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Jun 3, 2010 - Cairo    No Comments

Giza – The Great Pyramids

One of the premier attractions of Egypt, if not the world, the Pyramids of Giza represent the archetypal pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilization and – together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau – are the iconic image of Egypt.

Hours of Operation: The site is open daily from 0700 – 1900.

Admission: 60 LE (30 LE if you’re a student) will get you entrance to the Giza Plateau. If you’d like to venture inside one of the main pyramids during the trip, it costs extra.  (Not to worry though, we have that information for you as well – see below.)

Money Saving Tip: If you don’t want to pay the additional entrance fee to see the interior of the pyramids but still want the experience of being inside one, take a visit to the Tomb of Seshemnufer IV at the Eastern side of the Great Pyramid.  (Admission is included in the entrance ticket to the Giza Plateau.) You will be able to descend to the sarcophagus, giving you an idea of what the interior of a traditional Egyptian Pyramid looks like. Since it’s not one of the main attractions, there are also fewer tourists.  Take your time looking around.

Get There: Most people will tell you that a taxi is the best way to get around Egypt.  It’s true that taxis are readily available and safe.  A taxi  from downtown Cairo to the pyramids should cost about 25 LE (add 5 – 7 LE if you’re driving late at night).  When taking a taxi in Egypt be clear about exactly what you want to see (i.e. Only the antiquities and not their friend’s shop) and ensure you have the exact amount for the fare.  Many drivers will not give change.

For the more adventurous, the pyramids can be reached using Egyptian public transportation.  If you’re using the metro, exit at Giza Train Station (not the terminus) and take the bus for ‘Al-Haram.’  Be sure to make a sign for the pyramids with your hands before boarding to ensure the bus is actually going to the pyramids themselves, and not just the district of Haram, which would leave you with a long walk to the Giza Plateau.  This journey should cost you approximately 3 LE one way.

Buses heading to the Pyramids can also be found behind the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo (Midan Tahrir).  Note that there are actually two bus stations – the main bus station for city buses and the micro-bus station behind it.  Catch a seat on a micro-bus heading to Al Haram for approximately 2 LE.  Again, it would be wise to check with the driver before boarding that they intend to visit the pyramids, rather than the district.

Take a Look Inside the Pyramids (at an additional cost) – Open 0830 – 1400, daily

Visitors may venture inside the pyramids for an additional fee.  There are 3 at the Giza Plateau, though not all of them are equally accessible for interior exploration.  The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities have been known to close them to the public (generally one at a time) for conservation and/or renovation.

The Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) – Also known as “The Great Pyramid” this last surviving wonder of the ancient world once stood 146 m (479 ft) high.  Now slightly reduced to a still awe-inspiring 137 m (449 ft), the pyramid was created using over 2 million blocks of stone and all manual labour.  It is believed that the pyramid was constructed over a 20-year period, ending around 2560 BC.  The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.  A ticket to go inside costs 100 LE (50 LE with a student card).

The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) -The second largest of the Pyramids of Giza and the tomb of the fourth-dynasty Pharoah Khafre.  However, because the pyramid sits of bedrock 10 m (33 ft) higher than Khufu’s pyramid, it appears to be taller.  The cost to enter the Pyramid of Khafre is 30 LE (or 15 LE with a student card).

The Pyramid of Menkaure – The smallest of the three Pyramids of Giza, this pyramid was built to serve as the tomb of the fourth-dynasty Pharoah Menkaure, who was allegedly a much more benevolent Pharoah than his predecessors.  Venture into the pyramid for 25 LE (concessions available for students).

Additional Tourist Tips

Arrive Early – It is wise to arrive at the pyramids the moment they open, as your bus activity and the heat quickly make the attractions overrun and difficult to enjoy.

Keep Your Ticket – Do not give up your ticket to anyone outside of the gate checkpoints.  You will need to show it to enter through the metal detectors at the entrance to the Pyramids area, Sphinx area and to enter a pyramid should you choose to pay for that ticket.  There are many folks who will walk up and claim to work for the government and ask to see the ticket, then try and take it to start a tour for you.  They will explain things at a fast pace, and then go on to demand a tip.  Do not give up your ticket and do not be afraid to stand up for yourself and refuse tip. If you want a tour, better ones can be booked in advance and will offer more accurate details of what you are seeing.  Note: A favorite place for them to lurk is beside the tombs outside the Great Pyramid.

Do Not Climb on the Pyramids – Climbing the pyramids is forbidden and dangerous – tourists have fallen to their death attempting to do so.

Use Common Sense – Be prepared for all manner of potential scams including “advice” from official-looking individuals that an attraction is closed or has an alternate entrance.  Also be aware that any “favour” of any kind (offering directions, being shown something, etc) is done in expectation of a tip, so do not accept unsolicited help for locals.

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