The Overnight Train in Egypt

If you are considering a tour package to Egypt chances are your package will include one night on the train. This is how most tour companies get their group from Cairo to Aswan. The best way to look at this is its an adventure and its only 1 night and when you see the train you will be very glad its only 1 night. Standing in the train station in Cairo watching the trains come and go my first thought was “oh crap!” The trains were old, dirty and overcrowded. Fortunately our overnight train was a little better, though not much. Our train car had only cabins in it and everyone in the cabins were part of our tour group.

Use of the word “cabin” is very generous. It was more like a small closet. On one wall of the “cabin” was a seat that would sit 2 people. It was about the size of a love seat. When you sat on the seat about one foot from your knees was the other wall of the cabin. On that wall was a hook to hang coats, a small shelf about 6 – 8” wide and a small medicine cabinet size door which when you opened it there was a mirror and very small sink. The back of the seats folded down to make a small twin size bed and there was a pull down bed above that so the cabin could sleep 2 people on bunk beds.

At the head of the top bed was a small cutout area for your luggage which is nice considering there wasn’t enough room to have your suitcase on the floor. If you stood your suitcase up on the floor there was no room to for your legs. Of coarse lifting your luggage up that high was no easy, if I didn’t have my son with me I never would have gotten it up there. There were no electric outlets in the cabin so you won’t be able to plug anything in. You can brush your teeth or shave in the sink. However I wouldn’t recommend using the tap water to brush your teeth. We used bottled water for that. Our tour company was really good at supplying us bottled water.

Now lets talk about the bathroom, have you ever seen the movie “The Mummy Returns” with Brendon Fraser? Remember the scene where Rick O’Connell’s son was kidnapped and he used the bathroom on the train? Well I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that’s pretty much what the bathroom on our train looked like but the good news is that there was no poop on the walls… yeah! There was one bathroom on our train car and we all had to share it.

The best advise someone gave me before using it was when I flush the toilet don’t stand directly in front of it, stand to the side. To flush the toilet you had to step on a peddle which sprayed water into the bowl and then flushed however when it sprayed the water sometimes it would miss the bowl and shoot the water out onto the floor in front of the toilet or anyone who happened to be standing there so if you ever find yourself using the bathroom on one of these trains always stand to the side of the toilet when you flush.

Dinner and breakfast was served on the train. The food was ok. Luckily our tour guide took us by a store to buy some food and drinks to take with us before we got on board so if the train food wasn’t to our taste we had something else to eat.

With all that said, it was a great adventure I wouldn’t have traded and for 1 night I could put up with the inconveniences. On the plus side we slept really well on the train.

When going to a third world country you have to go with an open mind and embrace the experience otherwise you will be miserable the whole trip.