Wild-eyed in the Cairo night

So it's the weekend, you've been out, had dinner, a maybe few drinks and then... not in the mood for a club? Why not ride a camel around the back of the Pyramids? What a great idea.

People, I am serious. We'd been out, eaten, drinks, and then someone looked up into the sky. Full moon! Midnight! It's time to go horseriding! So three cars of us flew out to Giza where stables line the fence around the Pyramids. Even though it was past midnight, the streets were full of young guys on horses, galloping - yes galloping - wildly up the tracks that lead out of the city and into the desert - a distance of less than a kilometer.

By daylight, this area is a tourist hub, with touts leading riders from across the globe out around the Pyramids and past the Sphinx on camels, horses and even a donkey or two. By night, the locals come out to play (at half the price), especially during the full moon, which clearly lights the sandy desert.

We saddled up, my flighty grey mare pulling at the bit and skittering sideways when a band of about 15 boys flew past us. She spotted a few horses in a separate group in front of us and took off. Great. I was riding a leader, not a follower.

There were just five of us riding, and we finally got into a cohesive group, turned a corner past a few shops and there it was - the desert sand and the pyramids in the full moon. We cantered easily for about 20 minutes to a hill lit with fires, where guys sold hot tea - no polystyrene cups, we were drinking from glassware, baby.

We sat on logs pulled around a carpet (they SO know how to do this desert style thing), everyone smoked a cigarette, then mounted up again for home. We cantered the desert, my horse ever alert for the rocks and shale that marks part of the desert, the pyramids to my left, lit eerily with an orange glow. (Yes, it's a gratuitious horse and pyramid shot taken in the day, months ago.)

As we rode through Giza yet more packs of boys (and a few squealing girls) on horses were heading out into the night, accompanied by at least one annoyingly loud quad bike and a dune-bashing car.

We turned our horses into the stables, to see a final group of about seven saddling up, and bringing up the rear were two wild boys high up on a pair of camels, about to set out. I looked at my watch. It was 3am.

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