The Pyramids


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Here it is, the penultimate day of travel and we can tick off the last really big one, the pyramids of Giza. I knew they were big but, in an Ayers Rock sort of way, they are bigger than you expect. While climbing is not allowed, even the thought sends palpitations through my heart.

Our Pilot, Sayed I think but I never really heard his name properly, set us off early and ours was the first coach on site. We had the site relatively uncrowded for a while. The downside was that the air was very hazy and this did not clear until mid-morning.

The oldest pyramid is also the largest; Khufu’s Great Pyramid. It stood at 146m high but has come down 9m over time due to weathering. It is possible to enter the pyramid but my earlier experiences of tombs and steep low passages convinced me

Pawel entering the Great Pyramid

to save my 300 LE. Also, my guide book and the Pilot said there was not much to see inside. Some members of our party did


go in. Pawel returned looking a little sweaty but he did enjoy it.

The next pyramid is that of Khafre. It is a mere 136m high but from certain views, it looks larger than Khufu. It still retains the original limestone capping. I cannot begin to imagine how it must have looked when all three pyramids were glistening white in the bright sunshine. This pyramid was not open for inspection and we merely saw it in passing.

The final pyramid (there are over 10 in all, but only 3 big ones) we visited was that of Menkaure. 


It is tiny by comparison, at only 62 m. It was originally 66.5m. This pharaoh died before his pyramid was finished and it was never really completed. This was open for inspection but no one took the opportunity.

Outside there were many touts selling camel rides. Anna had a bad

Camel Ride

experience when she visited in the 80’s. It was a couple of LE to get on for a ride but 50 USD to get down. We gave it a miss but Jacquelyn, our friend from Las Vegas, did have a go. As far as we could see, there were no hidden charges.

We were taken to the top of the plateau nearby. Here we saw the classic view of the three pyramids. There was also a spectacular panorama of Cairo. I took 17 photos to capture the entire vista.

From here we drove a short distance to the Sphinx. I had been told so often that it is really small and disappointing. I was in fact amazed at how much bigger it was than I expected. It is small by comparison to the pyramids but as a standalone carving it is monumental. The Sphinx dates from the reign of Khafre.  During the New Kingdom, Amenhotep II dedicated a new temple to Hauron-Haremakhet and this structure was added onto by later rulers.

It was carved from the bedrock and is 73 m long, 20m high and 19 m wide. It has been restored to its original shape with layers of blocks. It is the oldest monumental sculpture in Egypt.

Cairo Museum

The next stop in our adventure was a visit to the Cairo Museum. I was excited because this is where many of the artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb are on display. No photography of course and they do police it closely.

The museum is vast but old and the lighting is appalling. The content of nearly every glass cabinet is obscured by reflections from the incandescent light globes. There is also very little in the way of air conditioning, for visitors anyway. We were issued with radio frequency headphones to allow our Pilot to talk to us without disrupting other visitors. This is compulsory for groups and is a great idea. It is a shame it is not the case in other important and popular sites such as Malbork Castle in Poland.


Inside we started by viewing a large number of sarcophagi and various statuary from tombs. A surprising amount of original colour is still evident. Again I was horrified that people feel the need to touch 4,000 year old artefacts. Some were in fact protected by plastic shields.

We also viewed papyrus scrolls and even larger sarcophagi and several mummies. After what seemed like a long hot trip, we got to Tut’s room. It is

Tutankhamun’s Throne

everything we have seen on TV and in magazines and more. The opulence is beyond belief. The amount of gold, lapus and other semi-precious stone is monumental. And I believe that this is only a tiny part of the collection. It will be fully displayed when the new museum opens in about 3 years. Sadly, as I said, no photography.

Outside and a little way on, displayed in glass cases were two of Tut’s chairs; his ceremonial throne and his day to day throne.

We continued our tour seeing mummies of animals in various states of disintegration. Much of it was so poorly lit as to be difficult to view.

We were then left to our own devices to look at what we wished. Anna and I headed to the coffee shop. Disappointingly, it was closed. We were more than disappointed as we had had nothing but water since breakfast.

The coach took us back to the hotel where we were able to enjoy a refreshing swim and wash the embedded Cairo grit from the pores of our skin.