Since I was little, I dreamed of going to Egypt and seeing the Pyramids of Giza. So, when the opportunity arose to see the land I had read, watched documentaries, and dreamed about for decades—how could I possibly say “no”?
Since I was little, I dreamed of going to Egypt. It probably comes as no surprise that I’ve always had an intense fascination with ancient civilizations, and Egypt personally took the cake for me.
Fun fact: In fifth grade, I memorized the entire alphabet in hieroglyphics and made my entire family bookmarks with their names written on it for Christmas gifts. I also made a giant pyramid out of brown sugar cubes, with levels that lifted on a hinge of sorts that uncovered layers of hidden passages with dead ends, treasures, and a sarcophagus somewhere in the midst of it all.
So, when the opportunity arose to see the land I had read, watched documentaries, and dreamed about for decades—how could I possibly say “no”?
Staying in Giza = Not a Wise Choice
While we spent the majority of our trip in Sharm el-Sheikh we flew into Cairo for the final two nights to visit. Opting on a hotel with a pyramid view, we decided to stay in Giza over Cairo (without doing any research on the difference); however, we quickly concluded that Cairo was a better option of the two. Our tour guide advised us not to venture beyond our hotel’s doors, outside of our guided tours, because safety might not be guaranteed. Unfortunately for us, our particular hotel was dirty and looked nothing like the photos.
That said, we found Cairo to have a livelier and, frankly, safe atmosphere by comparison. If you want a more engaging experience, I suggest staying in the city centre—if this isn’t a big concern and you’re only looking for a beautiful view, Giza could suit your perfectly fine.
The Enchanting Pyramids of Giza
In the early hours of the morning on our only full day in Cairo, we met our lovely our guide in the hotel lobby and clambered into our small, personal tour bus. Our first stop of the day was the Pyramids of Giza, and the years of anticipation that had built up to this moment was monumental.
Words cannot express the magnificence of the Giza pyramids. I (admittedly) shed a tear when I saw them from a distance from our hotel room, but standing right in front of them and having them tower over you is even more breath-taking. I actually have goosebumps right now, as I write this, just thinking about it.
It was the realization of a lifelong dream of mine to stand in front of these enormous structures that have captured people’s attention for millennia (4,500 years, to be more specific). These historic wonders continue to astound visitors, despite the passage of time. The pyramids’ history, accuracy, and sheer size are proof of the amazing engineering prowess of the ancient Egyptians, and it makes you wonder how they managed to construct them in the first place. It seems unreal!
We began at the Great Pyramid, which was the first and largest one constructed in around 2550 B.C. It was commissioned by Pharaoh Khufu and stands approximately 147 metres (481 feet) above the plateau. We were told that this pyramid—and the others—have slightly decreased in size over the many years due to the weather. However, when you think about how each of the estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks that make up this gigantic structure weighs between 2.5 and 15 tons on average, a few metres off the top doesn’t seem so drastic.
We walked around the base of this pyramid, petting the stray dogs roaming there (okay, that was actually just me petting them) and climbing the first layer of stones for some photos.
While we didn’t walk over to the second pyramid, we admired it from a distance. This one was built around 2520 B.C., by Pharaoh Khafre (the son of Khufu). Then, we got back into the bus and drove over to the final, third, and smallest pyramid.
Exploring the Smallest Pyramid
Compared to the first two, the third pyramid at Giza is significantly smaller. Constructed approximately in 2490 B.C. by Pharaoh Menkaure (Pharaoh Khafre’s son and Pharaoh Khufu’s grandson), it showcased an incredibly intricate mortuary temple… And this was the pyramid that we go to go inside and explore first-hand!
Visiting the smallest of the three main pyramids was one of the highlights of our trip. It was a really incredible experience, leaving me curious about what was beyond the few rooms that we had access to (which were plain and empty, and had to be accessed by carefully shuffling up and down “stairs” that consisted of a long, wide piece of wood with spaced-out plants of wood nailed in horizontally every couple of feet).
Nonetheless, being inside a pyramid, no matter how seemingly plain it appeared, was enchanting. I truly could not stop smiling and was in complete excitement the entire time, weather sliding down those stairs, laying my hand against a all that is thousands of years old, or simply letting my eyes rove across every nook and cranny of the various chambers.
The Enigmatic Sphinx
Finally, we found ourselves driving to the Sphinx, an enigmatic limestone monument with the head of a pharaoh and the body of a lion, who is seemingly guarding its necropolis. It sits between two temples, the Old Kingdom and New Kingdom temples, where the Pharaoh’s body would have been prepared for burial after his death, mummified and wrapped in linens under the watchful eyes of the gods, before being brought to the Great Pyramid to be laid to rest for eternity.
With its mysterious eyes, the Sphinx stood watch over the pyramids. It is associated with mystery and is thought to symbolize Pharaoh Khafre (as it appears it was built after the first Pharaoh, his father’s, death).
Of course, this famous monument is a must-see during any trip to Giza, not just because of its enormous size and exquisite details, but because there is something so incredible about standing in front of this beautiful work of art and understanding the weight of history it carries on its shoulders.
All in All
While Giza was just the beginning of our day of adventure, it set the tone for the entire end of our trip: lots of excitement, lots of learning opportunities, and lots of history.
But don't worry, I have more stories from the rest of our day in Cairo to come. Keep your eyes peeled!