The dawn of human civilization. The age of the Pharaohs. Pyramids, Ancient Temples, Rivers, Seas and mountains. That sums up Egypt. Ever since I read about in my school books that I could not wait to go to Egypt. Recently I went on a solo trip to Egypt. After an exhausting few day of work, I just needed the break. So, I looked up all the places one could visit. I picked Egypt. It had a good mix of Art, Culture, Nature, History and Mystery.
Getting the Visa
The process is fairly simple for most of the first world. You just need to download a form and fill it up and submit with the relevant details filled up. Upload the form along with relevant documents and pay the fees. The fee is INR 4000 / USD 50. You need confirmed return tickets and hotel bookings as well as a minimum bank balance of INR 50000 / USD 660. That’s it. You should get the e-visa. Tourist Visas are valid for a duration of 30 days.
Nile River Cruise
Egypt Is an interesting place. On day one I reached and checked into my hotel. It was a small quaint place with two young cheerful guys running the place. It was already afternoon by the time I settled in. When I asked them for an evening activity, they told me I should check out the Nile River cruise with belly dancing! I was not going to say no to that so I hoped on.
The evening Nile river cruise with dinner cost me around 45 USD. It could go up to USD 55 depending on the vendor. The guy picked me up around 6.00 PM from my hotel near Tahrir Square.
We drove to the riverfront and I was soon on a ship. IT felt like entering a time warp. With all the performers dressed in exotic Arab costumes and the décor done up with Harem Motifs. The only thing modern there were the hoard of tourists. The belly dancers were exotic. I could not take my eyes of the performance for more reasons than one. It’s just not belly dance BTW.
Inside the Ship Lit up Dancers They move too fast The exotic beauty
They have many light and sound shows with various performances. These last for an hour or so. After that a buffet dinner is served. The food is yum! It was my first experience of Arab Cuisine. I was not disappointed. You can also buy yourself drinks at a separate cost. After the dinner one can interact with the fellow tourists and sometimes even locals who may have come to spend an evening. The view from the deck of the ship is stunning. The Cairo skyline looks amazing. The wind tends to be chilly on the river in the evenings. A wind cheater or a stole is recommended.
The Cairo Skyline from the Ship
The whole experience lasted for about 2-2.5 Hours. After that I de-boarded and was driven back to the hotel. It was a good pleasant first night in Egypt. It was good. A sign of things to come.
The Great Sphinx
After the Nile cruise the night before, I woke up next morning fresh and raring to go. The pyramids were spread over a huge complex. I decided to take my time with it. So I looked around for a good package deal.
Tickets: The price for the Giza Complex is USD $9. However, the site is huge and can be very tiring to walk around. Also, it can be hot depending on the season of the visit. Its recommended that you take a package that involves a Horse Cart or a Camel. If one is proficient in riding you can also choose to go for a Horse. Also, a guide is helpful. Keeping these in mind its best one books a package deal that includes everything for the Sphinx and the Pyramids. They are reasonable and start out at USD $30-$40 per person. This includes the entrance fee, the guide, Horse/Cart/Camel/Quad Bike in the Giza complex, hotel pick and drop, visit to the papyrus institute and an Egyptian lunch.
How to get there:
As I mentioned in my earlier posts I was living near the main square. That is a good central location to live in Cairo. The best way to get to Giza in Cairo is via a Cab. One can use buses as well but unless one is on a budget a cab is a good option.Also, it’s a great idea to wear a cap/hat and apply loads of sun tan. The best time to visit Egypt is obviously the non-summer months.
As per Wikipedia The Great Sphinx of Giza, commonly referred to as the Sphinx of Giza or just the Sphinx, is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Facing directly from West to East, it stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre.
One should not expect historical accuracy from guides unless they are the slightly educated certified ones. A lot the guides tend to lean towards locally popular legends. So be ready to hear some fantastic stories. Personally, since I can get information about something am visiting online, I prefer to hear the local legends.
In my experience the Sphinx is one of the most famous symbols of ancient Egypt and subject of many studies and theories. It’s a breath-taking site. A huge, single stone carving. The sight of it is enough to fascinate a human being for hours.
The place is usually crowded with a lot of tourists. All of them trying to get a click with the Sphinx. There is a metal barrier that prevents people from touching the Sphinx. I too got my pics done! Two pretty ladies who had come there were kind enough to click my pictures. Egyptian Women are beautiful. It’s like the fairies decided to come down on earth 😀
If you want to really take your time with the Sphinx then we are looking at good 90 mins. Once done with the great Sphinx I got on my horse and rode to the pyramids.
The Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids have held my fascination since childhood. I hit the Giza complex on day 1 itself. I dedicated a lot of time to the Sphinx. However, when I decided to explore the pyramids it left the Sphinx behind by miles.
The Pyramids of Giza are the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering present-day Giza in Cairo. It is the oldest of the Seven wonders of the world and the only one to remain largely intact from the old world.
It is believed that the pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10- to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years until Lincoln Cathedral was finished in 1311 AD. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by limestone casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base.
I had a blast in the Giza Complex. Luckily Egypt was unusually empty during the whole trip with very few tourists. The Giza complex was no different. It was unusually empty. That gave me a lot of time and explore and take my time with the pyramids.
The stones steps tend to look small we see pictures and videos. However, when I stood in front of them each step was close to 5 feet. And takes a bit of climb.
Did I mention it’s illegal to climb the Pyramid? I would not recommend climbing unless you are looking to get into trouble. I managed to squeeze out an opportunity! I guess the taboo of the forbidden got to me. However, I would like to clarify that in retrospect I regret it! It’s our responsibility to ensure that we take care of our common heritage. It was irresponsible on my part to do that. It’s essentially important we protect these structures since that’s all that is left of the great Pyramids. The Pyramids today are empty. All the artifacts inside have been looted and has found its way to various museums and private collections around the world. Whatever was left has been moved to the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
One is not supposed to take pictures inside the pyramids. Once again, I took advantage of the fact that there was no one. The guide was quite helpful in arranging things for me. Guides have a lot of influence with the local authorities.
One can see the tombs and the hieroglyphics on the wall. The idea that we as a race conceived this 5000 years ago simply boggles the mind. I simply can’t seem to think of a modern construction that is going to last 5000 years!! My choice to pick a horse was more out of bravado and Hollywood influence rather than skill. And it was pretty evident the moment I got on the Horse. I fell a couple of times but I was determined to ride the horse. After a while I got the hang of it.
This is also something I would NOT recommend unless one knows how to ride. The whole Giza complex is strewn with small rocks. A fall on one them would be fatal. I was lucky to hit the sand. I would not have attempted this adventure in a saner state of mind. But then who said I was sane! The whole empty complex ensured that one did not feel very touristy. In fact, it felt I was transported back in time 5000 years ago. I almost expected a Pharaoh to Pop out of one of the buildings. Over all it was a memorable experience that I will never forget.
After the trip to the pyramids i was taken to a place that reminded me of the Arab Bedouins of the yesteryear. Whats more the food was YUM !!!
OK. Now this is FOOD
If you like to know anything about the place do feel free to reach out via the comments. I will try my best to share.
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