04/22/2013 10:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pyramids -- Blockbuster Egypt

Rick Stebes

The wonders of Egypt await your visit. Sure, the Middle East is in turmoil. Sure, the Arab Spring is becoming a bumpy ride. But with a good hotel and a good local guide (which you can get cheaper than in London), you have the wonders of this amazing place all to yourself...and 80 million Egyptians. Video by Trish Feaster (for her Egypt blog, see

Historically, tourism has been a leading sector in Egypt's economy. At the moment, most of its tourist industry is beach resorts... basically gated resort communities catering to masses of Russians eager for a sun break. Beyond that, the cultural tourist circuit of its great ancient sites (Giza pyramids, monuments and temples of Luxor, Abu Simbel, and so on) is a must on anyone's lifetime bucket list. But all of those travelers are staying away. The great sites of Egypt are wide open with police guards standing by... and almost no tourists. In my first week in Egypt, touring nearly all its top ancient sites, I saw tourists, but I never saw an American. Apparently my compatriots from "the land of the free and the home of the brave" are pretty susceptible to scary TV coverage.

Giza parking lots, once filled with big tour buses, are now empty.

The spectacle and wonder of Egypt's ancient sights is even more apparent when -- deep inside a pyramid -- you're the only one gazing at the 4,000-year-old hieroglyphs.

In former times, the carpet shops that line the road leading to the pyramids were jammed with tour groups. Today, they are literally empty.

The pyramids at Giza tower above the sand at the edge of Cairo. Four thousand years ago, you could take it with you. Imagine two million stones, two tons each, carved, transported, and then stacked high...all so a king could take his stuff into the next life.

Someday, I'll climb to the top.

I made a new friend in front of the pyramids. He'd like to say hello.