However scary and annoying the enormous tourist scams in popular historical sites of Egypt are, it would always be fun-filled if you can apply counter-tricks to those pushy people on your own favour. Our journey from Cairo downtown to Giza pyramid complex by using public transportation will be remembered ever for all those mischievous attempts taken by us.
Our hostel was in Downtown area and from there El Sadat is the nearest metro station. On that morning, we caught a train from El Sadat and got down at El Giza metro station.
Giza complex is 8.5 kms away from that place. We were supposed to take a bus from there to get to there, but had no idea from where we would get the bus. After coming out from El Giza metro station we were helplessly looking at others’ to find somebody who would seem English-speaking! Suddenly we saw a middle-aged man approaching to us with a sociable smile. He asked about our nationality and whether we would intend to visit Giza pyramids. That was our 3rd day in Egypt and we had already learnt that the common Egyptian people, not associated with tourism business cannot usually speak such fluent and flawless English and never talk about their historical sites unless being asked. Therefore, the man was none other than a tout from a tour company. But we did not let him understand what we understood and asked him about the bus-station. The man, with acute hope of his forthcoming profit said, “Yes! Yes! I am also going to Giza. Come with me.” With deceptive innocence, we started to follow him. On the way, we were informed that the ticket price of micro-bus is just 1 EGP and we should not ask for the price, as in that case the driver would demand higher price.
After arriving at the bus stop, the man revealed his intention of arranging ‘the best guide for us’ and was refused then and there. After few attempts, he finally realized that we were actually befooling him and disappeared suddenly. Along with him, the chance of getting the right bus was also gone. The names of the destinations were written on the buses, but to our disappointment, in Arabic script. Then, we started shouting ‘pyramid pyramid’ to every bus(nobody knows English, so no need to use full sentence) , but surprisingly, the drivers and all other passengers were gazing at us with vacant looks, as if they never heard anything called ‘pyramid’, which is a defining symbol of their own country!!! Later, we had realized that there might be an Arabic word for pyramid familiar to everybody.
After that we started using sign language like drawing triangle in air for pyramids and it started to work. A bus-driver indicated us to get up to his bus. We followed him, but were doubtful whether he understood us or not.
I searched for a Google image of Pyramid in my smart-phone and showed it to the guy sitting next to us. He started to convince us something in Arabic, and later the other passengers joined him. From their broken English, we finally perceived that the bus would go to a four point crossing and then would turn right. We would have to get down at that point and take another bus for Giza complex.
We followed their instruction. After getting down, the next venture was who to ask for the next bus. But that was Egypt! Touts are found anywhere. Another man, with the same sociable approach like the previous one appeared! But, he did not hide himself and told that he would arrange horse or camel rides for us in Giza complex. We again played the same trick of pretending like we knew nothing and kept questioning on the price and benefits of hiring animals until we arrived at the bus stop guided by him and were instructed to get up on the right bus. “Sorry! We are scared of animal riding! Thank you! Good-bye!”- We said and jumped into the bus leaving him in utter disappointment.
The rest of the journey was absolutely hassle-free. We met an English-speaking lady, not related to tourism business in the bus. According to her, this bus (route no 357) along with the bus of rout no 355 is available from Tahrir Square which is close to Downtown Cairo and we were advised to take any of these bus in time of our way back. The bus finished its trip near the front gate of Giza complex. We got down and saw the Sphinx and the pyramids just opposite the road.
- Giza is a city on the western bank of Nile, near Cairo. The pyramid complex of Giza is 20 kms away from the downtown area of Cairo.
- Cairo and its outskirts are well-connected through metro and this is the fastest and cheapest mode of travel there, but there is no metro station in vicinity of the pyramid complex of Giza. The nearest one is El Giza metro station, which is 8.5 kms away from the pyramid complex.
- Cairo metro network consists of three operational lines. People staying in Downtown Cairo should go to El Sadat station of Tahrir Square for metro connectivity. Both El Giza and El Sadat stations are on line 1. If your nearest metro station is on any other line, then you should go through the Cairo metro map (easily available in internet) and will get idea on which junction you should change trains.
- After coming out from El Giza station, take your left hand side, move 100 meters further on a downward slope towards the main road and then cross the road as the bus stop is situated on the opposite side.
- Ticket price for each metro-ride, irrespective of their distance is just 1 EGP, and the micro-buses cost you the same.
- The most convenient and a very pocket-friendly way, as we recommend is to jump into the AC buses (no 355/357) of Cairo Transport Authority and get down in front of the Giza complex. These buses are available from Tahrir Square, airport or Heliopolis. Try to start in early morning to avoid traffic jam.
- You may get to Giza by hiring a private cab, but there are many cab-drivers, who will not take you directly to the front gate of Giza complex, rather stop the car to a horse/camel provider’s office, which is far away from the gate and will force you to hire their animals or carts, otherwise he will not drive anymore. So, it is always safer to use public transportation.
Wander with Reshmi & Saikat