When you think of Egypt, your mind immediately thinks of the Great Pyramids, right? Well, how couldn’t it? The largest Pyramid, the Pyramid of Cheops (or Khufu) is the only one somewhat intact and definitely the most ancient of the Seven Wonders of the World.
When I booked my trip to Egypt, Alex and I agreed that we would dedicate a full day at the very least for this site. Even if that meant having to fight for it with the rest of the group; but thankfully everyone was on board.
The moment we reached the Pyramids… Oh My God. Surreal. I can’t remember how much we paid to get in, I can’t remember the route, I can’t even remember what I was wearing (but my camera does, thankfully). I was like, “Alex pinch me, pinch me harder”. I was in awe. In complete shock.
Firstly, I had pictured the Pyramids to be somewhat like a perfectly smooth triangle. But they weren’t. See the picture below? They were basically tall, thick and abrupt stair steps.
Did you know??? Maybe everyone else did except me.
Oh… please note: if you want to enter The Great Pyramid, you have to buy your ticket outside, at the entrance, at the same place where you buy the tickets to get access to the entire area anyway. We didn’t know this back then, so one of us had to rush outside to the ticket office once again. But at least it gave us some time to climb the bits of the Pyramids that you are allowed to and take some cool pics. Yay! Also I must tell you that if you have even the slightest bit of claustrophobia, even the most imperceptible, think twice before you enter. I was flirting with a panic attack as soon as I reached the King’s –no window- chamber and realized that the way back out was the same narrow tunnel that we used on our way up. Crouched again but this time going downhill. Well…
To camel or not to camel? The ugly truth.
I’d say choose wisely. Countless cameliers will approach you offering you a ride. You’ll quickly realize that plenty of them beat the sh!t out of their animals and mistreat them. Also, most of the horses are underfed and there was no sight of water for our poor friends anywhere (the horses, not the camels. Camels store water). I said to many people, “your horse is thin, you should feed it better” and they replied, “don’t worry, they are only for carrying people”. WTF?
My heart broke.
So if you want a ride, walk around a bit and see which one of them deserves your money. See if their owners carry a whip or not. See if the camel screams while standing or sitting. And see whether the horse is fed enough to be strong enough to carry you. To be honest, if the rest of the group was ok with it, I would’ve completely skipped the ride. I would’ve gone for a quad bike instead, and avoided using a suffering, living soul.
THE GREAT SPHINX was another “pinch me” moment for me. It’s huge! One of the biggest and oldest statues of the world!
You don’t pay any extra money to see it and you cannot enter exactly where the statue is. You are allowed to see it closely from the side.
Things you need to be aware of:
-NOTHING, and I mean nothing is free of charge. There are many peddlers in the area that are trying to sell anything and everything. You want to ask someone for directions? They’ll ask you to tip them. You want a photo next to a camel? They’ll ask you to tip them. You go to the toilet? You’ll need to pay for the “cleanliness” and the non-existent toilet paper. At some point, this will bother you and you’ll want to punch someone in the face, BUT REMEMBER!! Egypt is a poor country and those people are not rich. Quite the contrary. Some of them, like the toilet lady, live off that money. Tipping them 5LE won’t make you any poorer, I promise. (1euro =20,5LE). But it will definitely make a difference to them, maybe even bring food to their table for a day.
-You can basically bargain for everything apart from the entrance prices. Water, sodas, souvenirs, rides, and more can all be bought at a cheaper rate. Do not be shy to negotiate.
-If you decide on a horse/camel/cart ride, make sure that you agree on the price and the duration of the tour beforehand. Once the ride is over, pay the person what you agreed on and move on. After the ride, they usually come up with countless excuses on why you need to pay them more. Don’t fall for their game. WALK!
-It would be nice if you could tip the underpaid assistants. They usually do all the hard work, so if you were happy with your ride and their services, they’d appreciate your little extra.
-If you feel harassed or uncomfortable, you can contact the tourist police, which is located right next to the main entrance. Look for it before entering. It’s not very likely that you’ll need it, but you never know. Better safe than sorry.
-If anyone asks you to give up your ticket, DON’T do it. They are scammers trying to sell you a tour or to ask for money when they try to give your ticket back. Don’t fall for it.
My experience at Giza was probably the most remarkable I’ve ever had in my entire life. Experiencing these awe-inspiring landmarks was definitely the highlight of my trip to Egypt.
As for the cons? Life is not full of unicorns and rainbows and Giza is not an exception. But, God, like life, the Pyramids and the Sphinx are so beautiful.