The Pyramids and The Citadel

- 17 May 2013 -

We finished off on the bridge crossing over the Nile River and moved on towards our next destination.... The Great Pyramids.... we had a small preview of the Pyramids the previous day when returning from the camera store, so I was eager to capture it on my "scratched sensor" camera. Unfortunately our driver thought that it would be a good idea (without consulting us) to lure us into a presentation regarding papyrus "artwork" in a "museum" where we were probed to buy something. We humored them, I even bought something and eventually we were done and ready to move onto the Pyramids, however we were now a little irritated and skeptical that our drivers intentions were pure. 

We arrived in the streets at the back of the Pyramids and stopped in front of a building where a couple of horses and camels were roaming around. I flipped out and "kindly" informed our driver that we weren't interested in camels or horses and "WE JUST WANT TO SEE THE PYRAMIDS!". He got a little bit of a fright but then drove us to the entrance, but as we arrived, he (for the first time) explained that the grounds of the Pyramids are quite large and walking around could be a lengthy exercise. He continued to explain that we could go in the main gate and walk around but we wouldn't really see everything and if we take the horses with the guides, they will take us all around to all the pyramids. We deliberated between ourselves (in Afrikaans) and decided that maybe the camels / horses weren't such a bad idea after all. So we decided to go back to the horses. Maybe I flipped at the wrong time, but to be honest our driver was proving not be the most trustworthy individual, even though he might have had a valid point.

Finally we were on the horses and ready to go see the Pyramids. We each had our own horse accompanied by a guide also on a horse but with a young boy who was going to walk the entire distance on foot, holding the reigns of our horses. At this point I wondered why we couldn't walk it if he was going to, but I made my peace with it and moved on.

We were taken through a back gate leading towards the Pyramids and soon we were in the desert.

We first stopped over at some tombs where some excavation sites were demarcated, apparently the workers and builders of the pyramids were buried here. There was a fence  surrounding the entire site, but our guide stopped next to the site and helped us off our horses and led us through the barbed wire fencing to take a look inside the tombs.

Our guide led us down a tunnel into a tomb deeper down.

We headed off onto a sand dune to get a better view of the line of pyramids, something we probably wouldn't have got if we weren't on the horses.

By this time I had taken control of my own horse and the leading little boy was re-allocated to lead Adu and Zima.

We headed back towards the pyramids to get a closer look.

We were led through an alley to an entrance to the tomb in one of the larger pyramids.

But soon we were heading out again, it was getting crowded plus Zima was looking eager to get out.

So we moved on to have a look at the Sphinx with a missing nose.

We headed back out the main entrance on route to the office where we were required to pay for our little horse trip. My horse was eager to get back, but actually he had been eager for some time. When were arrived at the office he headed straight for some food, he didn't even give me time to get off first.... clearly he was hungry.

So we paid for our trip, found our driver and headed off to see the Citadel.

It looked promising, it is an awesome display of architecture which is enjoyed by foreigners and tourists alike.

We climbed up the stairs towards a platform where we got an amazing view of Cairo. We were doing our trip on a Friday which is a religious holiday for all muslims, so we weren't permitted into the main building as they we praying.

There was also a military site on the premises so Adu went searching for a way in. He found a very friendly police officer who took us around for free (free, which is a rare thing in Cairo).

We were on our way out again, back towards our driver when a man approached us and offered to take us into the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, but this time not for free. 

At this point I was pretty worn out, but not of the walking or site seeing, but more of all the costs, fees and tips hidden in everything you want to do. Cairo is an impossible place to budget for, so although Zima and Adu wanted to go visit Tahrir Square I asked our driver to drop me off at the hotel first, I just couldn't risk spending anymore money.

The Pyramids and The Citadel was awesome, but somehow I imagined the Pyramids to be bigger, I think it's a image I built up in my head after years of hearing about it and seeing it on the television... don't get me wrong, it's still big, just not as big as I imagined it.

So were the horses worth it.... well yes and no, honestly I could have probably got great photos just walking around on the main straight where most other tourist were walking. On the other hand I did enjoy the ride, and we did get to see the larger area.... was it worth the money? Well that I haven't decided yet.

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