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Getting Around By Car

Driving in Cairo is a whole another experience probably best left to experienced taxi drivers.  The country has the highest rate of traffic fatalities per mile driven in the world, so the danger isn’t a joke.  If you’re determined to brave the twisting streets, it’s best to keep a few things in mind.  No one obeys traffic law.  Signs, lanes, right of way, and other things we take for granted in America are blatantly ignored.  The main exception is that all passengers must wear a seat belt, and police are very stringent on this one rule.  Also, parking the car is a hassle, but worth following the rules, because your car will likely get booted or towed.  It’s not expensive to get your car back, but it could easily take a day or two to track down who towed your car and where it is now.

The major expressways are fairly recent constructions, so they’re in good shape and clearly marked.  Speed limits are 100 kph, around 60 mph.  Streets within the city twist and wind, and are hectic.  While driving, make liberal use of your horn, it’s how Egyptians do nearly everything, including turning and to let everyone know they’re there.

Gas stations are easy to find on major highways and almost always accept credit cards.  Owing to Egypt’s location, gas is far cheaper than in North America and Europe.  They’re mainly full service, and attendants expect a 1 or 2 pound tip.  Plain unleaded gas is called tamanin or 80, and higher quality is tisayn, or 90.  If you’re going to be driving in the desert, always take extra water.  Few Egyptian drivers have insurance, so if you’re in an accident, expect to resolve it at the scene, often with animated arguments.

Directions are generally given with landmarks, not with street names, which is a good thing, because plenty of streets have no name or are referred to by pre-revolution names, which aren’t used on anything official.  If you’re getting directions somewhere, it’s generally a good idea to ask a few different people.  It won’t be uncommon to get different responses.  Don’t hesitate to ask pedestrians while driving, most people are happy to give directions.  If you’re giving directions to a taxi driver, it’s easiest to tell him a major landmark near where you’re headed, and then give more specific directions as you get closer.