Africa

Camping in the White Desert

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Although, thanks to the bus station vendor, we were able to sleep for another hour, we also got up very early to have breakfast and go to catch the bus that left at 8. At the Longchamps Hotel they did us the great favor of keeping us for three days (free ) our bags and so at least we just had to carry some backpacks. At 8 o'clock we were in the coach but it didn't leave. Finally, 10 minutes later, 4 Koreans came up running carrying 4 giant pizzas and then we set off. Interestingly, five minutes later, one of the Korean boys passed by apologizing for the delay to each passenger on the bus and offering a piece of pizza. That is only done by the Orientals.

Leaving Cairo on the bus.

The bus was heading to the Bahariya Oasis, about 365 kilometers from Cairo and located in the western desert. The Bahariya Oasis is made up of several towns and its capital is Bawiti. This oasis is one of the best in Egypt, not only because of its proximity to Cairo, but also because it has easy access to the Black and White Desert. The plan was to spend the first night camping in the white desert and the next day visit the black desert and return to the oasis to sleep in a hotel. We organize it with Peter Wirth, owner of the International Hot Spring Hotel. He is a very nice German married to a Japanese and an expert in the desert. It organizes you as you want. It was not the cheapest option, but it was the one that gave me more guarantees. At half past one we arrived at Bawiti, which is a very small and rural town and when we got off the bus there was a whirlpool of people who came to look for the few tourists that got off there. Finally we found Imat, who would be our guide the following days. In the car we also met Wendy (Mexican) and Shari (Egyptian) who had also hired the same thing, but they were camping the next day. The hotel was about 5 minutes drive from the town center and was a haven of peace with modest bungalows surrounded by trees. In the center was a source of thermal water, in which the water came out at 40º and in which you could bathe. There Peter came out to meet us, who was very kind and had a very funny way of speaking. We agreed to eat and then go out into the desert.

Replenishing strength in the hotel before leaving


At three o'clock we started and Imat told us that, as at 6 o'clock in the evening and we had more than two hours of walking, we would go directly to the White Desert without stopping to give us time to mount the camp before it got dark . Imat was a Bedouin and, therefore, knew the desert perfectly. He was an English teacher at the village school next door (which had a total of 20 students) but his salary was so miserable that he got a bonus taking tourists to the desert in his 4 × 4.


Road to the White Desert

The white desert is indescribable, it is not the typical desert full of dunes. This is full of white limestone formations and the erosion of the wind has made them take on really curious shapes. Before nightfall, Imat parked the car near a large stone formation and there he set out to mount the camp. We started to help him, but after a while he told us to go for a walk while he had just set up camp and prepared dinner.

Stone sea

We took off our shoes and walked along the sand while watching the sun set. The temperature was very nice. Upon returning to the Imat camp he welcomed us by saying "welcome to the one million star hotel". And yes, certainly, in the two hours in which the sun left and the moon did not rise, all the stars could be seen. You could even see one of the arms of the milky way. AMAZING.

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