How Much Does it Cost to Go From Cape Town to Cairo?

Cape Town to Cairo may be a classic backpacking route but what a trip it is! From snorkeling in the azure blues of the Indian ocean, the white beaches of Zanzibar, wildlife galore in the Serengetti, standing on a glacier as you hike to the top of Kilimanjaro – the trip offers everything you could ever dream an African odyssey would include but how long does it take and how much does it cost?!

Masia tribe in Kenya

It’s a long way – I can vouch for that. Lots of people drive their own motorbikes/cars or go on organized, expensive overlanding tours, as an advocate of independent travel I recommend planning nothing and going for it freestyle! I met a few people doing a similar trip to mine as I was on the road and the times they were allocating for the journey ranged from 4 months to 1 year. Personally, I took about 6 months and I wouldn’t recommend much less than that – sometimes I felt like I was rushing, ultimately it’s a personal choice and everybody travels at different speeds but around 7 months seems to be the general consensus for an optimum duration, long enough to see everywhere you want without feeling rushed but not too long to get too frustrated at what I shall diplomatically refer to as African inefficiency!

Crossing the nile by hot air balloon

Crossing the nile by hot air balloon

How much does it cost to go from Cape Town to Cairo? Quite a lot I’m afraid guys. Africa is not the continent for backpackers on a seriously restrictive budget, better to save some extra cash and hold off the trip for a year or two as opposed to rushing in and missing out. I would say that the trip from Cape Town to Cairo could be done, in 6 months, for around $6,000 at the bottom end of the scale (missing out on some of the more expensive activities). This could shoot to $15k if you want to do every activity available, stay in decent places and avoid the (often less than delicious) Sub-Saharan African cuisine.

gorillas in rwanda

Trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda

Here are a few of the ‘optional’ (this is in inverted commas because although now they seem optional, when you’re there you’re almost definitely going to want to do it!) things that you may have to factor into your budget, things that quickly make you wanna rethink that tight budget:

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro

Ok guys, so these external costs can mount up to $3k or $4k alone – then you have to think about food, transport, accommodation and entrance fees on top of that. If you think you’ll be traveling for around 6 or 7 months, that’s approximately 200 days – if you’re good on a budget maybe $20 can do you = $4k, plus the $4k in fees = $8k. But $20 a day is tough in most of Africa (Malawi aside). I probably spend the best part of $10k in my trip, including flights and a ticket to the World Cup Final in Johannesburg – a lot of money for sure, but worth every penny! If you have any questions about things to do on the journey, just drop me an email on Johnny@onestep4ward.com or leave a comment, I’d be more than happy to help…

41 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost to Go From Cape Town to Cairo?

  1. Tony Jones

    Hi I am traveling cape to egypt from november this year using a motor trike it has been a life wish now I am old I have to do it thanks for the positive views. I am a little worried about the sudan borders though cheers tony.

    Reply
  2. Linn Tamblyn

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    Reply
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  4. Pauline

    What an impressive trip! Definitely on my bucket list, but as a solo woman traveler, for once, I’d like a travel buddy. Your budget sounds quite reasonable, sure, more expensive than Asia or South America but still pretty cheap considering all the awesome stuff you did.

    Reply
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  6. Fidel

    So, Johnny, I am trying to figure out if I can go to Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya and Egypt for a 30-day holiday. I know that the first three will be easy since they are neighbors. The question I have is about Egypt. Would you fly to Cairo first and then fly to Tanzania or Kenya?
    I want to spend at least a week and a half in Tanzania, 4-5 days in Zanzaibar, about a week in Kenya and another week in Egypt.

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      hey mate, i think the cheapest flght from that area is gonna be nairobi so personally i’d do my thing in Egypt first, then fly and explore the next 3 by land (and boat to zanzibar). A great plan would be Egypt -> Nairobi -> safari in Masa Mara -> mombasa -> Zazibar (via dar es salaam) -> north to Moshi or NgoronGoro crater and back to Dar for your flight home – just an idea :)

      Reply
      1. Fidel

        I knew I was asking the right person. Thank you.

        I read your post about backpacking in Egypt. Do you think 2 days is enough in Cairo, followed by a day trip to Luxor and maybe 2 days in Alexandria?

        Have you been to Namibia? I am amazed at the sand dunes there and wonder if I could add it to this African trip.

        Does Africa have low-cost airlines like Ryan Air?

        Reply
        1. Johnny Post author

          i didn’t make it to namibia unfortunately mate, it’s so expensive! although i hear it’s beautiful (and really expensive). To answer your question about low cost airlines in Africa – a categorical NO! flights are so pricey, it’s unreal :s To fly to namibia return from Nairobi will cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars!

          2 days cairo, i day luxor and 2 days alexandria sounds perfect mate – you’ll be a little rushed but if you get your game face on you’ll be fine :) personally, that would be enough for me, i spent a lot longer in each place and i was getting bored of more dusty ruins (i know that may sound a little unsophisticated but it’s true :P). If you wanna do the hot air ballooning in Luxor you’ll have to stay 2 days though, cos it’s v early in the morning

          Reply
          1. Fidel

            I read your Luxor post and I might have to stay two days now. I’ve never been hot air ballooning and would love to experience that. Now that’s I’m researching more, I might try to go around the migration season.

            I did see your prices for everything in Luxor. Looks like I’m going to spend more than I thought I would in Africa. I swear (aside from Japan), Asia spoils you when it comes to relatively inexpensive travel. Did you find that things like snorkeling and eating in Tanzania/Zanzibar were inexpensive?

          2. Johnny Post author

            zanzibar demonstrates a bit of a false economy because it’s such a tourist hub so food and drink there can get pricey. Other than that it’s cheap mate, Africa generally is quite cheap for food and accommodation, it’s just the awesome activities that end up costing a fortune!

        2. Lydia

          When I was in Egypt, I took a train from Alexandria to Cairo in the AM and then took a sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor that night. I spent one day in Luxor and then took the sleeper train back to Cairo, spent a day, and took a train back to Alexandria. Luxor in one day is definitely doable if you have to. The sleeper train may be a good option for you. It was about $60 US each way, but it will save you time and the cost of accommodation elsewhere.

          Reply
          1. Johnny Post author

            Wow, you move fast!! I traveled a lot slower, took the (cheap) bus and chilled but i had no time constraints so no stress. If you’re in a real rush, this advice is a great option

  7. Egypt holidays

    I hope you liked Cairo. Did you visit it in winter or summer? you will find it less expensive in summer although temperature can be as high as 40 deg C during the day. Alexandria on the other hand is more expensive in summer as it is a Mediterranean resort with long beaches that attract thousands of local tourists in summer. I am looking forward to reading a post about your trip to Egypt.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    Dream route! My boyfriend and I are heading back to Africa next year but only to a few countries for two months – Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania and then South Africa for a friend’s wedding. I’ve been doing a little bit of planning and was so surprised at the costs! I’m used to scraping by very little in SE Asia and central America, so it’s come as quite a shock! But will hopefully be an amazing trip!

    Did you travel by yourself? And any recommendations for companies to do the gorilla trek with?

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      hey Rebecca, what a trip! Sounds like you’re gonna have a blast too – east africa is captivating. I traveled partly by myself and partly with a friend, it’s safe as houses so no drama there.

      For the gorilla trek, there are no companies – you have to do it through the tourist boar, loads of companies act as a 3rd party – avoid them and go straight to the tourist board either in uganda or rwanda. I’m gonna write a post about it this week so i’ll explain it all there in more detail. If you need any help in the mean time just drop me a msg :)

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        VERY excited! Shame it’s planned for October 2011 though – feels soooo far away. Look forward to your post. I’ll email you if I have any more questions re costs and recommendations for things to see and do!

        Reply
  9. Laura

    Excellent route and one I’d like to do. I’ve travel through most of the countries on the route but am missing the bridge from Egypt to Kenya. I agree Africa is more expense that Southeast Asia for example, but so doable. It’s my favorite continent in the world and I can’t wait to make another trip back. Would love to chat with you more about your experiences there and your favorite places- I’m sure we’ve been to many of the same places but am always looking to hear about ones I haven’t been to yet!

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      hey laura,

      thanks for dropping by :) Amazing continent for sure, but I guess with all the negative media coverage, it can be a daunting prospect for travellers sometimes. But if you go beyond that, the rewards are endless. I know you’re a volunteer and there’s so much scope for that area of work across the whole continent so I’m sure they’ll welcome you back with open arms. Any timeline on when you want to return?

      Reply
  10. Diego

    Amazing post Johnny, congrats for having done such a route.
    I am a route-lover and have performed some such as Route 66, the Transiberian or Southern Africa during my last holidays. The Pan-American and the Pan-African routes are in my list too, but I will need to quit my job first :-)
    I was told that the most difficult / dangerous part for the African one is crossing Sudan, is that right?
    I am beginning to write my own blog and following world travelers, so you have a new fan here.
    Keep going…

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      Hey diego,

      thanks for the kudos – i actually didnt stop in Cairo but i know most people do, hence the blog title. I continued for another month on into the Middle East – great people in that part of the world.

      Sudan was ok, bureaucratic-heavy but worth the effort. Somaliland was prob tougher but the most dangerous part is taking buses all the time. I was probably in around 5 crashes in my 6 or 7 months, it’s a nightmare! but u have little choice to get around otherwise :S

      Uv been around a bit too mate – look forward to reading your blog, take it easy mate

      johnny

      Reply
  11. Jaime

    Wow, doing this treck has NEVER crossed my mind. This actually doesnt seem like a bad Idea to once I am done exploring Egypt on my RTW trip. Im saving this post and fav’ing your blog. I will be reading more of your adventure to learn more about it.

    Glad I came across this.

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      Hey jaime,

      yeah i didn’t realise it was a backpacker route until i decided to do it but when ur there lots of people are doing (by lots i mean a a handful but that seems like lots when you’re in somaliland, sudan, djibouti etc!). Hope u get a chance to do it mate – if u do, keep me posted please!

      johnny

      Reply
  12. the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell

    Gosh I am in a muddle today … what i meant to say was great info as I intend a return to Africa and it will be traveling a variation of this route, I think, and didn’t realize exactly how much i’m gonna spend … better cut down on beers tonight … actually, nah.

    the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      im sure after 20 years u have a few tricks up your sleeve to make that money stretch mate! Africa is one crazy continent tho, that’s for sure

      Reply
  13. the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell

    Agreed … Travel is no longer dirt-cheap nearly anyway – amazing that some articles BS about traveling the world for free – unless you beg, sleep in the streets – couch-surf, eat crap, take advantage of locals – no way, that’s mostly what you are in for as an extreme budget traveler in much of Africa. UNLESS you are African or really get amongst it.

    Hey, at less the ganja and beers still cheap … MRP

    Reply
    1. Johnny Post author

      hey mate,

      i’d say central asia is the last place you can truly scrape by on. Pakistan, Iran, India (for the next few years only tho) Bangladesh – these countries you can get by on $10 a day. Most other places though, you’d have to double that as a bare minimum

      I couldn’t believe in some countries in Africa the price of a bottle of 1lt bottle of water is the same price as a bottle of coke/beer… difficult to refuse really!

      Reply
      1. the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell

        Yeah, sorry, in my liquor haze last night I really meant in Africa but yeah certainly the Indian subcontinent & Indonesia rank amongst the best but many parts of Africa – especially the West, are no bargain compared with good-value SE Asia or even Central America & Bolivia & Colombia.

        Now, time for a cheap cold Chinese beer …

        the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

        Reply
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