The amazing giza pyramids and sphinx

Trip Start May 01, 2010
1
25
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Trip End Jul 10, 2010


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hi everyone

Well after a restless night of having nightmares over those many blackened pharaoh mummies in the Egyptian museum (yes it was Daniel's idea to go see them), we had booked ourselves into a private tour starting at 9am to see the Memphis, Sakkara, Giza pyramids and the Sphinx. This tour was a wedding gift from Daniel's cousin Chum - so thank you so much!

Our guide's name was Muhammad (we met at least a couple a day) who was really friendly, knowledgeable and an Egyptologist. He had studied at university for four years to be an Egyptologist and then an extra two years to be a tour guide. It's clear that many Egyptologists students become guides to make good money, as there are over 14,000 guides in Egypt to meet the 13 million tourists that come to Egypt every year. Our guide also came with a driver which initially we thought was a bit of a waste but we appreciated when our driver could drop us off right at the sites so that we wouldn’t have to walk in the 40 degree desert heat. As soon as we had enough our driver would basically mount kerbs to meet us and we would rush into the comfort of an air-conditioned car. Driver was definitely getting a tip!

The drive to Memphis took about 40 minutes or so and our guide gave us a brief description of ancient Egyptian history. The drive itself showed us how filthy Cairo is. The roads aren't in great condition but it's really the piles of rubbish that seem to line the streets that make the place look awful. The traffic as we mentioned is crazy with no one sticking to one lane. It's amazing how close the cars are packed in together so tightly. I think what drives me crazy about Cairo is how everyone presses their car horns it seems every 5 seconds. Some cars are really old here and let out the loudest and most offensive sounds.

We saw many young boys some looked as young as 6 who would sit on carts with donkeys carrying loads of watermelons, green leafy branches and sometimes other passengers.  I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those donkeys. They don't look too happy in the heat. I couldn't tell if they were fed well or not, not having met too many donkeys during my lifetime. We passed a river which I don't think could have been the Nile. The water looked murky and on the banks were piles of rubbish. Daniel and I did a double take when we noticed a man swimming in the muck. We were disgusted and Daniel noticed this guy swam with his head way above the water.

Memphis was the ancient city and capital of Lower Egypt. There are no locals living there now. We got to see a lot of statutes of well known pharaoh King Ramses II. Kings Ramses II was obviously a very busy pharaoh as he had about 90 children with eight different wives. He lived to the old age of 90, which is incredible considering that the life expectancy for Egyptians is about 70, and is considered to be one of Egypt's greatest and most powerful pharaoh’s. He outlived many of his own children and wives and we saw his mummy at the Egyptian museum. He commissioned many statutes of himself and the one we saw at Memphis was amazing in detail. The statue was originally 10 metres high! Sadly the statue has been damaged but we could see how big this statute was and how much work it must have been to carve the limestone. Many of the other statutes including ancient Egyptian gods (of which they are over a thousand) and other monuments have also been destroyed. We saw ancient Egyptian hieroglyph writing in many walls which were nothing we'd ever seen before.

We then were whisked off to see Sakara which is an ancient burial ground where the first pyramid was built. The pyramid was actually a step pyramid meaning that a rectangle was laid down first and progressively smaller rectangle blocks were built on top to shape a pyramid. The pyramid isn't in great condition and is slowly being restored by the Government. There were Kings buried there dating back to approximately 3000 BC. We weren't there for long as there was no shade and the groups were coming in making it even hotter to stand and view the sites. We noticed a tour guide holding a sign for Oceanic Cruises and really felt for some of the older members in the tour group as the heat was stifling and to stand there in the heat while others asked questions and took their time during free time would have been more than we could stand. We were happy to have our questions answered in the comfort of the air-conditioned car instead of being stuck out there while everyone had to be rounded up.

It was then lunchtime and we were taken to a restaurant popular with tour companies. Many tour groups were there and the food on offer was a buffet. Nothing special about the food but Daniel took a liking to the many Egyptian desserts on offer. Going back for platefuls of this slice which slightly resembles a baklava. From where we sat in the restaurants we could actually see the Giza pyramids.

After lunch we drove up to the pyramids and were deciding whether we wanted to enter the pyramids and go on a camel ride. I was definitely against the idea of getting on a stinking camel in this unforgiving heat but Daniel seemed keen to get on one. The Giza pyramids are three main pyramids which stand at approximately 470 feet are very impressive in size. They estimate that it took 20 years to build the pyramids and that it was concluded in roughly 2500 BC. To the side were three small and almost dodgily build pyramids which I learnt were for the queens. The two largest were for King Khufu and his son. Close to the pyramids are also burial grounds for high officials. Our tour guide led us to believe that those who built the pyramids weren't slaves but their tombs indicated that they were like government workers.

After being flanked by men dressed up in Arab clothing chasing us for photos and the towel headgear we managed to work our way towards the smelly camels. When Daniel got onto the camel it amazed me how high they stood. A young kid then walked off with Daniel who seems to treat Daniel as though he was his master often checking with him every 5 minutes to see if he was ok.
While I stood there Egyptian men tried to put what looked like a tea towel with a black round head piece around my head and convince me to take a photo. Of course I knew there would be a price to pay and found myself ducking away. Every other time I was being hassled to take a camel ride and in the heat, it took all my self control not to tell them all to rack off!!

After the camel ride we entered a pyramid which was a long steep tunnel down. What made the trip difficult was that we had to crouch down the whole way because the height of the tunnel measured about 1 metre high. Once we climbed down we had to hike it uphill again in a tiny tunnel crouched over. After what seemed like a hot and stuff eternity we arrived inside the tomb which was nothing too impressive. Just an empty tomb with no antiquities. On the wall was the name of the Italian archaeologist who had first discovered the tomb with the date. We couldn't really stand the hot thick air so crouched over and walked the slippery slope down and back up again to get out.

Our driver then appeared out of nowhere and drove us a short distance to see the sphinx. I thought the sphinx was actually much more impressive than the pyramids. A sphinx is a mythological creature of a female lion with a human head. Unlike the pyramids the sphinx is actually one piece of solid stone. We could see that the paws had been completely restored but that the face is the original and has not been touched.

Well it was a long hot day and we couldn't wait to get back to the hotel and rest. We were so glad that we could take this private tour and were able to call the shots with the length of time spent at each site. I would recommend not coming to Egypt in June - August. July and August are low seasons because of the heat being too much to bear.

Overall we had a great day and saw amazing sights.

Hope you like the photos!

Ly + Daniel
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Comments

Dulcie Reeve on

Greetings from cold Tassie, down to 0 at night. Would love to be with you in Egypt. Alan and Jenness got engaged in Cairo a few years ago now and they sent us an E mail every day. I printed them off and read them over and over again as I guess we will do with your blogs. We have a friend in Cairo named Nadia Afifi
who works for the Bank of Egypt and her Husband was a General in the Egyptian Army. Jenness's daughter is married to her son and we met her while in England
a lovely lady. She would be pleased to hear from you.

Send a bit of sunshine our way Love Grandma and Grandad

Dad Reeve on

Got your email thanks and great photos. Thats one old giza. Enjoy and keep safe. Dad

Andre on

Its amazing that all of the Sphinx photos show nobody else in the background.

You guys must have picked a great day to go sight-seeing.

danly
danly on

Yeah, most people don't come at the hottest time of the year! Smart people.

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