We’ve all seen photos of them over the years, the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. They’re one of the seven wonders of the world, and you’ve wanted to see them since you were a child. Your boss finally gives you the time off, you book your ticket, and off you go. But is there anything else you should know? It turns out there is.
I had the opportunity to visit and explore Egypt (and of course the Great Pyramids) last year, and I want to share a few useful useful things that I picked up along the way. The pyramids are every bit as astonishing as they look in the photos (if not more so) but there are also a few things you need to be aware of to a) spare you from some nasty culture shock and b) shield you from getting ripped off.
When visiting the Great Pyramids, consider…
- Pay the extra money and go into all of the pyramids that you can afford. You’ve come all this way, and though there isn’t really anything inside them, the experience of feeling the “weight of the ages” is worth the dough.
- When someone official looking offers to take your photo, that’s fine, but be aware – they’ll have every expectation that you pay them, and handsomely too. See the previous point.
- You might have heard of the camel rides around the pyramids. I’ve tried them, and they’re a lot more fun that you might expect. Prices vary, so I won’t provide any, but if you’ve got a bit of time and money, I actually recommend giving them a try. I recommend going with a partner so that the two of you can take pictures of each other. As with all photographs taken by locals, doing it that way will cost you.
- You’re going to be approached by a lot of locals, and they’ll make every effort to try and sell you things. Many of them are poor and desperate, and they’ll be aggressive. If you’re like me, you’re going to get annoyed in short order, and there’s a simple (and polite solution). When they start talking to you, reply with “Shukran“. It means thank you in Arabic, and usually you’ll get your point across.
- Nothing is free. This is an extension of the last point, as many people who approach you will try and give you “free” things, like scarves. I repeat, nothing is free. What seems harmless will quickly turn into an awkward situation. Try and avoid letting anyone put anything on you, and definitely avoid holding things that the locals hand you. Believe me, they’ll find a way to part you from your money.
- You’re going to see a lot of garbage. I’m sorry, but it’s true – that’s one part that isn’t like the photos. As far as the eye can see, swirling storms of garbage and litter. The pyramids are much closer to the city than you might expect, and cities have garbage.
Though many of these suggestions highlighted annoying things you may see in Giza, I assure you that the greatness of the pyramids far outweighs the minor frustrations that you may experience. The pyramids truly are a thing of beauty, and for those of you lucky enough to afford the experience, I promise it will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
The Great Pyramids & The Sphinx
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling from the UK, shop around online a bit. Prices are hilariously inexpensive in your neck of the woods. In fact, use that extra money and book yourself a cruise down the Nile. I had a chance to take a Felucca boat down the Nile, and it was amazing. Just imagine how great a cruise would be, with fine dining, and the incredible views you’re bound to see. Amazing I tell you, amazing.