When flying into Cairo, one of the coolest things was seeing the Pyramids below us! It such a surreal feeling as you fly over these massive structures.
We arrived in Cairo and stayed in the Giza area for the first night. We organized pick-up through our hotel as we figured it would be the easiest way to make it a smooth ride to the hotel. Well we were in for a treat. Arriving into Cairo right around rush hour is quite the site. It took us a long time to get from the airport to the Giza area – about an hour in half longer than the normal ride time. The highways had the most chaotic transportation I have seen yet. There are no lanes and everywhere a car can fit, it goes. It is jammed packed. All the cars were honking, as it is a “normal” thing in this country. We learned you honk to say hi, you honk to say your on the right, you honk to say your on the left, and you honk because your angry. So in conclusion, a lot of honking. On top of that, there were people, yes PEOPLE, walking off the side of the highway and weaving between cars, trucks, vans trying to sell things and others that nonchalantly jump in the back of different trunks or into buses. It was so crazy and exciting at the same time.
We had booked a private tour guide to show us around the pyramids so we wanted to stay close the night before. Since we were only staying one night in the area, we wanted simple and a good place to sleep close by. Most of the places close by are similar. There are a couple luxurious hotels close by with views of the pyramids if that is what you prefer! We chose the Guardian Guest House and used AMEX points. Typically it would cost around $40/night.
We were quite hungry when we arrived so we headed next door to an Egyptian restaurant. We got a seat on the second floor because we knew there would be a light show happening on the Pyramids and Great Sphinx. We were lucky to get this “free show”. The show lasted about 45 minutes, but in all honesty, it isn’t something that we recommend paying money to see. If that is of interest to watch the show, most hotels have rooftops where you can enjoy it for free or you can find a restaurant like we did! We chose the “dinner with a show” option! The light show is a public attraction that includes them telling a story and synchronized lights on the pyramids.
We booked with Let’s Explore Egypt. We based our decision on a few hours of research reading through TripAdvisor tour offerings and reviews. For $40 per person, our tour included a private tour guide for 5 hours to walk around the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx, camel-riding near the pyramids and lunch. We ended up spending around $55/pp because you learn that not everything is included once you get inside the complex. Everything in Egypt seems to work off of tips and paying people off. We were able to take pictures in tombs, ride camels, and take awesome views of the pyramids. Things went so smoothly approaching it that way. Regardless, we felt every minute of this experience was completely worth it!
Stephen’s favorite part of this experience was taking a camel ride with the pyramids in the background. It was such a surreal feeling to experience. Another favorite, along with Rainier’s, was touching the different hieroglyphics in the tombs. We were able to walk through different tombs, with some of them having such narrow passageways. I was surprised by how much was open to the public.
The history is truly so deep, rich and carry such amazing details. We both learned so much during our time with our tour guide. For example, did you know the Nile used to be much wider? It actually flowed down adjacent to the pyramids and that’s how they believe they were able to get the boulders to certain locations.
Here are some more fun facts: There are about 130 known pyramids, they believe there could be more buried in the sands. A majority of these pyramids are not even in Cairo. Also, the Pyramids base was previously even bigger, but over time some of the leaders have relocated boulders in order to use them in other locations.
After we changed hotels and got cleaned up from our sandy adventure, we booked a food tour with Ahmed Hamdy for dinner. This was awesome! We ordered so much fun and had so many great meals. We always enjoy and recommend doing some type of food experience in new places. It’s not about being willing to try something, but rather just knowing what to try! Plus we always end up with the locals and these are the best spots! He took us to a famous place called Sobhy Kaber. The wait was long, but we were able to walk right in, lucky for us he is a regular. We got along really well with him and he took us around the city in his car after dinner. We stopped at “Drinkies” which is a type of liquor store. It was interesting to come across “Drinkies” because alcohol is really prohibited in a lot of areas in Egypt. It was also a bit of a transition from how strict things were in Morocco. We took the drinks we got and went to Mokattam Corniche for some shisha, a couple of “winter” middle eastern drinks Ahmed recommended (Sahlab: milk drink with vanilla, cinnamon, raisins and Halabessa: spicy hummus drunk) for Rainier and relaxed with views of the city. The spot was filled with locals all sitting around their hookah and enjoying the company. It was the great end to a busy day full of excitement.