Harrassment at Giza

Old May 30, 13, 11:57 am
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Harrassment at Giza

My family (including 5.5 year old son) are planning to visit Cairo in June to visit my sister. I've just received a US State Dept warning that there has been an increasing number of incidents at Giza bordering on "criminal conduct". Has anyone been there very recently and experienced anything out of the ordinary? We'd really like to see the pyramids but certainly don't want to endanger ourselves, especially our child. Please let me know your thoughts on safety in this area.
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Old Jun 2, 13, 7:21 am
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The problems that the advisory is talking about refers to a bunch of very unruly young men who station themselves in the road leading up to the main gate of the Giza Plateau. They essentially assault cars, often jumping on the hoods even, trying to tell you that the plateau is closed, that you have to come with them to enter on a camel or horse and so on. I live near the area and often have to drive by. I find these men to be extremely annoying and since I drive myself and speak Arabic I just tell them to move or I will run them down, or I say nothing but drive aggressively. Theoretically, the police should be controlling these young men and there is a police station there in the area where they are making the problem, but so far no one has seen fit to tell the police to exert themselves.

Once you are inside the plateau area, the problem is not so bad at all, although all the people selling camel rides, carriage rides and silly souvenirs are a bit more pushy because the number of tourists is really low and they are having problems making money. If you are going to Giza, I'd recommend getting a good driver to take you and to help you move around the plateau as it is a huge place. Talk to your hotel and ask for a recommendation of someone.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 11:24 am
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The description was right on. It was very reminiscent of driving the first time to the Navajo National Monuments. Thye "know the area" have "special vehicles" and so on. Very agressive. The people selling and soliciting are no different han most other areas of Egypt.

I did not see any hood jumping, but would not be surprised. Worth the trip, best enjoyed with someone who is experienced as a tour guide.
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Old Jun 6, 13, 4:41 am
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Unfortunately the horrendous economic situation is driving some people to behave very badly. Another problem is that the police stationed at the Pyramids do nothing to stop the harassment (they are probably paid off to do nothing).

Best advice is to get a car and driver, plus a hired guide. Once you get inside the Pyramids Entrance, you only have to buy your tickets (plus additional entrance fees for the various pyramids and solar boat ect...).

I was there a few months ago and rented a horse and carriage (~$30 for an hour), which is a good way to get around the site. Also paid to get a photo on a camel with the pyramids in the background (a rite of passage for any visitor! and cost about $10 for a 5 minute ride). I probably overpaid, but at least the camel and horse got a good meal at the end of the day. ---many of the camel and horse owners aren't making enough income to feed their animals properly, a very sad situation for the animals!

Bring lots of small bills (5s,10s,20s) for bargaining. Around the Spinx there are many low cost souvenirs for sale, great for cheap presents to bring back home. Prices can be absurdly low if you bargain well. As I live in Cairo I'm well aware of the prices, so that helps.

The main problem is that the tourist police do nothing to stop the touts, so it can be a bit of a free-for-all.

As it is the HOT season, be sure to make it there early, by 8am or earlier. Wear good shoes that don't slip, a good hat, and bring plenty of drinking water. The area is quite dusty (not to mention polluted from proximity to the highway), and inside the Pyramids can be quite humid and musty if there are many people inside at the same time. You'll need 2-3 hours to see most of the sites. You also won't be able to bring your camera inside the Pyramids (though the guards may ask for a bribe and let you go). Best to avoid Friday, as the site closes for prayers, but not a problem if you make it there very early however.

Buy a guidebook to the Pyramids and decide beforehand your plan of what you'll see, that will make your visit easier. Safe journey!

Last edited by Canuck2012; Jun 6, 13 at 4:53 am
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Old Jun 9, 13, 6:22 pm
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The touts and salesmen at Giza can be very persistent - but really it's up to you to develop a strategy to cope with them.

If you take a taxi to the site, be aware that many drivers - especially those hanging around hotels and other tourist spots - will have links with agencies/guides and will try to involve these in your plans. It might take the form of a stop at an office near Giza with the explanation that you need to buy tickets/take advice/rent a horse and cart etc from there. You don't.

The best option for you is probably to contract a reputable guide, or join a guided tour. The guide will take care of all arrangements, and a decent one will help minimise the more agreesssive activity of the touts. With a guide it's a good idea to give some indication of the level of your interest in Egyptology: get it wrong and you could find the experience hard work.

As for criminal activity... on your own you may be lied to and asked to pay fictitious fees; there are also stories of people taking horse rides, being held to ransom and asked for extra charges to return to the central area. This is probably an urban myth.

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Old Jun 10, 13, 2:41 pm
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The first day we went to Giza, our cabbie took us around to the back side of the plateau...there's a car park over there where cabbies all hang out, and we entered near the Sphinx. That might be a good way to get into Giza with less hassle (sort of assuming that these unruly guys are on the main entrance side near Mena House).

Only problem when we were there was that the back side didn't sell tickets to enter the pyramids themselves - only the main gate had those. I went back crazy early another day, to the main gate, and bought tickets to enter the pyramids. (A separate ticket than the one to get you onto the grounds.)

Our cabbie had some horse/camel buddies, but we declined without too much hassle. Once inside the complex, I took a short ride on a camel, mainly to get the obligatory photo, for about $15. (I'm guessing I overpaid for no more than ten minutes on the beast.)
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