Africa

Excursion to the other pyramids: Saqqara and Dashur

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At eight o'clock in the morning we went down to the door of the hotel to meet Ashraf, the taxi driver with whom we had agreed the day before to take us to see the pyramids. The initial plan was to go to Dashur, Saqqara and Gizé and see all the pyramids on the same day. But when I went down to the street I was not. We were waiting to see if he came and fearing that he had left us planted (he had read in some forums and blogs about the little word of taxi drivers), but when we thought we would have to find another taxi, he appeared apologizing. Ashraf was in his sixties and was driving a quite old taxi, he didn't speak English (and we don't speak Arabic) so the communication was a bit rudimentary.

Step pyramid.

We left the city and through the window I saw the misery of the outskirts of Cairo: accumulated dirt, farm animals in the middle of the street ... until in the end we passed all the traffic jams and the panorama changed first to cultivated land and then to desert . When we had been a long hour on the road, Ashraf began to ask how he was going to Dashur, until after asking three times, he was told that this was not the road and that he had to go back. He was lost. We drove another long hour to return to Cairo. Dashur is an hour from the pyramids of Gizé (Cheops, Kefren and Micerinos) and once on the right road I saw that the drought taxi driver asked where Saqqara was, even though there were signs on the road. Finally, after more than three hours we arrived in Saqqara, and although we wanted to go to Dashur first we said nothing and went to visit it.

Road to Saqqara in the taxi

Saqqara is a great necropolis of the pharaohs of the first empire and is famous for having the first pyramid, known as the step pyramid. The stepped pyramid is the oldest stone monument in the world. It was built by Imhotep (this man was a wonder) for Pharaoh Zoser in 2650 B.C. Upon arriving at the site you can first visit the Imhotep Museum, which is a small museum in the visitor center where the ticket is purchased. Upon entering the museum, one of the guides approached us and told us that he was doing a 15-minute guided tour and we agreed to do it for 20 L.E. The minivisita was fine because the guide answered the many questions we asked. The museum has objects found in the necropolis, some as curious as surgical devices. The museum, which was new, was much more organized than the one in Cairo.

Entrance to the Imhotep Museum

After the museum we went to the taxi and went to the necropolis to first visit the tombs and the small pyramids on the right side. There we visited the tomb of Mereruka and the pyramid of Teti (the rest were closed to the public). When you enter all the temples and pyramids of Egypt there are always several Egyptians with chilaba and turban who accompany the tourist and explain something to them or point them to an interesting part to earn a tip or bakkshis. I really didn't dare to ask anyone if they had any salary for being there, but if that was the case, it sure was miserable. After joining us through the grave and going down with us to the Teti pyramid of 5 L.E. and told us it was "small money" and in the end we ended up dating while he complained.

Interior of the tomb of Mereruka.

Later we went with the taxi to the left side of the necropolis to see the stepped pyramid. It was 12 noon and the sun was very itchy. The step pyramid cannot be visited because the interior is in quite bad condition. The pyramid is surrounded by a wall and a funerary complex where you have to pay to visit some of the graves there. We, a little hot in the heat, sat in the shade while we watched the pyramid and talked quietly. At that time we were directed by a guide who was resting while he had given his clients free time, curious about the language we spoke and did not identify. He was very nice and we were talking with him very animatedly for a while. When we told him that we would go to visit Dashur later, he told us that Dashur was usually done first and then Saqqara. That was when we explained that our taxi driver was lost. He told us that it was probably because he could not read (Egyptians of a certain age do not know how to read because during the English occupation they closed many schools) and normally taxi drivers do not usually go to Saqqara and Dashur, and that is why he was lost. At that moment I was very sorry to have been angry. So many things that are taken for granted and of which one has no idea ... made me feel very small in the world.

Hypostyle hall through which you can see the stepped pyramid.

After visiting the step pyramid we returned to the taxi to go to Dashur. It was almost one o'clock at noon and we decided to visit the pyramids of Gizé the next day calmly, since they closed at 4 pm and we wouldn't have time. While we were visiting the necropolis, our taxi driver had been informed about how to go to Dashur and we went now without getting lost.

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