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White Desert

Middle East
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Desert Camping in Western Egypt Al Farafrah  Egypt

Desert Camping in Western Egypt

The night I spent in Egypt’s White Desert, the moon shone so brightly that the rocks towering over our campsite cast shadows on the sand. The White Desert is known for its stunning rock formations, made of pure-white “chalk rock” that the wind and sand have sculpted into an incredible array of shapes. A trip here is like an afternoon of cloud-gazing. (There’s a mushroom! And that one’s a chicken!) In pre-historic times, a sea covered the area, and you can still find fossilized sea shells imbedded in the rocks. In the evening, a serenity settles over the sands. After a gourmet dinner cooked over an open fire, and we sat for hours, enjoying the cool air and each other’s company. I went for a barefoot midnight stroll and then curled up on my mattress under the stars.

The only way to see the desert is in a 4x4 and preferably with a Bedouin guide who knows how to navigate the terrain. Most guides are based out of the nearby Bahariya Oasis, and many of them can arrange to pick you up in Cairo, a four-hour drive away. I highly recommend waking up early enough for a sunrise hike. Perch yourself atop your favorite rock and watch the sunlight break over the wave-like sands and silhouette the sculpted rocks. You might even catch a glimpse of the nocturnal desert fox heading home after a hard night’s work.