The White Desert – Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza, The Luxor Temple, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings, all of these attractions are at the top of everyones must see list in Egypt, but very few manage to find the time to hop in a 4X4 jeep and discover the remote destination of The White Desert.
Read these indie travel tips for visiting Cairo.
For one thing a trip to the center of the country must be far too expensive, time consuming and difficult to plan. However, a 3-day trip from the Dahab Hostel in Downtown Cairo can be booked for a bargain price of 450e ($80) per person for 2 nights and 3 days. The trip includes all meals and transfers a visit to the hot springs, a 4X4 ride in the sand dunes that you won’t soon forget and an extraordinary night camping Bedouin style in the White Desert.
A five-hour coach ride takes you from Cairo’s downtown bus station to the small town of Bahariya, the jumping off point for safaris into the desert in Egypt’s interior. The scenery is spectacular. Vast rolling dunes disappear into the clear blue sky for as far as they eye
By mid-afternoon, the coach arrives at the guest-house where travelers are fed a traditional Bedouin meal of red sauce and potato, with rice, pita and sweet tea. Delicious. Not a lot of time to settle in though, because within the hour, you are back on the road to head to the main attraction.
Make sure to buy a traditional headscarf before leaving the compound to keep the sand out of your face and for added warmth at night, because the next 2 days are filled with extreme climates that will surprise even the most seasoned traveler.
Hopping into the back of a 4X4 jeep, gives a real sense of adventure. Bumping along the road in the intense heat surrounded by sand makes you fell as though you are in an Indiana Jones Movie.
It is not long until you enter The Black Desert, a nice prelude to the forthcoming White Desert. Climbing a high peak you will overlook an amazing desert vista. Black pebbles caused by erosion blowing in from the mountains cover the entire land, turning it to an ominous dark shade.
Making sure to keep with the feeling that you are truly traveling off of the beaten path, you will pass through a couple of security check points with armed guards and road blocks. The thrill is worth it because the instant you are allowed through check point number two, the terrain instantly turns to a white landscape that looked as if a blanket of snow has just fallen on the ground.
White monoliths jut out of the sand and become larger and more impressive until you reach your final destination. A campsite surrounded by the most amazing rock formations seen on this planet. Giant pure white sculptures resembling mushrooms, camels and hawks scatter the landscape. Made of chalk, these works of art are formed by wind and erosion. Solid enough to walk upon, yet so fragile that they can flake off with the stroke of a hand.
Bedouin guides prepare the camp putting up traditional walls made of thick material. They cover the ground with woolen blankets and start a fire to keep you warm. Three colorful walls surround the camp to block the wind with the front open to the fire. The shelter remains roofless to reveal the starry sky and everyone huddles together to settle in for a thrilling evening in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Day two starts with a hearty breakfast and then it is back to Bahariya for an unforgettable 4X4 adventure through steep dunes. The ride is long and full of excitement as people are tossed about hitting heads on the roof, but laughing through the entire drive. The hot springs are a welcome change to the high-energy thrill ride.
The day ends with a hike up to a high plateau for one final look at the desert landscape and to take in that final view of the mythical Sahara Desert. It may not be the most popular trip on an Egyptian itinerary, but it is certainly the most thriling and spectacular, giving unique memories that will rival any adventure that you will experience in your life.