Cairo was our first stop in Egypt, and we would be lying if we said we weren’t a little anxious before visiting. We had friends and family warning us that Egypt was not safe and that we should avoid it, in addition to seeing nothing but negative news on the television. Having spent more than two weeks in Egypt, however, we could not disagree more and recently wrote a post about safety in Egypt.
That being said, we wanted to minimize risks for our first visit so we booked a full two week tour with Ramasside Tours. They planned everything for us, including hotels, transportation, and tour guides. Their positive influence on our trip was felt almost immediately after stepping off the plane.
After landing in Cairo we began walking through the airport, happy to be off the plane but anticipating a lengthy customs/immigration process. To our surprise, we were met by a Ramasside representative just inside the arrival gate. Awesome! He took our passports and put the Egyptian Visas in them. He then guided us through the passport control/customs lines, handling everything along the way. We barely waited anywhere and never said a word to anyone. It was so efficient!
When we walked out of the airport the first thing we noticed about Cairo was the poor air quality. There was a thin layer of smog along the horizon. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we got used to it pretty quickly and became more focused on the excitement of actually being in Egypt.
After spending about 30 minutes in the car we arrived at our hotel, Le Meridian, which was one of several in a hotel zone near the Giza Pyramids. Inside the hotel were a few souvenir shops selling a myriad of items ranging from papyrus artwork, to magnets, to fine jewelry. One shop was owned by a man named Hussein who engaged us in conversation and offered us a cup of delicious Egyptian tea. We sat in his shop talking for over an hour! Afterwards, we walked out to the poolside bar/restaurant where we ordered food and drinks and took in the amazing view!
The next morning our tour began with a visit to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. There were so many young students visiting that same day, making the museum very crowded and noisy. That being said, we were still able to see some amazing items on display.
On the second floor of the museum there was a massive collection of items found in King Tut’s tomb. Most of these items were incredibly elaborate works of art. The work that went in to burying an Egyptian king was pretty amazing. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside this room.
Our plan for the day was to visit the museum and then head to the Giza pyramids for a few hours. While viewing the King Tut artifacts, our guide received word that the President of Bulgaria was coming to view the pyramids later that afternoon, which meant they would be closing early — so we had to hustle! This was unfortunate because we really had to rush through the rest of the museum. It would have been nice to spend more time there, but on to the pyramids we went.
What a sight to behold! We were both in awe when pulling up to the pyramids. Something we had heard about all our lives and seen in movies and photos. We never actually thought we would be visiting in person.
As we got closer we were able to really appreciate the sheer size of the stones used for each level, and the overall height of the pyramid itself.
After taking many photos we walked around the pyramid to begin the next part of our tour, a camel ride. Reflecting on the somewhat negative experience of riding camels in Jordan, we were not totally looking forward to it. But this was different. For one, the camels seemed to be in better spirits — maybe they were treated better, maybe it was just a good day to be a camel, who knows. Two, we were able to use the reigns and actually “steer” the camels on our own instead of the guide walking in front of us and pulling them in the proper direction. And three, the scenery was incredible!
We walked the camels for about ten minutes. Then we arrived at a spot where we had the pyramids on one side and the Sphinx on the other. We took the opportunity to snap a few photos.
We spent a while taking photos and then turned and headed back from whence we came. The next part of the tour involved us actually going INSIDE the pyramid! We walked up a few steps towards the entrance and headed in.
Our guide really should have asked us beforehand if we were claustrophobic because holy moly it was tight in there! When we first entered it was not bad, but as we began our ascent the pathway got more and more narrow, both horizontally and vertically. Not helping matters, the air was hot and completely stagnant. For several minutes we were bent over at the waist while in a full squat, duck walking up a ramp. We were quickly drenched in sweat and our legs were burning.
We should mention that there is only one pathway which serves as both the entrance and exit. Because of how narrow it is, when there is a group of people coming out, the people going in had to stop and squeeze to one side. We stood there not moving for several minutes once and it was during this pause that we started second guessing our decision to go inside the pyramid. We kept reminding ourselves that we were walking INSIDE AN EGYPTIAN PYRAMID(!!!) and that this was the experience of a lifetime, so suck it up and keep moving! We can’t say the pay off at the end was all that exciting — just a dark room with what was once a tomb — but the experience was unlike any other, so totally worth it in the end.
We had to cut the pyramid viewing short because of the Bulgarian President (…), so the final part of the tour was spent in front of the Sphinx taking photos and enjoying the view. A great end to an unforgettable day!
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