Slightly oblivious of what to expect when visiting the Great Pyramids, I set off with Mark to see one of the ancient wonders of the world.
Getting to the Great Pyramids (and getting around in Cairo)…
To get to the Pyramid complex, we booked a ride on Uber from our hotel in Maadi. The ride cost about 40EGP (N800, $2). So far, Uber has proved to be the most efficient and convenient way for us to get around within the city. The fares are quite competitive and close enough to what the regular taxi drivers offer.
We arrived at the complex a little after 10:30 am on a Saturday morning. The Uber driver dropped us off right at the entrance gate where we purchased our tickets. I expected to see a queue there, considering that we arrived almost two hours after the place had opened, but there was none.
I got a glimpse of the Pyramids and the Sphinx from outside the gate before we went in. It’s hard to explain what I felt at that moment. While I’m not usually sentimental about tourist attractions and sites, something about seeing these 40 centuries+ gigantic structures took my breath away.
How much does it cost to visit the Pyramids and Sphinx (2023)
At the time of this writing (2018), getting into the Pyramid complex costs 120 EGP (about $7) per adult. This price has been updated to reflect the latest exchange rates. It now costs 240 EGP. We paid another 20 EGP to go in with a tripod. There is an extra fee to gain entrance into one of the Pyramids and the museum. We skipped this during our visit.
Once we were inside the complex, which was empty for the most part, some men approached us looking to offer their horse-drawn carriages and camel riding services. We declined the offers, choosing to walk instead despite the men insisting that it wasn’t possible to do so.
Cairo in June is hot and humid and the complex is quite large. So at some point, we considered taking a camel ride up to the point where we could see all seven of the Pyramids. Another camel rider approached us again and we agreed to use his camel once we finished walking around on our own.
The man (not pictured above) and a second rider took that as an invitation to follow us around for hours afterwards, constantly asking us if we were ready to take the ride. At first, we asked them to give us an hour to explore by ourselves on foot and wait at a meetup point. They seemed to accept that but as we moved, they kept following and bombarding us with questions, mostly about our nationality.
As we learned later, questions like ‘Where are you from?’ weren’t necessarily an invitation for small talk or perhaps friendship. Rather, they served as a basis to set prices for tours. Eventually, we got fed up and just wanted to be left alone. We decided against using their services but that didn’t stop them from following us around. This almost ruined the experience of visiting the Pyramids but not quite. We did have a moment of civil interactions with a few vendors.
Anyway, we ended up not taking the horse-drawn carriages or camels at all and walked for hours instead. Even though the weather was hot, the walk was enjoyable. Our visit ended shortly after 3 pm, just as the complex was closing for the day. (During the month of Ramadan, the complex closes 2 hours earlier than normal).
We left to find a place to eat before heading back to our hotel. There are several restaurants close by, so it wasn’t difficult to find one. We settled for lunch at Pyramids Restaurant. This was hands down, the best meal we had during our stay.
I have to admit though, that for an ancient world wonder, I expected a different ambience surrounding the site but the pyramids face a busy street, lined up with camel riders, restaurants and guesthouses. The Sphinx is literally looking at a Pizza Hut and KFC restaurant! Not sure the Pharaohs would have approved of that.
But overall, our visit to the Pyramids was surreal. Seeing them in person, these majestic, mysterious structures, left me awestruck. It was worth every hassle.
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If you have visited the Pyramids before, I would love to read about your experience. And if you haven’t, would you consider doing so now? Let me know in the comment section below.