Photography in Egypt

Things to prepare before you visit Egypt

  • You will need a tourist visa for Egypt. These can be bought for $25USD at the border or in advance online. Check out my post all about securing one as a UK citizen but this applies to most countries.
  • You will need travel insurance for Egypt I always choose World Nomad’s as their policies cover a wide range of adventure activities. I would also consider buying camera insurance from a separate provider in case something goes wrong. I chose Ripe Insurance.
  • Egypt uses the Egyptian pound and at the time of writing £22 Egyptian Pounds = £1 British Pound.

Camera protection and safety when in Egypt

  • As mentioned before it would be a wise idea to buy camera insurance when travelling in Egypt. Pickpocketing is common, so make sure you have your camera equipment to hand, locked away, or in sight at all times
  • Egypt is a dusty and sandy place with sandstorms being a frequent travel buddy. I can’t mention the number of times I’ve got sand in my camera and ruined it! So, I would make sure that you have camera protection in the form of a photography bag/backpack with the appropriate lens covers.
  • Don’t switch lenses when it’s windy as you may find that sand gets inside your camera.
  • Tripods are allowed in certain attractions but at a flat fee of £20EGP per site, per day. So be prepared to fork out a lot of cash for tripods and for taking photos. When setting up your tripod be cautious of the wind and make sure that you plant it firmly to avoid it falling into the sand.

I didn’t really fear my camera getting stolen in tourist sites when set up on a tripod, there were lots of guards and no one was getting very far with my camera/tripod if they did decide to run away with it. But, in cities like Cairo and Alexandria, it’s important to keep a keen eye.

Photography spots in Cairo

Oh Cairo, the capital city people love to hate!

I personally loved it but compared to the rest of Egypt this place is downright polluted beautiful dirty chaos. But, there are some pretty Instagram spots to behold and photograph in amongst it all.

Cairo in general terms isn’t necessarily a city, it’s a region with districts and cities within it.

Giza, where the Pyramids are located, is a city within the boundaries of Cairo. In fact, it takes around an hour to reach Giza from the airport! So, I’d split up sightseeing into two parts. Giza for one day and then the wider Cairo (old and new) another.

1. The Pyramids of Giza & Sphinx

Seeing a wonder of the world with your own eyes is an incredible feeling and seeing an ancient one that still stands is even better! A visit to the Pyramids of Giza has to be on any travellers list in Egypt.

As one of the busiest sites in Cairo though it’s always good to come prepared!

You don’t have to have a tour guide with you but I would recommend it to stop being hassled all the time.

Also, it’s always handy to have them pay a tip to the guard to look the other way so you can climb a pyramid.

yramids of Giza opening times: October – March 8 am with last entry at 4 pm. April – September 7 am with the last entry at 6 pm.

Ticket prices for the Pyramids of Giza: General Entry: £200EGP

Photography prices: Photos are free but tripods cost £20EGP.

Photography tips for the Pyramids of Giza: Get here for an opening time in the morning or even earlier to get in line. When I visited in October I didn’t have to queue and was first in! The sun rises opposite at this time and lights up the pyramids beautifully.

Visit the Sphinx first to photograph it as it only gets crazier throughout the morning. You don’t need to go on a camel tour you can hire a camel inside.

You can get a really good sunset view from the Pizza hut opposite once the complex closes or go to the dunes on a desert tour at sunset/sunrise.

2. Khan El Khalili Bazaar

One of Egypt’s oldest markets and also one of the most picturesque! A lot of people will tell you to avoid this tourist trap but I wouldn’t.

It’s stunning with lots of souvenirs and places to photograph inside! Head into the old part of the bazaar for picture-perfect stalls selling Arabian lanterns, ancient archways, and all sorts of Egyptian souvenirs.

After your photos, if you are interested in shopping head to JORDI. It’s a fixed-price shop so you know you won’t be ripped off!

Khan El Khalili opening times: Khan El Khalili doesn’t close, but the shops will. You may battle with crowds a little but getting here when the shops are open is better for photos.

Ticket prices: Free!

Photography prices: Free!

Photography tips for Khan El Khalili: I would get here early in the morning around 9 am or 10 am to photograph. You can treat yourself to a yummy Egyptian breakfast and coffee in the stalls around. The archway located on ‘Bab al-Ghuri gate‘ is the most famous spot in this market! Just wait patiently until shoppers leave so you can take your shot.

3. Citadel of Saladin

This medieval fortress can be seen all over Cairo and it’s like a siren pulling you in.

It was built on Mottakam Hill and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Saladin, who was the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, constructed it in the 12th century. t’s definitely worth a visit and you can get a fabulous view of the whole city around you from up here!

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, built in 1830, that’s spectacular inside and out.

Citadel of Saladin opening times: 8 am – 5 pm.

Citadel of Saladin ticket prices: £100EGP to enter the Citadel which includes the mosque and other museums inside.

Photography prices: Free! Tripods are not allowed.

Photography tips for Citadel of Saladin: It will be busy in the afternoons to get here in the morning if you can! The city views and the mosque are the most picturesque parts.

4. The Egyptian Museum

This is the most famous museum in Cairo and is extremely popular.

The highlights inside are the masks and sarcophagi of King Tutankhamun. But, there is no photography allowed in there.

The outside building, huge arched ceiling, and all the artifacts inside are great muses for photos.

Opening times for the Egyptian Museum: 9 am -5 pm. Late-night openings until 9 pm on Thursdays and Sundays

Photography prices: £30EGP for a photo pass

Photography tips for Egyptian Museum: No photography is allowed in the King Tutankhamun display and the Royal Mummies room. Some great photos can be found on the top floor looking down on the main halls.

For miles, you can chase ghosts in historic temples and tombs, see artifacts in museums, and gaze upon the Nile that has been here since the dawn of time.

It’s where I would recommend spending most of your time as there is so much to explore! This is also where I took the majority of my photos as each site had something new to offer and I could have spent hours in each one marvelling at the ancient architecture.

5. Karnak Temple

Karnak is one of the most impressive temples that has been left behind from ancient Thebes (modern-day Luxor). Built in 2055BC, it took over two centuries and 30 pharaohs to complete it!

It’s most famous for its almost sky-high decorated columns which weigh a few tonnes, you can explore a citadel of worship.

You can wander down the impressive Ram Road at the entrance, explore the many temples that are inside its walls, see the epic obelisks that were erected by Queen Hatshepsut, gaze at the reflections on the lake and count all the colossi that stand proud.

Don’t forget to return at nightfall for the Karnak light and sound show.

Unlike the Pyramids, you don’t just sit and watch. You walk in amongst the temple as the show goes on around you.

It’s spooky but spectacular and the eerie narration paints a picture of how Karnak used to be in ancient times.

Photography tips for Karnak: I would make sure you enter Karnak at 6 am as a priority for photos. When you arrive at this time, the lighting is so soft and fabulous and as the sun is rising it makes the columns turn pink and orange!

You should have it to yourself for around an hour until the mass of tour groups shows up. After that, it’s game over until closing time at sunset when you can tip the guard for a shot or two after people leave.

Despite this, there are places in amongst the columns at all times of day where you can snap a photo without people so don’t stress too much if you’re on a guided tour.

6. The Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings has been an area of significant public interest ever since Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

Ever since people from all over the globe have heard tales of the ‘Curse of King Tut’ and were curious to see these beautifully decorated tombs of Pharaohs.

It is an incredible place to explore, but it’s a little bit of a minefield with strict rules. Your general entry ticket only allows you into 3 tombs of a possible 8. Add to the fact, that photography is quite expensive, it’s important to choose wisely.

Opening times for Valley of the Kings: 6am – 5pm.

Photography prices: Mobile photography is FREE. £300EGP (£15) is for a photo pass with a DSLR camera which permits photos in 3 tombs only, tripods are strictly prohibited. A lot of people tip the guards for photos too but it’s a risk and your camera could be taken away to the photography kiosk.

Photography tips for Valley of the Kings: Get here early if you can say around 7/8am, most tourists will explore the tempe of Hatshepsut first so you have some grace.

Around 10am is when the majority of tourists will be arriving in groups from cruise ships in Luxor or coach tours from Hurghada.

Even when you buy a photo pass you’ll be hassled for it so keep it to hand. Also, you only get to photograph 3 tombs even if you pay extra to enter. So, make sure you choose your tombs wisely using my guide so you’re well prepared.

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