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The Other Pyramids Near Cairo. Saqqara and Djoser, Ancient Memphis

Just a little south of Cairo is a tourist attraction that most tourists don’t see. That’s a great shame because this ancient necropolis on the west bank of the Nile turned out to be one of my favourites of our whole month in Egypt. Maybe it was partly because we hadn’t been here before ( if you’re new, Chef and I met in Egypt some 17 years ago), but also, there was a sense of being somewhere remote and partly untouched by tourism.

We saw very few foreign visitors on our day at Saqqara ( Sakkara), Djoser and Ancient Memphis, admittedly, there are very few tourists in Egypt currently, but these ancient pyramids and tombs, some of the oldest in Egypt, were deserted.

We also learned a lot, stuff we didn’t know we didn’t know, so lets share some words and images about the step pyramid, red pyramid, the bent or broken pyramid and the giant Ramesses statue unearthed on the site of Memphis.

We had an incredible time in Egypt although,at times, it was challenging. I’d encourage all of you to go now if you’ve been dreaming of pyramids and papyrus for years, wondering if it will ever be safe. We felt absolutely fine there.

Sakkara, Djoser and Memphis Day Tour From Cairo

The bent or broken pyramid near Cairo Egypt
The bent or broken pyramid, here seen from Ibrahim’s taxi, was an early unsuccessful pyramid building prototype.
Driving with Ibrahim Cairo driver taxi
Arriving at the deserted red pyramid site by taxi.
The red pyramid at Dahshur
Yes, we were the only visitors for most of our time there.
The scale is immense, the red dot is my son, on his way up to the pyramid’s entrance.
In case you needed more convincing as to how big these things are. Some more tourists showed up, those tiny mini-figures to the left.
Chef and the boys descend into the heart of the tomb. I didn’t get far before claustrophobia got the better of me.
emerging from the red pyramid of djoser
Chef emerges with photos of the heiroglyphs inside to let me share. Of course there is an attendant, there is always an attendant and they always ask for a tip.
The Saqqara Step Pyramid
A lonely camel at the all but deserted Saqqara ( Sakkara) step pyramid
The mortuary complex at the Saqqara complex. It’s a huge site, mostly unexcavated, you are literally tripping over tombs and immaculate hieroglyphs.
The giant Ramesses statue at Ancient Memphis on the east side of the Nile no distance at all from the step, red and broken pyramids.
Egyptian heiroglyphics Djoser
Hieroglyphs inside one of the Saqqara tombs, still with traces of original paint. I so with I’d taken a photo of the series showing a hippo giving birth!
Driver in Egypt with shisha
A stop at ancient Memphis for shisha and sweet mint tea. D, my dorky-hatted almost teen, this trip was his 13th birthday gift, hung out with the dude making papyrus in the shop behind. Once we could tear him away from Rick Riordan’s Ancient Egyptian stories on his Kindle.
Making papyrus in Egypt
Ok, so we’ve done school today. In spades.

The History of The Saqqara, Step and Red Pyramids, Briefly!

The Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara was the largest building of its time and illustrates the evolution from flat-roofed mastaba, to stacked mastabas, to pyramids. It is 126m high and dates from around 2500-2600BC. The entire step pyramid complex is huge and includes temples, tombs and other structures, many can be entered today.

The Red Pyramid, is the largest of the three Dahshur necropolis pyramids south of Cairo on the site of Ancient Memphis. It is 105m tall. The narrow passageway to the central tomb is over 61m deep. It may never have been used by its creator, the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu . It is thought to be Egypt’s first true pyramid.

The broken or bent pyramid was also constructed by Pharoah Sneferu and was an earlier, failed , prototype.

The Dahshur pyramids were closed to the public fr many years because of nearby army camps and activity

For you, for Pinterest.

Egypt's Other Pyramids Saqqara, Djoser Red and Step an Dahab

How to Get to The Step Pyramid, Djoser and Memphis from Cairo

We had a driver and car arranged through our guest house owner and minder in Cairo. For those of you not lucky to have a trusted contact , I would strongly recommend booking a tour with pick up from your Cairo accommodation and set price and itinerary. Arranging tours in Egypt is troublesome and rip offs are plentiful. If you book through a trusted company you have a fixed, date, time and price and come-back if anything goes wrong. Get your guide also have a best price or money back guarantee, you can find a tour to the step pyramid at Djoser and the whole Sakkara complex, here. This tour includes the Giza pyramids. Try to get to these other pyramids near Cairo if you can, you’ll find more ideas in our Things to Do in Cairo post.

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Sunday 25th of June 2017

I too love visiting the offbeat sites. Cool that you can get to the interiors too.


Saturday 17th of June 2017

Woah! This is news to me! I would love to visit and see these too!

Punita Malhotra

Friday 16th of June 2017

I am so fascinated by the history and architecture of Egypt. This post highlights the magnitude of their structures...specially the picture where your son is walking up the pyramid. Wow! That Rameses statue is mammoth!

Jolene Ejmont

Friday 16th of June 2017

I looks like you guys really dived right in to the culture there! That giant statue is totally incredible and the whole experience truly looks incredible!

Mel | the wandering darlings

Friday 16th of June 2017

The pyramids must be amazing to see in person!! Egypt is such a marvellous country. Loved your photographs

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