Pyramids of Giza Ancient Wonder of the World
The pyramids of Giza capture our imaginations and fill us with a childlike sense of awe – who hasn’t daydreamed about visiting or exploring these ancient ruins?
Some may be surprised when they learn for the first time how easy it is to get to the pyramids of Giza from the city itself. Visitors can be surprised to be traveling down a street in Giza and suddenly encounter the top of a pyramid rising up over the top of a modern fast food joint. Some tourists misconceptions of the pyramids standing alone out on a vast empty desert can leave them very shocked when faced with the reality. Giza, which is a city in its own right but absorbed into the rambling Cairo metropolis, holds it’s claim to fame as being the city next to the ancient wonder of the world, the Pyramids of Giza.
High up on the Giza plateau just west of the urban district sit these magnificent structures: the Pyramids of Giza, commanding your gaze. Looking very alone in a sea of desert and sky they are contrasted with the sprawling urban hustle and bustle of the outskirts of the city.
Enjoyment of the Pyramids of Giza in a post-Revolution Egypt is slowly beginning to pick up speed once again, as Cairo’s tourism industry reflected the dip in visitors coming into the country. Prices are lower than before, areas less crowded.
The Pyramids of Giza are archetypal of the standard pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilisation, and when combined with the Sphinx located at the base of the Giza plateau, make up the iconic image of Egypt.
The location of the Pyramids of Giza makes visiting this wonder of the world easy compared to other holiday destinations in the sense that accommodation and food are always close at hand. Being that the pyramids lay ten miles outside of Cairo, a ride from anywhere within the city is relatively inexpensive. Many of us dream of riding on a camel to the pyramids – mostly because we grew up with westernized ideas of what Ancient Egyptian life was really like (they generally traveled by foot, boats on the river, and almost never traveled by the long range desert animal) but the camel ride is the quintessential mode of transportation when visiting the pyramids. You can pay about one hundred fifty Egyptian pounds, or just
over twenty US dollars for a two hour camel trek through the region. Pause to rest and take a lot of pictures of the surroundings, and of yourself with your camel.
Depending on where you are staying, you can quickly drive up or ride a taxi impressively close the Pyramids of Giza main entrance gate. It is recommended that if possible, take a car – self appointed tour guides and merchants can be quite aggressive in their pitch when you approach, and if you’re traveling up by taxi, men offering tours are known to approach the driver and ask to ride along with you up to the gates. If you go by taxi, simply ask if the driver can meet you at a nearby lot across from the gates and just down the road, so you won’t need to haggle down the inflated prices as the rest of the tourists vie for the taxis that circle the main gate area. If it’s possible, make use of the Careem app, which is the Middle East version of Uber, for Android or iPhones to arrange for a car and a professional driver. Using the app’s GPS tracking and credit card option for fixed rate travel, it is known to be the safest, cleanest, hassle free (and haggle-free!) method of transportation for getting out and about in Cairo.
Alternately, you can also arrange to ride in from the southern desert to experience a considerably more romantic and “authentic” approach to the Pyramids of Giza.
Tickets: Once you’ve arrived, a basic ticket booth will show you various options to visit the Pyramids of Giza. A pass to enter into the great pyramid complex is 80 Egyptian pounds, which is approximately $10 USD – but if you’ve come all this way, you’re going to want to get the most of it. For 200 Egyptian pounds or about $30 USD, the all inclusive ticket will give you access to all three of the Pyramids of Giza as well as the Sphinx, and a handful of tombs and ruins. Depending on the day, you may be asked to purchase a photo pass for an additional three dollars, however most days people breeze on through with camera equipment in hand and aren’t asked to buy the additional photography pass.
Facilities: Restroom facilities are noted by “W.C.” signs, and are located just to the right of the ticket building right before you enter to the Pyramids of Giza, and another restroom can be found closer to the gift shop in the Solar Barque Museum, but it’s not always open – you may have to ask staff to open it for you if there isn’t any attendant. A tip is expected for restroom services – the maintenance of the facilities including toilet paper, cleaning, hand soap and paper towels. Your tip is the facility attendants sole means of income.
Here comes the best part – Entering the Pyramids of Giza:
Upon entrance to the Pyramids of Giza, you will immediately discover that interior of the interior is humid and hot – and claustrophobic. The passages are dirty, steep, dusty and at times difficult to manoeuvre though, and visitors who have any lung issues, heart problems or a physical handicap that could prevent them from traveling through should not attempt to enter. For those who can safely brave these conditions it is definitely a fascinating and
educational experience like no other. Being able to personally take in the interior walls and passageways of the pyramids with your senses gives you an appreciation of the enormous accomplishment it was to build these ancient structures.
Two of the Pyramids of Giza open to the public at a time, while restorations are made on the third pyramid. They rotate the tours of the pyramids every two years.
Solar Barque Museum: Situated right alongside the southern face of the Great Pyramid, a well put together Pyramids of Giza museum called the Solar Barque Museum displays an fascinating excavated and reconstructed solar boat which had been buried along with the Pharaoh. It’s intended use was for the Pharaoh to use on his daily journeys across the sky with the sun.
Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus): Be aware that cameras are not allowed inside of the pyramids, so keep them stowed out of sight or better yet, bring them back to your car if possible. You can leave them with a guide as a last resort. For visitors on a tight budget, take note that exploring the inside of the Pyramid of Menkaure is a very similar experience to going into the larger Pyramids of Giza, and cheaper.
Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren): – Of the Pyramids of Giza, The Pyramid of Khafre is the Goldilocks pyramid. Not too big, not too small, this middle sized pyramid still appears immense from some angles largely due to its position on the desert plateau. Two separate entrances lead to the burial chamber inside, one opening 11.54 m (38 ft) up the face of the pyramid and the other opens at the base of the pyramid.
Sphinx, and the Temple of the Sphinx: Egyptians call it Abu el-Hol, or the “Father of Terror”, and the Greek name Sphinx means the unsettling “Strangler.” Measuring 45 meters long and 22 meters wide, it may not be as big as you’ve imagined but is still impressively large – especially when you consider the fact that it was carved from a single giant block of sandstone. The missing nose of the Sphinx is blamed on target practice by either British soldiers in World War I or Napoleon’s troops in 1798, however 18th-century depictions of this enormous statue amidst the Pyramids of Giza show the nose having already broken off – and lay blame towards the occupying Turks of the time.
The Various Queens’ Pyramids and Nobles’ Tombs: The Pyramids of Giza are accompanied by cemeteries and tombs, which surrounding the taller structures. The Tomb of Seshemnufer IV can sometimes be accessed, allowing visitors to explore from the inside where a descent is made down to the sarcophagus. Being that this tomb isn’t the main attraction, it’s often less busy and you can enjoy a more personal experience.
Climbing the Pyramids of Giza was once a popular tourist activity, but is now illegal. It’s not only extremely dangerous, but it also deteriorates the pyramids. The practice of scaling the pyramids is now a punishable offence.
The Pyramids of Giza Sound and Light Show
This is a lights, laser and sound show like you’ve never seen before and it happens nightly at the Pyramids of Giza, on the Giza plateau. This hour long performance of light and storytelling begins with the illumination of the Sphinx – the story’s narrator, and tells the history of the pyramids and of their builders. Prices of this event vary.
- When planning your trip, keep in mind that the midday summer heat and incoming tour buses make early morning the most pleasant time to visit the Pyramids of Giza.
- Since the post-revolution drop in tourism, prices to visit the Pyramids of Giza are lower and the area is less crowded than in the past.
- Never relinquish your ticket to anyone outside of the gate checkpoints as you’ll need it to pass through metal detectors at the entrance of the Pyramids of Giza area. Some people will claim to work for the government and ask for your ticket, then proceed to try to start giving you a tour for which you would be expected to tip.
Where to Stay:
Mena House Hotel
Address: Pyramids Road Giza 11511 Egypt
If it’s location you’re looking for, the Mena House Hotel is located within 2 miles of the Pyramids of Giza. The family-friendly Mena House Hotel is also located near the Giza Zoo and Sports Center Gezirah Sporting Club. Featuring 4 restaurants, this hotel also has a spa and an outdoor pool, a health club, and a bar/lounge.
Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at First Residence
Address: 35 Giza Street Giza 12311 Egypt
Situated right in the heart of Giza, this hotel is within walking distance to First Mall Cairo. Cairo Tower and the Egyptian Museum are also within 3 miles. Take a taxi or arrange a ride using the Careem app, which is like Uber and noted to be a lot safer, because the Pyramids of Giza are only a short drive away.
Boasting 4 restaurants, this hotel has a full-service spa as well as a casino for some extra fun. Other amenities such as an outdoor pool, a health club, and a bar and lounge are also featured at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo.
As a final note, remember to enjoy your trip. Bring water, bring your camera, be safe, and be wise.
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