On the recent stop in Egypt on the Dawn Princess World Cruise, over 1,000 passengers and crew loaded into buses at Port Said where the ship had docked and took a 3 hour ride into Cairo, heading for the pyramids.

But while most everyone else was heading in the same direction, 26 of us had decided to head off the beaten track in 4WD vehicles. So we parted company with the police escorted bus convoy on the outskirts of Cairo and headed out to Sakkara where we would find not only Egypt‘s oldest pyramid but also a collection of 4WD‘s that would take us away from the crowds.

But before we got dusty four wheeling around the desert, we had a good look around the Step Pyramid, designed and built by Imhotep in  2650 B.C. for the Pharaoh Djoser.

The  Step Pyramid  and it’s surrounding enclosures, was the prototype for all other pyramids.

It’s currently undergoing extensive conservation work, but visitors can easily wander around the complex, viewing the colonnaded corridor, ancient limestone wall, and even 12th century tourist graffiti.

Then it was off again in convoy, but this time in  4WD’s and minus the police escort. Bouncing around in the dusty desert, we headed out in search of  first the Bent Pyramid and then the Red Pyramid of Dahshur 

At each pyramid, we exited the air-conditioned 4WD’s, surrounded not by hoards of visitors and vendors but only the desert and the obligatory policemen and their camels standing guard over the pyramids. 

     

Of course, no visit to Egypt is complete without a visit to the Great Pyramid of Giza and Sphinx. So we reluctantly gave up the 4WD vehicles, climbed back into the bus and headed back into crowded Cairo.

By the time we arrived at Giza in mid-afternoon, the crowds were already there, along with what seemed like hundreds of persistent and insistent vendors trying to sell Egyptian kitsch and camel rides.

(photo credits: Liz Lewis)

But having been up close and personal with the Step, the Bent, and the Red Pyramid, we were happy to stand back and let others crowd around the Sphinx.