As a child I was always fascinated with ancient Egypt. I would beg my mom to buy me books about it and ‘The Mummy’ (you know, the movie with Brendan Frasier…?) was played almost daily in our household. Egypt was one of my biggest dream destinations then, and it continues to be today. Their history spans civilizations and there is so much to see and do in the capital city of Cairo, Egypt. The attractions there are known worldwide and the food appears excellent. Navigation is surprisingly easy and quite wheelchair accessible. Here is my guide to rolling around the great city of Cairo:
The Pyramids of Giza
Of course when you visit Cairo, you have to visit the famous pyramids. Located in Giza, they are easy to view from the outside. Be sure to take an empty SD card for your camera because there are plenty of photo opportunities around the pyramids.
However, if you are looking to view the inside of them in a wheelchair then you are pretty much out of luck. This has nothing to do with a desire to make it inaccessible; it simply has to do with the original design of the pyramids. The pathway to the tombs is very narrow and the downward slope is far too steep. Besides that, there is not nearly enough head clearance.
Yet all is not lost. You can always visit the Solar Boat Museum. Opened in 2001, it has ramps that make it quite accessible. Also, the light and sound show that the pyramids put on daily has an area that is designated for wheelchair users. You get access right up front! Of course, all bathrooms on site are wheelchair friendly. Overall, the pyramid complex is a great experience for anyone.
The Egyptian Museum
The only drawback to the museum is the room where the mummies are stored. It is not accessible and there are no bathrooms that are wheelchair friendly. However, knowing that before you go makes a lot of difference. There are ramps located at the museum entrance as well as elevators that will take you to the various floors. In addition, most of the exhibit halls have wide doors that make accessibility convenient. Don’t worry, the Tutankhamun exhibit has plenty of space for maneuvering. On a side note, I doubt the noise from your wheelchair is going to rouse the centuries old curse either. So you should be safe on all accounts!
Memphis and Saqqara
Unless you are a hard-core traveler or have this one on your bucket list, you might want to skip it. It involves a 45 minute ride from Cairo and there is always the potential for getting bogged down in the sand.
St. Georges Church
Located in Coptic Cairo, this glorious church is partially accessible. By this I mean that there will be an obstacle or two that you will need to overcome if you want to gain access to the inside (stairs mostly). Usually people are more than willing to help you though, just ask. The least they can say is no after all.
If you can, try to book a meal with a local and eat right in their home. They are always gracious hosts and introductions will be made to everyone in the room. Fair warning, sometimes no utensils are offered so just use your bread as a shovel or bring your own. The other bonus, you are not expected to clean your plate like your parents required you to do when you were young! Make sure to complement the host on their food and the experience.
If you choose to eat out then the world of Cairo is your proverbial oyster. Choices range from walk up sandwich stands to 5 course full meal entrées. Most restrooms are accessible and the host will make sure to place you in a spot that is easy for you to maneuver about.
A common custom in Egypt is to visit a hookah bar after dinner. You can indulge in both drinks and hookah in these lounges, and there are definitely plenty of them in Cairo to choose from. Be aware though that some of these lounges will use tobacco and others could use a stronger substance such as marijuana. It really just depends on where you go, but you could get a little trippy during your time in Egypt. Just sayin’…
The convenient thing about Cairo is this; there is an Egyptian law that mandates 5% of all hotel rooms must be handicapped accessible. Now that does not mean that only 5% of the rooms will be accessible, often times there are much more than that. Yet the information is good to have on hand in case you were worried about where you were going to stay.
Cairo is really accessible in terms of travel. From the airport, to the buses, to cabs, they are all more than accommodating. You might want to call ahead to make sure that they send one your way that is accessible. Other than that, you should have no problem boarding and un-boarding various public transit systems. As for the streets, they are fairly easy and mostly free of obstacles and other things like potholes, sidewalk bumps, and the like.
Cairo, Egypt is one of the more progressive cities in the Middle East and it is apparent that they want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy their fair city. You will enjoy the rich culture and friendly locals. So with that said, pack your bags, grab your plane tickets, and start rolling like an Egyptian!
*A Note from Curb Free with Cory Lee: This post includes affiliate links. When you click on a link, I may receive a small compensation, which will help this blog grow into a better resource for disabled travelers.