Unfortunately, being taken for a sucker comes with tourism. Whether it’s taxi drivers running up meters, tour groups overcharging for excursions or restaurants running two menus (the gringo and the local), it’s only a matter of WHEN you’ll get ripped off abroad, not IF. Education is key when traveling and in no place is knowledge needed more before arrival than Egypt.
As Jay Z says, “You can’t sell me b*llshit, we know the prices.” As does TravelCoterie after linking up with guide and Egyptologist Shereif Nasr who schooled us on things to avoid at the Pyramids of Giza if keeping your pounds from flying out of your pocket is on the agenda. Here are three rules he believes you should adhere by while visiting the ancient site:
1. Don’t Give Your Camera to Anyone
It’s not that “anyone” is likely to steal it, but they are likely to offer to take your photograph. This leads to choreographed jumps, facial expressions and directional posing that produces those ridiculous photographs we’ve all seen before of people kissing the Great Sphinx and things of this nature. After your photo shoot, the friendly photographer will haggle you for money despite likely offering to take the picture for free. And no matter what you give, they’ll likely press you for more. To avoid this, ask your friends, family, another tourists or your guide to take pictures and decline the offer from locals.
2. Camel Rides
Maybe cruelty to animals is your thing, maybe not. Either way, avoid doing a camel ride unless your guide helps arrange things in advanced. Do you know the going rate for a camel ride in at the Pyramids? That was a rhetorical question because we know you DON’T KNOW. Is it 700 Egyptian pounds? 400? Is that fair for an hour? Or two hours? Point being who the hell knows? According to Shereif, the going rate is approximately 250 Egyptian pounds, or around $16 for a ride around the desert plus tipping. Tell your guide what you want to pay and let them do the negotiating. But if you’re being charged more than 250 Egyptian pounds per person, you might want to decline and see how quickly the jockey drops their rate.
3. The Art Of Letting Go
When someone tries to sell you a souvenir, issue a firm “no thanks” and walk away. If you hesitate for a moment, ask how much or even lock eyes for a second, you will spend 20-minutes wishing you would have remembered this tip. Some of the more aggressive sellers will even go as far as placing items in your hands or crossed arms. When they do, drop the item on the ground and walk away. People here can be very pushy, not dangerous, but pushy. And unless your skilled at negotiations or just don’t care about being taken for a sucker, it’s best to acquire souvenirs somewhere else.
Just remember that the people working around the pyramids are trying to make a living. They live in a country with a struggling economy and aren’t bad people, just extremely savvy. Don’t be offended or upset if you feel like someone is trying to rip you off, smile and just remember the things you’ve read here. Also, if you would prefer to have a skilled guide with you, you can contact Shereif at firstname.lastname@example.org.