There are many ways one can travel within Egypt whether it’s by foot, crossing the famous Egyptian roads (a word of warning – be advised to say your Shahada and carry your Mus-haf with you before attempting to cross any road) or by using the famous micro bus or as they say ‘’MICRO MICRO,’’ and last but not least if all these fail then you’ll always have the taxi as a last option.
Now as for walking; the only advice one can give is to try and avoid the busy streets, this is because unless you’re travelling in the downtown area, the poles that burden the responsibility of maintaining a safe and steady flow of cars called ‘’traffic lights’’ do not actually exist nor does the word ‘’indicate ‘’ make any sense to people here. One key thing to bare in mind is that the thought of thinking that people will stop for you on the streets isn’t going to happen; and for this reason you’ll be waiting a life time for the traffic to stop for you. This would mean that it would be up to you to cross the streets and a simple scenario would be, to stop and walk, stop and walk stop and walk maybe even do a back flip and hope that you don’t get run over. Excluding this, in general the best option would be to walk since you’ll be saving money and also be able to try and interact with the people and who knows maybe even pick certain things up which may benefit you when studying here.
Now for the micro bus; well this could probably take some time speaking about but I’ll try summarise this as much as possible. Travelling with the micro bus has its highs and lows; an advantage is that this type of transport could save money especially knowing the local price as to how much a certain distance is. I would advise any individual to get a little background information on how much the fare would be because they vary from place to place (from one Egyptian pound to 1.50 etc). Also knowing how to count and understand numbers in Arabic would help a great deal especially on the mini buses otherwise it would be a struggle to a point that you would be ripped off from over paying the fare not knowing Arabic numbers here would mean extra cash for the driver or the individual who collects the money for the driver. As a little indicator, a half-hour journey should cost no more than 3LE. Which makes this mode of transport the cheapest! Start learning your numbers!
One of the reasons why I say this is that once everyone enters the micro bus and it sets off on its journey, all passengers take out their bus fare and pass it around amongst each other until it reaches the driver or the person who collects the money . So its a team effort, meaning if one person offers you his bus fare to pass to the driver and tells you that this is for 3 people then it could be a problem for you if you didn’t understand what he/she said which would confuse the people who are passing it to the driver and also the driver himself. Then before you know it elbows and fists will be flying.. Ok maybe it won’t reach to that level but it would cause some hassle on the bus. However, Egyptians are understanding people – at times, if someone offers money to pass on the to the driver, you can politely point to your neighbour to divert the ’money-route’ away from you. A simple and effective strategy. As I mentioned earlier, the micro bus has some benefits and I tried to summarise as much as I can which meant leaving out the fact that the bus drivers usually drive in top speed and that sometimes the doors are broken which would mean having an open door throughout the journey. And just like anywhere there may be opportunist thieves around and its always best to keep your belongings close to you and in a safe place.
Now for the famous cab drivers, you tend to see many cab drivers from the ones which are black and white – a kind of a flashback of the old 1970’s cars and also the modern white and yellow cabs.
The cabs which I would recommend or shall I say is a must for everyone would be the black cabs; there are some positives and negatives but let’s focus on the positives which would be that you can negotiate with the driver the journeys fare, the trick here is to ask the driver how much the journey will cost, after this the passenger must look shocked, and a bewildered-open mouthed look with the words – Subhannallah, adds to this effect. The passenger then offers a lower fare, and a game of cat and mouse ensues until a compromise is reached. The negatives could be being in a cab which might have an odour which could be so bad that you may even need to say the du3a of leaving the toilet..
Now for the white and yellow cabs, things work slightly different. Here, the drivers are less tolerable with negotiations, they all work by the meter – the had’aad. However, depending on the situation they may agree a fixed-fare and there is no harm in trying – I’ve tried plenty of times and its worked! These taxis were designed more for tourists and they get plenty of tourists, and are used to getting bigger fares and have become a little spoilt. If they do agree to a fixed-fare, make sure you’re not being extorted. The advantage here is being in a comfortable, clean car. Unless you’re in a rush or are late to get to school then to be honest these cabs are nothing more than money making machines who just enjoy ripping off foreigners. However if you are going to make a journey a number of times and are unsure about the cost then it might be safer to get a white cab the first time and get a rough idea of the cost.
The Cairo Metro is the only metro system in the whole of the African continent! However, only two lines are functioning and a third is under construction. It is undoubtedly the cheapest option, with a single fare costing 1LE regardless of distance. An important note to remember to all brothers: Do not enter the two middle carriages – the 4th and 5th as they are reserved for women only. The 5th carriage becomes for both men and women after 09:00pm. Women can, however, ride on other carriages freely. Unfair? I think so!
The two working lines are:- LINE-1 (New El-Marg to Helwan) and LINE-2 (Qalubeya to Mounib). The Third line under construction (Imbaba to Airport) will be completed in a few years.
Most of the metro covers the downtown Cairo and the area surrounding it. As most students live in Madinat Nasr, it’ll be difficult travelling on the metro but definitely worth a try! It’s usually always busy, with the hustle and bustle of the good old London Underground . It is surprisingly well maintained, and there is somewhat order in all this chaos. Tickets can be bought from the green windows, and people usually pay with a single 1LE coin, which doesn’t require any change and speeds up the process for waiting customers. Please avoid taking out a 50LE/100LE note to pay for a single journey, the art of being a tourist is to try and blend in. Paying with large notes will stick out like a sore thumb.
Cairo Metro Map
And that’s about it for the transport in Egypt unless you want another option which could be these guys..