Cairo - The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Sevens Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that remains largely intact. There are three pyramids in the Giza complex: the largest - the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops), The Pyramid of Kafhre, and the smaller Pyramid of Menkaura. Each Pyramid is a tomb to a different King of Egypt. In front of the pyramids lies the Sphinx, or Abu al-Hol in Arabic, "Father of Terror".

It is believed that the pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10 to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. Initially standing at more than 480 feet high, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.

The pyramids are one of the most well-known sights in Egypt and well-worth a long flight across the Atlantic (or wherever you are coming from!) to get there.

  Traffic in Cairo makes Manhattan look like a Sunday afternoon cruise and gives new meaning to 'bumper to bumper'.

Traffic in Cairo makes Manhattan look like a Sunday afternoon cruise and gives new meaning to 'bumper to bumper'.

Getting to the Pyramids from Cairo
El Giza is located about 18km from downtown Cairo, across the Nile River.

-A taxi from the center of Cairo is probably your easiest choice. If you walk out on the street, you will see that there are black, yellow, and white taxis. Black taxis are the oldest ones and most have neither meter or air-conditioner, which can be especially brutal in the hot summer months. White taxis are the modern version of black taxis with meter and air-conditioner. Yellow taxis are professionally run, which also means you will pay the most. My suggestion would be to get a white taxi as far as possible. Be prepared to bargain hard to get a good fare. Normal taxi fare between Downtown Cairo to Giza Pyramids is about 30 LE (Egyptian Pounds) and may take you up to 60-90 minutes, depending on traffic.

-Another very cheap option to reach Giza is by public bus. Buses Number 355 and 357 are available from a bus stand behind the Egyptian Museum on the main road in downtown Cairo. The buses are large and comfortable, some with air-conditioning, and will cost you only about 2 LE. It is a convenient option for the people staying in Tahrir Square area as well as on the bank of Nile river. I don't recommend the mini-vans or micro-buses from this bus stand, as they are extremely overcrowded and uncomfortable.

-The cheapest option by far is the metro, which will run you 1 LE for whichever distance you would like to go, regardless of line changes. If you're feeling adventurous, hop on the red line from Sadat Station (near Tahrir Square downtown). You can also get on at Naguib or Attaba or Martyrs. Look at the overhead sign that says El Mounib and go to that platform, take the Metro train and count the stops or look at the route map inside the train. From Sadat Station, you should be getting off on the 6th stop which is Giza Station, not the Giza Suburb station after it. On the return trip it is the 4th stop. If you're a woman traveler without a male companion, I recommend to ride in the female-only subway car.

  Pay $20, pick your camel out of a lineup, wait for him to kneel down, scramble up his back, and then hang onto the hump for dear life while he stands up and wobbles along.

Pay $20, pick your camel out of a lineup, wait for him to kneel down, scramble up his back, and then hang onto the hump for dear life while he stands up and wobbles along.

Getting Around the Pyramids
-You have many choices when it comes to getting around the large complex. It's easy enough to see it all on foot, but you also have the option of a horse and buggy, or a camel. It's cheesy and touristy, but well worth a few bucks to get on a camel and wobble around the ancient tombs. Bargain hard before you get on a camel and remember that nothing is for free - be prepared to pay for a picture of or with the camel and anything else the 'camel driver' offers you, including a picture of you wearing his turban!

  Rumor has it that the nose of the Sphinx was actually chiseled off by a dude way back in 1378 AD because he was jealous that people were leaving offerings in hopes of a good harvest.

Rumor has it that the nose of the Sphinx was actually chiseled off by a dude way back in 1378 AD because he was jealous that people were leaving offerings in hopes of a good harvest.

Other helpful tips

-You are not allowed to climb on the pyramids (for good reason), but you are allowed inside. Separate tickets are sold daily and usually in limited amounts, so get there early if this sounds like something you would like to do. Just a note, I don't recommend this if you're claustrophobic!

-There is a light and sound show every evening, which sounds touristy and cheesy, but most people learn something about the pyramids and the history and it can be fun to see the great structures in the evening.

-Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The only shade in the complex is inside the structures and it can get scorching under the midday sun.

-Be open to the experience, but be wary of scams. The locals will try to overcharge you, so make sure you're aware of normal prices before you go. In the end, if its a matter of a few dollars, just remember that it is worth more to them than for you and you'll be supporting their economy in a time when their tourism is struggling.

Bottom line, the pyramids are an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience!!

  Standing next to the last of the great Seven Wonders of the Ancient World can make you feel really, really, unbelievably small...

Standing next to the last of the great Seven Wonders of the Ancient World can make you feel really, really, unbelievably small...