Saddle Up: The Top Riding Destinations

Egypt: The Ride of the Pharaohs

Everyone should visit Egypt at least once in his or her lifetime. The pyramids and tombs inspire awe unlike anything in the urban world. Even with throngs of tourists, there is something almost mystical about riding beside these ancient temples.

If you find yourself in Cairo on a regular sightseeing tour, you can take a taxi across the Nile to Giza on the West Bank. Offer your driver a few Egyptian pounds to find a reputable horse outfitter. (Camel rides are popular as well, but you will cover more ground—and far more comfortably—on a horse.) Expect to pay less than $10 per hour to rent a good steed. Try to get one with some energy left in him—if you have a spirited horse and a cooperative guide, you will be allowed to gallop through the sands of the Sahara, not more than a quarter-mile from the Great Pyramids.

For those looking for more than a short day-ride, FITS Equestrian and Equitour offer organized Egyptian riding tours. The 11-day programs begin in Cairo with a transfer across the Nile to Giza. Rest up the first night at the fabled Mena House Oberoi Hotel, which has housed FDR, Agatha Christie, and other luminaries. Here guests are wined and dined while enjoying superb views of Egypt's most famous sight—the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

Two days' ride later, the caravan camps at the edge of Faijum Oasis. Daylight brings an optional ride along the banks of Lake Birket Quarun and a chance to visit the archaeological dig at Karamis, with the evening spent in the town of Faiyum. The Hotel Auberge Faiyum—a grand colonial hostelry—offers a pleasant interlude from camp life with huge rooms and beds, a full bar, and food fit for visiting dignitaries. The next few days are spent winding along ancient water canals, stopping to explore the remote pyramids at Dashur, Medu, and Ellisht, and the tombs at Sakkara (a must-see on any Egyptian itinerary). The last day's ride leads back to Giza, leaving plenty of time to ponder the mysteries of Giza's mighty Sphinx and other ancient monuments.

The Ride of the Pharaohs is offered March, September, October, December, and January—periods of moderate temperatures and blue skies. The cost from Cairo is roughly $2,000. As you will spend four to seven hours per day in the saddle for nine days riding, this tour is best for experienced riders in good physical shape. For further information, contact Equitour at (800) 545-0019; or FITS Equestrian at (800) 666-FITS.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 10 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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