Monthly Archives: March 2012

Events today and tomorrow in Cairo

Saturday, 10 March

Spring Farmers’ Market at Nūn Center

From 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

The Spring Farmers Market provides a sales outlet for Cairo’s Organic and GAP certified farmers, craftspeople and local producers. It is also an opportunity for locals and visitors to find fresh produce, baked goods and various other products in pleasant surroundings.

Nūn Center, 4 Shafik Mansour St., Zamalek

Live painting performance by SHANK at Tache Art Gallery at 12:30pm

Mohamed Fathi – more commonly known as SHANK – will be painting live in front of an audience for his project “Seven x Three.”

S-139 El-Sahara District, Designopolis, Km 38 Cairo/ Alexandria Rd., Sheikh Zayed, 6 October City

Cairo Symphony Orchestra, led by Czech conductor Jiří Petrdlík, “Painting in Music”

8.00pm Cairo Opera House

The evening will include “Mathis der Maler” (Matthias the Painter) symphony, one of the best-known works by 20th century German composer Paul Hindemith and “Three Walks in Zamalek”, a bassoon concerto by John Baboukis, composer and director of music at the American University in Cairo.

Also on the programme is “Pictures at an Exhibition” for piano and orchestra. Composed by the 19th century Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky‎ for solo piano and orchestra, this version was arranged by 20th century French composer Maurice Ravel, most famous for orchestral piece “Bolero.”

The soloist for the evening is Tamer Fahmy Kamal on bassoon.

Cairo Opera House, Main Hall, Zamalek

El-Ghouri Tanoura Group at Wekalet El-Ghouri at 7:30pm

Expect traditional dance, vibrant music and colourful performances by El-Ghouri Dance Group this Saturday. They play every Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.

3 Mohamed Abdou Street, behind Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo

Tannoura dancer with colourful whirling skirt

Tanoura dancer at Wekalet el Ghouri. The tanoura is an Egyptian folk dance performed by Sufi men, Darawish. The dance is similar to the Sufi whirling in Levant and Turkey. In this version, the men wear long colorful skirts, also known as a tanoura.

“Bab Aziz” film screening at Sufi Bookstore at 7pm

The newly opened Sufi Bookstore has been holding film nights every Friday. This weekend they show Tunisian film “Bab Aziz” about an old man and his granddaughter who travel across the desert on their way to a Sufi festival and meet interesting characters along the way.

12 Sayed El-Bakry Street, Zamalek, Cairo

Basheer at Cairo Jazz Club
Sat Mar 10 10:00 pm to Sun Mar 11 3:00 am

It’s Oriental Saturday Cairo Jazz Club and nobody else but Basheer could light up the evening with his modern Egyptian folkloric beats. Reservations at Cairo Jazz Club are recommended.

Cairo Jazz Club, 197 26th Of July St., Mohandiseen

Gazaga in El Sawy Culturewheel

Sat Mar 10 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

In the Wisdom Hall at El Sawy Culturwheel, Gazaga brings a night of traditional Egyptian music with a 21st century twist. Tickets are 20LE.

El Sawy Culturewheel, end of 26 July Street, Zamalek

“Winter Garden” exhibition at Gezira Art Center

This exhibition, organised by the Japan Foundation in Cairo, is a travelling exhibition featuring the works of 14 Japanese artists.

1 El-Sheikh Marsafy Street, Zamalek, Cairo

‘Made in Egypt’ Charity Bazaar at Semiramis Intercontinental Cairo

From 11:00 am to 8:00 pm

With over 150 vendors selling Egyptian products and at least 20 NGOs participating, the Inner Wheel Zamalek hosts ‘Made in Egypt’ charity bazaar, with donations going to the Children Kidney Transplantation Unit in Abu El Rish as well as the development of Cairo slums. Held in the Cleopatra Ballroom.

Semiramis Intercontinental Cairo, 11511 Corniche El Nil, Garden City

The Kiosk of French Booksellers Festival

From 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

In celebration of the Month of Francophonie, the French Institute is organising the Kiosk of French Booksellers festival. Today the media library is open to the public for the entire day. There are also various workshops one can attend such as comic book drawing, text learning and poetry interpretation.

Institut Francais d’Égypte au Caire

Metal Blast One Year Anniversary

Sat Mar 10 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

One year on and El Sawy’s heavy metal festival ‘Metal Blast’ is stronger than ever. More than just a gig, this one year anniversary celebration in the River Hall will resemble more of a heavy metal convention as musicians, fans, journalists and record labels come together

El Sawy Culturewheel, end of 26 July Street, Zamalek

‘Khadra’ Exhibition at Darb 1718

Runs to Sat Mar 17 8:00 pm

Khadra is a contemporary group exhibition featuring a group of artists from the same generation who present their social, political, psychological, and religious views.

Darb 1718, El Fustat – Old Cairo, Islamic Cairo

Sunday, 11 March

“Public Screen,” a video art night at Lazoghly Square at 6pm

Part of Mahatat Collective’s initiative to bring art to public space, they will hold the first screening – in a series of many more over the coming months – of 17 short films by video artists.

Lazoghly Square (Next to Misr Bank), Mounira, Cairo

Opening of the “Voices of Syria” exhibition at the Mashrabia Gallery at 7pm

A visual arts exhibition by dissident Syrian artists currently living and working in Syria, despite the dangerous political situation.

Open daily (except Fridays) from 11am to 8pm

10 Champollion Street, downtown, Cairo

“Gasping,” a theatrical performance at Rawabet Theatre at 8pm

Directed by Laila Saeed, the Alumni Community Theatre group brings “Gasping” – Ben Elton’s hilarious and controversial farce that savagely rips apart that most sacred of institutions and big businesses – to the Rawabet Theatre.

2 Hussein El-Me’mar St. off Mahmoud Bassiouni St., next to the Townhouse Gallery

Tank Girl at Gallery Misr
To Thu Mar 29 9:00 pm

Addressing the existing fears of a patriarchal military dictatorship in the present Egyptian context, Nadine Hammam’s echibitiom, Tank Girl, suggests the need for a power inversion; where a woman assumes control over one of the most masculine symbols of military power – the Tank.

Gallery Misr, 4 A, Ibn Zanki Street, Off of Hassan Sabri Street, Zamalek

‘East…West’ by Taha Hussein at Al Masar
To Thu Mar 29 9:00 pm

Al Masar in Zamalek are dedicating their entire space to the works of contemporary Egyptian painter Taha Hussein. ‘East…West’ highlights the cultural drives behind both art and human action. Al Masar is open between 10AM and 9PM. Friday visits are by appointment only.

Al Masar, 157 B 26th of July St., Floor 0, Zamalek


Some disruptions to tourist site visits around Luxor

Temporary disruptions to free travel to some areas around Luxor are being reported. Convoys are temporarily back in place for travel from Luxor to Dendera and Hurghada and other Red Sea cities. Travel to Abydos and Sohag is denied for the third consecutive day.

Balloon flights are being resumed after a break of two days. (Arabic)

Cruise news

Yesterday at ITB Berlin, Egypt’s Minster for Tourism announced that Nile cruises from Cairo to Aswan will re-commence in May. Cruises between Cairo and Luxor were stopped many years ago, allowing boats only to cruise between Luxor and Aswan and on Lake Nasser. As Egypt attempts to add new attractions to entice tourists back to this ancient and beautiful land, it has been determined that cruising will once again be available from Cairo.

I’ve not seen any other detailed news of this, such as itineraries, boats which will cruise, where the embarkation place will be or what land tours will be offered. As we know, we’ll let you know.

Sonesta Nile Goddess cruise boat

Sonesta Nile Goddess cruise boat. This elegant boat features deluxe accommodation with broad panoramic views, bathrooms with full-size bathtubs, elevator on board and all modern conveniences. Enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool, experience the exciting nightlife in the ship's discotheque or a relaxing massage treatment at the spa.

The next 5 things to know about a Nile cruise

From our TOP TEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT A NILE CRUISE – here’s Part 2 to help you be totally prepared.

The banks of the Nile taken from the river

The banks of the Nile taken from the river on a Nile cruise.

6. How do I pay for any extras?

All extras such as consumed beverages, laundry, telephone bills etc. should be settled and paid on the last day of your cruise when you check out. Payment can be made with credit cards, cash or sometimes traveller’s cheques. Make sure you have enough cash, just in case your credit card transaction doesn’t go through. Most boats won’t accept personal cheques or money orders.

7. What about tipping?

In general tipping is not something that you should feel obliged to do; it should be a response to the service you receive. In saying that however, remember that wages are very low in Egypt and many workers rely on tips to survive. But this should never be an excuse for bad service. You should also not be constantly pressed for tips. If you do receive bad service somewhere along the way and decide not to tip or to reduce a tip it’s a good idea to explain.

Washing the big glass windows on the Farah while she is moored. The Farah is a luxury boat, one of the most elite cruising the Nile.

Washing the big glass windows on the Farah while she is moored. The Farah is a luxury boat, one of the most elite cruising the Nile.

Boats have what they call a tipping kitty – a receptacle is placed at Reception on the last day of the cruise and all money deposited in it is divided among all the crew on board (up to 70 of them). Or it may be you simply place your money in an envelope and hand it in to reception, sometimes two envelopes, one for crew and one for your guide. Some cruise companies or websites say a minimum of $3 – 5 per person per day. This means if there are 2 of you on a 4 night cruise then say $US5 x 4 nights x 2 people = $US40. However much you place in the envelope, you can feel free in addition to quietly tip any staff who have been of particular service to you. Best to tip in Egyptian pounds if you can.

Your tour guide is not included in this arrangement and you should tip them separately. A good guide is around US$5-7 per day. But, tipping is always a personal matter and it’s entirely up to you how much you tip.

This is a good system as it spreads the amount evenly throughout the crew, and you don’t have to keep putting your hand in your pocket to find change. Also the key to the whole visit is your Egyptologist who is your main point of contact, so this system gives him an extra incentive to ensuring you have a successful and enjoyable holiday. Tips may also need to be paid when you go on your organised trips, if so, these will be paid to your Egyptologist guide at the start of your cruise so again it is something you can forget about and just carry on enjoying your holiday. This covers things likes drivers, arranged carriages, boats etc.

But wait 🙂 Even if you have paid your Egyptologist guide money to cover tips, you will find that this does not cover everything. If you are on an excursion and you go to the toilet, almost certainly there will be someone there to give you toilet paper and expect a one pound tip in return. When you visit one of the temples, there will be a temple guard there dressed in a galabeya insisting that he shows you the best places to stand to take your photographs, again a tip will be expected. Don’t let this upset you, it’s just the way it is in Egypt, the secret is to have some low denomination Egyptian money on hand to cover these situations. Best are one pound coins or notes, or 5 pounds if you feel you got something a little extra.

Balloons over Luxor at dawn

Hot air balloons hover over the West Bank of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings at dawn

8. Can I change money on board?

Normally there would be no money changing facilities on board most boats and you would not get time to visit a bank along the way. Make sure you have changed your money before you get on board.

9. What if I get sick?

If you get sick some boats do have a doctor on board, or even a small clinic. If not, they may have a doctor assigned in each town that can be called on in case of emergency. Usually there would be a small shop that would have some basic medicines, including Egypt’s fabulous Antinal for an upset digestion, likely the most common complaint (but really it’s worth carrying some with you always in Egypt, works much better than anything you might bring from home). If you do get ill please tell someone to see what assistance you can get on board, the staff will do all they can to help you. I got really sick on my first ever cruise and the staff were incredible – the kitchen even specially made me vegetable soup when I started to recover and many of them insisted on sharing their own special cures.

Hawkers in row boats crowd the cruise boats at Esna Lock

Hawkers in row boats crowd the cruise boats at Esna Lock

10. Is there any entertainment on board?

Most cruises have a programme of entertainment, beginning the first night with a manager’s or captain’s party when the main crew are introduced to passengers. Sometimes there’re free drinks, it being the captain’s shout. This night is usually more formal and accordingly a more formal standard of dress expected. Other nights there might be a talent quest, the crew might perform, or there’s often a galabeya party, or a belly dance or folkloric show. There’s almost always dance music of some sort. The entertainment programme varies boat by boat and by cruise standard too. It’s not compulsory to attend of course and you may prefer to sit up on the sun deck and enjoy the evening air.

If you want to participate in the galabeya party keep your eye out on your excursions – there’s plenty of opportunity to buy one and it makes a souvenir of the trip. Or there’s likely to be some for sale on board the boat in one of the small shops. Depending on the quality and the decoration you could pay between 50 and 500 pounds for your galabeya, but expect something really special for 500 pounds with lots of embroidery, maybe even hand embroidered. For the men there’s usually either traditional plain galabeyas or the long shirt sometimes worn in Egypt.

Here’s hoping these tips will help you to prepare for, and enjoy even more, your Nile cruise.

Towel sculpture of a lady in a galabeya

Perhaps the best effort of the crew creating a lady complete with galabeya. A little fun for passengers when they return to their cabins each day.

The first 5 things to know about a Nile cruise

The first part of our TOP TEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT A NILE CRUISE. Consider this the essential guide 🙂

In fact before we even start the first 5, I’ll throw in an extra question, one that’s on most minds when they think of Egypt these days. Is it safe? The answer is yes in our opinion. First of all, the country is quite safe for tourists and Upper Egypt hasn’t seen the same level of protests and demonstrations as Cairo at any time. Nile river cruising is also very safe, accidents or incidents are rarely reported. The crew members are trained in safety measures and life jackets are provided for passengers. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with any muster points and safety procedures on the boat however.

Now, on with the first 5 things to know about a Nile cruise.

1. How long will I actually cruise?

Nile cruises between Luxor and Aswan generally last 4 days/3 nights, Aswan to Luxor and 5 days/4 nights to cruise Luxor to Aswan. The cruise boats are used as floating hotels for at least one night on each end, allowing for tours of Luxor and Aswan without the necessity of transferring to land-based hotels. Many cruise operators also offer a 7 night round-trip cruise.

However, your actual cruising time is only around 24 hours (about 220 km). Cruising is mixed with sightseeing and passing through Esna lock.

Most sailing is done during the day, but during some periods sailing may be required after dark. At busy periods the boat may be required to wait for a time to get through the lock at Esna. For practical reasons on the Nile, the cruise may be subject to slight alterations at short notice.

Cruise ship Oberoi Philae

Luxury cruise ship Oberoi Philae

2. Can I take a 3-star cruise?

Almost all Nile cruises are 5-star with a few 4-star boats. The five star level has several classes: standard, superior, deluxe, super deluxe or luxury. I did read somewhere that there are 3-star cruises but I have yet to ever see one advertised. We recommend 5-star cruises only.

3. Why are cruises of the same advertised standard – say 5-star deluxe – different prices?

There are several reasons for different prices. These may include, but aren’t limited to:

– the boat is run by a well-known international hotel chain such as Sonesta or Oberoi, for which you may pay more than a boat run by a local operator
– the boat is well maintained and has well-designed décor, or maybe has been recently refurbished
– cabin size. The size of a Nile cruise boat is limited due to the fact that the boat must fit through the Esna lock. Therefore cabin size is determined by how many cabins the boat has on each deck. Fewer cabins mean larger cabins, for which you will pay more.
– which deck you are on. Top decks sometimes have higher prices.
– chartered cruises. If a boat has been chartered by a large tour operator but not filled, the remaining cabins may be sold at higher prices so as not to compete with the charter company.
– full board or all inclusive. Almost all cruises are full board with a few offering an all inclusive option. All inclusive means that beverages including local alcohol are included. This is mostly offered on 7 night cruises and can be considered expensive.
– sightseeing. At times cruises are quoted and sold without sightseeing to give passengers a choice. Most cruises DO include tours and it should be clearly mentioned if tours are not included. If you would prefer to take the cruise without sightseeing included, ask for a price. Don’t assume either way, make sure it’s spelled out.
– optional services and facilities, some free and some at additional cost. Boats offer a range of optional services and facilities such as massage therapist, gym, library, pool tables, wi-fi, shops, doctor, cooking classes, pillow choices or beauty services. Not all boats will have the same extra services and facilities.

So when you’re booking your cruise, don’t only consider the price, check what’s included and what’s on offer for the price.

4. Can the cruise include collecting me from the airport or train station?

A few boats, or more properly the companies that manage the boats, do offer a service to collect passengers; however, you will most likely need to find your own way to where the boat is moored. This may not be as simple as it sounds. Your tour operator may be able to organise a transfer for you, but if not make sure you get clear instructions as to where the boat will be moored so that you can help the taxi driver find it. In Aswan I once went a couple of kilometres by taxi and then on foot to find a boat that was moored only a hundred metres or so from where I started out. There are more than 220 boats cruising the Nile so be aware that taxi drivers may tell you they know a boat but hope they’ll get directions along the way.

Sometimes boats are moored three or four deep and you may need to pass through other boats to get to yours. That makes them even harder to find!

Lying by the pool on the Radamis II

Lying by the pool on Radamis II

5. What clothes should I pack?

During the daytime, while touring, you can wear pretty much whatever you like, keeping in mind the fairly modest dress standards of Egyptian society, though due to the heat it is recommended you wear lightweight clothes.

While relaxing on board wear shorts and swimming costumes, if you wish. Breakfast and lunch can be taken dressed like this (with a coverup over your swimsuit), but for dinner you will need to wear smarter clothes!

Beware of too much exposure to the sun and apply plenty of high factor sun block!

If you are cruising in the middle of winter it can get cold, especially at night, so take clothes you can layer and a jacket.

Nile cruise boat Radamis II at Aswan

Nile cruise boat Swiss Inn Radamis II at Aswan

Like hovering in a helicopter over the pyramids

Just HAD to draw your attention to these fabulous air panoramas that will let you take a virtual tour over the pyramids. Major features are named in some of them and you can get an amazing feel for the Giza Plateau – almost like being there!

A Nile cruise – is it like booking a plane?

For thousands of years Egyptians and tourists have sailed the Nile to travel the country and for work and for pleasure. While there are many ways to get around Egypt – by taxi, limo, public bus, tour bus, train or plane – there’s no more leisurely way to holiday in Egypt than to cruise the Nile.

Nile cruise boat MS Farah

Nile cruise boat MS Farah

Often we get tour enquiries from people who have already determined their itinerary and say “I am arriving on this exact date and then on that exact date I want to go on a Nile cruise!” Unfortunately we can’t always help. Why? Don’t cruises leave every day just like planes and trains?

Currently cruises are only between Luxor and Aswan, although the government plans to open the river to Cairo in the future. Every Nile cruise has its own schedule but overall Nile cruises fall into a set pattern and it is difficult to find a cruise outside those schedules. It’s not always impossible, but very difficult. Normally boats cruise as follows:

From Luxor to Aswan
Saturday cruising for 4 nights / 5 days – frequent departures
Monday cruising for 4 nights / 5 days – frequent departures
Tuesday cruising for 4 nights / 5 days – very rare (can be very expensive)
Thursday cruising for 4 nights / 5 days – rare (can be expensive)

7 night cruises are also available with some boats from Luxor to Aswan and back to Luxor. So, for example, you could take a 7 night cruise embarking on Monday in Luxor and you would disembark on the following Monday in Luxor.

From Aswan to Luxor
Friday cruising for 3 nights / 4 days – frequent
Saturday cruising for 3 nights / 4 days – very rare (can be expensive)
Monday cruising for 3 nights / 4 days – rare (can be expensive)
Wednesday cruising for 3 nights / 4 days – frequent

7 night cruises are also available with some boats from Aswan to Luxor and back to Aswan

Dahabeya under sail

Dahabeya under sail along the Nile

Dahabeyas and sandals have more varied schedules and feluccas usually cruise from Esna to Aswan or Aswan to Esna as they don’t pass through the lock, being under sail. They can cruise for a varied number of days and also take 7 day or longer round trips. Feluccas, especially, can be very flexible in their arrangements.

So most likely if you want a 3 night cruise then you’ll depart from Aswan, probably on a Wednesday or Friday. If you want a 4 night cruise you’ll depart form Luxor and probably on a Saturday or Monday.

However, according to contracts with tour operators, cruise companies can change the starting day and time without notice or some cruisers can be fully chartered at the requested date. Cruise itineraries can also change according to sailing conditions; although you will see what is in your itinerary, it may simply be in another order. That is why, if you are thinking of a Nile cruise, you may need to be flexible about how your tour in Egypt is arranged and always contact your tour company before you settle your final flight bookings.

The sundeck of the MS Farah

The luxury sundeck of the MS Farah. After a long day of sightseeing and exploration it is time to sit back and relax while sipping on your favorite drink.

At the moment, because of the significant drop in tourism in Egypt many boats aren’t sailing at all. This may even mean that you make a booking on one boat and are transferred to another, although companies will do their best to ensure this doesn’t happen. Other conditions may also mean a boat change of course, such as mechanical problems. You should always be transferred to a boat of the same or higher standard. From time to time there is also an issue with the lock at Esna.

The lounge of the Radamis II

The lounge and bar of the Radamis II

The large Nile cruise boats (really floating hotels) come in several standards of 5-star and with only a very small number of 4-star boats. You will see cruises rated at standard, superior, deluxe, and super deluxe or luxury, with associated price variations of course. Most Nile cruises are on full board basis and you can book with or without sightseeing, although most include sightseeing. A very few are on all inclusive basis. The difference between full board and all inclusive is that in all inclusive all beverages and local alcoholic drinks are included in the price but in full board you pay for beverages as an extra.

Whatever your choice, your Nile cruise should give you views of Egyptian village life along the Nile, tours to the ancient temples that dot its banks and an unparalleled chance to relax and enjoy Upper Egypt as the pharaohs once did.

The Moevenpick Royal Lily

The Moevenpick Royal Lily

Crocodile god temple featured a crocodile nursery

The Nile crocodile, ferocious and deadly, played a major role in both the everyday and the spiritual life of ancient Egyptians. The crocodile, both feared and revered, was at the heart of worship in a number of places along the Nile and in the Fayoum oasis. One of these was at Madinet Madi, southwest of Cairo, and Egyptian authorities put another archaeological site on the country’s tourist map in May 2011 by opening a visitor center near the excavated ruins.

Processional way ruins at Madinet Madi

Processional way ruins at Madinet Madi or ancient Narmouthis, 30 km southwest of El Fayoum city. It is an archaeological site that comprises a Middle Kingdom temple, a Ptolemaic temple as well as a Roman town with more than 10 churches. The walkway with lions and winged sphinxes remains. Other minor temples, thousands of papyri and crocodile nurseries with many eggs were also discovered.

Madinet Madi is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Fayoum region. It was founded during the reigns of Amenemhat III (c 1981-1952 BC) and Amenemhat IV (c 1814-1805 BC) of the 12th Dynasty (c 1981-1802 BC). It contains the ruins of the only Middle Kingdom (c 2030-1802 BC) temple in Egypt. This temple was dedicated to the cobra-headed goddess, Renenutet, and the crocodile-headed god, Sobek of Scedet, patron god of the region and its capital, Scedet. During the Ptolemaic period (332-30 BC), the temple was enlarged and the city enhanced.

Wall relief of the crocodile-headed god Sobek

Wall relief of the crocodile-headed god Sobek. The god Sobek, who was depicted as a crocodile or a man with the head of a crocodile, was a powerful and frightening deity; in some Egyptian creation myths it was Sobek who first came out of the waters of chaos to create the world. As a creator god, he was occasionally linked with the sun god Ra.

Sobek’s cult originally flourished around the Fayoum where some temples still remain. The area was so closely associated with Sobek that Arsinoe was known to the Greeks as Crocodilopolis or ‘crocodile Town’ and signs still calling it that direct you to the site to this very day. Another major cult centre was at Kom Ombo, close to the sandbanks of the Nile where crocodiles would often bask. Some temples of Sobek kept pools where sacred crocodiles were housed: these crocodiles were fed the best cuts of meat and became quite tame. When they died, they were mummified and buried in special animal cemeteries. In other areas of Egypt, however, crocodiles were dealt with by simply hunting and killing them.

Now almost forgotten by tourists, the Madinet Madi site was swarming with pilgrims in ancient times. Indeed, 10 Coptic churches dating from the 5th to 7th centuries and the remains of a Ptolemaic temple dedicated to the crocodile god were unearthed in the past decades by renowned Egyptologist Edda Bresciani of Pisa University, who has been excavating the area since 1978.

The ruins of Madinet Madi Temple

The ruins of Madinet Madi, a site in the southwestern Fayoum region of Egypt where a temple of the cobra-goddess Renenutet (a harvest deity) and the crocodile god Sobek was founded during the reigns of Amenemhat III and Amenemhat IV (1855-1799 BC). It was later expanded and embellished during the Graeco-Roman period. These are the only ruins of a Middle Kingdom temple in Egypt.

Discovered more than 10 years ago, the temple featured a unique barrel-vaulted structure which was used for the incubation of crocodile eggs. According to Bresciani, the structure was basically a nursery for sacred crocodiles. Her team found dozens of eggs in different stages of maturation in a hole covered with a layer of sand. In the adjacent room, the archaeologist found a perfectly preserved pool.

“As they came out from the eggs, the crocodiles were kept in the pool,” Bresciani wrote in the excavation report. According to Bresciani, the crocodiles here were bred only to be killed. As they were embalmed, they were sold to pilgrims to the Sobek temple. Further evidence for the sacred crocodile business came from a nearby building, which contained another pool and other 60 crocodile eggs.

Almost forgotten in modern times, with its monuments appearing and disappearing with the windblown desert sand, Medinet Madi is now at the center of a development project which aims to preserve the site and make it a more tourist-friendly visitor destination.

The plan, funded by a €3.5 million ($5 million) grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Italy, has “successfully cleared the archaeological site of intrusive sand and restored its monuments,” Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs at the time, said in a statement.

“Comprehensive archaeological survey and mapping of the site have also been undertaken, as has the building of a visitor center and eco-lodge as well,” Hawass said.

There’s an interesting account of earlier excavations here

More information on the site’s history here:

This video will give you some idea of the scope of the site: (Arabic commentary)

Original article from Discovery News

Statue of Amenemhat III

Amenemhat III, also spelled Amenemhet III was a pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from c.1860 BC to c.1814 BC, the latest known date being found in a papyrus dated to Regnal Year 46, I Akhet 22 of his rule. He is regarded as the greatest monarch of the Middle Kingdom. He may have had a long coregency (of 20 years) with his father, Senusret III. This statue resides in the Egyptian collection of the Hermitage Museum.

Visa scams in Egypt?

Am reading about some visa scams happening, especially with British tourists who are being charged 15 GBP for their visas by company reps. You need to be aware, if you are travelling to Egypt for the first time, that most nationalities can buy a single entry visa at the airport or port of arrival for US$15 cash. You don’t need to fill in an additional form (you will be given a form to complete on the aircraft usually, otherwise find it in the arrivals hall) , just go to one of the banks and purchase it with cash.

A visa for Egypt

A visa that you would get on arrival in Egypt

If your tour rep says they already have your visa and it will be 15GBP or Euros, decline and get your own from the bank.

Entry visas may be obtained from Egyptian Diplomatic and Consular Missions Abroad – these can be more expensive than purchasing upon arrival. Please check with your nearest Egyptian Consular mission for more details concerning visa regulations applying to your citizenship.

Visitors entering Egypt at the overland border post to Taba to visit Gulf of Aqaba coast and St. Catherine can be exempted from visa and granted a free residence permit for fourteen days to visit the area.

Citizens of the following countries are required to be in possession of a pre-arrival visa: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Lebanon, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, The Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Sri-Lanka, Tadzhikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and all African countries.

Residents of the above countries may apply for a visa through their nearest Egyptian Consulate or Embassy.

Those in possession of a residence permit in Egypt are not required to obtain an entry visa if they leave the country and return to it within the validity of their residence permit or within six months, whichever period is less.

There are three types of Egyptian visa:

Tourist Visa: is usually valid for a period not exceeding three months and granted on either single or multiple entry basis.

Entry Visa: is required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.

Transit Visa

Major Ports of Entry to Egypt


Cairo International (3 terminals)
Alexandria Nozha
Alexandria, Burg El Arab
Luxor, Upper Egypt
Aswan, Upper Egypt
Hurghada, Red Sea
Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai
Marsa Alam Airport

Marine Harbors:

Alexandria, Mediterranean
Port Said, Mediterranean
Damietta, Mediterranean
Suez, Gulf of Suez
Nuweiba, Gulf of Aqaba
Hurghada, Red Sea
Safaga, Red Sea
Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai

Overland Entry Posts:
Salloum, northwestern border (to and from Libya)
Rafah, northeastern border (to and from Gaza strip, the Occupied Territories and Israel)
Taba, eastern border (to and from Israel)

Exemptions from Visa Fees

Egyptian visa fees do not apply to the following:

Holders of diplomatic passports.
Officials of international organizations and specialized agencies and state delegates to conferences.
Arab League officials.
Non-national spouses of Egyptian nationals.
Non-national members of the clergy, prominent scientists, journalists and members of official cultural, educational and sports delegations.
Non-national students studying in Egyptian institutions.
Non-diplomatic personnel of diplomatic and consular missions affected in Egypt.
Parents, siblings and adult children of members of the diplomatic and consular corps affected in Egypt.
Nationals of Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Russia and the United States are partially exempt from Egyptian visa fees and will, therefore, pay a reduced fee.

Visa Exemptions

The following are exempt from visa requirement when visiting Egypt:

Nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

Holders of diplomatic passports of Argentina, Bosnia Herzegovina, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and Turkey.

Special Services

Foreigners arriving in Egypt on board ships are granted permission to visit the port of arrival for 24 hours and catch their ship at the same port. They can also be granted permission to enter the country for a visit not exceeding a period of 3 days before catching their ship at the port of arrival or at any other port.

Air passengers transiting in Egyptian airports are allowed entry for a quick trip not exceeding the period of 24 hours.

In the event of emergency landing, passengers are entitled to enter Egypt for a period of:

24 hours in case of poor weather conditions.

48 hours in case of technical faults to the aircraft.

For even more information:

Last updated August 21, 2011