Cheops, Great Pyramid of Giza – Egypt (22.02.15)

Despite all the chaos and confusion in the Middle East at present, there are nevertheless some shining examples of how tourism can rise above negative regional news, allowing international visitors to enjoy a wide range of relatively under-visited destinations.


We at Nomadic Thoughts have for example seen a rise in client bookings to Oman, Jordan and the UAE (see links for previous blog postings). Furthermore we are experiencing a steady rise in interest in Egypt, which coincides with continued positive reports from our colleagues in both the Upper Nile (south) and Cairo (north) regions. Visitor numbers are growing rapidly as people realise that some of the world’s most exciting ancient sites are ready and waiting like no other time in the last few years.

Although I blogged over two years ago that the time was right to visit Luxor, Aswan and the Upper Nile, the revolution in 2013, which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood Party, saw tourism numbers drop 20% to 9.5 million.

Since then, with the stability of the military government allowing for a sense of calm, visitor numbers are making a comeback. So much so that there is a strong case for now being an excellent time to visit the land of the Pharaohs. There are some superb value flights and hotel promotions which will be particularly appealing as we approach the perfect springtime season.


Where else can you share one of the Seven Wonders of the World with only a few hundred other visitors?

The sheer grandeur of the Great Pyramid of Giza is spell-binding, giving any visitor gazing upwards a feeling of utter insignificance. Not only is it the oldest – at 3,800 years – of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but also the only one to remain predominantly intact.

Intact that is, apart from the absence of the original pyramidion, which once capped today’s structure, raising the overall original height to 146.6m (an extra 8 metres). Today visitors can continue to marvel at the mathematical genius behind the construction of the pyramid which measures, to within cms, 230m across each of the four bases. The total mass comprises 2.3 million shoulder high blocks, estimated to weigh 5.9 million tonnes; it took 200,000 men twenty years to build.

On top of Cheops, the Great Pyramid - 1982.

On top of Cheops, the Great Pyramid – 1982.

I have been lucky not only in visiting the Great Pyramid of Cheops several times over the decades, but also in that I have walked around the whole structure, clambered up the Ascending Passage into the inner Queen’s Chamber and climbed to the very top.

These photos include shots from my first visit in 1982 – when my travelling companion Moose Bond and I climbed to the top – as well as from my last visit a few years ago.

Although these images do little justice to the true magnificence of the structure, they do I believe offer a sense of how everlasting the Great Pyramids of Giza are. Located on the edge of Cairo, with desert sprawling off into the distance, they remain on guard as immovable sentry posts.


Politics, religion, technological advancements, disease, famine, war, globalisation. Despite all these things, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, along with the other pyramids in the Giza Necropolis, are here to stay.

Just make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to see them.

What crowds?

What crowds?

Horses ready for hire.

Pyramids horses ready for hire.

Son et Lumiere - from across the desert.

Son et Lumiere – from across the desert.

View from the top of Cheops - 1982.

View from the top of Cheops – 1982.

View from the bottom.

View from the bottom.


Sphinx, with Cheops in background.

Sphinx, with Cheops in background.

2.5 biilion tonnes of stone.

2.3 million stone blocks, weighing 5.9 million tonnes.

Cairo one side, desert the other.

Cairo one side, desert the other.


Pyramids of Giza, not as out of reach as you think.

Pyramids of Giza, not as out of reach as you think.

Ref: previous blogs of 1980s Africa travels:

Central Africa – 60 Years of Travel             Tribes & Tourism              Changing Face of Travel