I MADE IT TO THE GREAT PYRAMIDS!!! I’m still in shock that I walked among 4,500 years of history. Where else can you do that?
Online, there are all sorts of articles from travel hipsters about how the pyramids are overrated, overcrowded and generally not worth it. I’d like to reassure you that those people are in fact as stupid as they sound. Nothing beats walking among almost 5000 years of history.
Tourism in Egypt has seen a major decrease in recent years as a result of political turmoil and terror concerns. This means that if you choose to go, you’ll have the pyramids mostly to yourself. I only saw around 25 other tourists while I was there.
In my opinion, the key to an amazing visit to the pyramids is hiring a camel (or horse) and guide outside of the complex. This will give you a built in buffer against anyone trying to sell you things, and gives you a personal photographer who knows all of the angles to get great pictures.
When you hire a camel outside of the complex, you enter from the side, not the main entrance by the Sphinx. This helps you avoid all of the vendors, and enjoy the pyramids in their full desert setting. My camel’s name was Mickey Mouse, and he was about as ill-tempered as one would expect from a camel.
To get the picture of all the pyramids in a line, you have to go to the very back of the pyramid park and up a hill. If you have as talented of a guide as I have, you can get a picture that makes you look like an Olympic jumper from here :p Be aware that the park is very large, and you will basically need to be on horse or camel-back to make it all the way up there.
After going up the hill, we followed the path to get close to the pyramids. The lack of crowds gave me plenty of time and space to contemplate history and take pictures.
I even got to climb the second pyramid! This is probably frowned upon, but it was so fun! While the pyramids look smooth from far away, they’re definitely not.
After that, it was time to see the Sphinx. One major secret of the pyramids is that they’re practically in the city! The Sphinx looks right out into the city. My guide said that you can see the pyramids from a pizza hut right across the street. It was pretty smoggy on the day I went, so I wasn’t able to see the pizza hut, but I’m sure it’s there!
Overall, it took me around 3 hours to tour the entire pyramid complex. Hiring the camel (and guide) for this time cost 600 EGP and the entrance ticket cost 60 EGP. Remember to bring a student ID, because it’s half price! I went with Ray of Egypt Tours and was very impressed with their expertise and sensitivity to working with female solo travelers. My driver Mohamed and Guide Amir did an excellent job making my trip fantastic! 🙂
Next stop: the North Coast!