Deep Inside Pyramids Are Scary Places

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Friday 20 December, 2013 by Uncle Spike

Ok, hands up who has been into space? No, me neither, but I have done some daft things in my day. And one of my most memorable things was being deep inside an ancient pyramid – obvious really, not many ‘modern’ ones around are there, doh.

It was around the time of the start of the Iraq War in late March 2003. I know that as Egypt was practically empty of tourists, most being ‘scared off’ travelling to the Middle East. Yeah right, as if London or NYC is exactly the haven of safety – but I kid you not, many places that were normally swarming with visitors we almost found to be all to ourselves – result! Thankfully, the British adventure travel company had not cancelled the trip, although a couple of last minutes dropper-outers did reduce our numbers from 16 to 14 as I recall – again, result!

GIZA

GIZA

Yes we saw the Pyramids at Giza, yawn. In the brochures one sees these marvels of human endeavour standing proud and alone in the desert…. yeah right, it’s a tourist Mecca, with fleets of coaches and hordes of people, even then. What’s more, it literally right on the outskirts of Cairo, the mega large city that dominates that part of North Africa.

However, ours was an adventure trip, so we got to go off the main tourist track and explore some of the real stuff first hand. Our guide was an Egyptologist. He was a real one too, spending 8 months of the year digging, brushing and cataloguing ancient artefacts that litter his homeland, and the other 4 months he spends on the road with daft adventure tourists such as us lot.

images (2)

As well as the war situation, Egypt was not that long since recovering from the Luxor tourist massacre of 62  people literally outside Djeser-Djeseru (Hatshepsut’s Temple) on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings, close to Luxor. In fact a friend of ours back in the UK had lost a family member that fateful day; so the threats were tangible to us, but nevertheless, not something that ever put me off. When my day comes, it comes – guess that is why I emigrated to live in an area of the world known for regular seismic activity. As for our friend, she thought we had gone to Spain, and we left it at that.

We travelled in a midibus with a driver, our Egyptologist guide and two large chaps wearing jeans, shades and over-sized suit jackets, even though it was pretty warm (we were all in t-shirts). After a while we sussed it out, they had machine guns under their jackets.

STEPPED PYRAMID - SAQQARA

STEPPED PYRAMID – SAQQARA

Once out of town, we pulled over at a coffee shop, not Starbucks by a long shot, but a large shack that sold warm beverages, bottled water and the usual array of overpriced genuine fake tourist trinkets at top dollar prices. It was also a meeting point, and we saw one of our suited chaps shaking hands and talking to some roughty-toughty types in tight t-shirts, big boots, sporting bandanna’s and tattoos. When we left to resume our journey deeper into the desert, we noticed we had been joined by a military looking Jeep, piled full of these roughty-toughty guys; all carrying weapons of varying size as well as mean looking expressions. We had picked up our main armed escort – two suits was not considered adequate I guess.

We spent hour after hour, driving across almost deserted desert roads, visiting one pyramid after another. Each was different, unique by style, design and the era from which it was built. Such a change from Giza – THIS was real Egypt. THIS is what we had travelled here to see.

images (1)

Now here’s something I didn’t previously know – the ‘entrance’ to a pyramid is over half way up one side. And then, once you enter, you need to climb down, and then down, and then down some more to reach the burial chambers and all the ante rooms. Whilst not particularly tight or scary like going potholing, if you are of a claustrophobic disposition, I guess you could say it’s gonna be a challenge, mentally if not physically!

It’s dark, a bit scary, and so… so…. quiet.

It’s also not something you do every day, and one of those memories you can safely lock away in the grey cells to live over and over as the years pass. It’s gotta be what, 10 years now, I can still sense the feeling of being deep inside an Egyptian pyramid, the smell, the coolness, the mystery (shivers)…

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38 thoughts on “Deep Inside Pyramids Are Scary Places

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love ancient Egypt.

    Like

  2. Miia says:

    I would feel claustrophobic.. I hope there is a generator in case of power cuts!!?

    Like

  3. JenniferT says:

    Wow! Love this post a lot! Definitely inspire me to travel more regardless of the scary events!

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  4. Wow, now that was a fantastic adventure. I’m glad that you got to go on it, that you stayed safe and I thank you very much for posting about it, I enjoyed it.

    ted

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  5. balroop2013 says:

    still on my wish list…despite your scares!! Enjoyed reading it, though! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Chad says:

    Been a lot of places, Spike, but never a place like this. This is really cool.

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  7. I’d have been more scared of the living outside the pyramid than the dead inside, unless the armed men followed me inside, of course.

    What always occupies my mind about pyramids is how living servants, as possessions, were sealed up in the tomb with their dead royal master or mistress. Did they know they’d slowly and agonisingly suffocate or starve to death? It’s not like anyone ever escaped to tell the tale of what really happened.

    As for you living in an area of seismic activity — I’m assuming that’s because the soil is extra fertile.

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      I know, what a way to go – shudder at the thought! As you say, nobody ever came back to tell…

      As for seismic activity… Turkey is well renowned for earthquakes (20k dead in last 10 years). We have fixed lights in this place – got bored of watching hem ‘swing’ all too often in our last house! Keeps life interesting I guess.

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  8. Katie of Black Hills Reiki says:

    OK…you left us hanging here…..is there a part 2 to the story coming?!! 🙂

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  9. Yes it was cold and gloomy but so special. I had to drag our daughter down the steps saying, “This is a once in a lifetime experience, it’s a privilege”. However this was lost on my husband who suffers from claustrophobia and refused to follow us.

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  10. Great story. Egypt is still on our wish list but hasn’t been very accessible lately. But it seems to be back on organized tour operators so maybe 2014 will be the year we will get to see it though I understand a number of the pyramids are now closed to visitors because there were too much of them and it was damaging the frescoes…(Suzanne)

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    • Uncle Spike says:

      I always travel with adventure travel companies such as Exodus or Explore (both UK based)‎ as you really get away from the tourist stuff whenever possible. And you can choose your level of comfort and trip style these days too.

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      • Thanks for the tips. We travelled with Explore to Jordan and that was OK though we found the group too large at 20 but then again it was our first experience with group & organized travel. I have heard of Exodus but haven’t tried them yet. We tend to travel independently as much as we can but there are places where it might be best to go with a tour operator (for safety reasons!)

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        • Uncle Spike says:

          Agree, not my style at all (unless I have to). As for group size, they are stated, and some trips are down to 10-12 if you look, and they can often arrange your own mini group if you have the cash spare. Exodus and Explore are pretty well identical. For short period travel in hard to travel places, I just have to bow to such organisations for logistics alone.

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  11. ballerina95 says:

    I’d be scared to go that deep into Egypt. You are truly an adventurer

    Like

  12. great post, brother…. you can feel the mystery and awe of the place.

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