On a last minute 48 hour trip to Cairo with Maria and Dana, we decided we had to go visit the Pyramids of Giza. As soon as we checked into our hotel, we took a taxi to the pyramids and bought our tickets just before closing time.
We hadn’t even entered the gates when we were attacked by several men offering horseback rides, camel rides, and carriage rides. Dana speaks Arabic and she was fighting them off one by one but they were so persistent that she nearly had a nervous breakdown. Finally, we caved in and took the rides. I went on horseback and Maria and Dana took a carriage.
The carriage was much faster than I was on the horse. The guide pointed out the pyramids and not much else. He was trying to make smalltalk and butter me up for a good tip.
At one point, I saw the carriage stopped in the distance. When I caught up, there was a very jolly camel driver trying to get the women to pose for pictures with his camel. Dana was fighting with him in Arabic and neither of the two wanted to do it.
The carriage driver wouldn’t budge, so I said I would get on the camel and get it over with so we could move on. I got on the camel, took a picture with a fake smile, and tried to get off. The camel driver refused until I paid him.
The nightmare wasn’t over. The carriage driver still refused to go unless Maria and Dana got on the camel for pictures. They reluctantly did it and we all posed for photos in front of the pyramids.
Finally, we were able to continue. We were taken through the rest of the pyramid field before stopping at a papyrus shop just outside the Sphinx. The shop owner tried to pressure us into buying but we politely thanked him and took some photos instead.
From there, we rode through the streets of Giza and got a look at local life. This was the most interesting part of the ride for me.
Unfortunately, the conditions where the horses are kept are absolutely disgusting. We passed through a river of garbage to get to the stables. When we stopped, the guide wouldn’t let me off the horse until I paid him. As with the camel driver, I paid and expected him to let me off the horse, but instead he refused until I tipped him. I gave him a few pounds, and he ungratefully said “more”.
My first experience at the pyramids was a terrible one, to say the least. I got absolutely nothing out of the visit except for a bad taste in my mouth. I felt I was literally robbed by the guides. I also felt I needed to go back to get a proper experience. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to visit again three years later.
If you visit, either do it on a guided tour in which you’ll actually learn something or ignore the horses and camels and carriages like the plague.