The Pyramids

The front desk at Pension Roma helped arrange for a private taxi to drive my friend and me to all the famous pyramid cities: Giza, Saqqara, and Dahshur for 150EGP (we paid 200EGP total, including tip, for this day trip that lasted approx 7 hours).  We were picked up around 8:30am and arrived at the Pyramids of Giza. We had to decide ahead of time if we wanted to climb inside the pyramid since you can only buy tickets at the admission gate.

Admission to the Giza Pyramids: 60EGP

Admission to climb inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu: 100EGP

Inevitably, your driver will take you to some tour guide operator who will offer a camel or horse trip around the pyramids.  Haggle if you want the package; we politely declined as we wished to walk the area ourselves.  9am is a perfect time to get here, before all the tourist buses arrive around 11am.  We got to take great photos without the heads of tourists in all the shots.

Camel drivers of all kinds will approach you to ask if you want a ride or a photo next to the camel.  Prices can be egregious but play the game right (aka look somewhat interested but walk away) you can haggle for something reasonable ~10EGP per person for a 10 minute ride and photos.  The best part is just getting on the lying down camel and then balancing yourself as the camel stands up front legs first then back legs… it felts like a crazy teeter totter!  Always be wary, lots of scams abound- so be firm and agree to price terms before you start trekking into the desert or hand over your camera.  Maybe practice jumping off from high places just in case they refuse to let you down… hah.  Our camel tactic was to stalk unattended camels because all we wanted was a picture and not get charged for it.

Thoughts about climbing into the Great Pyramid of Khufu: it’s a loooong way down in a very steep and narrow passageway with (expected) poor air ventilation.  Girls were stripping off their conservative long sleeved shirts inside the tunnel because it was so hot, then put the layers back on as we exited.  We paid the extra 100EGP to do it for the sake of doing it, but I don’t think it’s a “must do”.  It is cool to see inside and grasp the scale of it and how it was built… but if any pyramid will do, I’d recommend to check out the Red Pyramid of Darshur and climb in that one because it’s free of charge!  Also, it’s a much shorter trek to the tomb inside.

We left around 11am when the massive hordes from the tourist buses began the flood the area and continued to Saqqara, another pyramid city housing the “first” pyramid: the Step Pyramid of Djoser.  As you can see, the Egyptians hadn’t quite  figured out how to make the sides completely smooth at an angle yet.

Admission to Saqqara: 30EGP

There are some nearby tombs which were pretty cool to check out.  Even though you are “allowed” to take photos inside, the guards are more than willing to turn a blind eye for some “baksheesh” of course.

Next stop was Darshur, which houses the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu. Apparently they started building this at a 55 degree incline but realize it wasn’t going to work so they switched to 43 degrees, thus the “bent” part.  Just a few more trials and errors until that perfectly smooth lined pyramid!

Also in Darshur is the Red Pyramid, also known as the North Pyramid.  This was the beginning of the Giza-style pyramids.  This pyramid you can climb down the 170-something steep steps without paying extra on top of the 30EGP admission + 2EGP car fee into Darshur.  Pictured below is the ceiling of the chamber from inside the pyramid.

We arrived back in Cairo around 4pm, which was just in time to take a felucca ride at sunset!  We bought  some sharwma sandwiches from a local stand to have a mini-picnic on the sailboat.  We strolled along the docks to haggle prices from one felucca operator to another, I think we paid 100-150EGP for two people for one hour sail time (although it was more 45 minutes).

Must do experience!

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