In August I was in Cairo for a week. Plenty of people were concerned about me traveling to Egypt, so to ease their minds and mine, I hired Egypt Trip Tours. It was the best decision, they were excellent and everything for me was worry free.
I thought there was no way my tour could improve from the day before, when I saw the Great Pyramid and strolled the Egyptian Museum.
Today’s itinerary, we are heading out of Cairo’s mega metropolis to Saqqara, best known for the Step Pyramid and the Funerary Complex of Djoser. A short drive away, in Dahshur, I’ll view the Bent Pyramid and go inside the Red Pyramid. Ending the day, a trip to Memphis to see the mighty Ramsses II.
Egypt has 97 pyramids; the Step Pyramid was the first to be built. I wasn’t able to get an up close experience due to it being worked on, darn it.
The necropolis complex is connected by a courtyard to the Step Pyramid. It is very interesting and one of my favorite sites visited.
Thought to be the first large-scale stone construction in history, The Step Pyramid Complex is the largest known pyramidal funerary complex in the Saqqara area. Built by King Netjerykhet, aka Djoser, in 2700 B.C.
The body would be prepared for the ceremony, then laid out and carried down this pathway.
There are forty columns, composed in two rows, that make up the Court of Columns. Notice how the pieces are stacked upon one another. They couldn’t figure it out yet, so the columns are not free-standing; you can see at the top of the photo, there is a low wall that they are attached to that kept them from toppling.
Just like at the Great Pyramid complex, I was nearly the only tourist. The majority of those hugging the shade were men trying to make a living. I brushed off the guy trying to sell me postcards and books, but the camel owner was not going to give up. He asked for 100 Egyptian Pounds, but settled on 45 (equivalent to $1.75). I didn’t want to take the ride; I’m opposed to using animals in tourism. Truthfully, I would have just given him two American dollars if he walked away after I said no.
Warning: if you decide to take this approach take caution. The guy walked away blessing me, but it brought in hoards of freeloaders wanting in on the freebie. One guy literally blocked my car door, until I told him to get the hell out of my way. I was never in any harm; being pushy to get your way is the mindset here.
I had the option of driving over to check out the Bent pyramid or to view it from the afar and go inside of the Red pyramid; no second guess there, duh. How often will I get the opportunity to go in a building that was constructed during the first pharaohs reign of the 4th Dynasty? The Red pyramid was built during Pharaoh Snefru’s reign, 2551-2571 BC…. BC! Holy Cow.
Up to this time, I’ve walking around 18,000 steps daily; using my feet to discover Wales and Athens, Greece.
I looked up at the entrance, located halfway up. The stone staircase looked challenging, but doable. I was wrong, I am completely out of shape! Toss in the hot August heat, around 97*f, and it was a sentence to hell.
Mind you, a good one.
My guide wasn’t going inside with me, so with instructions, I entered alone. There are not stairs, but a plank that is 80 meters long, with thin board strips going across every foot or so to stop you from sliding down. You have to crouch the entire length, it’s not comfortable and if you’re claustrophobic, forget it.
Once at the bottom, you have a small space to stand erect, before crouching again to go through another tunnel to get into the heart of the pyramid.
Finally, I was able to stand and stretch, then climbing the rickety wooden stairs, so that I could view…. nothing. Well, not nothing exactly, stones that had been dug up in search of the pharaoh’s tomb. Which wasn’t there. He is buried in somewhere else. So far, somewhere unknown.
Now I had the dreaded trek back up the plank. My thighs burned, my back ached. I could see the light at the end of tunnel, the only sign of hope. Perhaps those near death experiences are only people climbing out of a pyramid, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel 😉
There is no fee to enter, but it’s suggested to tip the keeper. I rewarded him for sitting guard, then sat to collect myself and to enjoy the view. In too short of time, I heard the couple that entered when I was getting ready to go up, making their way up the plank. I willed my legs to move; they resembled Jello wiggling holding my weight. I had a flash of them giving out midway and me tumbling down. Relief filled me when I reached terra firma.
Off to Memphis to see the king.
Entering the inconspicuous museum, I was greeted by Ramesses II; his body is almost complete, minus his legs below the knee, takes up the full length of the room.
Ramesses II is regarded as one of the most great and powerful pharaohs in history, therefore, he’s known as Ramesses The Great. This limestone statue is massive, when it was whole it stood 32 feet 9 inches.
Reigning for around 66 years, he fathered 90 children, fought in multiple wars and even set the earliest peace treaty in history. He had the most cities, monuments and temples, such as Abu Simbel, constructed.
More statues of Ramesses II have survived than any other pharaoh.
Also on-site is a complete sphinx. Unlike the large one found guarding the Great Pyramid, this one still has its nose.
Here’s the video that goes with this tour
Read about Day 1 by clicking here
Okay, your turn…..
Have you been inside a pyramid or would like to?