Expedition Team: Jacque Miller, Dave Miller
Expedition Date: March 22, 2009
Leaving Cairo by bus, my daughter and I headed through the crowded downtown to the southwest suburb of Giza. There is a reason why 90% of Egypt’s population lives within 10 miles of the Nile River. Where there is water, there is life. Where the city ended, the Libyan Desert and endless sand took over. We left the bus, hired two camels and for many hours explored the Great Pyramid and the surrounding pyramids (six total in the complex). We could see the Sphinx in the distance.
THE GREAT PYRAMID OF KHUFU: built by Khufu, 2nd Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty (2566BC), it was built over a period of 23 years, consists of over 2 million cut limestone blocks each weighing at least 2.5 tons. This was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. It is located 5 miles from the Nile River.
We wanted to explore inside a pyramid. Next to the Great Pyramid was the smaller Pyramid of Queen Hetepheres, who ruled in the fourth dynasty around 2600BC. Although the pyramid above ground was badly eroded, we were allowed to enter the pyramid’s underground room. We climbed down a long ladder to a small room that was extremely hot and humid. Photo#1 shows the only photo I took in the square, rock room.
ENTERING THE HETP-HERES PYRAMID: Leaving the 87 degree desert heat, we descending over 85 feet down dimly lit steep stone steps, turned right and proceeded down a tunnel within the pyramid. We eventually entered a lighted room about 50 feet in length with white masonry limestone walls. The walls were mostly blank with only a few hieroglyphs. The temperature inside the pyramid was much cooler than the outside surface. We learned that Queen Hetp-Heres was the mother of King Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid. It was an eerie feeling being in this inner room far underground.
SAD NEWS: After the Arab uprising in 2011, tourism in Egypt collapsed. When Jacque and I visited, 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt that year. In 2016, 4 million tourists visited. With the tourism decline, many Egyptians who made their living providing camel rides to tourists around the pyramids had to sell their camels for meat. Some could not afford to feed them, worked the camels until they collapsed from exhaustion and unceremoniously tossed the carcasses in nearby sand dunes.