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The Western Desert Safari

The Western Desert covers 681,000 square kilometers over two-thirds of Egypt’s total area. It is merely one part of the Sahara belt across northern Africa.

Only feasible for tourists since the 1980s, the Western Desert Circuit is one of the finest journeys Egypt offers. Starting from Cairo or Luxor, it runs for over 1000 km through a desert landscape pockmarked by dunes and lofty escarpments. En route, amid wind-eroded depressions, four oasis are sustained: Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga.

Unlike Siwa, these :inner oasis “ have been almost continuously under the control of the Nile Valley since the Middle Kingdom, ruled by the Pharaohs, Persians, Romans, Mamelukes and Turks, who have their mark in the form of temples, tombs, forts, mosques or roads.

Although each oasis has a central focus, the differences between them are as marked as their similarities.

Bahareya and Farafra both score highly on their hot springs and palm groves, but Bahareya seems corrupted by Cairene ways and tourism, whereas Farafra is more rural and traditional.

In Dakhla and Kharga the modern centers are less appealing than the ancient ruins and villages on their periphery, redolent of historic links with the Nile Valley or caravan routes from the Sudan.

Staying overnight in the haunting White Desert between Bahariya and Farafra is a must.

Siwa Oasis lies far out near the Libyan border. Its people speak another language and have customs unknown in the rest of Egypt. Its ruined citadels, lush palm groves, limpid pools and golden sand dunes epitomize the allure of the oasis.

Much nearer to Cairo are two quasi-oases: Fayom and Wadi Natroun. The Fayoum is more akin to the Nile Valley than the Western Desert, which many ancient ruins to prove its importance since the Middle Kingdom. Wadi Natroun is significant mainly for its Coptic monasteries

Popular Safari Places in Western Desert :

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