Russian Photographers Sneak to Top of Great Pyramid and Capture the View


Russian photographer Vitaliy Raskalov recently visited the Great Pyramid of Giza with two of his adventuring photography buddies: Vadim Mahorov and Marat Dupri. Unlike most camera-toting tourists visiting the famous site (the pyramid is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the trio was not content with sticking to visitor-approved areas: they decided to risk prison time by sneaking to the top of the pyramid and photographing that rarely-seen view.


The complex is open to tourists from 9am to 4pm. Raskalov writes that at 4pm, the three of started hiding from the armed guards and waiting for an opportunity to sneak up. They spent 5 hours waiting and shivering from the cold.

When they finally got their opportunity, they began the 146.5 meter (481ft) ascent.


At the top, they found many paintings and inscriptions in different languages (including Arabic, French, and Russian). From that vantage point, they were able to snap nighttime photographs of the landscape that most photographers can only dream of:



The three photographers could see the armed guards from the top of the pyramid, so they had to be careful not to be seen. Here are a couple of photos of the members of the group by Mahorov:



According to Raskalov, the stunt could have resulted in jail time of 1 to 3 years had they been caught.

Once they had the photographs they wanted, the trio descended and then disappeared under the cover of darkness:


You can find more (and higher-res) photos from this adventure over on Mahorov’s LiveJournal blog.

You may recognize Mahorov’s name from a precious post here that featured his photography. He’s one of the Russian daredevils that has made a name for himself across the Web as a thrill-seeking skywalking photographer who shoots death-defying photographs.

Image credits: Photographs by Vitaliy Raskalov/Vadim Mahorov/Marat Dupri and used with permission

  • jususgfq

    of course russians.. they and albanians are the majority of criminals in my country too.

  • Katarakt

    maybe some albanians too.. but east block people.
    they are unethical because of the balcan war and all the cruelty.
    they are the … of europe now (my opinion).
    they come to my country and 90% do not work but live from my tax money.

  • Andres Trujillo

    Amazing images, but a little out of line, there’s a reason why it is the only one of the wonders of the ancient world still standing… oh well

  • Jake

    Oh that’s right, I keep forgetting that things need to be defined and categorized before they can be appreciated. Led Zeppelin are often called one of the great heavy metal bands ever…only they’re not really heavy metal by today’s standards, and they also play blues, folk…so screw them.

    And I’m not calling these masterpieces, I’m just saying a masterpiece can be taken in any place or context, but the focus in this article is clearly more about how they got the shots which I appreciate.

  • madmax

    Let´s put things in a neutral perspective:

    It is illegal to climb the Pyramid and if caught, you are severely punished (and I suposse prisons in Egypt are not very comfortable). So, probably very few people is willing to take this risk and the pyramid will not be damaged. In any case, I´d better go barefoot to show respect and minimise erosion.

  • apollo

    by the quality of your English, I can say that you probably are that generation “F*** the system, I do what ever I want, I’m a hipster”.

  • faloc

    the quality of my English? well Im half Taiwanese and from the the 90’s generation…and yes, Im a freedom fighter against all governments! Hipsters pfft….. another way of saying “I dont understand this”

  • camaro_mang

    most impressive

  • branden rio

    Now here’s the vitriol and hate I’ve come to expect on Petapixel comments! Bravo!

  • Moo79


  • byoung328

    I’m one of those people with the wrong name. At this point I would rather drive 10 hours than drive 2.

  • byoung328

    These photos could have easily been done using a small aircraft or some other legal means. Some of these artifacts are so fragile that simply exposing them to air causes them to instantly disintegrate. The reason the place is so well guarded is because idiots like these have done more damage to the pyramids and their surroundings in the last 100 years than nature has in the last 4000. These aren’t the first people to take photos from this vantage point. The difference is others have done it legally. Nova took better photos from the same vantage point years ago. They did it with the help of archeologist and the Egyptian authorities in a manner that was determined to cause as little damage as possible. Getting a shot that others cannot is sometimes the most fulfilling part of being a photographer, but there’s a line, and these tools crossed it.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Jake, I didn’t say it couldn’t be appreciated, I just said it not great photography. Which it isn’t. And this is a photography site.

    It is performance art. If the act is what makes it interesting, that’s what it is. This is the equivalent of Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box. Look at me, I’m art. So again, like I said, this might be great performance art, but its not great photography.

    Led Zeppelin appearing in a “Electronic Dance Music” blog would be referred to in the same way. “It might be great music, but it isn’t great electronic dance Music”.

    These images are not masterpieces, so any reference to “masterpieces can be found anywhere” is moot.

  • Steve

    Irony alert.

  • tarnis

    Tell that to your g-d, Steve Jobs.

  • Wojtek

    Have you been there? Have you seen the shape the limestone is in? Are you an egyptologist of archeologist that can speak to the shape of the stone? If not you’re understating the recklessness of the photographers. I spend about 10 days in Egypt about two years ago and was flabbergasted by the horrific shape the pyramids are in. Thousands of years of erosion and hundreds of years of pollution have taken a grave toll on the limestone. If the climb was safe and not detrimental to the structure, climbing would be allowed.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    i’m pretty sure the only reason they don’t let you climb them is because of how famous they are or possibly because of insurance issues if people fell down them. Other pyramids and structures that are the same age and older around the world don’t have the same limitations.

    also – to be honest, the state they are in doesn’t surprise nor flabbergast me – they are almost 5 thousand years old. They’re not going anywhere any time soon because some photographers climbed to the top.

  • Wojtek

    So you haven’t been there … Name three other structures of that age that aren’t in ruins and which you can climb [study your history, there aren’t any ]

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    seashell pyramids in Brazil are older than anything in Egypt, no tourism or government craziness surrounding those that I know of – pretty sure you could climb them if you wanted to

  • Logan

    This is awesome!! Good for them! They are truly living life. And pssst …. It’s been done thousands and thousands of times. All you scared people go back to your cubes and stare…

  • Donald

    The main reason the general populace is forbidden, whether by law or just local site administration, from unrestricted access to these antiquity sites is graffiti vandalism. The lead photo and another part way down shows exactly this: carved graffiti, not paint, tags.

    I am originally from the middle east and have visited almost every archeological antiquity site along the eastern Mediterranean and everywhere you see centuries of carved graffiti name tags; if there’s any take away it’s that centuries of tourists were interested in the same sites we are today and that for centuries morons have carved into the limestone, sandstone, marble, X luvs Y, I wuz here 2013, etc. Indeed, at many sites, even very remote, hard to access sites, for example in the Jordanian desert or Turkish mountains, always you see this carved name tag graffiti on Crusader castles to reputed Christian martyr caves, and also in shocking places such as very old churches and mosques. Occasionally, it gets it’s own notoriety as later famous personages such as Lord Byron carved his name into the temple of Poseidon at Sounioun Greece.

    So, of course, probably these young Russians did not carve their names into the pharaoh’s sandstone pyramids, but even in their own photos we have evidence of previous equally adventurous tourists that did. I can’t stress enough how ubiquitous these carved, and now also chalk-pen-marker-charcoal, graffiti name tags are, over centuries and millenia they really add up! So laws to stop access to unescorted or otherwise observed tourists to these antiquities’ sites is very warranted.

  • Sean

    Just think what Indiana Jones accomplished by breaking the rules.

  • Nadîa Nehãd

    ya ppl it’s off-limits but sometimes laws are meant to be broken;) and the photoshoots are EXTRAORDINARY :)

  • palenque

    not cool at all…! why would you publish these photos?

  • Jon Parker

    You are right of course. It is not fare, but thats the rule/law! It is for the greater good !

  • Ben

    Lol, yeah he managed to destroy all kinds of ancient archeaological wonders.

  • ldavidian

    Other pyramids or structures that old where you still can climb up? Please name ONE. Obviously you are IGNORANT!

  • ldavidian

    Seashell Pyramids of Brazil is a pile you moron.

  • ldavidian

    Climbing up there illegally IS vandalism.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    it’s still a pyramid ;)

  • Lila

    They are so bad-ass cool for doing this.

  • Stephen Hopson

    There is one photo that I would like to use and am trying to track these guys down to get their permission. How do I do this? You can send me an email to sjhopson(at)yahoo(dot)com

  • Niels Bo Nielsen

    Tried to do the same at machu picchu two years ago.. however i resulted in no pictures due to bad weather and location choice. Not fun sitting on an exposed piece of rock looking at a thunder storm getting closer and closer.

  • Cj

    It’s ok but he could have did better

  • Angie Mac

    Great pics, but now that you’ve posted them with your identities, I’d stay out of Egypt for a while.

  • maxxjs

    seriously, get off your high horse a-hole. :) Your response is a testament to jealously.

  • w

    sounds fun to me.

  • w

    The pyramids werent built by the egyptians, this had been established long ago. It’s strange to still see people regurgitating that information

  • Maxx

    You act like these means are available to any ole person, try and be realistic buddy. This is a testament to adventure. Stop hating.

  • w

    So many jealous haters!! its sickening