This is not a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but a guide to entering the pyramids. On my previous visit to Egypt, I didn’t get to go inside the pyramids, so I was a little anxious about the confined space and lack of air when I did visit them this most recent time. You enter the pyramid and then walk up a wooden ramp (bent over as there isn’t much height to the passage). You can easily see the top of the ramp, which is about half the journey, and the hardest part of the walk! It’s during this part that you should take your time and not rush, as there is very little air to catch your breath, so staying calm and walking slowly is essential. Once you reach the halfway landing, you can rest if you like before climbing the last set of stairs. It’s important to note that once you’ve reached the landing, you’re done with the hardest part of the climb. Even going back down is easy!
Take an extra 30 minutes to visit Khufu’s ship in the small Khufu Boat Museum near the Great Pyramid of Giza (an additional entrance fee is required). The ship was rediscovered in 1954 and has been on display since the early 1980s. It’s a full-size vessel that was protected from the wear and tear of time by being buried within the bedrock near the pyramid around 2500BC!
If you’re a person who doesn’t enjoy the crowds, you might be tempted to visit landmarks like the pyramids later in the day when there aren’t many tours visiting. While most tours visit the pyramids first and then go to the Egyptian Museum and Khan el-Khalili, you can easily switch around the order and head to the pyramids after 11am, when most of the big tour buses have gone. However, avoiding the crowd means you’ll have to deal with the heat of the midday sun. Around noon, there is very little shade from the sun and it can get really hot. And if you think you can escape inside the pyramids during this time of day, realize that the temperature rises inside the pyramids too. Sometimes, the crowd knows best.
Having a number of friends in Cairo, I was lucky enough to experience the city like the locals do. On my most recent trip, I tried out El Prince in the heart of the Imbaba neighbourhood. This hectic restaurant opens at 4pm and continues to serve until around 4am, with tables spilling out of the restaurant onto the sidewalk and even onto the street! There’s no such thing as reservations here, so you wait your turn until you are called when your table is ready. The molokiyeh (a green leafy vegetable) has to be tried, and if you’re a meat eater, the restaurant is famous for its liver dish (and the fresh made pita bread is amazing). Be prepared for loud conversations, very quick service, and really cheap prices. If you don’t have a local to take you to the restaurant, you can make your own way for a true adventure, or ask your guide to arrange for someone to take you and explain the dishes. It’s quite possibly the best, and tastiest, food I had on my entire trip – and it’s far better than eating at international restaurants at the hotels.