Next stop Cairo. I was so excited to arrive knowing that our trek into the desert awaited us. When we arrived at our hostel we promptly set about inquiring about the available package tours for venturing into Giza. As we soon learned everyone in Egypt is trying to hook up their friend or relative who is in another business. The guys at the hostel had friends that ran a tour company, and they obviously sent all of their guests their way. They also recommended a tour guide to take us around the museums and other sites the following day which we agreed to.
So we signed up to their friend’s desert horse trekking business. We were able to choose between riding a horse or a camel into Giza. My brother’s wife and I both chose horse and we mutually decided that if my brother rode the camel we could take turns because it would look way cooler to be on a camel next to the pyramids. Oh boy would we regret that decision.
Once the animals were all saddled up we were ready to go. It felt a little dangerous riding these animals through the busy streets of Cairo, all of us having had very limited experience with horse or camel riding in our lives. We finally got to the entrance point to Giza and there were crowds of other silly looking tourists like us on animals. When we got quite far into the vast valley of the desert we started to encounter rogue men on horseback who were trying get money off people. It was really frightening when these men rode up to us and they began to whack our guide with sticks. He eventually shooed them away and we rode on.
Approaching the gargantuan pyramids from the hot, long desert on the back of a horse was truly an incredible experience and something I will never forget. We reached a point where the desert peaked and we took a series of far away photo’s in various silly poses: our fingers on the point of the pyramids, lifting our leg over the pyramid, stretching our arms out between each pyramid, you’ve probably seen variations of these shots on friends Facebook pages.
We stayed for a while soaking up the majesty of the view. At this point my brother was seriously beginning to suffer from the camel ride. The saddle was starting to chafe his back and there was no sitting position which could alleviate the pain. After we were safely back at the beginning we dismounted our stallions and thanked our guides for the experience. Then we headed off with our designated driver who took us past Sakkara the very first pyramid which was fenced off and in a fragile state.
We visited various other sites and saw the colossal remains of the Ramses II statue. It was a long day and we were feeling quite tired, but our guide insisted on taking us to see his friend who owned a papyrus scroll shop. None of us were very keen but we were still at the stage where we hadn’t learned to say ‘no’ to the pushy offers. So it was that we found ourselves quite far out of Cairo in a shop while our guide rushed off to a mosque to pray. Thankfully it was interesting to have an explanation of the production process, which was before the well rehearsed sales pitch began.
Later that night we were walking along the streets of Cairo and it seemed as though every five minutes we were greeted by a different shop owner who wanted us to ‘sample’ his fragrant oils. Until we learned to be assertive, we were pulled into these shops where the men would rub every bare inch of our arms with different imitation oils. In each shop we were also given a drink and kindly reminded it was rude not to accept an offering.
We went on an evening Nile cruise and watched a lot of male tourists make fools of themselves with the Belly dancer and her whip. And we spent a day with another tour guide visiting various churches and museums. This part was rather painful as he proceeded to sit us down at each site and give us a hundred year history completely unrelated to the site we were at. He wasn't impressed by our disinterest or wandering eyes and I felt like a child on a school outing.
Driving through the streets of Cairo, meeting interesting characters who would pull us into their shops, and of course the pyramids and museums were fantastic.
Next thing I knew we were at the airport again, saying goodbye to Cam's wife and about to head off to our next location; Greece!
Egypt was really an awesome experience. To anyone thinking of going I would advise spending just a short amount of time in Cairo before making your way south to Sharm El Sheikh and Aswan.
As always if you have any questions feel free to drop me a line.