So I took a 3 year old inside the Great Pyramids. Actually, he was almost 3. What can I say?
My son Bird is a smart young kid. He is endlessly curious, and always willing to try new things. I owed him the chance to climb the dark musty interior of the Great Pyramid. So we did.
Though it was insanely difficult, I made sure Bird got to the top, and into the main chamber inside the one of the pyramids of Egypt! If you have never been inside, you cannot imagine how hard the climb can be.
We first arrived on the plateau with our guide, Emad, from Memphis Tours. Emad is an Egyptologist who is in love with his amazing country. I am so deeply proud to call him my friend. Emad explained how to avoid scams and pitfalls along the way.
Apparently, people will hand you something and then demand you pay for it. If you don’t pay, they will try and say that you are refusing to pay (like a shoplifter). Best to keep your hands to yourself!
Emad brought us to the base of the main Great Pyramid at Giza. At last, one of my most intrepid bucket list items has been crossed off! What could beat that?!
The simple answer, being there with my family! My wife and our two boys were right there with me. Bird was almost 3 at the time and little Bear was a newborn, but he hung in there like a champ. My temple roaming, camel riding, desert Bear was a champ through the whole trip. So, as we stood in awe, I wondered what else was there to do but take Bird inside the Great Pyramids!
I had no idea how difficult this would be.
No photography is allowed inside. In order to respect laws and wishes of the Egyptian people, I will share images from Google instead. Ready at the entrance to one of the world’s greatest monuments, in we go….
At first we were greeted by some standard looking ancient stone stairs. No problem. Once at the top of the dozen or so stone stairs, everything changed.
Once you climb those initial steps, you are faced with is 146m of wooden slats. I wouldn’t even call it a ladder, each “step” about half an inch deep and the length runs at about a 45 degree angle for as far as you can see. With only room for one (and a half) people going up or down at the same time, we begin.
About 150 “steps” up into the pyramid, little Bird started to get tired. He did well considering he didn’t really understand what we were doing, or why. Suddenly, I realized that we may fail to reach the summit. We may not actually make it to the top and explore this life long dream with together.
Beginning to feel the effects of the humidity (yes it is very humid) and dust, I leaned in to ask him if he wanted to go back down. Before I could say it, some tourists were passing us on their way down. They asked the little boys name (which I will replace with Bird to keep his life as private as I can). He responded sadly.
The wonderful travelers, slowly began to chant his name….bird…bird….Bird! …BIRD ! BIRD!!! Bird started to smile ear to ear and in a Rocky Balboa moment, he agreed to keep climbing the 0.5 inch toe grips they call a staircase.
About half way up, legs burning, throat and eyes filling with dust we stopped at a small landing to catch our breath. Bird did ask to quit at this point. I wouldn’t let him. Instead I carried him the rest of the way! Another football field of climbing the shallow slats lay ahead, but we pressed on.
Dripping with sweat, barely able to see we FINALLY reached the top! What did we see?!
Another staircase! WHAT?!
This set was not too long, but even I almost quit at this point! Despite being a even more steep, it was short, and so we push on. Once at the very top, we saw a flat stone wall with a tiny crawlspace on the ground about waist high. Great. With my knees shaking and my back spasming, I bent over and crab walked through the 50 ft long passage.
We had done it! We were in! They tomb of the Great Pyramid at Giza was OURS! We looked through the (very) dark room to see the bare walls, unadorned floors, and an empty stone rectangle.
Anticlimactic. Still, I was proud beyond words at our achievement. We were standing in the ancient center of the Great Pyramid!
We spent a few moments in the burial chamber. Once satisfied, we crawled back through the long, and very awkward, tunnel to the main stairs. As we turned to the stairs, it hit me. We had to go DOWN.
Bird couldn’t grip the slats or side step as the length between them was longer than his legs. The drop was straight down. You couldn’t even see the bottom but you knew that if you slipped you would end up 146 meters down bruised and broken.
I had to balance myself and do squats to lower Bird down 1 meters at a time. Imagine doing squats at 45 degrees, balancing on your toes, breathing humid dust in very dim light. I had to lower Bird to each slat with extreme care.
After climbing the first part UP, and carrying Bird half the way, then doing power squats the whole way down … my legs were nothing but jelly.
Soaked with sweat and barely able to stand we emerged from the famous tomb with a immense sense of pride. We found my wife and baby happily taking baby wearing photos at the mouth of the pyramid, and we went on with our tour.