I thought I’d have an easy time at the pyramids. Being an Egyptian, I thought I won’t be approached that much by touts and tour guides, let alone the people selling pure scams. But I was wrong.
First fact: Pyramids don’t close so early
Getting out of the metro station, my only fault is that I wanted to ask which exit gate should I use, and then this Taxi driver keeps trying to sell me a taxi ride to the Pyramids for EGP 10 (Which by the way is a good price, I’m not sure how he would put that price on it) but I wanted to take the micro-bus instead.
He then started telling me that it’s noon now and that the pyramids close early, so I shouldn’t waste my time on a micro-bus. When I insisted that I don’t want the taxi ride he tried to convince me that it will cost less than taking a micro-bus (there is no way this is true, especially in Egypt!) and he tried to tell me that I’ll need to use more than 1 bus, which again wasn’t true…
Second fact: Exit and Entrance gates for the pyramids are beside each other
Third fact: You cannot possibly enter the pyramids without buying an official – unused – ticket
Once we got out of the micro-bus (which was a really interesting and life threatening ride, given that the door was not in its place, instead it was put on very back seat, poking us – in the middle seat – in our necks) alive, a carriage driver came and tried to tell us that he will give us a tour around the pyramids with his horse carriage for only EGP 50 and he knows a backdoor to the pyramids and we won’t have to buy the tickets (which would cost us alone over EGP 60.)
After we didn’t agree to that, he kept on telling me that I’m going in the wrong direction and that this street only has the exit gate.
Now I know it’s been several years since I’ve last visited the pyramids, but I’m not stupid enough to believe that this vast place around the pyramids has an entrance from one side an exit from the other!
Fourth fact: Being Egyptian is not helpful
After losing the first carriage guy, and on our way to the entrance gate which is right beside the exit one, a guy starts talking to us in English. I say “Shokran” (thank you) and make the Egyptian hand sign for it, so he’s like “you’re Egyptian? Ok forget the price I was saying, I’ll give you round the pyramids rides for you and your foreign friends for only EGP 30!”
“Shokran…When I want to ride horses I’ll come back to you”
But this never ends…No matter how fast we try to walk he kept walking beside me, talking to me and trying to “give me advice” about what to do in the pyramids, and then when I told him that I will definitely not buy horse rides now, he started pointing at some direction and telling me that this is his stable and I should go with him to get his business card so I can call him. I said no to that and he kept nagging even more. Those people are really talented to not give you a chance to speak, let alone say no!
To get rid of him I had to be rude, with a louder voice, telling him I would really like to have some space and talk to my friend, not to him!
Fifth fact: Not everyone that says they work here is saying the truth
As soon as I got my tickets, one of the people that were watching as I got rid of the horse guy approached and started complaining how these people ruin the tourism industry…etc He then told me he works here, snatched the tickets from my hand and entered through the gate infront of me.
The officially dressed soldier at the gate then asked him for out tickets and stamped them, without acting like he personally knows this guy. Which is something that just simple doesn’t happen between people who “work together” in Egypt.
That was when he started telling “so first I’m going to give you a tour of the sphinx, then the great pyramid and then…”
“No I don’t want tours, thanks! I’d rather do it on my own.”
“But it’s too long to do it on foot, you will have to walk a lot and it’s very sunny day, you should take a horse carriage ride or a camel ride…”
Now repeat this for a few more times, someone standing at the gate to the sphinx and asking to see the tickets, then starts to walk infront of you as an official tour guide.
My best option to get rid of those was to demand in a super serious tone that I want my tickets back, and that I do not want to accept the “free tour”.
Sixth fact: That is the closest you will ever get to the sphinx
Anyone trying to tell you he will get you closer to the sphinx is just purely scamming you…and you get to that point totally free, with the ticket you paid for at the main gate.
Seventh fact: Being Egyptian is not helpful, it makes things worse!
Those who tried to sell whatever ride they can offer, carriage, donkey, camels or horses always approached us talking in English. Maybe because I was walking with a tall, almost blonde, Norwegian guy and we were speaking together in English, and maybe because I also had my sun glasses on, but I don’t really believe I look like a non-Egyptian.
But anyway, they approached us in English, and when I answered in Arabic, this made it A LOT worse! They would then start talking about how good this price is, or if my friend would like the ride and not me, “just ask your friend if he wants don’t just say no.” And even when I did ask him and he said no, loud and clear, they wouldn’t stop offering.
Eighth fact: Being Egyptian actually makes it WAY worse!
One camel ride seller kept nagging for a long while, and my fault was that I kept answering him in a friendly way. He then asked me what my name was, and since I understand Arabic, it is kind of rude not to answer this, so I said Mina.
And then for the next 40 or so minutes he kept following us on his camel, walking as slow as us from one pyramid to the next. And calling my name from time to time to tell me something I already know – or don’t – about the place like “This pyramid is closed, but you can get inside the other pyramid.”
After 25 minutes I started completely ignoring him even when he calls my name, but that wasn’t enough I guess, he still followed us. It was then that I again had to get a little loud, “Ok this is really annoying, and boring, and I’m not feeling comfortable, and I will not ride a camel today so stop wasting your time following us because I promise you you are just wasting your day.”
Some other scams I’ve seen around me:
Camel riders poking in your picture and then asking for money for you posing with their camel.
I tried to retake the picture but he came and stood between us…Had to leave that place before starting a fight with a camel dude. 😀
Soldiers dressed in official white offering to take a picture of you, for money of course.
Carriage drivers and other ride offering people telling you cannot possible get to the panorama view of the pyramids without having a ride. It is possible and we personally did it, it is definitely a long walk but if you don’t want the ride and willing to walk you can do it!
My only advice: A quick thank you without any eye contact or smiles and go on your way, and don’t feel sorry if they start telling you “Just talk to me”
Now I completely understand why those people are doing so, being desperate for money, given that, especially after the revolution, tourism isn’t doing so good. But what I am against is the way they force themselves on you, even if you’re Egyptian. And the way they act so smart with so many obvious scams!
I would, of course, be happier if every Egyptian made good money and was living off well. But again I am not so proud of the way some Egyptians are trying to make this money, so be careful, and enjoy the pyramids. They are worth the visit and all that fuss!