2017-10-17 Four Seasons Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

The breakfast room at the Four Seasons
This morning we need a really good breakfast as we have a major day of sightseeing ahead of us
Lots of hot dishes to sample

Amazing delicious choices of meats and seafood ……for breakfast
Once we are collected from the hotel at around 8 am we head south towards the ancient city of Memphis
We travel approximately 20 km on the west bank following the Nile up stream
Wonderful fruit and veggies for sale by the road….
Our first stop this morning is to the location of the ancient capital city of Egypt called Memphis
Very little is left of the ancient city which dates back to around 3100 BC. Numerous pieces of damaged statues and columns are on display in this open air museum site

One of the few substantial ancient attractions here at the site is a gigantic statue of Ramses II
The massive statue is housed in a building which is specifically designed for elevated viewing and also for protection of the statue from further wear and possible damage
The other major attraction at the site is the sphinx, known as the ‘Sphinx of Memphis’ which was apparently carved from one large piece of Alabaster between 1700 and 1400 BC
We travel a short distance from ancient Memphis, after passing many fields of date palms, we near the ancient site of Saqqara
Saqqara is the ancient site where the ‘Stepped Pyramid’ has been situated together with numerous other fascinating ancient tombs that only have been discovered in the past century
We leave the vehicle and on foot we head off to explore the ancient site
Some have their own transport….
Saqqara which is completely surrounded by desert sands, is one of the most important and richest necropolis in Egypt. It was the necropolis of the ancient capital of Memphis and had a long history as it was used as a royal metropolis as early as the 1st and 2nd Dynasties. It continued on being the burial place for supreme royals and dignitaries
During our visit at Saqqara we checked out some of the elaborate deep tombs…….no photos allowed in the tombs though
It is quite extraordinary the age of some of the tombs here in the ancient Saqqara site
We approach the small section of the walls of the Djoser complex that still remain at Saqqara. The architectural design of the walls are quite outstanding with a small entrance and then on either side are huge dummy doors which were carved into the stone. The whole site around the Step Pyramid was enclosed with walls of this design
Beyond the entrance to the Djoser complex is the Hall Colonnade which has 40 free standing columns which have been restored in the past century
The significant monument of Saqqara is the Step Pyramid which is also known as the Pyramid of Djoser. It was originally 60 m high by 113 m long and 107 m wide
The Step Pyramid played a significant role in the construction of ancient pyramids first built in stone. It was here that the monumental tomb in the form of a pyramid was first realised
As can be seen here small sections of the unique walls still remain
Beyond Saqqara to the west is desert

Close by the Step Pyramid major excavation has occurred in the past which leads to the entrance  of the South Tomb
On our departure from the very interesting Saqqara site we again pass huge plantations of date trees
On our departure from the very interesting Saqqara site we again pass huge plantations of date trees
Rubbish virtually lines the banks of the Nile River

Once back in the outskirts of Cairo in the Giza area, the build up of rubbish by the road and in  river beds is massive
In the distance we see we are nearing our destination
The famous pyramids of Gizeh situated so close to the busy city of Cairo
Arriving at the parking area for the famous pyramids we make our way towards the entrance
The first pyramid we approach is the largest, also known as the ‘Great Pyramid’
The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ and was built over a 20 year period during the reign of the King Khufu (2589-2566 BCE). The pyramid is also known as Cheops which dates back to the 4th Dynasty
The Great Pyramid  rises to a height of 479 feet (146 metres) with a base of 754 feet (230 metres) and is comprised of over two million blocks of stone. Some of these stones are of such immense size and weight (such as the granite slabs in the King’s Chamber) that the logistics of raising and positioning them so precisely seems an impossibility by modern standards
Lamia, our wonderful guide suggested we join the short queue and enter the pyramid and climb to the secret chamber almost to the top third section of the pyramid
Compared to in the past, tourism in Egypt has dropped 80%. We have found that during our trip in Egypt there have been very few tourists, which is such a same for a wonderful interesting  country
After climbing many hundreds of steps in a very narrow and airless passage, we arrive at the so called burial chamber positioned almost near the top one third of the pyramid
Lots of once in a life time photos here….

Historian Marc van de Mieroop writes:  The size boggles the mind: it was 146 meters high (479 feet) by 230 meters at the base (754 feet). We estimate that it contained 2,300,000 blocks of stone with an average weight of 2 and 3/4 tons some weighing up to 16 tons. Khufu ruled 23 years according to the Turin Royal Canon, which would mean that throughout his reign annually 100,000 blocks – daily about 285 blocks or one every two minutes of daylight – had to be quarried, transported, dressed, and put in place…The construction was almost faultless in design. The sides were oriented exactly toward the cardinal points and were at precise 90-degree angles……..all sounds amazing!!!!

Our next visit is to the Khafre or better known, the Chephren Pyramid which is named after the a son of King Khufu, the instigator of the construction of the Great Pyramid. The Pyramid is the second tallest and second largest of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids of Giza. It was constructed as the tomb of the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khafre (Chefren), who ruled from 2558 to 2532 BC
The Chephren Pyramid was built on higher land to give the impression of being taller than the great Pyramid. It’s construction was not as precise as the previous Great Pyramid with the angles being sharper and the four corners not being as well aligned
Lastly we visit the smallest of the Pyramids at the famous Giza site called Menkaure or Mykerinus
The smallest pyramid Mykerinus, has three satellite pyramids, the pyramids of the Queens
To the west of the Nile is predominantly desert
Some convenient shopping can be done after our wonderful visit to the famous pyramids

The lack of tourists in Egypt was quite noticeable, especially here at one of the most amazing tourist sites of the world!!

Finally we can tick off our bucket list…..visiting the amazing Pyramids of Giza
Ric stands by the Solar bark which may have accompanied the body of Cheops to Giza before he was buried in the Great Pyramid
The ancient boat was discovered in a large pit covered with limestone blocks south of Cheops. With patient work over 10 years it was reconstructed to it’s original form and now can be visited in a museum by the site it was discovered
We return to where we went to see the Light and Sound Show the previous evening
A pleasant couple where we bought some colourful traditional Egyptian gear for our granddaughters
Wonderful construction done 1000’s of years ago!!!!
Nearby stands the famous ‘Great Sphinx’ which is 70 m long and represents a lion with a human’s head….some say the face looks like Chephren, standing guard over his tomb…

Time to depart after several hours of visiting one of the most amazing sites in the world!!!

The trees in the large park opposite our hotel has thousands of white birds arriving every evening at the same time to spend the night perched on the branches….quite bizarre
Cocktails tonight before dinner….a Margarita

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