That’s right. I absolutely love Egypt and if you read the post prior to this – you know part of my heart remains in Egypt. Every vibe was positive. With one single exception – the fucking Pyramids.
What most people travel thousands of miles to see, an ancient wonder of the world – I’d recommend you flat-out skip. To be clear, I am 100% advocating EVERYONE visit Egypt and support their economy, including going to Giza to see them. I just cannot look myself in the mirror and tell you to hop over to Giza and get up close and personal with them – also, this is simply a reflection of my experience, so you know, grain of salt and all that.
You see, entrance into the Giza Pyramid Complex is regulated by the government, sort of. After a few security checks, you pass through a ton of hagglers and you hit serious confusion when guides start coming to you with various modes of transportation. It should be noted that understanding the process of visiting the Pyramids is no typical tourist attraction – no matter how many blog posts I read, I was underprepared. There is some stability to the price a guide can charge, although you felt as if you were negotiating anyway. Many guides neglect to share, after payment you are on your way to additionally buy an entrance pass along with a photo pass (clearly one does not come all the way to the Pyramids without a chance to snap a photo). Regardless, I would have paid an arm and a leg to see this wonder of the world.
My six year old self fell in love when Alladin and Jasmin fly past it on their magical carpet! To be fair, perhaps my expectations were too high…
Having no desire to ride a camel or go by car, I was pleased to receive advice from local friends that a horse was best for this trip. As a strategy, Austin and I were trying to find a guide we could jive with – pretty tough to tell in 3 minute interactions. A strong first impression sealed the deal and we were off with Ahmed and his ‘somewhat-ok’ looking horse.
Despite our efforts and strategies, within five minutes we realized the entire ordeal was as uncomfortable as the horse ride.
Our experience, like many others, went awry when our guide lost all focus on history and the enormity of experience. Ahmed pushed us along ‘his route’ and pressured us for touristy photos that we did not want; sadly, this was the same for each guide we observed. By the way, if you really want photos touching the top of the pyramid, ‘walking like an Egyptian’ and whatnot – that’s cool. It was definitely not what I wanted and the last thing I wanted to do while soaking in the vastness of this historical and cultural anthropological icon, was to constantly fight against my guide. It totally soured my experience and I felt like my voice as a consumer (typical American?) was 100% insignificant.
Every moment felt rushed; every moment was without soul.
It was completely different than my many magical moments in Egypt.
I felt more connected to the history of the country and more in awe of its beauty while at the Cairo Museum – that is an enormous difference. I was literally standing in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza and I felt nothing.
The Pyramids are considered the crown jewel of Egypt – a damn wonder of the ancient world! Yet, the smell of burning trash and vision of malnourished camels, horses and dogs in parking lots still lurks, not beauty and wonder. Nothing added up for me – it still leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Without dragging through a plethora of details that go along with this negative experience, I’ll simply describe how I felt when I hopped in an Uber to leave: Negative energy consumed my body.
I could not wait to get back to our friends and return to ‘the real Egypt’ – one full of life, full of soul, full of love, full of magical moments. The pyramids truly dragged me down on my last day in Egypt, but I was fortunate for good food, a beer and the smiling faces of new friends to bring me back up.
So – what would I recommend? Do whatever you’d like when you visit, truly. Perhaps your guide will be the unicorn! Maybe you take a car ride to just take in the views and stop along the ridge where you can see all pyramids on the horizon. My personal favorite option is swimming at Le Meridian, smoking some shisha and soaking in the scene.