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Published: October 24th 2007
Jeremy celebrating his birthday in the desert with a bowl of cornflakes
We have, now, established a rhythm to our camping. We try and find a place at about 4 pm (sun sets at 5.30) which leaves enough time to get sorted, do any dhobi, tend to any (small) car problems and get supper started. We eat early and go to bed early - very early by our normal UK timing! Then we get up very early at about 6 am when the sun is just about to poke its head above the rim of the desert. It takes us till about 8 am to get fed and watered and all packed up so that we are ready for the off. It all seems to work very well.
Today was no exception but we reveled in the glorious views in the now still, warm sunshine. They were quite stunning. Of course it is Jeremy’s birthday today so we had fun in presenting cards and things for him with his cornflakes! He has now raised the average age of OFTAT by a notch!
Down the road, now heading almost south, we pass through glorious desert with a clear, clear atmosphere where the only thing stopping us seeing for ever is the fact
Hills in the Black Desert
that the earth is round. Over several escarpments and long stretches of flat desert, the beautiful road went on till the Black Desert turned into the White Desert. A great escarpment ran parallel to us, flanked by huge pinnacles rising from the desert floor which itself is now almost white in colour. The stone has been eroded by the wind over centuries and the pinnacles are carved into peculiar but attractive shapes, reminiscent in some ways to the stalagmites we saw in Capadocia, Turkey. Off road we went to explore this wonderland, spending more than an hour there before getting on to the next oasis, Farafra
Again the same routine of refueling and shopping for fresh produce. Before and after every settlement there were frequent police checks where our details were recorded into scrappy notepads by variously clad officials of unestablished professions. They were certainly not military but usually police in mufty or even Tourist Police. These are a force we have now come to accept - they pervade every place where a tourist is likely to pass. They are all part and parcel of this great show of protecting the tourist from terrorist attacks (hence the convoys) which
White Desert Ridges
The rocky White Desert
is now a way of life here since the atrocities of the last decade. Fortunately they don’t insist on “escorting” us through the desert areas! We drove on towards Dakhla Oasis along this marvelous and empty road before leaving the tarmac to head for some attractive looking hillocks for our night’s campsite.
The sand was very unfriendly and it wasn’t long before one of us got well and truly stuck. But with some spadework and lots of encouragement the car was extracted under its own steam - backwards. We decided not to pursue this objective but rather to find a venue with more stable sand under the cars’ wheels. This took some doing but we settled for a site some 3 miles north of the road against a high bank for shelter from the wind. It turned out to be a great site and we thoroughly enjoyed out evening meal under a moon that is growing brighter every night.
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