Pharaonic Cairo - Explore the Monuments of Ancient Egypt

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  • 1Pharaonic Cairo - explore the monuments ofancient Egypt

    Cairo, 4 Days

    Table of contents:Guide Description 2

    Itinerary Overview 3

    Daily Itineraries 6

    Cairo Snapshot 25

  • Guide Description

    2

    AUTHOR NOTE: Cairo was founded by the Arabs in the SeventhCentury, but the ancient Egyptians had been living in this areafor thousands of years. The capital of ancient Egypt during theOld Kingdom, and still hugely significant throughout the rest ofthe pharaonic period, was Memphis (about 20 km south of thecentre of Cairo). Although Memphis is reduced to a shadow ofits former glory, many pharaonic monuments still remain in ornear Cairo. The most famous are, of course, the Pyramids ofGiza, and the collection of the Egyptian museum. However, thereare loads more to discover for the traveller who really wants toget to grips with pharaonic Cairo. This trip will lead you throughthe most important pharaonic monuments left in Cairo (and willalso take you out of the city), as well as a couple of institutionsthat are famous for promoting knowledge about ancient Egypt.Note that it is assumed you will stay in one of the hotels near tothe Pyramids themselves, although you could just as well stayin Downtown. Either way, you will need to hire a taxi to take youaround each day (except for day 4). Your hotel will be able tohelp you out with this. Theres going to be lots of driving, butdiscovering pharaonic Cairo will be great fun! Note that Egypt isa traditional country, and so it is sensible and respectful to dressconservatively. This is not so important at the tourist sites, butis good practice nonetheless. Finally, you will be on your feetfor most of each day, so comfortable footwear is a must. Alwayscarry a bottle of water with you.

  • Itinerary Overview things to dorestaurantshotels

    nightlife

    3

    Day 1 - CairoDAY NOTE: Start early and aim to get to the Pyramids before9 am, in order to beat the crowds and the heat. The easiestway to get there is to hire a taxi for the day. Your hotel will beable to help with this, though it would be cheaper to arrange ityourself. Just make sure your driver speaks enough English, andnegotiate a fair price in advance. Once at the Pyramids, take thetime to explore the site fully. If you arent claustrophobic, its wellworth paying the small extra fee to enter one of the pyramids.There isnt really anything to see, but the sensation of beinginside such a vast mass of rock is incredible. Make sure you alsoallow enough time to visit the Solar Boat Museum. Once you aredone, drive to the Great Sphinx (included in the Pyramids ticket),stopping at the pyramids viewing point along the way. Have funplaying with perspective when taking photos of the Sphinx: if youget your positioning right, you can appear to be patting him on thehead, and even kissing him! Before leaving, its probably wise toarrange your sunset camel ride for tomorrow. Ask your taxi driverif he can recommend a stables. If not, there are loads of stablesthat offer camel and horse rides in to the desert surrounding thePyramids. Touts who work with them hang around the Sphinx,so just ask around. Make sure to visit the stables first, and thatyou are comfortable with the people who run it. Negotiate overthe price: an hours camel ride at sunset should cost less than50 LE per person. Be very clear about what time you need toarrive in order to catch sunset in the desert, so you can planyour timing for the day. Grab some lunch at the nearby Felfelarestaurant, before driving to the Egyptian Museum. Be warnedthat the Egyptian Museum is huge, but not very well set out orlabelled. It might be worth hiring a guide to help you navigate yourway around all that history. Whether you do or not, make surenot to miss the diorite statue of Chephren on the ground floor, thecollection of bizarre Amarna Art, and of course Tutankhamenstreasure trove on the first floor. Have dinner Downtown perhapsat Estoril bar and restaurant just off Talaat Harb Street.

    Giza PlateauChildhood dream come true: the ancient pyramids ofEgypt

    The Great PyramidLast remaining ancient wonder of the world

    Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)Limestone cap still intact

    Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus)Small but perfectly formed

    Solar Boat MuseumPharaoh's cruise boat to the afterlife

    The SphinxHaunting, mysterious and iconic

    FelfelaPopular chain serving up traditional Egyptian staples

    Egyptian MuseumAwe-inspiring display of pharaonic artefacts

    EstorilGood quality Arabic food in cosy Downtown bar

    Day 2 - CairoDAY NOTE: Long day today, so make sure you leave early!Memphis was where it all began, the original capital of ancientEgypt, and would have been a spectacular city in its day.Unfortunately there is not much to see here now, but its worthvisiting for a sense of completeness. You wont want any morethan an hour here, and once you are done, its a short drive to getto Saqqara...Youre going to want a good few hours at Saqqara, becauseits a huge site: home to the first pyramid ever built, and anumber of tombs and other monuments. In contrast with the GizaPlateau, relatively few tourists visit Saqqara, so the site is a veryatmospheric place to wander around. Make sure you take sunprotection and plenty of water though, because there isnt muchshade...Start out at the museum, to give you an overview of what youare going to see, before heading to the main site. If so inclined,you could hire a guide to help you find your way around, althoughthis is not necessary provided you have a map of the site. Spendsome time exploring the area around the Step Pyramid andFunerary Complex of Djoser, before getting your taxi to takeyou to the tombs towards the north of the site. Make sure notto miss the Mastaba of Ti, whose detailed reliefs have providedEgyptologists with a wealth of information about everyday life inthe Old Kingdom...Once you have had enough of Saqqara, drive to Dahshur tovisit the Red and Bent Pyramids. Its about a half an hour drive,maybe more if the traffic is bad, so you might want to get lunchbefore you leave. The restaurant at the Saqqara visitors centre ispretty good; if this doesnt take your fancy, ask your driver to stopsomewhere along the way for you to pick up some snacks...

  • Itinerary Overview things to dorestaurantshotels

    nightlife

    4

    Even fewer tourists visit Dahshur than Saqqara, and you maybe lucky enough to have the site to yourself. Its the home ofthe second and third pyramids ever built. They were both builtby Sneferu, father of Cheops (builder of the Great Pyramid).The earlier Bent Pyramid was a partially successful attempt tobuild a true pyramid, rather than a stepped one. However, thestructure started showing signs of stress after being half built,so the architect reduced the angle of the slope from 54 to 43degrees, giving the pyramid its wonky shape. Unfortunately, thepolice will often not let you visit the Bent Pyramid, although youcan admire it from afar...The first true pyramid in Egypt was the Red Pyramid, so namedbecause of the slightly red hue of its building blocks. This isthe third largest pyramid in Egypt (after the Great and SecondPyramids of the Giza Plateau) and you can go inside it. Evenif youve been inside a pyramid already, its still worth enteringthe Red Pyramid because the internal structure is a bit moreinteresting: there are a few ante-chambers which precede theburial chamber, which have an interesting, vaulted roof structure.A word of warning, however, entering this pyramid is quitephysically demanding: for Indiana-Jones wannabes only! Firstly,its a steep climb to get to the entrance (over 100 steep steps),and the interior passages are very cramped. Also, it sometimeshas a very acrid smell, almost like ammonia, which can makebreathing difficult. However, if this doesnt put you off, you shouldcertainly visit...Make sure you leave Dahshur in plenty of time to get to thecamel stables for your camel ride. Sunset is a magical time tobe in the desert. Its even better when you are riding a camel,and better still when you can view the ancient Pyramids in thechanging light. Experiencing the sunset Call to Prayer from theGiza Plateau is also special it seems almost as though everymosque in Cairo is playing just to you...Take dinner near to your hotel. If you dont fancy local cuisine,but you do want exquisite food and great service, a good optionis the sumptuous Moghul Rooms restaurant, at the Mena HouseOberoi.

    MemphisAncient capital city of the pharaohs

    Memphis: Alabaster SphinxCreature of Mystery

    Memphis: Sun Temples of Abu GhurabNot a Place for Animal Lovers

    Step Pyramid of SaqqaraFirst pyramid ever built

    Saqqara: Pyramid of UnasPyramid containing first known examples of thePyramid texts

    Saqqara: SerapeumBurial place of mummified, sacred bulls

    Saqqara: Mastaba of TiImportant tomb with colourful scenes of daily life

    Mastaba of Ptah-Hotep and Akhti-HotepWell preserved double mastaba tomb in Saqqara

    Saqqara: Mastaba of MererukaLargest Old Kingdom courtier's tomb

    Saqqara: Mastaba of KagemniIt's All in the Detail!

    Saqqara: Mastaba of Ankh-MahorKnown as the Physician's Tomb

    DahshurFirst true pyramids ever built

    Camel Ride by the PyramidsSail back in time on a ship of the desert

    Moghul Room at the Mena House OberoiDelectable Indian cuisine in plush setting

    Day 3 - CairoDAY NOTE: Start the day at Dr Ragabs Pharaonic village. Itskitsch and cheesy, but good fun, and if you have kids they willlove it! Continue your tour of all things Dr Ragab by heading upthe cornice and visiting the Dr Ragab Papyrus institute. Whilethe institute exists mainly to try to sell you papyrus, you will alsolearn about this fascinating plant: its symbolism, how it is grown,and made into paper. The papyrus paintings here are expensive,but they are goo