The pyramids of Giza were built to last eternity, and the fact that they’ve been standing strong for 4500 years is testament to that. Egypt’s pharaohs were thought to become gods once they passed away so to prepare them for the next world, temples were built along with these grand pyramids to house their tombs. They were buried with everything they needed to guide and sustain them into the next world.
To reach the pyramids we caught the subway which is quite intimidating in a country with a high sexual harassment rate. There is a separate carriage for women but not for couples so I was basically the only lady in a crammed carriage full of men. Of course I had Craig there and we positioned me at the back door with Craig standing in front of me but it didn’t feel like a nice place for a women. We got off at the Giza stop and many people wanted to show us the way and we just wanted to get there ourselves to avoid tipping every Tom, Dick and Harry (or Ahmed, Mohamed and Abdul here). We needed to catch a minibus but we didn’t know which one as there were hundreds plying past with signs written in Arabic.
Eventually we made it to the entry area and it was strange seeing these huge pyramids sat amongst a sprawling city. There were multiple security checks on the way in, most of the staff weren’t even paying attention, the machine would beep and they’d just be playing on their phone or napping on the counter.
For tourists it’s 200LE/£10 to enter the site, for locals it’s £2. What a joke. We arrived at the base of the Great Pyramid, and boy was it big up close! A man immediately came up to us and asked to see our ticket, we refused, saying we’d already shown it at the entrance gate. This guy was so persistent though, he got out his tag saying he was an official and needed to see our ticket. We stood our ground and tried to walk away but he didn’t give up so Craig reluctantly got them out and I grabbed onto them so the man couldn’t take them…and then of course he said he would guide us and I had to refrain myself from slapping the man.
There were huge pits carved into the ground where they discovered the pharaohs boats, said to be some of the oldest boats in the world. This was so the pharaohs could travel in the after life. Now the pits were used by locals for rubbish. It was just like Petra, another 7th wonder of the world being destroyed by locals. Two young girls came over and asked me for a photo so I obliged. But then a group of girls did the same and I realised what my day was about to look like. The next girl ran towards me as soon as she spotted my pasty skin and shoved her camera in my face. We’d been at the pyramids for five minutes and I was already fed up with the place and said no to the girl.
Men were relentlessly shouting out for us to ride their camels. We tried saying no, or ‘la shukran’ (no thank you in Arabic) but they wouldn’t give up. We’d completely ignore them which was actually very satisfying and then they’d have a go at us saying it was rude to ignore them. We were walking around the base of the Great Pyramid which stands at about 139m tall (it’s lost a few meters over the years) but we couldn’t stop and look because the touts and children wouldn’t leave us alone.
So we veered off towards the iconic Sphinx with its lion body and the face of a Pharaoh. We took some zoomed photos, standing a distance apart and even that was a struggle – teenage boys would see me on my own and ask for photos. When I said no they walked off laughing at me or repeating what I’d said in a really derogatory way.
We exited the complex to grab some lunch and we were just as hassled in Giza city. We ended up in an open dusty area where the horses and camels were kept. The floor was covered in rubbish. They were literally housed in a rubbish dump with some greenery put in front of their faces, so they probably ate a hell of a lot of plastic too.
We eventually found a busy place to eat where we got a falafel in pita for just 10p each. There wasn’t anywhere to sit and eat so we grabbed it as takeaway and headed back to the pyramids. We found the perfect quiet location for lunch, off the pathway and away from everyone…but of course someone found us. A cleaner actually gradually wondered our way and did the usual questions “where are you from” just to get conversation going before they slap you with their sale tactics. He asked to show us some shit we didn’t want to see and we politely said no. We said we didn’t want a guide and just wanted to enjoy our lunch in peace and quiet. But the bastard persisted and we flipped “we just want to have lunch on our own – please leave us alone!!” And then we felt bad as the man was very apologetic. He really apologised sincerely, but then it went a little like this “I’m so sorry, so sorry. Ok I understand. So sorry…..BUT, maybe you will reconsider?”. Oh my god we almost told him to fuck off. Instead we just shouted for him to leave us alone and he left.
We headed off towards the middle pyramid where the top looked strange. It was because some of the original white ‘casing stones’ were still in place. They were cut to precision and used to give the pyramids a smooth white finish which reflected the sun. Over the years it’s crumbled away or actually been removed and used to build new mosques or other buildings in Egypt. Now the pyramids have lost their casing that they just look like a series of giant steps.
Things got calmer the further left we walked and then we were walking in a surreal area, across the sand like we were alone in the desert but with views of the sprawling city. The dusty sand was riddled with rubbish!! Even up on the distant slopes that we headed up to. It was a great area to escape the crowds though, we were all on our own and had the best view of all the pyramids. Further along the dusty ridge were groups of camels waiting to take tour groups on rides. I’ve never seen camels in such a bad condition, they were all itching themselves and seemed to be missing most of their fur. We even saw one with a terrible wound on its face, and then a couple of tourists – dressed very inappropriately I might add, noticed the camel was bleeding and still happily took it for a ride. What’s wrong with the world?!
We did a full circle around the pyramids, taking in the view from different angles and then set off just before sunset. You can actually pay to enter a pyramid, up through the narrow and humid tunnels leading to the kings tomb, but we heard it was just very claustrophobic and not worth the very pricey extra ticket.
Overall, I’m glad we got to see these impressive structures. Interestingly the coffin inside the main chamber was too large to fit through the tunnels, therefore archaeologists think the pyramid was built around the coffin! It’s all still a mystery how they managed to move and lift stones which weighed more than elephants without any machinery….maybe we’ll never find out.
But the people, the rubbish and the animal cruelty ruined the experience. Egypt really needs to get its act together or everyone’s going to leave with a terrible impression.