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Cairo Attractions - Birqash Camel market, Al-Azhar Park, Beit el-Suhaymi

Beit el Suhaymi

Birqash Camel market

Birqash Camel market

For an experience outside of Cairo’s city life, a trip to the edge of the Western Desert is a must. Here the tourist can find Egypt’s biggest camel market which is like no other. Spend half a day traveling outside of Cairo to reach this destination filled with hundreds of camels waiting to be swapped. Many of the camels suffer from fatigue after making the long trek up the 40 Days Road from Sudan. Animal lovers beware. Ladies should be cautioned that this is a man’s scene and should dress appropriately. This means skipping the short skirts and revealing tops and going for something more conservative. Look for the tea lady, most likely to be the only female present besides the travelers. Keep an eye out for thieves that are ready and willing to raid any unguarded pockets. Take in the entire experience from the middle of the lot where things tend to be less hectic.

Al-Azhar Park

Al-Azhar Park

Take a step out of the desert and into the urban life of Al-Azhar Park. Here, beautiful architecture comes together with a well thought out plan to protect the environment. Share a meal on the park’s northern hill in a restaurant with 360-degree views of the city. This restaurant and gallery building blend in with the surrounding buildings. Is traveling through Cairo making you thirsty? Not to worry. What began with some simple grading of the site led to the construction of three huge underground water tanks used to supply Cairo’s demand for water. Sites International, a Cairo company, as well as landscape architects Sasaki Associates out of Boston along with help from Usaid, designed the tanks to fit into the parks master plan. 1.3km of Ayyubid-era city wall was uncovered during the renovation of the site. Thanks to some conservation and nifty incorporation the wall quickly became an important aspect of the park. What used to be an unattractive rubbish heap is now home to classical Islamic gardens. Trash has been replaced by thriving formal and informal plants, a quaint lake, informal pathways, water channels, fruit orchards, a playground and a central palm court.

Beit el-Suhaymi

Once home to 30 families, the Beti el-Suhaymi is a restored family mansion and caravanserai (merchants’ inn). The mansion has stood proudly since the 17th and 18th centuries. Enter through a narrow hall into a courtyard which leads to reception halls, storerooms and baths. With hardly an ounce of furnishings, the mansion comes complete with a host of fire extinguishers to protect the mansions expanse of woodwork.

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