Getting There and Around

DESTINATIONS getting-there-and-around-6

TRAVEL TIPS

Getting There and Around

You have two options when traveling to the monastery. The most painless one is to book a tour with an approved travel agent and a guide. Altenatively, negotiate with a taxi driver from Ramses Square in Cairo to take you to each of the monasteries and back to the capital for around £E250–£E300, depending on your haggling skills and the number of people in your group. Be sure that the driver knows the way and understands the amount of waiting time involved—plan for an hour per monastery—and pay once you're safely back in Cairo. The ride should take 1½ to 2 hours each way.

Otherwise, West Delta air-conditioned buses leave every half hour between 6 am and 8 pm from Cairo Gateway, behind the al-Ahram newspaper offices; one-way tickets cost £E5. The trip takes two hours to meander its way to the Wadi Natrun Rest House along the Desert Road, and from there on to the village. From the village, you can catch a service taxi with other people (50 pt to £E1.25 per person) to Deir Anba Bishoi. It's an easy walk from there to Deir al-Sourian, but if you want to go on to Deir Anba Baramus, you have to rely on the kindness of those fellow pilgrims (with a vehicle), because there is no established transportation system between the monasteries. You can also hire a driver from the village to take you to the three monasteries, wait for you, and then bring you back to the village; depending on your bargaining skills, it should run no more than £E40 to £E50.

The last West Delta bus back to Cairo leaves at 6 pm from the village, but if you're feeling brave you can always flag down one of the frequent minibuses heading that way, from either the village or the Rest House. But before setting out to travel independently, you should always verify that independent travel by foreigners is being allowed. This can change on a day-to-day basis depending on the security level. A hotel concierge or the nearest tourist office should be able to do this.

BACK TO THE WADI NATRUN MONASTERIES

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