Say the name Egypt, and you evoke any number of images in your listener’s mind. A place of ancient fascination, it has been a tourist’s destination for centuries due to the stunning culture and flourishing people that once dominated the entire land. Yet, among the many things to see or do in Egypt, there is one very specific spot that seems to rank as the most familiar and most visited – the Giza pyramids complex.
Built to last forever, the Giza pyramids complex seems to be poised to do precisely that. Dating more than four thousand years in age, they are the only “Seven Wonders of the World” still in existence and thought by many to be the oldest of them, too.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GIZA PYRAMIDS COMPLEX?
Located around eight miles southwest of the city of Cairo, the Giza pyramids complex is actually in the old town of Giza and roughly five miles from the western banks of the Nile River. And as famous and recognizable as they might be, not many can explain just what “the pyramids” of the Giza Plateau actually are, or when they were made.
To make the very most of even a brief visit to the site, though, it is remarkably beneficial to have the answers.
To begin with, they are massive tombs for several of the ancient land’s leaders, the pharaohs. The first of the great pyramids (and the largest among them) is that of Pharaoh Khufu, who it is estimated began construction on it in 2550 BCE. Next is that of his son, Pharaoh Khafre, and his pyramid was built around 2520 BCE. The famed Sphinx is part of his necropolis (cemetery), and the smallest of the three is that of Pharaoh Menkaure, built around 2490 BCE.
Yet, the Giza pyramids complex is more than the three pyramids and the Sphinx. On the site are other cemeteries, mortuary temples and industrial complexes along with a workers’ village. As one expert said, “as many as 100,000 workers (10 per cent of Egypt’s population at the time) toiled on the 4,500-year-old monoliths,” meaning that small cities had to evolve around each of the long-term building projects, leaving behind lots of different settings and sights for modern visitors to see and experience.
TOP TIPS FOR VISITING THE GIZA PYRAMIDS COMPLEX
In fact, most visitors are unaware that the Giza pyramids complex requires the purchase of several different tickets to take in all of the different options. There are tickets to enter the complex proper, but if you want access to each of the three larger pyramids, they each have an entry fee, too. There are also tickets for the Meresankh III tomb and the Solar Boat Museum. Because there is ongoing excavation and work at some of the sites, you’ll want to check in advance if a particular tomb or pyramid is accessible during your visit.
Which should you choose? Basically, if you are sincere about the full experience, you will want to buy tickets for all of the sites. You also want to hire a guide. Experts from all quarters agree that hiring a trained Egyptologist is one way to enhance or build on your experience. They’ll bring the stones to life and have the kind of in-depth of knowledge of every corner of the property, even pointing out lesser known “gems” easily overlooked and brining the entire history of the Giza pyramids complex to life.
Guides can be part of a formal tour you pre-book or they can be hired upon arrival. The latter is not the best approach since language barriers, large group sizes and crowds of travelers can make it tough to find an authoritative and legal guide. Instead, to make the most of the visit, book a guided tour with a professional Egyptologist in advance of your arrival in Cairo, or from your hotel.
Your hotel is also something to consider. As some travel experts have said, an experience of the Giza pyramids complex can begin from the hotel and choosing one close to the site is a good way to dodge the city’s infamous traffic situation and, perhaps, savor views from the comfort of your room. It can also be a good way to arrive early at the site. After all, this is one of the biggest tips for an enjoyable experience. Beat the crowds, avoid the heat and ensure you have plenty of energy to navigate the entire property.
LESSER KNOWN TIPS AND TACTICS FOR AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE
What are some other tips for the best experience of the Giza pyramids complex? Bring plenty of water, and don’t plan on buying it while on the site. The prices can be exorbitant, and it is much smarter, economical and safer to just bring your own resource.
Consider the clothing you wear to the Giza site, too. Not only will you want to be dressed in a way that respects the local culture, with conservative pieces that are not too tight, short or revealing. You will also want to dress for the weather. The Great Pyramids and the Giza Plateau can be brutally hot during the summer months, beginning as early as May and running through the end of October. The most comfortable (and also busiest) season is from late October into later April.
Don’t forget that your visit is going to involve a great deal of walking, and that means both clothing and shoes should allow for comfortable movement. Shoes should be walking shoes that protect and support the feet.
Also, you should know that your visions of standing atop the pyramids to gaze out at the ancient site will have to remain just that – visions. It is illegal to climb the pyramids and no matter what anyone might tell you, doing so is both dangerous and can even come with a lifetime ban from the site!
Finally, a tip that few visitors to Egypt hear is this: Consider visiting Giza at night by purchasing tickets to the sound and light show. This lets you learn a lot, see a lot and experience the spot in an entirely unique and unforgettable way.
WHY NOT BOOK A VISIT TODAY?
In short, if you are going to Egypt, then a visit to the pyramids at Giza are a must. Going with a formal tour is a very wise investment, and whether or not that includes transportation to the site, you’ll want to arrive early. Buy all of the tickets to gain access to everything you’ll find and bring enough water to keep cool and hydrated at all times. With just those few steps, and a bit of your own research about the site ahead of time, you’ll have an unforgettable visit to the one remaining Wonder of the World.