Enamoured in Egypt- Saqqara

After a super cool visit to the Pyramids of Giza, we hop back on the tour bus and drive for around 45 minutes to the next historic site – Saqqara

Saqqara is a large ancient burial site that was the necropolis(cemetery) for the old Egyptian capital, Memphis. There are numerous pyramids here; as well as the famous Step Pyramid of Zoser. This is the oldest stone structure known in history. Like the entire world’s history! This is serious stuff! It’s 4,700 years young. There were also many animal mummies found here; many of them cats as the Egyptians worshipped the cat goddess, Bastet. We start in the section where there are many Old Kingdom tombs from the 1st to 3rd dynasties. Most of the tombs are make from mud brick, some from limestone. We first enter into the tomb of Kagemni, the largest in the Teti cemetery.

Kagemni was not a pharaoh, but a vizier – he looked after gold, had religious positions, and was the highest official to serve a pharaoh so it seems this was enough to deserve a massive tomb!

It has many halls and rooms, and the walls are beautifully decorated with scenes of daily life, wildlife, fishing. It is fascinating to take it all in and since it is my first look inside an Egyptian tomb, it’s pretty special.

Next, we head over to the nearby pyramid of King Teti – nowadays it looks more like a small hill but below the ground is where we will explore the chambers of his tomb. And down we go, a long ramp that leads deep underground to a hall with 3 chambers. At one point the ceiling is very low and even though I’m short, I still have to hunch over to walk through it.

One area is the burial chamber containing a sarcophagus – a stone coffin.

Photo courtesy of curiosmos.com

The walls of these rooms have inscriptions on them known as the Pyramid Texts; written in old Egyptian language and are the oldest known religious texts.

And walking back up the ramp to get out of the tomb

Back on the bus for a short drive over to the main attraction here – the Step Pyramid. To get to the pyramid we must walk trough the entry hall, which is a corridor with a lot of columns.

Fun Fact: the columns are carved to imitate bundled plant stems.

This pyramid is quite large; you can walk a bit closer to it but I admire it from afar – I think the pics turned out better in this instance.  

The pyramid belongs to Zoser, who was a pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty. It was built by the celebrity architect at the time, Imhotep (he was also Zoser’s vizier). It is different from the usual pyramids, as it has 4 sides and 6 tiers/steps. Underneath the pyramid is a labyrinth of chambers and galleries, but I believe it is closed to the public until 2020.

By this time, it’s late afternoon and we are getting HUNGRY so it’s time for lunch. We drive over to a place that can handle large groups – there has to be at least 3-4 groups here now. We sit at one of the long tables and they bring a bunch of food to the table and everyone shares. There’s grilled beef and chicken with grilled veggies, rice, hummus, pita bread, eggplant. And sweet dates for dessert. It’s actually a pretty tasty meal and there’s plenty of food to go around.

Photo courtesy of Ryan. Of course!

Which is a good thing, because Ryan…this boy can EAT. He casually keeps asking the servers to bring more meat. Haha.

Now it’s time to head back to the hotel in Cairo; we’re not that far away but the traffic is horrendous. I don’t know if it was just a bad route we took or if it’s just like this everywhere. It took over an hour and we were stuck in the same spot forever. But it was interesting to see some of regular Cairo life as people go about their day.

Daily life for a Cairo kitty

At one point we witness a woman whose car gets sideswiped by a small van, ripping off her front bumper. Poor girl. But there are no real rules on these roads, and drivers just cut in wherever they can – no matter how small the space is.

This guy is a good driver

When we finally get back to Oasis hotel, a few of us girls grab a seat poolside and have some drinks. I’m with Libby and Claudia, and then Brittany joins us so it’s nice to have a chat and get to know these awesome ladies!

When I booked this tour, there were options of how you can get to the next destination, Aswan. The 12-hour overnight bus ride is included in the cost, or you can pay extra and upgrade to a 1-hour flight – I decided the flight was worth it. So I’m thinking we’d get back from sightseeing, head to the airport and then relax for the evening in Aswan – fresh and rested for sightseeing the next day. Wellllllll…..no. The flight is actually the next morning. SUPER EARLY. And this means that my drinks with the girls must end at a reasonable time and I go to bed at 9:30. Good god. And what’s worse….my alarm is set to go off at 2:30am. Man, I’m usually up until this time, not getting up at this time! But as I will find out, this will be the new normal for the next week. UGH.

To sum it up, today was a fantastic day of exploring the UNESCO world heritage sites of Giza and Saqqara. A memorable day I will never forget! And tomorrow, we will be in Aswan………….

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