From Stratford to Giza: A virtual reality experience transports you to ancient Egypt

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Egypt’s Pyramids but couldn’t afford it, a new virtual reality option now exists in Stratford that gives a pretty decent experience, minus the baking sun and tourists.

CGI from inside the VR experience (c) Horizon of Khufu

It’s a mix of factual history and a dose of fantasy delivered in a virtual reality room, which is while still obviously computer generated, still remarkably effective, right down to doses of vertigo and occasional worries about banging your head on low stone corridors.

The experience, Horizon of Khufu, takes you on a visit to the Great Pyramid of Cheops/Khufu and a walk inside up the famous grand gallery and into the King’s Chamber.

Then something happens that takes you back to the time of the Pharaohs and to see the Giza complex as the ancient Egyptians would have known it.

But first, you need to gear up, which is to put a backpack on which contains the electrics and then put on the VR headset. A few adjustments for comfort and a fiddle to find the volume control, and you’re off.

It’s not a stationary experience as you will be walking around what is in fact a large empty room, but in the VR world is the changing landscape of Giza. A tour guide appears and leads the way, and do look out for the cat; it’s important later.

One of the more exciting experiences is when stone platforms lift and fly through the sky to take you up the pyramids, and while you intellectually know you’re standing on a solid floor in a Stratford shopping centre, I will admit to always moving to the centre of the “flying carpet” and wobbling a bit at times.

(they advise people worried about heights to sit on the floor)

There were a few other moments when the brain said I was fine, but the heart would rather have been elsewhere else.

I won’t spoil the surprise about what happens when you go back in time, but to say it’s good fun and, as someone who studied parts of ancient Egyptian history, it looked historically pleasing to my amateur eye, with some very understandable leaps of the imagination in places.

The flying solar boat towards the end is really fun.

CGI from inside the VR experience (c) Horizon of Khufu

I’ve used VR headsets a few times in the past, but always in engineering environments, and as they’re for building plans, they lacked the immersive effect created here. While you know you’re in a computer-generated land, it genuinely feels “real”, especially when standing on high locations, and you can’t help but take a step back a bit from the edge.

You can do the visit on your own or in small groups, and so that you don’t bump into your friends, they appear inside your world as ghostly apparitions with Tron-Disks on their backs.

Short of an actual visit to Egypt, this is a good substitute.

The visit lasts 45 minutes, and at £45 a ticket, it’s not the cheapest thing to do in London, but it’s different and enjoyable.

Tickets and information is here.

Visit tips:

I wore my varifocal glasses, which was a mistake as I ended up peering upwards a lot to see the land in focus. Should have bought my plain glasses.

I’d suggest that they recommend people stay quiet, as on my visit, another group was chatting a bit, and it’s so weird to hear people with quite strong accents that are most certainly not Egyptian chatting while you’re in the ancient lands.

As someone who struggles with motion sickness, I was surprised how little it affected me. The room’s a bit warm though, so don’t wear heavy coats. A small locker is provided for belongings. I was pleased to see that they have a configuration for people in wheelchairs so the VR sightlines are corrected for the user’s lower height.

The venue is the outdoor “street” at Westfield Stratford, towards the John Lewis end of the shopping centre.

This article was published on ianVisits


This website has been running now for just over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, but doesn’t cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It’s very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether its a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what your read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

Leave a Comment

Subscribe Now and get 5% discount on your first Booking