The National Protectorate closest to Cairo is on the fringes of the southern city suburb of Maadi, built during the 1920s and now home to a large number of expats. Wadi Degla is an ancient river bed that was gouged out of the rock 60 million years ago, leaving marine fossils and dried waterfalls behind in this desert landscape.
Walk between the high cliffs along the flat valley bed, or take a quick scramble up the right-hand side of the Wadi just after the gate. From the top of the cliffs you get views over the southern and eastern parts of the city, stretching over to the pyramids. At the weekend you’ll share Egypt’s ‘Grand Canyon’ with walkers, joggers and picnicking families.
Get the Metro to El Maadi station and then take a taxi. Ask for Wadi Degla in Zahraa el Maadi. You may need to specify you want the Protectorate, as there is a sporting club housing an Egyptian premiership football team called Wadi Degla as well! Look out for the brown signs to follow when you are on the Autostraad.
Wadi Degla costs 5LE to enter and is open from sunrise to sunset. Bring plenty of bottled water, and don’t forget your binoculars.
It's in Gezira - just up from Zamalek, and usually has a good range of shows on - while I was here for four months they had a couple of Operas, lots of Symphony stuff, a few Ballets and (in late November), a Harry Potter play.
It's horribly cheap (25-35LE (about £3) for a mainshow) - but if you're looking for grandeur, make sure you get tickets to the Main Hall show, the Small Hall is underwhelming.
Their website (and lots of other listings websites) lie about their program, so it's best to get down there to ask. Or call (they speak English)
Tell your taxi driver "Op-err-aa, Gezira" - costs about 5LE from Zamalek and Mohandiseen
Telephone number is 02 7398132
Once the home and garden of a wealthy Swiss businessman, the Swiss Club was donated to the Swiss community of Egypt. Today, however, it is open to all for a small fee, although it tends to be an expat hangout. If the bustle of Cairo becomes too much to bear you can bring your family to this green oasis and enjoy reasonably priced good food and a relaxing atmosphere. Other activities include barbecues, car boot sales and bazaars.
The Swiss Club, Villa Pax, El Gihad Street (off Sudan Street), Kit Kat Square.
Tel : +20 2 314 2811
Cairo Zoo was once very lovely but is now rather run down. However, if you are in Cairo with children and they have had enough culture and need a break this is quite a fun place to take them.
We went in quite a large group (8 adults and 8 children) but we were the only westerners there. This added so much to the experience - there were several groups of school children visiting and they were so excited to see us there that they were paying more attention to us than to the animals. Our children felt like celebraties. The security men at the zoo were quite concerned about us being pestered and kept shooing the children away. There were also a few teenage boys who were trying to engage us in conversation, but no problems because of the security.
The zoo itself is very cheap - about 2 pence (sterling) per person to get in!! and ten pence to take your camera in. You buy the tickets at a little window outside the zoo and the ladies there speak no english but we were able to communicate easily. Once you get inside you need LOTS of small notes, this is because the zoo keepers need tipping. Lots of the keepers have food for you to feed the animals with such as lettuce for the giraffes and peacocks, bits of fish on long sticks for the sea lions etc. You don't get to feed the lions but you will get taken inside the lion house and so get to see them much closer up.
It was great fun and the animals seemed a lot happier than some we have seen in western zoos and even if their accomodation is a bit shabby at least the enclosures are large.
Giza - we took a taxi.
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