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Published: February 24th 2008
There are four main oasis's in the Western Desert on route from Cairo (lower egypt) and Luxor (upper egypt) with everything from hotsprings, white sand, black sand deserts, date, fig, and olive trees to ancient mud and brick cities. It sounds much better than it actually was!
We took a bus from Cairo five hours south to the Bahariah Oasis. Immediately after getting off the bus, we found ourselves surrounded with touts, hotel owners and staff who come to the bus to get people into their hotels. Most travellers hate these guys with a passion because they're SO pushy. But we try to use them to our adavantage and get a bidding war going between them. It can be pretty entertaining if you work it right. So after lots of arguing and shouting we decided to go with a guy whose rooms were 30 pounds ($5.25) with hot showers and free breakfast. We got to the hotel to find it full of package tourists who were all eating lunch before being shuttled off to camp in the desert. We were the only ones who didn't have a package tour. What we didn't realise was that nobody comes to the Baharia
on top of english mountain
Oasis to see the Baharia Oasis! They come to see the Black Desert and the White Desert nearby. The Oasis was nothing like we imagined, with lush greenery and scenic pools with camels drinking out of them. It was a dusty silent town. Oh, so i guess we should go see the Black and White desert.
After getting quoted a rediculous price from the hotel owner, we walked into town and were surrounded again by tour guides and tour owners and got some better prices. Once again, using the feirce competition in our favor. All the guys had the same line: "Money's not important, moneys not important!" Well it is to us, because we're running out fast! One guy even told us he had lots of money and didn't need any more. "I'll take you for free, but lets go right now, right now, get in the car! come on!" ... yeah right dude.
So we ended up just hiring a guy in his old Toyota Landcruiser to take us up to the nearby English mountain, where there are the remains of an old fort used by the British in the first world war as a lookout point.
enjoying the quiet
We hung out there until sunset and then cruised over to a nearby hot spring for a night time soak. And it was a HOT spring man, it burned the skin so bad, but felt awsome. It was pretty much a pipe pumping out sulfurous water into a concrete pool a few feet deep. On the drive back to our hotel we had to make a detour into the sand dunes nearby to help our our drivers buddy who was bottomed out on the peak of a steep sand dune, and it gave the driver a chance to show off his four bying skills, which scared us so much we were in the back seat screaming.
We decided to go back to the hotel owner and give him another chance to meet our price, and he agreed on the condition that we go with two other people and split the cost in half. So the next day we went camping in the desert with two other Japanese travellers and our guide, Abeeda. Abeeda had the Landcruiser all packed up with sleeping bags and firewood strapped to the roofrack, and right away told us to forget our problems with the
we get stuck in snow, they get stuck in sand!!
hotel and the town, and we went to the desert.
Cruising on a paved road through the Black Desert, we stopped at Crystal Mountain, a hill made mostly of quartzite. It was all sparkly. The Black desert just had some black rocks and pebbles scattered on the surface and wasn't all that black. But after an hours drive we came to the White Desert, and it was WHITE!
We pulled off the road and drove over the sand through the white sand, and we started to see all these strange white rock formations all around us. They were in the most bizarre shapes. Thousands of these huge natural rock formations sculpted by the wind and blowing sand into shapes like mushrooms and animals. It was like being on a different planet.
Abeeda set up camp, chainsmoking the whole time, and lit a fire and started dinner while the sun went down. So we spent a night in the White Desert and had an awsome meal of chicken and rice cooked over a fire and drank the syrupy sweet beduin tea from tiny cups. We sat up that night joking and talking about culture differences and telling jokes. The
there were giant quartzite rocks concentrated between the black and white desert
moon lit up the rock shapes around us and it was like being on the moon or something. Nightime in the desert is super cold, but we stayed warm in our sleeping bags with three blankets on top of us.
The next day after breakfast we packed up and drove to a tiny, more picturesque oasis like the one we had pictured in our head. And then back to town to catch the bus to Dakhla.
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