I always laugh when people ask me how many times I have visited the Pyramids of Giza. As an Egyptologist who has worked as a tour guide for the past 23 years, I must have been there over 6,000 times; more than the age of the pyramids themselves (4560 years old).
If you were to ask me what my favorite archaeological site is, to take tour groups to, my answer would be the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx. There is nothing on earth greater, more majestic, or more breathtaking than the Giza Necropolis.
Every time tourists contact me to take them there, my heart beats fast and I get so overwhelmed with happiness. The reason is, as a pure blood Egyptian, I take the greatest pride in showing Egypt’s guests the greatest monument on earth, a world wonder which my forefathers have left us.
I have traveled all over Europe and the US several times. I have read a lot, and have seen documentaries about sites in Asia and in other parts of the world. With all due respect, there can be nothing that ever existed or will ever exist as great as the Giza Pyramids. Every time I take visitors there, they come out of the tombs sweaty, but with wonder all over their faces, from what they have just experienced. Recently I took a small group of American tourists to see the Pyramids. We spent five solid hours there and it still wasn’t enough.
To guarantee a fabulous time at the Giza Pyramids, here are some tips to help you prepare:
1. Days & Times: They open at 8am every day and close at 4pm except during Ramadan, when they close at 3pm. Best is to visit on a weekday (Mondays through Thursdays) or on weekend mornings (Fridays and Saturdays) from 8am – 11am, before they get packed with Egyptian tourists.
2. Transportation: You need a good air-conditioned car or van and a professional driver, who has been there many times and knows his way around and the rules and the regulations very well. For those people who prefer to do things alone, I’m going to share all of these rules and regulations in my series of articles about the pyramids.
3. Guide: Hire a professional, licensed tour guide, or at least read a lot about the site before going, if you plan to go by yourself.
4. Apparel: Wear comfortable sneakers, because you will be walking a lot in the sand. Wear light-colored clothes and hats, especially in summer, because it can be very hot there. In winter, high winds can cause sandstorms, so bring a scarf and a jacket.
5. Other: Take lots of cold water with you, especially in summer, to avoid dehydration. Bring your best camera, as there will be plenty of opportunities to take great photos, if you have clear weather, without haze or sandstorm.
Start your tour as early as possible. Try to be at the main gate next to Mena House at 8am, to avoid the heat in the summer and the crowds of tourists in the winter. Also a good reason to be there at 8am, is to be able to buy the extra ticket to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu before they sell out.
The admission prices and what to see at Giza Pyramids:
General Ticket: This is called an ‘area ticket’ and costs LE80, or half price (LE40) for children under 12 (proof of age required) and students with an international student card. Children under six get in for free. Keep the area ticket on you during your visit because it is the same ticket you will use to see the Sphinx. If you lose it, you have to buy a new one.
Inside Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops): It is LE200 for the ticket to go inside the great pyramid (LE100 for children/students). At 8am half the day’s tickets go on sale and at 1pm the other half are sold. They only sell 300 a day in the summer and 500 in winter. This is highly recommended, but only if you are physically fit, not claustrophobic, have bad hips or knees, heart problems or difficulty breathing.
Inside 3rd Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus): This ticket is LE40 (LE20 for children/students) and there is no limit on how many people can go inside per day, as long as you buy a ticket in advance at the main gate.
Mersy Ankh III: Tickets cost LE50 (LE25 children/students) for the recently opened tomb with fabulous colors and is a must-see if you have the time.
Sunboat Museum (Cheop’s Boat Museum): LE60 (LE30 for children/students). It is located behind the Great Pyramid. It opens from 9am every day. To buy a ticket, go to the Sunboat Museum ticket booth behind the Great Pyramid (on the southern side).
All tickets must be paid for in Egyptian currency. It is best to have the exact change to avoid being short-changed or having to wait until they find change.
If you are visiting the necropolis in a private car, a ticket must be purchased for the vehicle. It costs LE3 for a private car or taxi, LE5 for vans and minibuses and LE10 for a big bus.
In my next article I will tell you more exciting details about the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx, so remember to pick up the next issue!
All images © Amanda Wentzel.
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