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  • Writer's picturePoonam Maini

From Pharaoh’s to Pyramids

Visiting Egypt’s Great Pyramids by bus was a huge dream of mine! Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure built their massive tombs to last for more than 4,000 years. The Pyramids of Giza continue to amaze me, while holding on to their many secrets.

I was one of a stream of European travelers drawn to see the wonders of Egypt. I was keen to one day visit the Great Pyramids, in all its unexpected bulk and majesty. I had heard that it shuts out everything but the sense of awe and wonder.

Most travelers would probably reach for similar words to pinpoint the sublime thrill of seeing the Pyramids at Giza in person. They’re so iconic, so astonishingly ancient, that it is hard to imagine that 4,600 years ago the plateau where they stand was a desolate, dune-covered wilderness where a scattering of tombs lay under the burning Egyptian sun. Along with the enigmatic Sphinx and other smaller tombs and monuments, Giza has three principal pyramids: Khufu (originally 481 feet high, and sometimes called Cheops, or the Great Pyramid); Khafre (471 feet); and Menkaure (213 feet). Emerging out of the complex dynastic needs of Egypt’s 4th dynasty, they are the triumphant product of one of the most daring and innovative engineering projects the world has ever known.

It is not known who designed the Great Pyramid, but the man responsible for supervising its complex construction was Hemiunu, Khufu’s nephew, a senior civil servant who acted as the pharaoh’s vizier. Despite the mystery surrounding Giza, Hemiunu himself was a flesh-and-blood man, as shown by his decidedly lifelike—and fleshy—statue, found in his tomb in Giza’s west cemetery.

In order to find out more about these enchanting pyramids, A trip to Sharm el Sheikh was arranged. I wanted to visit the popular tourist destination too, so my journey begin from there and then dives into the historical town of Cairo.

Usually when people visit Sharm el Sheikh a trip to Cairo is a must to see. We decided to save some money and opted for the cheaper option and travel by bus. A flight to Cairo, would approximately take an hour. However, we decided to take the private tour via bus, as we thought it will be an interesting adventure.

“Go to Egypt” they said… “It would be a great opportunity to see one of the 7 wonders of the world!” So, four single girls did just that and booked a trip of a lifetime to a popular tourist destination Sharm el Sheikh.

We stayed in a 5* resort called Hotel Tropital, which offered scenic views of the Red Sea and the Sinai Mountains. Hotel Tropitel is situated in Naama Bay and boasts a private sandy beach and a water park with four swimming pools and slides.

During the 7 days trip there were many activities planned, such as scuba diving and parasailing. But the one adventure that stuck with us the most was the trip to Cairo.

The day before we got told that the bus will be picking us up outside the hotel at midnight and so we needed to be ready. A coach pulled up on time, as expected, and was packed with tourist from different hotels.

By 5am, as it got lighter, we were able to see dessert all around us, so we knew we were closer. We arrived at the pyramids, around 5.30am and what a sight it was to see! By this point we had barely slept and was feeling very tired. But as soon as we saw the 3 pyramids in front of us in all their glory. The closer we got the more fascinating it was so saw the large blocks carefully placed one upon each other all dusty with sand. We were even able to sit on the blocks and perch to really experience the pyramid. It was amazing the touch, smell and see these monuments in the flesh and experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. The Pyramid of Menkaure had a small door shaped hole. This was so you could go inside and see what it was like. The only thing was it was very dark, so there wasn’t much to see inside.

We spent around and hour looking at these famous stones, which were carefully placed one upon another. Almost structurally and it’s astonishing how they were made at a time when scientific instruments were not invented. We then headed over to the Sphinx and surrounding temples.

I had heard that the Great Sphinx of Giza is a giant 4,500-year-old limestone statue situated near the Great Pyramid in Giza. It measured 240 feet long and 66 feet high, the Great Sphinx is one of the world's largest monuments, and what a sight to see! The tour guide explained how the Sphinx was a spiritual guardian and most often depicted as a male with a pharaoh headdress, as is the Great Sphinx—and figures of the creatures were often included in tomb and temple complexes. For instance, the so-called Sphinx Alley in Upper Egypt is a two-mile avenue that connects the temples of Luxor and Karnak and is lined with sphinx statues.

Around 6.30am we were asked to jump back on the bus to finish our tour. We were now heading into the city to see the a few places. The next stop I remember was café closed to the souk market, we asked to take a few hours here and view city sights. Basically, we were in the Khan Al Kaili a medieval style mall. Which stock everything from soap powder to semiprecious stone and not to forget the tacky toy camels!

From there we headed over to the Coptic Museum. It was a beautiful place, as it showcased elaborate woodcarving’s sculptures and textiles. There was almost 1200 pieces to explore in this place, so we were glad we had some time to look around, before heading over to the Egyptian Museum, where the glittering treasures of Tutankhamun and other great pharos lie.

After a few great tours we were driven 30 minutes into the dessert to a quad bike centre. We drove on the quad over flat desert sand to get used to the bike and gain confidence. We then drove out to a valley and between the mountains and the view were breathtaking!

We felt like we learnt so much about the history from this one tour and there was probably loads more to know. I felt that we may have only scratched the surface but we understood more about the Egyptian cultural in detail. Although this was an exceptionally long tour, I feel travel my plane would have not done this tour just. So, although we travel almost 22 hours it was worth it. As the adventure we had and things we saw can only be seen more by road than by air.

Unquestionably the most iconic symbol of Egypt throughout history is the pyramid. The masonry structures with a pyramid design are symbolic and significant in Egyptian culture, and today they are among the top attractions in the entire country. I was privileged to see these in my lifetime and would recommend others to make that trip and experience this magnificent wonder of the world!

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