RTW Trip Giza, Egypt Day 50: Who needs a guide? The cheapest way to do the Pyramids!
One of the main reasons why I loved Egypt so much, was because of the people. Since the moment we stepped foot in the country, locals were constantly saying ‘welcome to Egypt!’, or just saying hello, or giving us directions, more so than any other country I have visited. Then there are of course times when you run into that odd bad egg, which of course happened at one of the most famous tourists sites in the world… The Giza Pyramids.
I would say that 90% of hotels and hostels will offer tours and day trips to the Pyramids, but since we were on a budget, we wanted to do it on our own. Doing it on our own proved to be very cost efficient!
Taking the metro in Cairo is sooo cheap and safe. As suggested on the internet, we took the metro to Giza Station and not the Giza Suburb station, and then planned on taking a taxi from there. We read that a taxi shouldn’t cost more than 20 LE. We hopped into a taxi, and saw that this driver was taking us for a ride, as he rode past Giza Suburb station….what!?! We were backtracking!?! While we were able to get him to use the meter, he clearly took us the long way. To make it worse, he stopped twice and let local touts into our taxi to try to sell us on horse and camel rides. We continually refused, and finally arrived at the Pyramids, slightly ripped off, and feeling a little annoyed. While Egypt is still dirt cheap, it was just the principle that annoyed us.
Whenever I romanticize about world sites I want to see, they are always picture perfect. I imagined riding the peaceful canals in Venice, and seeing stylish French locals by the Eiffel Tower. In reality, you tend to pay obscene prices for overrun canals in Venice, and the Eiffel Tower crowded with tourists with the faint smell of urine in the air. What was Giza like? Loud and dusty streets, with touts trying to sell you anything and everything. Oh, and corporate America is situated within all this traffic….Pizza Hut is directly across the entrance of the Pyramids.
One savior is that once you are in the Pyramids, it does get a bit more peaceful, as it is so vast and open. We read that there are a few entrances to the Pyramids, but we opted for the entrance for the Sphynx. We knew there were several Pyramids to visit, but we opted to only visit the main ones and the Sphynx. They are remarkable, but I really did feel that the ones around the Sphynx were enough for us. If you want to enter one of the Pyramids, you can enter some for free, and others for an extra fee. Claustrophobics like me won’t enjoy it as Greg reported it was just like a long dark tunnel.
We had read a bunch of horror stories of the touts at the Pyramids. I read people were hounded for long periods of time to ride camels or horses, some using verbal threats or even in some cases, physical force. I expected the worse, but experienced very little hassle. Since foreign tourism is extremely low at this time, we basically saw a lot of school groups (and ALL of them wanted pictures with us!), and a handful of tourists. I had heard the Pyramids used to be absolutely crowded with people, but we were able to take pictures of ourselves with the Pyramids and barely anyone else in the background. It made me feel both happy, and extremely sad. The touts had given up on trying to make money, since there were so few tourists. Now is definitely the time to visit Egypt if you want to see world sites without the crowds!
Wake Up! Hostel $22
Taxi from Giza to Pyramids 30 LE
Metro 2 LE
Bathroom 1.5 LE
Water 5 LE
Tip to enter pyramid 5 LE
Entrance to Pyramids 160 LE
Taxi to Giza station 20 LE
Beer, kushari, Egyptian pizza, water 41 Le
Chips 10 LE
Extra beer 20 LE
Total cost: $22 + 294.5 LE = $63.20 /2 =$31.60 per person
What I learned: Even if you do not plan on going during hot season, be prepared by bringing sunscreen, lots of water, and maybe a few snacks. The area is hot, dusty, and provides little shade. You will be doing a lot of walking ad will get very dusty. Closed walking shoes and a hat would be useful!
Actual date of travel: Oct. 23, 2014