Well this was a part of our agenda that I was a little concerned about. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Instead of flying to Aswan to catch our Nile Cruise we decided to try the train.
The first thing I realized is we shouldn’t have come early The tiny waiting room is shabby crowded and hot. There are only a couple of chairs and no AC. The toilet is absolutely filthy. I have to say this is the worst I’ve seen in all my travels.
Our guide came with us and insisted on waiting with us. We assured him we would be fine , after all this was country 73 for us . We’ve been around a bit. None of the less he stayed.
The people we waited with, however, were so friendly that the time actually passed fairly quickly . We met a young Doctor and her mother (who is also a Doctor). They spoke good English . We learned Doctors here do not make the kind of money they do in Canada ( this explains their mode of transportation). Education is free here so there are more than enough Doctors to go around.
When our train arrived things got pretty hectic . The cars aren’t marked at all so we would have had a tough time figuring out which train was ours . Maybe it was good we had our guide after all.
Our "room" was dingy, worn and basic. Good thing we booked first class. I’d hate to see the other levels of service. We have a sink but the toilet is down the hall . I fear this will be a very long night.
On the positive side there is AC and the included dinner of chicken, beef, rolls and rice is at least edible. The porter was pleasant but we realized later , the drinks he offered was extra ,only the ones that came with our meals were included. It really was no big deal though but good to know.
The trip to Aswan was 12 hours. So we were thankful to convert our seats into bunk beds and lie down . We somehow managed to get through a restless night of banging clanging and rocking.
After breakfast of bread cheese and jam we welcomed our arrival to Aswan.
We boooked our tickets through Five Star Travel in Cairo.
I took my wife and 3 kids on the overnight sleeper from Cairo to Luxor back in April 2008.
I had made a reservation with the Abela train via the web but recall I had to send a letter with my booking details by fax.
I was told that I'd have to pay for the tickets about 48 hours before departure. The tickets were available from the Abela ticket office in the corner of Ramses station. I know I paid in cash ( US $)but don't know whether they'd have taken my credit card.
It didnt take long to buy the ticket at the office and I came away with all of the paper tickets all clearly detailed with our names etc.
We were advised to pick up the train at Giza station rather than at Ramses because it only has the two platforms and is therefore easier to identify the right train.
Your ticket will tell you your coach and berth numbers so you can position yourself on the platform for when the train pulls in.
Food is provided on board and there is even a bar service. Don't expect gourmet meals but it was edible and certainly filling. Same with the breakfast.
The coach attendant will make up the bed for you but don't forget to tip ( not that he will forget to remind you).
Waking up at sunrise to watch the green fields of the Nile valley pass by was a real pleasure. The other times I was woken up with the stop-start jolts of the train was not such a pleasure but that was OK as we were on holiday. However having lost a lot of sleep only to do the return journey just 2 days later was quite tiring. We had no regrets however and I felt it was a little more adventurous to take my family on the train. I think my kids enjoyed it.
The Abela train is certainly more expensive than the other services but I've read stories that say tourists are discouraged from the FirstClass trains.
Still I hope you enjoy your journey whatver train service you chose. Good luck with the booking arrangements.
I purchased my train ticket from this train station a day before my round trip from Cairo-Alexandria-Cairo.
Not too many people are lined up to buy tickets. I was the second person and the last in the queau. Very easy to buy train tickets. The only problem in this train station is the parking. There is no place to park although we went there by car in the early evening.
The Ramses Railway Station is the main railway in Cairo and used to be called Misr Station. The train station building I posted here was built in the Year 1892 so there is no point of wondering why it looks so old. It is a huge building though.
Ramses Railway Station is the main railway station of Cairo, and faces Ramses Square (Midan Ramses). The station was first built in 1856 but was reconstructed in 1892 to the more traditional Arabic style of architecture. In 1955 the facade was refurbished in a similar style.
We took a train from Cairo down to Aswan then from Luxor back to Cairo... It was a 1st class train cabin that we were in and was actually not too bad. The seats were like business class in an aeroplane but the toilet was definitely not the nicest. ;) The train ride down to Aswan took around 16 hours because of an accident on the track (it is usually about 12 hours) but it was fun to look out the window during the daylight hours and see some of the countryside...
This is the key train station where you take train to Alexandria or to Luxor and Aswan. You can see the pic of the ticket office for sleeping car to Luxor or Aswan. Remember US$53 for Aswan and you need to have USD cash ready, even though you are in "Egypt"!
There are several trains that you can take to Alexrandria, but only the Tourbine train takes only 2 hours. The Spanish one takes 2:45 mins. Be sure you get the tickets for Tourbine train. The 1st/2nd ticket is 34 / 25 EGP (May 2006). The 2nd class is as good as the first class of other trains. Drinks and food are available for purchase on board. see the following for the train schedule: http://www.osoris.com/seating_train_services.htm
To reach Aswan from Cairo, you can take one of those designated trains for foreigners. I took the sleeper train No. 84 (departure at 20:00 from Cairo to Aswan for US$53 per person in a cabin for double occupancy. Payment is made in US$ only and I wonder in what country I was travelling. By the way, the ticket office has UV bank note viewer to check your US$ notes are authentic or not.
The ticket price include dinner and breakfast, excluding drinks which can be purchased on board. See pic for the drink price list. The carriage attendent uses the aircraft meal serving trolley and aircraft plastic tray and food container to serve the meals. The facilities in the cabin is very nice with running water. I put some air refresher in the cabin to ensure that scent is flowing all over the cabin and that my journey is enjoyable. See more pics for the cabin and meal.
At the time I travelled (late April 2006), I could purchase the ticket only 4 hours before the departure as I arrived at Cairo from Bahrain on the same day. In fact, I noted that there were many empty cabins. But you should book in advance during high season.
We used Hamis Travel to purchase our tickets. Their office is across the street from Ramses Station and they will take Visa, otherwise you must purchase your tickets with Euros or American Dollars. Across from Ramses, look for the Hamis Travel sign. The office is on the second floor of their building.
One-way ticket cost from Cairo to Luxor (you can get to Aswan on the same tickets): $53. The train will leave from platform 8, 9, 10 or 11. It's difficult to get answers in English from station employees, so if you're unsure which platform to be on just ask the conductors as trains pull into the station.
On the Abela sleeping train, you will be served dinner that is basically airplane food (buy drinks separately) and breakfast that is just a variety of different breads (coffee and tea included here).
You can have drinks sent to your cabin, or you can purchase from the club car. A bottle of wine is 65LE, Stella beers are 14LE.
To get the beds down, contact one of the workers; they have to use a special key.
The sleeping train is guarded by armed police - so when it your train pulls into the station don't be alarmed by the gun barrel poking out of the front car window.
The overnight train to Luxor might arrive as early as 4:15 in the morning, so be prepared with your hotel and information ready.
Cairo - Alexandria
Arriving to Cairo in the morning with the night train from Luxor I and Rebecka from England, who travelled the same way as me, did not stay but went on to Alexandria. The 1st class tickets for Alexandria were finished so we got seats in 2nd class and the train was leaving in about an hour. The ticket was 16 pounds. In 2nd class the seats are made of a plastic material and they can be turned around to always face the direction of the train. A man walked through the train with a small carriage selling tea, coffee and snacks. I don’t remember the price of the tea but it was more expensive than in 3rd class. It takes about 3 hours to go from Cairo to Alexandria by train. In Alexandria the train first stops at Sidi Gaber Station were a lot of people will get off. We continued to the main station Masr station.
Alexandria - Cairo
We were five foreigners coming with the bus to Alexandria from Siwa and we were all going on to Cairo. Luckily the bus station is near to Sidi Gaber Station. Arriving to the station we asked a guard for the next train to Cairo and he said it was leaving next hour. But we guessed there was one going within a few minutes and hurried to the platform were we found a train to Cairo and jumped on. We came into 3rd class and were all lucky to get seats. The ticket could be bought on the train and was 10 pounds. The seats were not uncomfortable at all but better than 2nd class in my opinion (because the material they were not made of). Two men walked around selling tea, and it was cheaper than 2nd class. In Cairo the train stops at Ramses Station.
Metro in Cairo is very important but its always very crowded.!
Metro is very fast and saving time for you incase you dont want to be Exxxtra more by taking a taxi.
You will see the sign of letter M thats mean that this is a metro station.
it costs 75 piasters "less than 1 pound" to take a metro trip and get off where ever you want.!
just take care of the direction you are taking because there are 4 direction and you may get mixed up and go somewhere else because of this mistake.
Its the main station in Cario where from this spot you can go everywhere inside Cairo or to outside to the different cities.!
Ramsis station is located in Ramsis area near Tahrir square,its very very crowded.
the fastest life you will see there,everybody is moving fastly to everywhere.
Be aware while you are crossing the road and from thieves its very crowded you know.
Just avoid eating while you are there,resturants are not clean at all.
there is a train station where you will find tourist information and you can ask them about the next train and tickets and bla bla
The main train station Mahattat Ramses is connected by metro which is a good thing. But what is not so good is that the ticket-sales a little far from the track. The tickets to south (Luxor / Aswan) are often sold out 3/4 days ago or even earlier in January-February (and tourist season). So, book ahead. The staff speak English. Just where you wanna go and the ISIC card, if you have one to get discounts.
Train is Egypt is useful and efficient in the tourist routes. Tourist are not allowed to board in any trains. They are allowed to board in some trains, and here again, paying a premium price for better service. Apart from luxury night trains to Luxor-Aswan, you may use train to Alexandria from Cairo. 2nd class train is quite ok and with ISIC card you get a third off as a student.
We travelled to Aswan by over-night train from Cairo, a trip that took around 10 hours. It was an interesting experience.
We had a small sleeper cabin, which is set up with 2 seats during the day. There was a small sink and a small amount of room for your luggage. There was a toilet at the end of each carriage.
Not long after we departed dinner was served to the cabin. After dinner, an attendant came round and set up the twin bunk beds for the night. Although there was a bar on the train, we resisted and tried to get an early night....but not much sleep was had .....it was a very bumpy ride!!
Next morning the attendant was back bright and early to fold up the beds and bring in the breakfast tray. We sat and looked out the window amazed at the view of the Nile, and got a glimpse of everyday life along the rail line.
It wasn't the most restful of nights, but it was a new experience, and I grew quite fond of that little cabin - not much housework required!!