So. Yesterday, we horseback-rode through the desert to the Pyramids of Giza. Oh yeah, baby.
S' friends that we're staying with organised for us to do this with a stable they use everytime they go to visit the pyramids, and we truly had one of those mornings that blows you away and leaves you in jaw-dropping wonderment. S and I were slightly dubious at first about the plans - we're both slightly petrified of horses and had never ridden before. We were even more taken aback when we learnt that we would have no one helping us with our horse, it was basically jump on it, ride through the desert for a couple of hours until you get to the pyramids, and oh, GOOD LUCK!
We arrived (with Jon and Meredith, our 2 new friends from the cruise ship) at Naser's stables at about 10am, not really sure what to expect.
So without much preparation, we hopped onto our horses and were given exactly 90 seconds of training, before heading off into the desert. It was almost perfect weather - no windy sand storms, not too hot, and brilliant unending swath of sand before us.
The horses were extremely gentle and well-trained, and Naser was riding with us every step of the way. He was the one who took these brilliant shots as he galloped past us, sometimes leaning back into a limbo position to capture the moments!
After about an hour of riding, we rounded a curve, came upon a hilly bank, and VOILA! A breathtaking view.
The thing is, you can have seen hundreds of pictures of the pyramids over the course of your lifetime, but nothing quite prepares you for their sheer scale. We rode another 200 metres or so and... didn't seem much closer!
Approaching the pyramids this way meant we came in from the desert behind them - which also means skipping the "usual" tourists route, and basically, riding all the way up to the base of the pyramids. It was totally wonderful, and felt like we had them to ourselves.
We let our horsies have a rest whilst we wandered around. I went into one of the pyramids, and climbed down a little tunnel about 70m to see the inside tomb. It wasn't all that fun, so I came out to gawk at the pyramids some more. They were pretty gawk-worthy!
The shot below really gives you an idea of the scale of these things.
After taking all the requisite photos and taking turns standing in front of each pyramid for shots, we set off back into the desert. Here, it got a bit hilly and maneuvering the horses felt a lot more scary! At one point I was sure my horse's legs buckled going down a bit of an incline, and my heart certainly went pitter patter!
Saying bye to the pyramids was a bit hard - you wait your whole life for an opportunity to experience what seems like a dream, and then just like that, it passes you by in a fleeting half hour.
We didn't really get to enjoy the sphinx rather sadly, as there seemed to be construction all around it. You can spot it in the background in this next shot below - but evidently, we're having too much fun to care.
After another hour of riding through the desert, we hit civilisation, where our horses must've sensed that they were on their home run - they all started cantering down the street for the last 200m of our ride, sending me into shrieks of excitement and fear. Bounce, bounce, bounce we went in our saddles, careening through the streets of Giza, and our horses wouldn't stop - even when there were people milling about and cars driving past us. The funny thing was, at no point did it get outright scary - these beautiful animals knew exactly what they were doing, and all we needed to do was hang on for the ride!
Our guide and owner of the stables, Naser, was fantastic throughout. Funny and knowledgeable, he rode alongside us throughout the 2.5 hours, ensuring our comfort with the horses and terrain was always at high levels, and keeping us in stitches of laughter the whole time. He also carried our cameras, and took several of those fabulous shots of us above! His stable has 120 horses, and all of them were well fed, strong, and extremely well looked after - all fabulous reasons to patronise his stable if you ever go to the pyramids!
As far as a perfect experience of the pyramids goes, I truly believe we had it yesterday morning. Between riding horseback through the desert and the sheer overwhelming nature of the pyramids, it was mind-blowing and awe-inspiring. Riding through the sandy hills, having the pyramids suddenly arising from what seems like just before your feet, gazing in silence at their magnificence, precision, and ancient wonder. Feeling the breath of your horse below you as you are hit by the thousands of years of history that lays before you, and having a tangible moment of incredible beauty - these moments are but fleeting in a lifetime.
If you're reading this and are planning a trip to Egypt at any stage, PLEASE do it this way. Don't just rock up to the pyramids in your tour bus and take a few pictures. I'm begging you. Do it this way, on horseback, through the desert, and behold them in all their breathtaking glory.
And then after that, do what we did, and head to the 5 star Mena House Hotel 5 minutes from the pyramids site, and have yourself an elegant and classy Egyptian lunch, whilst gazing through their lovely garden at an unrestricted view of the pyramids, because I guarantee, you won't have had enough of the view of them!
Do it. You won't regret it. I promise.
DETAILS OF ADVENTURE:
Naser Breesh Riding School & Stables
Nazelt El Seman, Gamal Abd Nasser St, El Haram
Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Phone: +20 2 33 82 0435
Cost: Approx 100 Egyptian Pounds per horse per hour (approx $18 AUD), plus tips and entrance fees.
Mena House Oberoi (link)
Pyramids' Road, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Phone: +20 2 33 77 3222