|SECRET INSIDER TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR EGYPT
|Sunset on the Nile at Luxor
|That's all for now. Stay tuned.
All pictures and content on this page are by Richard L Cook unless otherwise indicated. Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011 all rights reserved.
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A BRIEF, ONE HOUR, SELF GUIDED TOUR OF THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM IN CAIRO
Overall information about the Museum can be found at: Tour Egypt Museum Information
This vast museum in downtown Cairo has the largest collection of ancient Egyptian objects in the world, way too many to be of interest to most visitors, especially young
family members. Here’s a strategy that will hit the most interesting high spots and, hopefully, minimize teen rebellion or near terminal, dusty boredom.
First of all, in order to miss the crowds, go as early as you will be allowed to enter.
The museum has two stories and is laid out in the form of a north-south rectangle with a two story opening in the center.
The Treasures of King Tut
When you visit the Museum, go straight to the King Tut (Tutankhamen) exhibit, and you will be ahead of the crowds, which is a good thing to do. Here’s how. When you
enter the museum, take the first corridor to the right (east) and go up the stairs in corner to the second floor. At the top of the stairs, skip the mummy exhibit for now and
go straight down the long hall on the east side, in front of you. Enjoy some of the beautiful King Tut furniture and alabaster carvings as you go until you come to the
glass doors of the King Tut treasury room. In it you will find his famous funerary mask, gold coffin, and lots of other beautiful objects.
There are two other treasury rooms further down the hall, which may be of interest, or at that point you may want to go back to see the mummy exhibit by the stairs you
come up on, if that would interest you. It’s new, very well organized and usually a big hit for young people. King Tut’s mummy is not there. It is in his tomb in the Valley of
the Kings at Luxor.
Models of Life in Ancient Egypt
I believe that the next most interesting thing to see on an abbreviated tour of the Museum is in several rooms located on
the second floor approximately in the middle of the long hall on the opposite (west) side of the Museum from the King Tut
exhibits. I think the room numbers are 27, 32 and 37. Here you will see a lively collection of the models showing small
carved figures making beer or bread, miniature carpenter shops, ships with rowing crews, fishing, squads of soldiers, a
model house and a many other activities. This collection of miniatures provides a wonderful, vivid look into what it was like
to live and work in ancient Egypt. These models were often placed in the tombs of the rich and royal deceased so they
could have the activities they were used to in life around them in death “for all eternity“. They are painted and generally in
very good shape.
The statues are in such excellent shape because they were sealed inside a chapel during the
early period of the Pyramids, 4,500 years ago, and forgotten until they were discovered in 1871.
However, the really amazing thing about these two statues is the way their eyes are constructed.
The highly polished crystal “lenses” with a depiction of a pupil and other eye characteristics
used in the statues indicate that the artists had a very good anatomical understanding of the
construction of real eyes. This method was used for a relatively short period in ancient Egyptian
history and only a few statues with eyes like this have been found. In most of these statues the
eyes are just a tiny bit out of alignment, but in Nofret they are perfectly aligned.
They certainly look real. Her eye level is the same as mine and, when I stand in front of her looking into her eyes, the effect is somewhere between magical and eerie. She
seems alive and about to speak, as if to say, “What are you, who are more lowly that the dust on the bottom of my sandals, doing there, standing in my royal presence“ ,
or perhaps something more pointed. This pair of statues is not just a fine work of ancient art, it is an experience.
The Amazing Statues of Prince Rahotep and His Wife Nofret
Next, go down stairs to room 32, in the long hall on the west side of the museum. It should be the third or forth room north of the
south-west corner. There you will find the painted, life-sized, seated portraits of a royal couple. These two statues give you an
outstanding view of what the ancient Egyptians may have looked like, at least the rich ones, except for their skin color. The skin
colors used in these statues reflect the artistic convention used by ancient Egyptians for depicting men and women. When the
excavating workers uncovered these statues they were quite excited because the man looked just like mayor of their town, nearby.
This may indicate that the ancient Egyptians looked a lot like Egyptians today.
The Sphinx’s Beard
There is, of course, much more to see, depending on how interested you are in ancient Egyptian culture. But this is a brief tour and at
about this time you may be ready to go and get a cup of coffee or pizza at a nearby hotel. If that’s true, just one more suggestion. As
you walk down the corridor from Rahotep and Nofret, toward the Museum door, look in the area around the corner where you turn left
into the short south corridor to go to the entrance. There, in the dim light, you will see about half of the Sphinx’s ceremonial beard. The
rest of it is in the London museum. Napoleon did not have this shot off. Neither did he have his men shoot at the nose of the Sphinx, as
has been often related. In fact Napoleon called his troops attention to the grandeur of the pyramids and the Sphinx and said something
like, “The eyes of history are on you.” It’s possible, however, that at least some of his troops, standing there in the hot Egyptian sun in
their winter uniforms were more inclined to shoot Napoleon’s nose off for bringing them there.
|CHECK BACK OFTEN FOR MORE TOURIST TIPS. I WILL BE REGULARLY ADDING MORE
SUGGESTIONS FOR ENRICHING YOUR TRIP TO EGYPT. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS,
LET ME KNOW
An Outstanding Taxi Driver in Cairo
Based on my experience, if you want a taxi for a couple of hours, a day or a week in Cairo I highly
Samuel (“Sam-Well”) Maseh.
Mobile Phone; 010 1130091 (if that doesn’t work when you are in Cairo, drop the 010, which Is the
code for Cairo),
If you want to call him before you go, just add the international code
for Egypt, which I think is 20, in front of the 010 on his mobile phone
His home phone in Cairo is : 24325181
He was our full time driver on all seven of our excavation seasons, and I used him for a week when my son
came over in 2009 after our excavation season was over. He is a Coptic Christian. His English is excellent.
We trusted him implicitly with supply purchases and in every other way. I consider him a dear friend. I believe
you can depend on him to give you a very good, fair rate. He will be glad to pick you up at the airport. He is
very knowledgeable about the city and surrounding area and an expert in the mysterious, incomprehensible
ways of parking in Cairo, where there never seems to be any space available. He drives a very clean tourist
van, large enough for 6 or 7 passengers.
Our driver, Samuel, at the altar between the
paws of the Sphinx at Giza, wearing my hat.
THE EGYPTIAN MODERN ART MUSEUM & OPERA HOUSE
The modern art museum next to the Opera House in downtown Cairo is interesting if you are interested art
and want a break from all the ancient stuff. It is a very nice, modern building. The paintings, by Egyptian
artists, are mostly in two groups: (1) from the late 19th to the early 20th century, mostly showing the
French influence (that is where many of the Egyptian artists studied at that time), and (2) works of
If you are interested in opera, check to see if Aida is being performed at the Pyramids. I’ve seen it and it
will be a memorable, uniquely Egyptian experience.
The Opera website is Opera House
My favorite things to buy in Cairo are Mobaco cotton clothes for me and, for my wife, Bedouin scarves and other truly unique clothes for women at a store called
I have a closet full of Mobaco cotton clothes, especially shirts (dress and casual knit polo), slacks and sweaters. Mobaco also makes a great line of women’s clothes.
Mobaco clothes are made of fine, long fiber, Egyptian cotton, relatively inexpensive, wonderful to wear and available only in Egypt and France. The reason for it’s limited
distribution is probably in part because the Mobaco logo is a camel rider playing polo, something Ralph Lauren would most likely take legal exception to wherever he
could. There are a number of Mobaco stores around Cairo and other Cities in Egypt. The ones I am familiar with are (1) in the shopping mall attached to the Nile Hotel
(former Cairo Hilton), adjacent to the Cairo Museum, (2) about 3 miles east of the Pyramids on the south side of Pyramid Road in Giza, (3) in the shopping mall inside
the Cairo Marriott Hotel on the west bank of the Nile at 16 Saray El Gezira Street in the Zamalek district, just a short distance from the Cairo Museum and, (4) in a small
shopping mall attached to the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor. I recommend you shop for Mobaco in Cairo at the Marriott. It is a beautiful old hotel, once the Palace where
Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, lived and a great place to have lunch in a Victorian, Colonial Egypt garden setting. The mall is two storied and has a number of
Shopping in Cairo
Nagada is the best place to shop for traditional Bedouin scarves and for women’s
clothing designed and woven especially for their line by the owners, Michael Pastore
and Sylvia Nashralla. In 2000 the New York times said, “The Nagada fabric evokes
classical Middle Eastern tapestry design - the simple geometric motifs of Coptic weaving
from the early centuries of Christianity and the bold lines of Islamic embroidery - but does
not mimic it. ‘My idea was to find the richness of traditional design and make it modern
and relevant,’ Mr. Pasttore said. ‘For me, the idea was to be modern in the sense of
primitive.’” The Bedouin scarves are traditional, produced by Bedouin weavers. They are
light, very comfortable, fashionable and warm with subtle, rich colors, perfect for fall
weather or year around in Cairo or Los Angeles. The scarves can also be purchased in
Bedouin shops in the Marriott mall or Khan Khalili market. The Nagada shop in Cairo is
located just west of the Nile at 13 Refa’a Street, Dokki, just a few blocks south of the
Sheraton Hotel and Midan Al-Galaand and a half block from Midan Al-Misaha. My wife
loved shopping for clothes at Nagada. The shop itself is upstairs and very traditional
Cairo. She also enjoys wearing the variety of Bedouin scarves I have brought her over
the years I have been working in Egypt. Check out this shop at
A traditional latticed Egyptian balcony in the Cairo Nagada Shop
Entrance Atrium at The Art Museum
|INSIDER TRAVEL TIPS FOR EGYPT INCLUDING A ONE HOUR, SELF GUIDED HIGHLIGHT TOUR OF THE FAMOUS
CAIRO MUSEUM AND SOME GREAT SHOPPING TIPS
An early morning balloon ride over the west bank
across the Nile from Luxor is thrilling and a
beautiful experience. My son, Spencer, joined me
for a "Cook's" tour in March after the 2009
excavation season. We scheduled one of these
balloon trips; however, they were discontinued
the day before we were scheduled to go up. I was
told by the balloon company we had booked that
the cancellation was as a result of a balloon from
another company drifting over toward the Nile and
landing on or near the Minister of Transportation's
boat, moored on the west bank. No one was hurt;
however, the Minister, understandably ordered all
balloon rides there stopped until completion of an
Based on several dependable travel sites these
rides are now available again. You can book them
at your hotel or through your travel agent. There
are number of balloon companies to choose from.
My wife and I took a balloon ride here in 2000. It
was a memorable, beautiful experience. I took this
picture at right in 2009 from my hotel balcony, the
day before my son and I were scheduled to go up.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. I have been to
Egypt 8 times in the past 10 years; 2 visits for personal
research and study and 6 seasons of excavating in the
Western Cemetery at Giza with the Cairo University
-Brown University Expedition. During this time I travelled
throughout Egypt from the Delta to Aswan. A number of
people have contacted me with travel questions. I am not
a travel agent or an expert in hotels or transportation
issues, but I have noted above some interesting ways to
appreciate the diverse, unique cultural, historic and
natural richness of Egypt. Based on my own experiences
I wanted to share some of these opportunities with you
so you can enjoy them as well.
Based on news reports of the current unrest in Egypt
you should check your government's advice for travel
there. This is certainly important if you plan to travel by
yourself. Generally speaking, tours are safer because
they are able to keep up with current conditions.
Me with my 2009 crew of expert Egyptian diggers
My son Spencer and I having tea with
Egyptian tourist police.
|Everything about ancient Egypt is sort of secret at some point. Well, ok, maybe my travel tips aren't exactly
"secret", but they are "insider", and you won't find them anywhere else unless some travel robber has dug
them up here.
|SPECIAL TOURIST NOTE
Egypt is currently experiencing some unrest between various political and religious factions, especially in urban and Red Sea tourist areas. For that
reason we recommend touring with an established tour company rather than on your own. Always check your government travel advisories.