The grandiose structure of the Giza pyramids looms above all else, reaching as if its topmost point will touch the sky. Each stone is taller and wider than an average person, weighing around 2.5 to 15 tons each and stacked together in perfect precision and calculations which even engineers today can’t seem to fathom. It’s impossible to think that these were built around 3000 years ago with zero machines or use of, what one might consider, “modern-day technology.”
The mysteries surrounding the pyramids are very real and will make one ponder the secrets that lie between the stones and their chambers, hidden and uncovered. While there are tons of jaw-dropping, thrill-inducing temples and structures laid throughout Egypt, you can’t leave the country without a visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza. While seeing the pyramids is the obvious highlight, there are a couple of things to do at the pyramids of Giza that will make a visit to these mega-sized tombs all the more worthwhile.
Walk to the panoramic viewpoint and avoid crowds
By being one of the most famous archaeological sites on the planet, it’s no doubt that the pyramids attract a large crowd all throughout the year – the winter months being the busiest. And most of them are gathered at the first pyramid.
The pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) greets the site of visitors and its where most tourists are huddled and crowds are heavier. While this is the biggest pyramid and you automatically would want to linger in its base, going around to the second pyramid (Pyramid of Khafre) invites fewer crowds and you can get yourself some really cool photos without anyone photobombing your images.
Walk a little more towards the third pyramid (Pyramid of Menakure) and you might find absolutely zero crowds. This is also great for pyramid shots coupled with the large expanse of the desert and the sun shining above you, making you look like you’ve gone back in time to the ancient days.
After Menakure’s pyramid is when you reach the panoramic viewpoint. From this point, you’ll be able to see all six pyramids lined up (the three main ones and the three smaller ones of the queens). You can also go around Menakure’s pyramid where you’ll see a hole in the middle which is thought to be reminiscent of an onslaught where thieves tried to break in to take its treasures.
Go inside….if you are brave
Avoid this experience if you are claustrophobic or have breathing and chest difficulties. But for those who like thrills and aren’t anxious about really tiny spaces, you can go inside the great pyramid (Khufu’s pyramid) to see what its interiors are like.
Though these structures are tombs for the pharaohs they aren’t decorated like the ones at the Valley of The Kings or other spectacular finds like Abu Simbel. Instead, the interiors of Khufu’s pyramid are built with plain granite with steep and narrow walkways leading to the king’s chamber which is an empty room with tall walls. A lone granite box called the “coffer” lays there without any sarcophaguses or mummies to be seen.
Perhaps what fascinates visitors to explore its interiors is the fact that none of the kings’ mummies was ever found despite such effort taken to erect these tall structures by the ancient people. There are also theories that inside the king’s chamber the food never rots, all devices stop working and lose their signals for an unknown reason and candle flares never go out.
A new burial site
There are no limits to the secrets and findings of Ancient Egypt and the pyramids are surrounded by it. Archaeologists have found a new burial site next to Menakure and the site is still in its digging process, said a guide who takes tourists around the pyramids. While there are no barriers to stop you from seeing it, tourists are asked not to explore it or go inside any of the rooms and spaces as its still underwork.
This site is thought to be a mortuary for the workers who built the pyramids and you can find small paragraphs and letters of hieroglyphics adorning small portions of some of the walls. These hieroglyphics show Anubis, the kings, papyrus and ancient Egyptian’s beloved lotus flowers.
On the land layout of Menakure’s pyramid lies the Mortuary complex which is believed to be the place where Pharoah Menakure was mummified before enclosing his body in the pyramids.
The mortuary complex is in ruins with broken walls, short corridors and open rooms. The pillars that once supported this structure have broken down and in one of the rooms lies a stone slab that could have been used as an offering table for the gods they worshipped.
The Great Sphinx
Of course, you can’t leave the site of the pyramids without taking a good look at the Great Sphinx of Giza which stands proudly in front of the three world-famous triangles. The face of the Sphinx is thought to be that of King Khafre built into the body of a lion and is shrouded in mystery. Some say that the Sphinx is not written in any inscriptions or mentioned in any part of Ancient Egypt.
It’s also unknown how it came into existence, and its origin remains unsolved. Some scientists and archaeologists suggest that there could be tunnels, rooms or maybe even an underground city beneath the enormous statue but no concrete evidence has been found.
There are also other theories suggesting that it could have been built for Anubis and the Sphinx was originally supposed to be the statue of Anubis, considering that its head is smaller in proportion to the rest of its body. And misproportioning is something the ancient Egyptians never did.
The questions still remain as to who built the Sphinx, why is it there and if it could it be hiding something the world has yet to learn about.
Things to remember:
Be careful with scammers – While the pyramids are magnificent, there are tons of scammers laid all over the place due to their tourist activity. It’s best not to engage with them or allow them to take pictures for you when they approach you. It may look like they’re helping you out to get great clicks but they will end up asking you money for taking your photographs. That’s a guarantee. But there are also genuine folks who are trying to sell you souvenirs. Not everyone there is out to scam you but it’s best to keep to yourself for the most part.
Avoid taking camel rides and horse cart rides – It may look like a thrilling experience, but the pyramids and their sands are best explored on your own feet. Some of the animals are also mistreated and not very well looked after. You can do your part and avoid hopping on them to lessen the burdens of these creatures.
Be respectful – The pyramids are a symbol of history, of past civilizations and is an important archaeological site. Be respectful of the monuments by not climbing on top of them or littering the area. If you do ignore the warnings and climb the pyramids, there is a hefty fine that can go up to 10 million Egyptian pounds plus a 10-year jail sentence and deportation.
Timings – Giza pyramids opening hours differ according to the climate. The summer months (April – September) timings are from 8am to 5pm and the winter months (October – March) timings are from 8am to 4pm.
Where to stay in Cairo
For those who will be out and about in Cairo and only require a hotel to sleep at night, Turquoise Pyramids Hotel is a good choice for an affordable stay in a 4-star hotel that serves a cute buffet breakfast, and has an amazing view of the pyramids from the rooftop and from your room! They also have a set menu for dinner that serves Egypt’s traditional meat grills.
The hotel is also away from the bustle and hustle of Cairo’s city making it a quieter place to sleep and go about. The Egyptian Museum and National Egyptian are also just a 40-minute drive away at rush hour.
Luxury stay: For those who want more of a resort experience and will be spending more of their time at the hotel, Mariott Mena House is also situated next to the pyramids as well with 5-star meals, gardens, a pool and a fitness centre).