Camels, Horses, and Hawkers at Giza
One of the factors that most detracts from the tourist experience of a visit to the Giza Plateau is the constant haranguing by hawkers and by camels and horses traders. Two years ago as part of the Giza Plateau Site Management Masterplan the horses and camels were moved further out to the desert west of the archaeological area. This was an ideal solution for visitors, camel and horse traders and the site alike, for those tourists that wanted to ride a camel or horse could do so if they so wished and the animals and their owners did not damage the archaeological remains.

However, this situation did not last long and these annoying irritants to the visitors crept back again onto the Giza Plateau, mingling amongst the archaeological remains and pouncing on poor unsuspecting tourists. Some months ago, Dr. Zahi Hawass, the head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) attempted to remove the horses and camels again from the archaeological area into the desert. This however led to a stand off between the stable owners and the police, with the result being that the camels and horses were used to block the path to the pyramid area so that no visitors could pass. Now the owners of the stables and other hawkers have managed to force their way back in amongst the monuments.

Horses again encroaching on the monuments at Giza

This situation cannot be allowed to continue, for not only do these animals damage one of the most famous World Heritage Sites, but also their activities interfere with visitor flow throughout the archaeological area. With the planned visitor centre and other improvements to the site, such as pathways through the plateau aimed at regulating visitor flow and limiting the amount of damage to the site caused by visitors, this outmoded tourist ‘attraction’ must be removed permanently from the site. Tougher measures are required if the visitor experience is to be improved and the police must act decisively in conjunction with the (SCA) to enforce the rules at the site.

The SCA have recently completed a wall around the archaeological area to protect it from encroachment by the nearby village where most of the camel and horse traders and other hawkers live. Although this wall is extremely ugly, it was a deemed a necessary step, for example at the site of Lisht the local villagers have built their cemetery right up to the pyramids, although there is plenty of space for the cemetery without encroaching on the archaeological area. Existing laws protecting archaeological sites, such as those allowing a site a buffer zone from development, should be enforced. These tough measures are not only for the benefit of the archaeology and the visitors but also for the hawkers of souvenirs, camels and horses; for they may actually destroy the goose that lays the golden egg through their actions. By limiting their encroachment and moving the rides into the desert, Giza will again be truly one of the wonders of the world instead of a disappointing and annoying experience to tick off and never repeat.
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