A Guide to the Beauty of Egypt’s White Desert
By Muhammed Aladdin
Millions of years ago, the barren Western Desert of Egypt was part of a much greater sea filled to the brim with life. In time, the water dried out, leaving a lush savannah, where elephant and giraffe herds came to graze; it was a hunting ground to the pre-historic man.
The landscape of today’s Western Desert comes from the desertification of the grasslands and the rise of global temperatures. The sea-dwelling forms of life left us a hidden gem between the dunes to the west, and for its uniquely-shaped, white rock formation, it was dubbed “The White Desert”.
Located north of Qasr Al-Farafra, the Egyptian White Desert is a magical place to visit; once experienced, many of its travelers find it difficult to leave such natural beauty. It is one of the more recently declared natural protectorates.
In the White Desert, a traveler can find a myriad of awe-inspiring land formations that were sculpted thousands of years ago by the desert’s harsh winds. With weird shapes that are ever-changing, one can find chalk-white rock formations of ‘mushrooms’, ‘tents’, ‘crickets’, and even ‘ice-cream cones’ to name a few.
Other than the iconic structural formations, what makes the White Desert a heavenly spectacle are its white sands and calming atmosphere. Indeed, it is a beautifully-woven landscape with no likes on earth.
Moreover, the area contains a diverse wildlife habitat where majestic animals, such as the Slender-horned gazelle, can be found. Indeed, it is a piece of heaven on earth that must be visited whenever traveling to the Western Oases.
If you ever find yourself there, here is a short list of the things we think would be fun to do:
The soft sands of the White Desert make it an excellent setting for safari with rovers going up and down through the dunes. In some instances, there are high dunes that allow cars to go down a slope of 90 degrees.
If you are not a fan of flying cars, you can give sandboarding a try; the White Desert is one of the best places for this activity. Just grab a board and glide off the dunes; it is guaranteed to be one of the most fun experiences ever.
For adrenaline junkies, a number of motorbikes are available to rent from the Bedouin. However, be careful with the speed when cycling up and down through the slippery dunes.
It is said that the White Desert has the most serene of sunsets in Egypt; the light blue sky turns pink which then sinks to fiery orange as the sun disappears into the horizon. Camping gives visitors a chance to experience this blissful scenery.
A campfire and some marshmallow sticks are all that you are going to need spending the nights amongst the white sand dunes and awe-inspiring rock formations.
If you are lucky, you could get to see the Bedouins singing some of their traditional tunes to the moonlight under millions of stars.
Speaking of stars, the White Desert has one of the purest night skies throughout the country’s hundreds of miles away from the city’s artificial lights.
Travelers would not even need a telescope to see the constellations lighting up the beautiful night; all they need is a sleeping bag and a sense of adventure.
By day, visitors of the natural protectorate can get the chance to see wild animals in their natural habitats. For instance, as I have mentioned, the White Desert is home to the slender-home gazelle as well as the Dorcas gazelle, Barbary sheep, and the Giza gerbil.
Some of the area’s birds include the spotted sandgrouse, greater hoopoe-lark and white-crowned wheatear, so make sure to pack some binoculars with you.
Visiting El Heiz Water Spring
El Heiz water spring is an oasis surrounded by palm trees where visitors can eat freshly-picked dates and take a dip in the therapeutical waters of the spring.
The journey is not complete without sharing a traditional meal of cheese, tuna, and green salads with the Bedouin people who are renowned for their hospitality.
At El Heiz Water Educational Center, children are taught English, personal hygiene, and Geology. And if you have enough time to pay the institution a visit, you could get to stop by the museum that teaches tourists about the White Desert’s ecology.