|Western Desert & Oases
|The Western Desert covers more than two thirds of the
territory of Egypt. It starts at the bank of the Nile and stretches west into
Libya; to the south it is bordered by Sudan, while to the north it is halted by
the Mediterranean. It is a vast world of beauty, solitude, and utter silence,
one that has yet to be fully explored.
Points of Interest
- Kharga Oasis
The largest and most popular oasis in the Western Desert, Kharga stretches for
120 miles (200 km) along a flat, wide depression. It offers interesting sites
to visit such as the temple of Hibis, dedicated to a Theban goddesses triad,
El-Zayyan temple, the fortress of El-Ghuwaytah, Deir Al-Kashef, early Christian
monastery, and the early Christian cemetery of El-Bagawat. Some of the Western
Desert's most impressive archaeological remains are here, and the surrounding
desert with its undulating dunes is very beautiful.
- Farafra Oasis
The small, isolated oasis of Farafra is famed for its picturesque scenery and
tranquility. The main population center is Qasr al-Farafra, although it is more
a village than a town, with only a few cafés, a small group of municipal
buildings, and a couple of hotels. Surrounding it is some of the Western
Desert's most beautiful scenery, including the White Desert.
- Dakhla Oasis
Formerly known as the Little Oasis, Dakhla is actually a cluster of about 15
small settlements east-west along the dusty highway. It is also known for its
historic sites such as Moot, Deir El-Haggar Temple, Bachandy and Darb
El-Ghabary. It offers stretches of lush groves where dates, olives, and oranges
grow among sweeps of great white dunes.
- Siwa Oasis
The ultimate remote getaway, Siwa is a speck of life sustaining greenery
marooned far out in the Western Desert, almost nudging Libya on the map.
Between it and Cairo is nothing but 340 miles (550 km) of sand. Famous in
antiquity for its oracle, the oasis has been largely left alone ever since. It
remains an appealing combination of tranquility, beauty, and inaccessibility.
- Bahariyya Oasis
At 205 miles (330 km) southwest of Cairo, Bahariyya is the closest of the four
Western desert oases to the capital. It was always regarded as the least
interesting of the quartet until a series of significant archaeological
discoveries in just the last decade put it on the map.
- White Desert
A place of surreal rock formations and patches of blinding white, the White
Desert is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in the Western
Desert. It begins just north of the oasis of Farafra and continues about 30
miles (50 km), stretching for about 12 miles (20 km) on each side of the road.
It is best visited from Farafra Oasis.