Like other North African countries, Egypt also owns a share of Sahara, the greatest desert on Earth. The river Nile, flowing almost straight from south to north has divided the Egyptian part of Sahara by two segments – Western Desert & Eastern Desert. The Western Desert is mostly rocky desert, with a smaller sandy part. It offers spectacular views of amazing rock formations; those were always in our bucket list. Therefore, while planning for a vacation in Egypt, we kept four days for venturing and camping in some areas of Western Desert. Khaled, a local guide from El Bawiti, the main town of Baharia Oasis made all necessary arrangements like car, camping equipments, food, permit etc. There, we spent some best days of our life and here I am blogging to help them, who dream for the same.
Itinerary we followed:
Day 1 : Cairo – Wadi Al Rayan – Magic Lake – Wadi Al Hitan – Night Stay at Al Bawiti
Day 2 : El Bawiti – Black Desert – Watermelon Valley – Camping amidst sand dunes
Day 3 : Sand dunes – Agapat Valley – Camping in White Desert National Park
Day 4 : White Desert National Park – Crystal Mountains – El Bawiti – Cairo
Western Desert is a huge area loaded with wonders. This was our first trip there and we have explored just few of them. There are many more things to see and we hope to experience the rest in future.
We were there in October 2016. Possibilities of obtaining permit to visit and camp in any may subject to change with times.
10 Amazing Places in Brief
- Wadi Al Rayan : This place is famous for having waterfalls in desert. There are two manmade lakes – upper lake and lower lake with waterfalls between them.
- Magic Lake : Usually a lake in desert is fed by any waterfalls or river, but this lake is surrounded by sand dunes and no visible connection with any nearby water-body exists! That’s the magic! Actually there is an underground river which connects this lake with another river flowing a little bit away!
- Wadi Al Hitan : Millions of years ago, a part of Tethys Sea got dried up resulting the birth of Sahara. Therefore, fossils of marine creatures are found in Sahara. In Wadi Al Hitan area, huge and intact fossils of pre-historic whales, sharks, sea-cows and other animals had been found and kept displayed open air, exactly in those places where they had been discovered! (For details, please click here : Wadi Al Hitan : In Search of Whales in Desert )
- Black Desert : An area of black volcanic hills.
- Watermelon Valley : An area where countless watermelon-shaped stones are found scattered everywhere. (For details, please click here : Sahara ‘Rocks’!!!)
- Sand Dunes : Crescent shaped Barkhan dunes spreading miles after miles…. surreal patterns of light & shadow…. numerous ripples on sand…..that picturesque sight of real desert is the highlight of this place. (For details, please click here : Our ‘Arabian Night’ amidst the Great Sand Dunes of Sahara)
- Agapat Valley : This is a place where Mushroom Rocks of chalkstone are found emerging from sand-dunes. (For details, please click here : White Desert: A Full Moon Night on ‘Moon-Land’)
- White Desert National Park : Thousands of wind-sculpted mushroom-shaped milky white chalk-rock formations are found here. The sight is unparallel in this world and in a moonlit night this area looks like the surface of the moon. (For details, please click here : White Desert: A Full Moon Night on ‘Moon-Land’)
- Crystal Mountains : Hills covered with natural crystals. (For details, please click here : Sahara ‘Rocks’!!!)
- El Bawiti : El Bawiti, the main town of Baharia Oasis is a place where there are hotels and visitors can stay there instead of camping in desert.
Tips for Visiting Western Desert of Egypt
- It is easy to travel in Egypt independently, but exploring desert is a different thing. Being an outsider, don’t make the dreadful attempt for a self-driving trip in the vast desert of Sahara. Do the trip with a registered tour-operator or experienced local guide. They will arrange your permit, car, food and camping necessities and will take you to the places you want to visit.
- Do some pre-trip research. Ask quotations from different tour operators and go through all necessary details and the reviews of other visitors; then decide accordingly. Remember, the quality of your trip along with your safety and comfort depends on the choice of your tour-operator, so it’s vital to choose one who suits you best.
- The weather condition is very harsh in desert. It’s extremely hot in daytime. Always carry hat, sunglass, sun-screen lotion, plenty of waters to get rid of the scorching heat. In first week of October, the nights were soothing and we wore light jackets. Before your trip, consult with your tour-guide about the night-temperature and pack your bag accordingly.
- You are going to camp amidst the barren desert, so keep all must to carry items with you. Use power-bank and extra batteries for your camera.
- If you have any diet preference, don’t forget to let your tour-guide know it before the trip, as you are not going to get any other alternatives while in desert.
- An average physical fitness is required for desert camping. If you have problems in squatting or sitting on ground then camping is not suitable for you.
- Camping in desert fits them who can adjust in all situations and are adventurous in nature. If it is not your cup of tea, or if you have any health issue, you can still enjoy the desert in daytime by night-staying in the hotels of any oasis town. In that case, request your tour-guide to arrange accordingly.
- Last but not least, don’t litter the desert and don’t misuse water.
Related posts on Western Desert of Egypt (Sahara)
- Our ‘Arabian Night’ amidst the Great Sand Dunes of Sahara
- White Desert: A Full Moon Night on ‘Moon-Land’
- Wadi Al Hitan : In Search of Whales in Desert
- Sahara ‘Rocks’!!!