The Egypt pyramids of Giza are one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the world so I, like most everyone else in the world, always dreamed of visiting them. My dream came true in 2009 when I went as a solo female traveler to the pyramids.
This was an awesome experience, which I’d expected. It was also annoying and difficult, which I had not expected.
Dozens if not hundreds of aggressive hustlers joined me on my journey around the pyramids of Giza, desperate for money and doing everything they could to get some from me. This put a bit of a damper on what otherwise would have been a totally joyful experience.
If you’re a solo female traveler at the pyramids, you are a target like no other. These guys will pop into your face, talk sweet, try to trick you, and ultimately – if you let them – ruin your pyramid experience. Don’t let them.
I love Egypt, I love Egyptians, I’ve lived in Egypt and spend tons of time there. It’s a wonderful place, but for the pyramids you need to be prepared.
If you’re going to visit the pyramids of Egypt at Giza, no matter who you are – a solo traveler, part of a tour group or a family – you can take what I learned to make your time at this wonder of the world as enjoyable as possible.
Here are 6 things you need to do to prepare for the Egypt pyramids at Giza.
6 Tips for the Pyramids of Egypt at Giza
1. Mentally Prepare – Realize roaming amongst the pyramids will not fill you with the pure awestruck emotion you have always imagined. Instead, you may feel stress and irritation due to the large number of hustlers wanting money.
Their methods are many and their techniques quite clever, from offering to snap your photo with your own camera and then trying to charge you, to helping you onto the top of a camel and then refusing to let you off until you pay. The people of the pyramids are very much a part of the entire experience. Be prepared to ignore them and don’t say yes to anything, no matter how big the smile and how seemingly innocent their words.
2. Rehearse – Before you visit the pyramids of Egypt at Giza, it’s helpful if you have previous experience with hustling.
Try visiting another location less important to you where you’ll still encounter plenty of people trying to get money out of you. The Chichen Itza ruins in Mexico were a perfect trial run for me. Not only are there pyramids there but people lined up every step of the way selling goods, all of which seemed to be “one dollar.” This did not ruin the experience for me, as I had not planned to visit Chichen Itza all of my life. Instead, it was good experience for the future.
3. Arrive early – People who read up on how to best experience the pyramids learn that a first-thing-in-the-morning arrival is key. Not only have many hustlers not yet shown up, but most of your fellow tourists are still sleeping. When I arrived at around 8:00 a.m., I was able to wander in near silence almost all by myself. For a short time. So try to arrive early so you can at least get a peaceful start.
4. Be Strong – You don’t have to be rude or mean or aggressive to fend off the hustlers at the pyramids, or anywhere. If you feel compelled to speak at all, just tell them no politely. Be sure not to smile so, as that may end up confusing and encouraging them.
5. Wear headphones – Seriously. If you’re traveling solo this is especially easy, as you won’t be with anyone whom you want to talk to anyway. Physically blocking out the cries for money can help keep you unfrazzled and bring you more in alignment with the pyramid experience you would like to enjoy. I didn’t do this, but if I had realized how intense the hustlers were going to be, I would have absolutely brought some headphones with me.
6. Give in if you really want to – You don’t always have to say no.
While sitting atop a wall at the end of my pyramid experience, though, one very persistent little boy who wanted money in exchange for a postcard would not, absolutely would not, give up on me. When finally I showed him that all I had was an Egyptian 10 pound bill, he eagerly indicated he could make change. Now, how could I turn down an intelligent and enterprising young man like that? I handed him the bill and, while he ran off with a smile to get change, I sat with the cute little girl who accompanied him. When he returned, as I just knew he would, I happily gave him five pounds. Then he and the little girl played with my hair.
Say what you will about giving child beggars money. This was a positive experience for all three of us.
Use these 6 pieces of advice for your visit to the Giza pyramids, and you will be able to thoroughly enjoy it and have a great time.