Do we need to tell you that the Pyramids are amazing? No.
But here are three numbers:
147m: The height of the Great Pyramid (largest of the pyramids in Giza).
2.3 million: The number of rocks in the largest pyramids. Each one weighs between 2.5 and 50 tonnes.
~120: The number of pyramids in Egypt.
Yes, that was more than three numbers. But interesting, right?
We caught a taxi to the Pyramids, the silhouettes of which slowly emerged through the thick pollution of Cairo. Just before we arrived, several men tried to stop the taxi from driving, one of them hitting the car as our driver swerved past him. Then the whole road was blocked by a line of young men, some with whips. Good start. We locked our doors but one guy jumped into the front passenger seat, introduced himself as a ‘guide’ and diverted our taxi driver into one of the horse stables.
I was quite amused when a friend gave me pepper spray before I left for Egypt, but secretly hoped I wouldn’t need it. Seeing the wall of young men, I really wished I hadn’t left it at the hotel (by accident). Sam was not impressed.
In retrospect, we should have left immediately. Instead, we fell for the scam. They insisted that the road was closed and these were the main stables. We paid Adam Fox 450 pounds to take us around the pyramids on horseback. This was after we bargained him down, but still 250 pounds more than what Lonely Planet said was the going rate. He did not get a tip. And boy have we improved since then.
The actual horse riding was a mixed bag. It saved our feet, but hurt our bums. The guide wasn’t all that informative, but the horse riding was fun. (Kara: except the times the horses galloped and I almost died. Sam: watching Kara freak out was possibly the best bit).
Walking around after the horse ride was a different type of frustration given the number of vendors, camel and horse owners that constantly hassled us. This made it hard to fully enjoy the pyramids as we had to spend our energy on avoiding, politely refusing or completely ignoring them all. Or, in one case, not-so-politely refusing to pay for piece of material shoved on Sam’s head as a “gift”.
We feel for the hawkers, because they’ve had little business since 2011. There were more tourist operators than tourists, and it was painfully clear how desperate they were.
Oddly, our trip to the Pyramids taught us more about modern Egypt than ancient. We witnessed the tense, frantic atmosphere among the locals competing to survive on the dwindling tourist dollar. Thankfully, the Pyramids are not that hard to appreciate. The Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple gave us greater insight into Ancient Egypt, while the Pyramids showed us both the scale of Ancient Egyptian accomplishments, and modern Egyptian challenges.
We also saw the Sphinx. It was cool. Getting ripped off was not.
That said, Sam could have come away rich had he accepted the offers of thousands of camels in exchange for me. Thankfully, he prefers steak.
For more interesting information about the pyramids, see this link: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pyramids/khufu.html
Or this one (credibility not guaranteed)
Alternatively, search “Egypt pyramids aliens” and go crazy.