All photos of the Giza Pyramids by Gina Baksa
Tour leader and travel writer Gina Baksa visited Egypt in preparation for her 2022 tour of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, which also includes the country’s top temples, tombs, and a River Nile cruise. Gina reports back from the Giza Plateau, home to the Pyramids and Sphinx…
Egypt. Evocative, mysterious, ancient… timeless. There is nowhere in the world like it. A buffer between Africa and the Middle East, this desert country of some 103 million people has had its fair share of challenges recently.
I last visited back in 2018 when hopes were high and tourists had returned. Indeed, a year later 13.6 million tourists visited the country. Then, just as the country was bracing itself for a huge rise in visitors with the planned opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, the C-word took a hold and decimated the country’s tourism industry.
However, fast forward to 2022 and confidence in Egypt has soared. Tourists have returned and the place is buzzing. Thank God, as much-needed tourist dollars apparently make up around 12 per cent of Egypt’s gross national product.
I’m back visiting Egypt again in the summer of 2022. Giza is the first stop on a recce for my September tour of Egypt’s temples, pyramids and tombs in Cairo and Luxor and Aswan, plus a luxury five-night dahabiya private Nile cruise. It’s 8 am, the hot sun rose three hours ago; street dogs stretch languidly a few metres from the Sphinx entrance. It’s another glorious day in Giza.
Over mint tea, I ask one of the local shopkeepers about business: “It’s better than it was,” he tells me. “And we are expecting more this winter thanks to the opening of the new museum”.
My hotel opposite the Sound and Light show entrance, the Great Pyramid Inn, is full, as are other establishments along the same street. And occupancy in downtown Cairo hotels near the museums is also much better than this time last year. Tourists are returning.
Preparing for King Tutankhamun’s 100th Anniversary Celebrations
The big draw this year is King Tutankhamun’s 100th Anniversary Celebrations. Centenary celebrations for the anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings take place this November. And there will be much fanfare for the slated (finally) opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to become one of the top attractions in Giza.
Holding 100,000 artefacts, this enormous light-filled space will house more ancient Egyptian antiquities than anywhere on Earth and will take the crown from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. You can still see King Tut’s funerary mask and many other relics here for the time being, but they will all be moved to GEM in time for the opening.
There’s a slew of gentrification works in the area. I notice many houses at the former Nazlet al-Saman ‘slum’ on the Giza plateau have been demolished to make way for the new Khufu Plaza development. Its occupants, many of them horse and camel owners providing rides for tourists, have been relocated miles away in October 16th City. Part of a national plan to demolish slum areas across Egypt, the current President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi is on a mission to attract foreign investment and even demolished the iconic Cairo houseboats last month.
Enjoying a Safe Tour of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt
I enter the Giza Plateau, 15km west of central Cairo, by the Sphinx Gate. It costs EGP 200 to visit the plateau and another 600 EGP to visit inside Khufu Pyramid, or Great Pyramid. The other entrance, for now, is by the Marriott Mena House Cairo.
It’s always so exciting to return to this sacred site: the Giza Plateau is my ‘happy place’. The energy here is palpable with extraordinary energy still pulsating from the three great pyramids of Giza: Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Allegedly constructed during the 4th Dynasty more than 4,500 years ago, and aligned with the stars of Orion, I believe they are much older.
The entrance to the Great Pyramid, also known as Khufu or Cheops, is on its northern face. A climb up the Grand Gallery towards the enigmatic King’s Chamber is a highlight of any visit. Don’t miss this. If you join my September Egypt tour, you will have private time – a whole two hours – inside this chamber and the Queen’s Chamber to meditate and connect.
No matter how many times I visit, the size and majesty of these sacred Cairo pyramids is breath-taking. The largest, Khufu/Cheops/Great Pyramid, was originally 146.5m (280 cubits) high, now it’s a few metres shorter having lost its capstone. Each massive block weighs at least two tonnes. And the pyramid contains at least 2.3million of these giant blocks. So how the hell did they do it? Alien intervention? Lifted by sound? Built by a race of giants? The Egyptian authorities poo poo any mention of extra-terrestrial intervention, even though they have found many artefacts that suggest we could well have been visited by extra-terrestrials.
Swiss author Erich von Däniken, who wrote widely on the influence of extra-terrestrials on human culture, noted in his book Chariots of the Gods, that a meridian running through the pyramid divides the continents and oceans into two exact halves. His other book, The Eyes of The Sphinx, is also highly recommended.
Interestingly, there is no sign of any soot inside any of the pyramids or tombs, suggesting some other light source was used. I’ve seen relief carvings at Abydos that show a figure holding what looks exactly like a light bulb with a filament. Although it’s actually a lotus flower and a snake… so they say.
Arrive Early to Explore the Giza Pyramids in Egypt
If you’re planning on visiting the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, arrive on the plateau when the gates open at 8 am and you will almost have this ancient landscape to yourself. Take a carriage ride over to the lookout point, buy the extra ticket to climb up the gallery to the King’s and Queen’s Chambers in the Great Pyramid and connect with the Gods.
This is a holy place. The spirits here are very real. It’s alive with energy and is somewhere I feel incredibly happy. At this time the heat is merciful, the tourists buses have not yet arrived, and you will feel the electricity of the place. Yes, you’ll be hassled by hawkers but spare a thought for these families who have had little business the last two years.
After a walk around the three pyramids, walk down the causeway to the Sphinx. This half-lion, half Pharaoh guards the plateau with enigmatic eyes, both very much open, despite recent social media reports to the contrary!
Unless you are on a guided tour with special permissions like mine where we enjoy a private sunrise between the paws of the Sphinx, you will only be able to observe this amazing sight from the above walkway. Imagine investigating around the entire body of this enigmatic structure. We will even see the entrance inside from its hindquarters, which is normally closed to the public of course, as is the opening on top of the Sphinx’s head.
Other Things to do in Cairo and the Giza Plateau
Head up to the only restaurant on the Giza plateau, the 9 Pyramids Lounge. They’re well known for their mezze, breakfast, home-made bread, and great coffee. The views of the Pyramids are spectacular. Reservations are essential and it’s open from 9am to 5pm. The Giza Plateau is open from 8am to 5pm (summer) and 8am to 4pm (winter).
I love visiting Egypt. Its heat, dust, challenges, its amazing people, its history, its extraordinary archaeological and architectural legacy, the ever-encroaching Sahara Desert attempting to retake what’s hers.
Is an Egypt pyramids tour safe? Yes it is. Right now, Egypt is one of the safest countries in the world to visit. Masks are off in most places for tourists, and there is vaccine or PCR requirement.
Egyptians want to get back to business, so go and support them and experience the warmth of this country and her people while you can.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Gina’s upcoming bespoke luxury pilgrimage tour of Egypt, visit the tour page here for details.
LuxuryCairo Contributing Editor Gina Baksa is leading a luxury tour of Egypt this September 1-13. You can find more information about this unique opportunity to enjoy her professionally led Egypt pyramids tour at https://ginabaksa.com/egypt-pilgrimage-tour-2022/. Check out Gina’s social media pages, too: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EgyptInitiationPilgrimage2022; Instagram at: @egyptpilgrimagetour
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