Expert travel tips: How to see Egypt's pyramids

A trained Egyptologist, Ahmed Aziz has been guiding visitors around Cairo's pyramids for 16 years with tour company Abercrombie & Kent. His favourites of Egypt's many pyramids are the Step Pyramid of Saqqara and the Dahshur's Bent Pyramid. See abercrombiekent.com.au

STEP ONE

Start early to beat the crowds and avoid the heat. Currently, the Giza complex opens at 7am, while Sakkara and Dashour open at 8am. A walking tour of the Giza pyramids covers around 6 kilometres, however, private cars (with certified guides and drivers) are allowed inside the Great Pyramids complex. Once inside, you can hire a camel, horse or horse-drawn carriage (careta) to travel between the Sphinx and the pyramids. There is talk of electric tuk-tuks being allowed when the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) opens.

STEP TWO

It costs LE160 ($A14) to enter the Giza complex, a further LE360 to enter into the Great Pyramid at Giza and there is talk of a significant increase by the end of 2020. However, entrance into the inner chambers of the far smaller Queens' Pyramids is included in the general ticket price; usually one of the three is open to the public.

STEP TWO

The best views of all nine pyramids on the Giza Plateau are reached by camel up to the Panorama lookout, which looks down over the complex and the roil of Cairo beyond. Otherwise, budget traveller can get top views of the Sphinx by staying in the Pyramids Guest House or Sphinx Guest House, whose terraces overlook the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, offering a free seat at the nightly Sound & Light show.

STEP THREE

The luxury hotel with the best views is the Marriott Mena House, which also has Pyramid views from its 139 Restaurant and the poolside Sultan Bar (note that its historic wing is currently closed for renovation). The nearby Mercure and Steigenberger hotels offer well-priced competition, if not the unsurpassed location, while you can have kofta and kobeba with a side order of Sphinx views at respected Egyptian restaurant Abu Shakra. Ask for a seat by the window upstairs, and go early or late, as the tour groups are now back and always reserve the best seats. See aboushakra.net

STEP FOUR

Don't forget about the pyramids at Dashour and Saqqara, about an hour's drive from Giza. Both are much older than the Giza Pyramids, and receive almost no visitors. Bent Pyramid recently re-opened after being closed for more than 50 years.

STEP FIVE

Keep a stash of small notes handy for statuettes and trinkets and if you want to tip the haras, particularly appreciated in neglected Dashour. They have been known to facilitate access or snap your photo for a few rumpled notes. It costs about LE50 to climb on board a camel. "But how much does it cost to get down?" is the essential question you should ask the camel's handler (my tip: ask before you get up). Budget for LE100 if your haggling muscles are weak. If you want just a photo, expect to pay around LE20 for snaps with their often beautifully adorned animals. 

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