U.S. embassy to Americans: Stay away from Giza's pyramids

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WASHINGTON -- The American Embassy in Cairo has bad news for anyone traveling to Egypt: For now, the pyramids in Giza should be considered off limits -- at least if you're visiting without a trusted guide.

Describing a pattern of increasing lawlessness at the iconic tourist destination outside Cairo, the embassy is warning that some visitors have found their cars surrounded by angry individuals, and that in some cases those individuals have tried to open the doors. Here's the embassy's late May warning about the pyramids in full:

"In recent weeks, the U.S. Embassy has become aware of an increasing number of incidents at or near the Giza Pyramids. The majority of these incidents are attributed to overaggressive vendors, though the degree of aggressiveness in some cases is closer to criminal conduct. Other more serious incidents have been reported involving vehicles nearing the Pyramids, with angry groups of individuals surrounding and pounding on the vehicles -- and in some cases attempting to open the vehicle's doors. While the motive is less clear (possibly related to carriage operators wanting fares), it has severely frightened several visitors. A common theme from many of these reports is the lack of visible security or police in the vicinity of the Pyramids. U.S. citizens should elevate their situational awareness when traveling to the Pyramids, avoid any late evening or night travel, utilize a recommended or trusted guide, and closely guard valuables. Though other tourist locations have not been brought to Embassy attention, these measures are also recommended at all crowded or popular tourist sites."

Graham Harman, associate provost for research administration at the American University in Cairo, echoes the embassy's warning. "It feels almost like an openly criminal environment now," he wrote on his blog. "Don't even think of going to the Pyramids unless you're on a large organized bus tour."

Turbulence at the pyramids is terrible news for Egypt, whose economy is in a tailspin. Tourism has been a source of strength for the economy in the past, but it has also struggled in the aftermath of the revolution, whose accompanying chaos has scared off many tourists.



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