this train does serve dinner and breakfast. When you get to the Giza train station (which is next to the Giza Metro stop), there are small numbers hanging from the platform canopy. These numbers are intended to indicate the approximate location of the wagons. So, if you are in Wagon #6 on your ticket, line up by the #6 sign. Note that this station handles both the Watania Sleeping trains as well as other local trains. Do not panic if at your scheduled departure time, you see a rather rough looking local train (see my note about delays). Do not board this! Wait instead for the sleeping train, which is green and white colored and has the words "Sleeping Car" stenciled on the side.

Scam alert: when you get to the Giza station, like most of the other tourists there, you will probably wander around the platform looking for any Watania sign or staff member. You will not find one. It is best to simply wait for your train on the main platform with everyone else. You will likely be approached by people with official looking notebooks offering to help you and they will ask you for your ticket. Do not show anyone your ticket. What these people do is to write down your name and destination from the ticket as if they were verifying your ticket. What they do instead is to call ahead to their buddies (i.e. in Luxor) and provide them with this information. When you arrive in Luxor, you will then be approached by people claiming they are there to pick you up (using your first name). This is a basic taxi and hotel scam. I recommend that you pre-arrange your hotel or pickup in either Luxor or Aswan to avoid this scam.

On The Train: once the train arrives at the platform, Watania personnel will be in front of each wagon to verify your ticket and make sure you get into the right wagon/compartment. The onboard staff are generally very friendly and helpful. Wagon numbers are posted just inside of each wagon entrance (not anywhere outside the train). Compartment numbers (shown as Bed No. on your ticket) are posted on the compartment doors. Note that if you are in a single cabin, you will only have one of the two compartment numbers on your ticket. There is no toilet in the compartment, instead you need to go to the end of the wagon. Inside each compartment, there are two fairly comfortable seats with a small center console between them. The compartment also has a small sink area with a mirror where you can freshen up. There are lighting and air conditioning controls next to the entry door, as well as a small area to hang up a few items. There is not a lot of space for luggage in these compartments. The seats, and the panel above them, fold down to become the beds after dinner is served. The purser will come to your cabin to do this for you. The foam mattress is very firm with decent pillows and bedding. After the train leaves and people have generally settled into their compartments, the onboard staff will bring you your pre-ordered dinner (as selected when you book your ticket). The meals are similar to what you would get on an airline, although fairly heavy on breads/starches. Breakfast is served about one hour prior to arrival at your destination (again, heavy on bread).

Taking the Watania Sleeping Train is certainly cheaper than flying and at a minimum you save on one nights' hotel. However, do not expect the same level of smoothness as a European EC/IC overnight train. The rails in Egypt are not great and there was a significant amount of jostling and vibration in the train from the tracks. Overall, though, this is not a bad option to get from Cairo to Luxor and/or Aswan.

Level Contributor
18,718 posts
79 reviews
357 helpful votes
1. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Thanks EisBaer for your review, great job!

I always buy my ticket at the station so the booking process information was handy.

Cairo, Egypt
Level Contributor
888 posts
7 reviews
5 helpful votes
2. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Great review. First time hearing about this scam, a whole new level of imagination.

Level Contributor
18 posts
28 reviews
9 helpful votes
3. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Thanks so much for this post! My husband and I will be taking this train tomorrow evening so it is very timely and helpful for us :)

Didn't know about the scam, so we could have been taken in very easily.

Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
2 posts
131 reviews
73 helpful votes
4. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Just returned from Egypt tour. We had travelled in the watania train on april 30th night. This is the only train where u can sleep on journey because other trains only offer sitting arrangement even in 1st ac. Even this train though the charge is 60usd per person I wouldn't call it value deal since the train is too jerky and brakes hard and screeching halts and shaky narrow gauge and lot of delay. We reached aswan at 11.30 even though the schedule was at 9.00am. From Luxor on return we travelled by 1st ac seats are comfortable but local population boarding and getting down lots of noise and with always lights on u can forget sleeping.

Newport, Kentucky
Level Contributor
7 posts
35 reviews
27 helpful votes
5. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

I took the sleeper train in May 2013. A taxi driver took me to Ramses train station to purchase ticket first before heading to Egyptian Museum for the day. Big time saver having my ticket already. Then after museum, took taxi to Giza train station. Sparse station. There was a woman who collected 1 LE for using bathroom, but it wasn't even maintained. Watched other tourists who had an egyptian guide, who were waiting to board same train to Aswan and got on when they did. Train was late. Compartment small, but had it to myself-paid extra for it. The food was awful! Bring food to eat on train! Plus I got bedbug bites while sleeping. Brought spray with me on trip to use in hotels. Didn't think to use it on train! It wasn't as fun as I thought.

Vilvoorde, Belgium
Level Contributor
2 posts
46 reviews
73 helpful votes
6. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

We boarded the "deluxe" sleeping train from Caïro to Luxor in June 2013, which is according to local residents the best train to drive around on the Egyptian tracks. We didn't expect much and received even less than expected.

The train is ancient, with many defects (for one, you cannot adjust the airconditioning so it tends to get very cold in the cabin), the food is terrible (so bring food if you can) and an occasional bedbug is to be expected.

As to why they call it a sleeping train, I guess nobody knows... Perhaps it's the presence of beds that make people think they will actually sleep on this train. I for one, did not sleep at all. The ride is very noisy, the cabins won't stop shaking during the whole trip and rolling back and forth due to braking and accelerating while trying to sleep doesn't help the case either. Thirteen hours in this hellhole seemed an eternity but we lived and arrived in Luxor only an hour late... If you are on a very strict budget and this is your only option you can consider taking this train because it will bring you from point A to point B for a small amount of money. But if you like comfort (even slightly) you should definately fly. If you want to ride it just for the experience, be my guest because it's an experience all right :)

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
20 posts
12 reviews
7 helpful votes
7. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Bed Bugs?!?!? If I ever do go to Egypt, Im decided flying it is.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,375 posts
35 reviews
24 helpful votes
8. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Two questions, is it possible to bring one large suitcase and will it fit in the cabin and also, if i buy a round trip ticket to Aswan, can i on the return trip get off in Luxor , spend a couple of nights and then get back on to Cairo ? Or do i have to buy it in segments ? Thanks...

Perth, Canada
Level Contributor
3 posts
27 reviews
8 helpful votes
9. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

Very expensive and definitely not luxury. The floor was wet with a brown liquid. The seats and curtains were brown and greasy. Arm rests gross. Nothing upgraded for 20+ years. Fortunately the sheets and towels were clean. We never saw the club car if it exists. The food was mediocre. It is an old train - don't be fooled by the picture on the website - it is not the same train. Not good value for price - better to fly. Also you don't meet anyone so take a normal train or fly.

West Kelowna, Canada
Destination Expert
for Egypt
Level Contributor
4,678 posts
65 reviews
14 helpful votes
10. Re: Watania Sleeping Train (Information & Review)

I would have to agree with you Linda. I had a similar experience many a year ago with the sleeper train. I also found the sleep not to be the best and the bathroom was pretty foul.

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