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.
This district on the island of Gezira is calmer, greener and more pleasant than the rest of Cairo. It's a great area to wander and explore; lots of the embassies are in Zamalek, and it's got a good mix of worldly Egyptians and expat foreigners. There are big parks, pleasant avenues, lots of cafes.
Right on 26th of July street (the main arterial avenue) there are lots of bars, restaurants and cafes, so give it a wander and select things if you like the look of them.
The Cairo opera house, which is meant to have good performances, is further south on the island of Gezira.
More than 70 acres of landscaped gardens overlooking the old city. It officially opened in March 2005 after 20 years of planning and construction under the auspices of the Aga Khan Trust.
Salah Salem Street; Tel: 02 510 3868, 02 510 7378; For more about the creation of the park see: www.cairomagazine.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=743&format=html
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