Giza Travel Blog

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I am sitting by the fire in the Sahara desert. This morning we left Cairo, loaded up onto the bus and drove to Giza, which is now an outer suburb of Cairo and stops about 50m from the Sphinx. You can even see the Sphinx and the three great pyramids from the local Pizza Hut.

We had a heavy haze of sand from the recent sandstorm, which hung around all day, obscuring the view from the lookout, but we got to walk right up to the three great pyramids, with their flanking 'wives' pyramids (one each, except for the favourite wife who went in the main pyramid).

We walked past the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). It is the oldest in Giza (finished 2566 BCE) and largest in the world (146.

5m high, weighing nearly seven million tonnes with 2.3 million limestone blocks). It is an wonder of accuracy, built on a levelled plane so precise it only varies by 2cm, nearly a perfect square, and facing due north. The pyramid was found empty when broken into in the 9thcentury).

The second pyramid is that of Khafre (Chephren), finished 2532 BCE, the son of Khufu. It is the only one still with part of the original limestone casing, after the rest was carted off by Islamic rulers ~1000 CE to build Cairo. We went into the inner tomb of this pyramid, through a steeply sloping tunnel only about a metre high, making a long limbo for the poor Egyptians who had to carry the treasure in. The tomb was empty except for the sarcophagus and some graffiti by the Italian explorer who broke in in 1818.

The third pyramid was that of Menkaure (Mycerinus), son of Khafre, finished 2472 BCE. He was the last of the Pharaohs of the fourth dynasty of the Old Kingdom, and built the smallest of the pyramids (66.5m) in respect to his father and grandfather (maybe it helped that everyone was sick of working on them?). It was the nicest, since all of the tourists, and most of the obnoxious camel riders, were around the first pyramid.

The pyramids were magnificent and ancient, history on a grand scale. Napoleon described the pyramids - “From the summit of these monuments, forty centuries look upon you”, but I find it really hard to believe that he actually climbed them (especially with his short legs), so I’m guessing it is metaphorical, or simply pontificating.

We walked through the temple where the mummy of Khafre was prepared before being entombed, and gazed out over the Sphinx (Abu al-Hol, Father of Terror). The Sphinx was carved from a piece of limestone left over from Khufu’s Pyramid, and is 20m high and 73m long. It had perfect features, amazing beauty for such an ancient statue, missing only the nose and beard from where Napoleon's soldiers shot them off with a canon. In front is a stela recording a story by Thutmose IV (15thcentury BCE) who rested in the shade of the sphinx during a hunt and dreamed he would win Egypt’s throne if he cleared the sand from the Sphinx (he did, then he did).

After the pyramids we went to a perfume factory, which was like a group Amway party version of our previous sell. It was interesting though to learn about the 'Secrets of the Desert', the seductive perfume for girls to wear (Arabian Nights is the one for men trying to seduce). When women use Secrets of the Desert they put it on after midnight, with a dab on each nipple and one between their thighs, to seduce their husband. The lady said it is the reason for overpopulation in Egypt. It is made from a blend of oils, the most seductive of which is Ylang Ylang.

After lunch we drove out to the Western Desert, about four hours driving through a black desert (the sand is yellow, but the landscape looks black due to all the basalt rocks in the sand). We made a camp and dinner, I am now feeling drowsy in my warm sleeping bag. I received many compliments for my green scarf.

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photo by: Wildswan22