Egypt – Giza, Dahshur and Saqqara pyramids

The Giza Necropolis is the site of the most famous pyramids of Ancient Egypt, one of the ancient wonders still in existence.  There are also few other sites with much older pyramids, mainly in the Dahshur and Saqqara areas.

We decided to hire a driver for the day to visit the three sites. We found one just outside our hostel and he offered us 200EGP (equivalent to $30) to drive us around for the whole day.  He turned out to be quite a friendly, interesting character.  He had been driving tourists for the past twenty five years and had many stories to tell. Unfortunately, due to the recent events in Cairo, he said business was slow and we were his first customers in quite a while.

We arrived in front of the Giza plateau as it was opening for the day.  A few security checks later and we were inside the complex. It seemed we were the first people to enter that day – there was no one else around except for us and the souvenir sellers!  We marvelled at the three pyramids (Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure) and Sphinx (which is a lot smaller in real life) and chatted to the children as they setup their stalls.  Then we wandered around towards the smallest of the three pyramids – Pyramid of Menkaure.  We accidentally did not pre-purchase tickets to enter the pyramid however managed to get in by paying the ‘caretaker’ directly (oops!).  We then walked around the complex in awe of the magnificence and magnitude of the Great Pyramid (also known as Cheops/Khufu) which was built in 2560 BC, it is the oldest and largest of the three.

Approaching Giza Plateau from CairoTravis, the Sphinx, the Pyramid of Khafre and a dogSonya and the Sphinx and Pyramid of Khufu protruding
The Sphinx with parts of the Pyramid of Khufu visible behindSonya and Travis at the SphinxCamel in front of Pyramid of Khafre
Travis in awe at the size of Pyramid of KhafreSonya with the Pyramid of Khufu behindSonya and Travis with Pyramid of Khafre behind
Sonya touching her first stone carvingCamel in front of Pyramid of KhufuTravis at the steps of the Pyramid of Khufu
The Giza Plateau, Pyramid of Khufu in the front, Khafre behind.Sonya and Travis at the Giza PlateauSphinx at Pyramid of  Khafre


After Giza pyramids, we picked up some falafel from a street vendor and headed to Dahshur. Here lies Snefru’s Red and Bent pyramids and the Black pyramid. The Red pyramid is thought to be the first real pyramid.  Ancient Egyptians had experimented with various shapes before the Giza pyramids and the Red pyramid was the first of the true pyramidal form.  The Red and Bent pyramids were commissioned by Pharaoh Snefru’s (2613-2589 BC). We climbed inside the Red pyramid which was a 68m long passage way into the main chamber – by far the deepest pyramid we had entered.  It smelt funny inside, so we didn’t spend too long in there!

Sonya and Travis at the Bent PyramidTravis at the corner of the Bent Pyramid, notice how smooth the pyramid's face is.Red Pyramid in the distance


We then headed to the Pyramids of Saqqara which is famous for the Step of pyramid Djoser. We also visited the nearby Pyramid of King Teti (in the same complex) which looked to be a big mound, but inside the pyramid it was impressive – decorated with walls of beautiful hieroglyphs, stars on the ceiling and Teti’s sarcophagus. Next to Teti were a set of tombs for high officials (New Kingdom period) which had wonderfully decorated paintings and murals.

Sonya at the Pyramid of Djoser (Step Pyramid)Cobra at the Great Court of Djoser complexHorse at the Pyramid of Djoser (Step Pyramid)
Pyramid of Djoser (Step Pyramid)Pyramid of Userkaf, look hard enough and you can see TravisTravis touching his first hieroglyphs
Hieroglyphs inside Pyramid of TetiHieroglyphs inside Pyramid of TetiInside one of the tombs along Street of Tombs


Our driver happily dropped us off at Ramses train station (we gave him a good baksheesh!) after our trip and we picked up some tickets for the Abela Sleeping Trains for our journey to Aswan the following night.  That evening we had dinner at a LP recommended restaurant ‘Gad’ and sampled the Egyptian pancakes, lamb and okra.