Although tourism is apparently on the rise, exploring the site of the pyramids is like walking on the moon: it's deserted, forlorn and uninhabited.The Great Sphinx, stoic-faced and imposing, and the three looming pyramids surrounding it, are often empty and quiet.Last month, a colossal pharaoh's head - thought to belong to either Ramses II or King Psammetichus I - and a limestone bust of Seti II, were unearthed from from the mud of a Cairo slum.On the heels of that find, a new pyramid dating back to the 13th dynasty, was discovered just south of Cairo by an Egyptian excavation team.Rusty cars whir by, lurching left and right, an orchestra of horns trumpeting their arrival and departure from one traffic light to the next. This is both the doorstep to the Middle East, the corridor to North Africa, the launchpad of revolutions that reverberated worldwide, and the home of more than nine million Egyptians.But despite the beautiful chaos, Egypt is actually drought-stricken when it comes to visitors.
Everything was busy." "It's the opposite now, completely," the Giza-based guide added, with hints of sadness in his voice as he explained the deterioration of his work. "I think the uprising in 2011 and the uncertainty throughout the transition period from [Hosni] Mubarak to [Mohamed] Morsi contributed [to] people staying away," he added.
This evident slump in traffic is worrying for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO, which is reponsible for preserving the pyramids.
"It concerns us because we understand that dynamic of tourism," said Peter De Brine, a senior project officer of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and a coordinator of its Sustainable Tourism Programme.
"People are fascinated by ancient Egypt and so it would bring more people back," Cook said in reference to the latest archaeological discoveries.
"The fact that high-profile individuals like Lionel Messi and Will Smith were visiting the country, they were very hopeful that those were good signs and that they would attract people back to the country," he added.