One of the most awaited items on my bucket list (and the main reason behind the Egypt trip!) was the Pyramids of Giza. During my Europe Trip, I got to know many interesting facts about the Pyramids which made me wish to travel to Egypt and see the Pyramids through my own eyes. If you have read my previous posts about Egypt, you now know that there is much more to see and do in Egypt but according to me, the Pyramids remain the first and the most important attraction. As described in any travel books or blogs, it’s incredible to witness the astonishing piece of masonry, stand tall right next to the city of Giza. It makes for one of marvellous wonders of the world. I had dedicated my last day in Egypt to exploring this beauty as I had wanted to save the best for the last.
I had pre-booked a driver to take me to Giza and then Saqqara since the two places are quite far away from each other and I didn’t want to get caught up with transportation issues later on. It cost me $20 to hire a car with a guide, which I gladly accepted. There are few things you need to make sure before you visit the Pyramids.
Hiring a Camel/Horse:
There are three big Pyramids (Kings) and three small ones (Queens). The site is spread across a huge area which involves quite a lot of walking. So, the best alternative is to hire a horse or a camel. Some people do prefer to walk around but they usually make it only as far as the first pyramid.
Hiring a camel or a horse is not a straightforward business. There are a lot of stables outside the main complex and you have to be able to negotiate really well to get good rates. No matter how much ever the owner asks for, it’s all just a trap for the tourists and so you should try to bring down the rates, as much as you can. They tend to charge on an hourly basis and deliberately spend the first-hour buying entry tickets, taking longer routes to get in and make a lot of small talks just to pass time. When I asked them what happens if I wanted to leave the horse midway to explore the place by myself, they tried to scare me by saying how the hawkers wouldn’t let me explore and would keep trying to sell me things. That’s all a big pile of crap and all you need to do is to be confident and negotiate well. I got the horse for 150 Egyptian pounds per hour.
Exploring the Pyramids:
The experience may start out rough thanks to all the negotiation and arguments to be done but once you start the ride and enter the Pyramid complex, you’ll come across the kind of beauty that cannot be conceived into words. The ride starts off with the panoramic view of the pyramids. You can ask the guide to stop anytime you want to take pictures. They really don’t care as it leads to their own profit. However, they are usually nice people and will help you in taking pictures, if you are travelling alone. The pyramids of Giza belong to the 4th Dynasty, which was about 3100 BC. They are still in an incredibly good form and are no doubt, absolutely beautiful. Your ticket will allow you to go inside one of the small pyramids but if you want to go inside one of the big ones, there is an extra ticketing option available for 100 pounds. I had already seen a lot of tombs in Luxor and decided to skip on the big tombs. The pyramids are no doubt, the most famous tourist attraction and there were people everywhere. Another perk of booking the horse was that I could go far away from the people to be able to take good, clean pictures. My advice is to take your time and take a lot of pictures while memorising the staggering feeling of so tiny next to one of the biggest wonders in the world. It’s so interesting to see the entire city lying on one side and the other side being covered by the pyramids and the desert
About 22 kilometres from Giza, lies a place called Saqqara that houses even older pyramids as compared to the Giza ones. Since the Pyramids of Giza are more famous, ignorant tourists often skip out on Saqqara. Saqqara is the home of Pyramids dating back to the 6th Dynasty and 3rd Dynasties. The 3rd Dynasty pyramids are the oldest pyramids in Egypt. I had to discreetly bribe one of the security guards with 5 EP, to allow me to go inside the 6th Dynasty pyramid. I was quite happy that I didn’t pay the 100 EP in Giza as I had the chance to see inside the 6th Dynasty pyramid for 5 EP only. The insides were even more beautifully designed than I could have imagined. It was unique and mesmerising how those pieces of art had survived more than 5200 years of wear and tear. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t feeling scared. Being 50 meters under the ground, with a 5200 years old building on top and ventilation does tend to take a toll on the human soul! I took some quick pictures and came out before I’d start to panic. The Saqqara Pyramids were not in a very good shape as compared to the pyramids of Giza and the guide explained that this was because different Dynasties had used different materials in the construction of the separate pyramids and so the pyramids of Giza had happened to survive better than the pyramids of Saqqara.
The 3rd Dynasty pyramid had been closed down due to the ongoing restoration work and I was only allowed to see it from the outside.
Overall, the Pyramids were definitely the highlight of my trip to Egypt but they weren’t all that there was. On my first day, a local friend had told me that visiting Giza and Saqqara after having been to Luxor and Aswan would make you feel like there were no major differences…and she was right. I realised that I was no longer as excited as I had been when I had first entered the country. This was because I had seen and learnt so much about Egyptian history in those ten days that the Pyramids of Giza and Saqqara seemed a little lacklustre. But please don’t let this stop you from being excited. They are indeed a rare and beautiful experience to behold and you should definitely visit them at least once in your lifetime. I would advise you to go explore the Pyramids right at the beginning of your Egypt trip so that you can enjoy them, while at the peak of your excitement.
This wraps up my Egyptian adventure. This was another great trip with another great end. I may revisit Egypt just to cover the red sea and the coastal parts of Egypt but I think this plan may take a while as I already have so many new things lined up for 2017. Coming up next, are the tales of my amazing experiences in JAPAN, so stay tuned and keep wandering!