Egypt! The moment anyone says that they are traveling to the land of the pharaohs, the first thing that pops into everyone’s head is the pyramids of Giza. It isn’t a surprise as the pyramids of Giza are the last surviving wonders of the ancient world. Built almost five thousand years ago, these structures have stood the test of time and weather. As much as we know about the pyramids, there is more to discover. The enigma in itself makes the pyramids alluring. Up close, they are magnificent, and it isn’t a wonder that they are on the bucket lists of people across the world.
Finding the pyramids isn’t hard. It is one of the biggest landmarks in Egypt. Located in Giza, the pyramids of Giza can be easily accessed if you stay within Giza, Cairo or Nasir City. The cheapest way to get to it (without being scammed) is to order an Uber. For a fixed price, the Uber will drop you to the entrance of the Pyramid complex. We paid approximately 100 L.E. to reach it from the InterContinental City Stars hotel in Nasir City.
We weren’t well versed with the entrance fee rules when we arrived. In fact, we were sadly ill prepared. That is why I think it is wise to inform you that each site has a different entrance fee. You pay 120 L.E. to enter the pyramid complex. This ticket allows you to access the tombs in the smaller pyramids and the Sphinx. You can move around the whole complex at ease. Then to enter the Great Pyramid you pay 300 L.E. and 60 L.E. for the second and third pyramid. In the end it adds up to a lot.
What no one tells you however is that there is a combined ticket for 420 L.E. (recheck the cost because I heard about it later from someone else) which is so much cheaper. We came to know this later. Which was rather sad.
SCAMS AT THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZA
So, everyone tells you that you can get scammed at the pyramids. Everyone warns you and you go with the best interests and then you somehow stumble into one. Just like we did. In order to help you avoid all the scams, I’m going to list the most common scams at the Pyramids of Giza.
HORSES, CAMELS AND CARRIAGES
Okay, I’m not sure whether this counts as a scam but it certainly costs a lot of money. Everyone warned us about the horse and camel rides. Not something we were going to do. No one warned us about the touts at the entrance posing as government officials. Flashing cards and guiding tourists in. We found ourselves ushered in and plunked in a carriage despite our better judgement. Told that the guide would take us to the best spots in the complex and the viewing points. We were told that the complex was huge, and we couldn’t walk it on our own.
- The complex is huge, but you can walk. It isn’t that bad.
- The guide barely understands what he is talking.
- They don’t tell you that the cost is just for one hour, so you can’t explore at your own pace.
- They don’t take you to the viewing point of all the pyramids.
- They keep introducing you to other touts in hope that you will spend your money there.
- They try to charge you for entrance into temples and pyramids that you shouldn’t pay for.
- I highly doubt they are government officials.
LET ME TAKE YOUR PHOTO
This was one of the weirdest scams, I have come across. People see you taking a selfie. They offer to take it for you and then once they are done, they ask for a tip or payment. Alternatively, they come and offer unsolicited advice and then ask for money. It happens all around the pyramids so keep your guard up. The best idea in the book is to ask a fellow tourist to click a photograph. Less chaos and so much better.
Souvenirs are sold all across by vendors. It isn’t a scam, but they do charge a lot more than they should. The same souvenirs are available for much cheaper in the markets.
THE DIFFERENT SECTIONS OF THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZA
To better understand the complex, let’s just divide the entire place into sections that you would like to visit. Then we can highlight the different aspects of each of these sections. Like I said, the complex is huge, but it is walkable. In fact, it is walking that will help you take in the entire complex. That was what we did as soon as we ditched the carriage. It didn’t take long for us to do that. Was a total waste of money! Anyway… Back to the topic at hand. The different sections.
- The 3 main pyramids
- The 7 smaller pyramids
- The temples
- The Sphinx
- The view points
THE MAIN PYRAMIDS
A glimpse of the inside of a pyramid.
It is important to note that all the pyramids in the complex belong to one family. The occupants however died at various different times. It is like one big burial ground. The three main pyramids are the biggest pyramids of the lot. They belong to Khufu, Khafre and Menakure. It is entry into these pyramids that requires an additional fee.
Note: The pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menakure are certainly larger in size and the tunnels which you climb through are higher and wider. It is still wise to note that it can get claustrophobic and the air can get musty. It also requires climbing own steep flights of steps. So, make sure that you are in good physical condition before you embark on it.
THE SMALLER AND SUBSIDIARY PYRAMIDS
A glimpse of the smaller pyramids of Giza.
The three main pyramids are flanked by six smaller pyramids. Three on each side. Some of these pyramids are closed. Others can be entered without an additional fee. Since these pyramids are smaller, their way inside is narrower and you will find yourself bending and crouching through most of the climb.
The small pyramid in front of the Pyramid of Khafre is called a subsidiary pyramid. Three more pyramids flank the Pyramid or Menkaure on its side and are known as the pyramids of queens. While the three pyramids that flank the Pyramid of Khufu are known as Queen Hetepheres’ tombs.
One of the numerous temples in the pyramids of Giza.
There are numerous temples scattered around the complex. Technically there is one for each of the main pyramids and is called the mortuary temple. The Khafre pyramid also has a Valley temple. I think one the most intriguing temples is the one that is present next to the Sphinx. It is large and a great deal of it is still standing while some of it has fallen to ruins.
One of my favorite photographs!
The Sphinx is as big an attraction as the pyramids. Its size however is much smaller. The way that it has been carved however is beautiful and the features are almost life like. For those of you who do not know much about the Sphinx, you will find that the sculpture is half man and half lion. The Sphinx is believed to be an integral part of the Khafre’s funeral complex.
THE VIEW POINTS
One of the view points at the pyramids of Giza.
You will find the touts talking about going to the view points where you can capture the pyramids in one frame. There are however three view points that may capture your attention. The firsts one is just as you enter the pyramid complex. It is directly in front of the Sphinx. The second is on the sand dunes which are accessible via camel and the third can be found if you follow the road behind the pyramids. It is easily accessible on foot.
You will find that the amount of time you spend in the complex of the Pyramids of Giza largely depends on you. You can breeze through the complex or you can pick your way through it bit by bit. Stop and enjoy the view, stroll through each building and enjoy the experience. It all depends on how much time you have on your hands. It is one those items on the bucket list that we had to tick off, so we enjoyed every moment of it.