Do you need a desert camping adventure?. Living in Cairo comes with a lot of ups and downs. On one hand, there is unparalleled history and culture, as well as a great number of welcoming neighbors; on the other hand, there is chaos, noise, filth, and pollution. It’s a lovely place to live, but getting out of the city’s chaotic reach on a daily basis is essential.
Fortunately, Cairo is a simple city to leave. There are endless adventures awaiting you if you are ready to spend a few hours in a car, including two magnificent beaches, ancient ruins and monuments, enormous swaths of open desert, and endless opportunities to stray off the beaten road. Most importantly, leaving Cairo allows you to re-energize, replenish your senses, and prepare to re-enter the wonderful turmoil of the capital with a revived attitude and a positive outlook.
If you’re looking for a tranquil diversion from Cairo, the desert is one of the best places to go. After all, 91% of Egypt’s population lives on only 4% of the country’s territory. The remaining 96 percent of the area is a largely undeveloped wilderness that has beckoned visitors since the dawn of humanity. On a satellite view of Egypt, the inhabited green area appears to be a sliver encircled by two massive deserts. As a result, there are excellent opportunities to visit the desert, which is only a day’s drive from Cairo and offers plenty of solitude and tranquility.
The desert around Bahariyya is one of my favorite entry points into the Egyptian nature near Cairo. While there are closer entrances to the desert, such as the dunes of Fayoum, Bahariyya offers a limitless range of desert activities, making the five-hour trip worthwhile.
Bahariyya is the first of a series of oases running southwest of Cairo, with Farafra, Dakhla, and Kharga following. A road trip through these villages is in itself a fascinating experience. The town of Bahariyya itself, though a bit run-down like many oasis villages in Egypt, offers a number of attractions, including one of Zahi Hawass’s archaeological discoveries, the Valley of the Golden Mummies, as well as a number of temples and tombs.
The real adventure begins when you load up the 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser and set out into the desert. Depending on your preferences and the amount of time you have, you can negotiate several itineraries with your guides. The White Desert, with its magnificent wind-formed limestone sculptures, should be included in any trip of this area: The Black Desert, with eerie black volcanic rock formations and a wide variety of mini-oases and springs; the Crystal Mountain, a massive pile of geological wonders, glorious sand dunes, including the Great Sand Sea to the west of the road and the “mini sand sea” to the east; and Agabat, a vast valley of soaring dunes that rivals Jordan’s Wadi Rum.
You’ll have plenty of possibilities for diversions along the road, such as sandboarding down dunes, having a swim in a hot spring, and trekking through unspoiled wilderness. The sand dunes are picture-perfect–like something you’d see on the cover of National Geographic, but only a day’s drive away.
You’re not exactly roughing it when darkness falls. Expensive tents can be set up near oasis, replete with beds, sheets, a toasty fire, and musical entertainment, as well as basic latrines. Further out in the desert, jeeps are only able to transport modest tents. In either case, you could want to camp outside, under the brilliantly bright stars that your Cairo life has convinced you don’t exist.
You don’t need to carry weeks’ worth of kit to escape to the Gilf al-Kbiir if you want to get away from it all. Beautiful vistas can be found a short distance from home.
Showing all 9 results