Staring at the Pyramids that rise from the sands of Egypt, you can trick yourself into believing it’s a different world, a different time. However, the hollering vendors and pushy tour guides will jolt you back to reality. Merely turning up will not guarantee a good trip. Arm yourself with these handy tips to dodge tourist traps and make the best of your visit.
Don’t talk to the salesmen/camel-ride men Follow this golden rule when visiting the Pyramids. I was warned by our local guide, but it was still a task evading the hundreds of salesmen (some even young boys of seven) who push you to buy a memento or take a camel or . They will follow you incessantly and try to make conversation with you, but it is best not to acknowledge them. Once you start talking, it can be pretty difficult to get them off your back without obliging them. TIP: Some might push something into your hand and tell you it’s a gift from them; but it’s best to leave it behind because they will continue to bother you till you’ve paid for it.
Don’t be fooled by the cops Once again, we were cautioned by our local guide about the security guards around the Pyramids. Sadly, they are also out to con tourists and cannot be trusted. They target couples or large groups taking pictures and offer to take a couple or group photograph, only to then follow you around till you have given them a tip. TIP: As far as possible, don’t allow any of the locals/vendors/security cops to get hold of your camera. Thieves operate in the area and are adept at nicking them away.
Don’t go inside the Pyramid if you are claustrophobic The second Pyramid is open to public; however if you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s best to avoid going inside. Likewise, if you are short on time or don’t want to spend hours waiting in a queue to get inside, you won’t be missing anything. The Pyramid is empty since all artefacts have been removed. All you will see are bare walls and darkness. TIP: The Pyramids are much better from the outside, so spend more time walking around them and viewing them from different angles.
Do dress appropriately Unfortunately, women are whistled at and called names by the locals loitering around the area. It does spoil the visit but you can lessen these uncomfortable moments by covering up as much as possible. Of course, given the high temperatures and scorching sun, it is tempting to wear less, but it’s best for women to avoid showing too much skin. TIP: Drape a scarf around you – it will protect you from the sun as well as unwanted attention.
Do keep your belongings (especially your camera) with you at all times Whether you visit the Pyramids in peak season or not, there will always be crowds. And where there are large crowds, you can expect pickpockets and thieves. Cameras are the most common targets since almost everyone carries one. TIP: Keep your camera slung onto your neck or wrist at all times and never give it to a stranger to take a picture.
Do visit the Panoramic Viewpoint A short distance from the Pyramids is an open stretch of desert known as the Panoramic Viewpoint. It is the only place from where you can see six of the nine pyramids together. While camels and horses can take you there quicker and without the effort, it is also worth there and admiring the Pyramids from a distance. TIP: A quieter, cleaner and more peaceful place to see the Pyramids – a must-visit if you have time.
Do obey orders Signboards clearly instruct people not to climb onto the Pyramids and not to on them. But few people abide by these rules; the security cops don’t seem to care either. It’s sad to see such little respect for one of the world’s oldest monuments. TIP: Do your bit to preserve this Wonder of the World and don’t eat, litter or climb onto the Pyramids.
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