Farafra
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Without Roads in the White Desert
Pyramids are probably the first things to come to mind when thinking about Egypt, but there's so much more to the country than ancient sites. My husband and I traveled there in October 2011, near the end of our nine-month trip around the world. It was an exciting and tense time with very few tourists, after Mubarak's rule but before the elections, and it made an incredible impression on me. We opted to get out of the cities and spend a night camping in the White Desert, southwest of Cairo. We started early in the morning on a public bus from Cairo, through Giza, then passing one desolate bus stop after the next. We were met in Bahariya by Waheed, our guide, who grew up there. Waheed took us in his jeep, through miles of sand. It stunned me that Libya was out there somewhere west of us, and over the sand eventually we could reach Luxor. We drove without roads, camped and smoked shisha pipe like Bedouins, and enjoyed a quiet night under the stars. Most people probably aren't thinking of traveling to Egypt right now, but my hope is when the tourists return, they look beyond the classic spots to find a side of Egypt that might surprise them.
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