Day Trips From Cairo: Dahshour

Journey out of Cairo to visit the Red Pyramid – the largest of Old Kingdom pyramids at Dahshour Necropolis
Journey out of Cairo to visit the Red Pyramid – the largest of Old Kingdom pyramids at Dahshour Necropolis | © PSI / Alamy Stock Photo
Dalia Awad

Around 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Cairo, Dahshour is a desert landscape dotted with some of the greatest surviving evidence of humanity’s development. It’s here that you will see the evolution of the pyramid, and take in the grandeur of Ancient Egypt, away from the crowds that populate the more typical destinations.

Just an hour drive from Downtown Cairo, Dahshour is a must on your trip to Egypt – but there’s a lot more to see and do here than pyramid gazing.

How to get to Dahshour from Cairo

Luckily, Dahshour is close enough to Downtown Cairo that no special travel arrangements need to be made. Stop a taxi (make sure the meter is running before you commit to a ride), or enter the destination into any of the well-known ride-sharing apps, and you shouldn’t have any problem. If you prefer a guided tour, your hotel or hostel should be able to recommend a number of guides and agencies that will include transportation in the total cost. Otherwise, a quick web search will reveal lots of packages you can book online.

A boat was found buried into the funeral complex of Pharaoh Senusret III, Dahshour

What to do in Dahshour

Between lush agricultural land served by a network of streams and dazzling desert landscapes, it’s perhaps no surprise that this area was part of Ancient Egypt’s capital, Memphis. In fact, archaeologists and historians continue to unearth more of the ancient site and learn more about the area and the way of life during excavations. Today, farming continues to be the most popular profession in the area, and you’ll feel a fresh breeze as soon as you escape the noise and pollution of the city on your way here. Unfortunately, the rural community doesn’t offer food and beverage options, bar a few local coffeeshops – so pack a lunch, or make plans to visit one of the many traditional restaurants in neighbouring Giza or Sakkara.

Freshly harvested dates are sold by the roadside in Dahshour

Visit the Bent Pyramid of Dahshour

Constructed sometime between 2613 BCE and 2589 BCE, the iconic Bent Pyramid of Dahshour marks the Pharaohs’ first foray away from the stepped-pyramids (seen in the neighbouring Sakkara) and towards the smooth-edged constructions that the world would later see executed perfectly at the Great Pyramids of Giza. Though the mathematics of this structure would ultimately be proven erroneous, this trial is nonetheless a feat in engineering.

The Bent Pyramid was built under Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu (2600 BCE)

Visit the Red Pyramid of Dahshour

Following the aforementioned construction errors seen in the Bent Pyramid, then-King Sneferu ordered another trial – this time, considered successful; it is suspected (though not confirmed) to be the burial site of the ancient ruler. Made of a unique red-tinted limestone, the 105-metre-tall (345-foot) red pyramid is one of few in Egypt that you can actually enter. Inside, you’ll find two chambers and, though they are largely empty and devoid of decoration, the energy in the pyramid’s ancient core is said to be felt by many travellers.

Take a camel or horse ride in Dahshour

Across the whole area, you’ll find tour guides offering horse and camel rides around Dahshour for a novel way to see the sights. Agree your price before you hop aboard your chosen mammal and do take care to choose the guides that appear to treat their animals with care.

A shepherd tends his sheep while riding his donkey at Dahshour Lake

Go on a picnic and spot wildlife at Dahshour marshlands

This gorgeous, lush green area, known locally as Berket Dahshour, has been a wildlife-laden escape since ancient times. Visit in spring or autumn when the marshlands turn into lakes, and more than 30 species of birds, 40 types of mammals and scores of amphibians can be spotted there. Pack your picnic and binoculars for this one-of-a-kind experience.

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