We are huge fans of the other Egyptian extremity, way out west
where the country meets Libya along one of those cursory colonial
lines in the sand borders. Welcome to the mysterious and remote
Western Desert, an arid region that occupies the entire western
half of the country, but which is technically split into
sub-deserts, including some particular natural treasures, the
imaginatively named Black Desert and equally descriptive White
Desert. As well as the magical desert oasis of Siwa, which is fed
with fresh water from springs bubbling up from the Nubian aquifer,
and is as atmospheric (and remote) a place as you could hope to
Sitting pretty beyond the chessboard latticework of deserts and
just 30 miles from the Libyan border is the desert jewel of Siwa.
So remote is the town of Siwa that the population have managed to
maintain their ancient language - Siwi - completely distinct from
Arabic. This oasis was the location of the Oracle of Amon, a magnet
for classical era pilgrims including none other than Alexander the
Great who consulted the oracle before his invasion of Persia and
modern-day Pakistan. The town itself still feels barely medieval in
parts and the population are descended from ancient Berber
The White Desert is another particular highlight thanks to a
bizarre landscape of gigantic wind-eroded white rock formations.
Seen at sunset the rocks reflect the changing colours in one of
nature's most spectacular lightshows. We strongly recommend
spending a night in our comfortable mobile camp so you can wake up
at dawn to see the whole show again in reverse before exploring for
fossils and bizarre rock formations. Don't forget your sunglasses.
The white rock formations in the White Desert are incredibly bright
when the sun shines, which it does pretty much every day.
Baharyia, the major town on the outskirts of the desert, is an
archaeologist's treasure trove where visitors can see The Valley of
the Golden Mummies where some 250 Mummies from a cemetery that
contained an astonishing 10,000 are on display. Also worth a wander
around is the Temple of Bahariya with its beautifully decorated
Next stop it's the Black Desert, another extraordinary natural
spectacle where the desert is punctuated by soot-scoured volcanoes,
and the desert floor glistens basalt black. Farafra, on the far
side of the Black Desert, is an old oasis town where the local
Bedouin still live in mud brick houses surrounded by oasis-fed
olive groves and plantations of dates, figs and apricots.