Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bahariya Oasis and sleeping in the desert

Been a while since the last post.... sorry about that. Hard to get internet in the desert!

After leaving Alexandria we had to go back to Cairo for a night, just before catching the bus south-west to Bahariya. We stayed outside downtown this time, on an island on the Nile, called Zamelek. Much nicer and quieter there, mainly due to many embassies and expats being in the area.

Once arriving at the oasis the next afternoon, we grabbed a ride to the camp where we were staying, outside of the big town there (big being about 12,000 people). The camp was great, very quiet, practically no one else there except a few of the staff and the neighbours. Needless to say we really liked it. After leaving our stuff in our reed hut, we walked to the mountain that was right there and hiked to the top (nothing major, just about an hour to the top). They call it Pyramid Mountain. The dinner we had that night was delicious.

The next morning we went into town to find ourselves a guide and 4x4 to go into the White Desert. We ended up sitting in some guy's living room, having tea with him and setting everything up. His buddy came over with his truck, we loaded it up and in a couple hours we were driving south. Along the way we stopped in the Black Desert, called so because many years back (millions?) a volcano erupted and covered the entire area with lava, turning into black rocks. So there's no black sand as we imagined, but it was still cool. Then we drove south for another hour or so and turned off road. It was awesome! driving in the sand looked a lot like driving in 2 feet of snow, except harder. we drove like this for about another hour, stopping at a few places for pictures, including a really small oasis with just one spring in the middle of the desert. The next stop was the white desert, and it was beautiful. Many millions of years ago there was a sea here, and it's long since dried up, revealing a huge amount of white limestone, that was it's floor. You can see some of the cool shapes that are left there today. We camped here for the night. Our guide made us some excellent Bedouin food, we made a fire, and fell asleep under amazing night sky with tons of stars. It was cool to see the Little Dipper upside down. Also, the half moon that night made the white rocks kind of glow in the darkness. A full moon is supposed to be the best time to be there, but what are you gonna do? lots to see...

The next day we drove back towards Bahariya, stopping at Crystal Mountain, which really was nothing like a mountain, but more like a bunch of very big rocks, made completely of quartz crystals.

We spent the rest of the day with our guides, seeing the sites that are around the oasis, and finishing the evening relaxing in a hot spring (30 Celsius). We slept in the desert again that night, although it was not as amazing as when we slept in the white desert.

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