Where is it?
- West of Nile river, doable from Cairo.
How much time needed?
- I took 3 days 2 nights. Some people take an overnight trip to the desert from Cairo, which I personally not recommend (unless you just want to see how the desert looks like and spend most of the time to travel from Cairo to the desert and back).
When should you go? How is the weather like?
- I started from Cairo, early morning 11 November 2010, arrived back to Cairo late evening 13 November 2010.
- It is a bit cold at night and early morning, but it was nicely cool. Noon is hot but manageable.
How did I go there?
- I took taxi from Cairo to Bahariya (5 hours) - you can ask your tour guide to arrange it. I heard you can take bus, but I did not see many on my way.
- From Farafra, I went on a jeep with a local guide (Khaled Kandeel). He seems reliable. You can contact him through http://www.westerndeserttours.com/
What can you see in the desert? I saw:
- Small Sand Sea - peaceful, spotless sand dunes. Sand's color changes frequently.
- Agabat with strange rock shapes (e.g. Mt Fuji-like rocks)
- White Desert limestone with weird shapes (e.g. a half-eaten ice-cream...). On photos, White Desert limestone looks like white sand. I found a lot of small stones that look like sea-plants. Both Agabat and White Desert make you feel like you are on the Moon, or Mars. This is definitely another planet on earth!
- Black Desert - with hundreds of small rock-mountains, covered with black stones, mixed with sand. Mysterious and amazing!
Is there toilet in the desert?
- No. You should find one for yourself - early wake up in sand dunes and find some high dunes (easy); but you need a good "planning" in White Desert as all rocks are low and people camp everywhere (nowhere to hide and it's quite stressful actually). :)
- You should carry some bags for toilet paper (never bury it under the sand) or you can just burn it after use.
Is there a bathroom in the desert?
- No, and there is no mobile bathroom (as I imagined at first). There is some water wells in the oasis, but you can only wash your face, hand and feet. Some people wear swimming suite to take bath, but I personally didn't like it. However it is very refreshing when you find water in the desert!
Do you need to carry water and food with you?
- No, confirm with your guide in advance. In general, I find the food the guide provided us is quite good. They also have tea and coffee.
- Taking photos (bring a small camera stand if possible). In the sand dunes, calm down when you first see the sand. Take photo first. I was too excited to run around and I eventually didn't like my ugly foot prints on the photos of the beautiful sand.
- Catching sun rise: try to get up at least 5 am or 5:30 am. You can sea a very bright and big morning star just before the sun rise. Walking around the desert early in the morning is beautiful.
- Sand-skiing (?): try to practice how to use sand board in advance (it's quite fun while you are in the dunes)
- Practicing yoga in the desert: if you need silence, an early sun and a clean sand surface to practice yoga - this is a perfect place! I almost felt like paradise when I opened my eyes, seeing the blue sky on the desert after some time of meditation. The color was perfect.
- Singing: even if you are not a good singer, just sing out loud like a singer (no one can hear your voice).
- Walking on top of sand dune: quite scary. Remember on top of sand dune, one half is harder, the other half is softer. If you scare of falling down, just sit down and climb down. If you fall, it is just sand!
- White Desert: watch out on direction or you may get lost. We walked away from our camping place towards one direction in the White Desert. When it got dark, we almost lost direction as at night, you only see jeep lights and rocks around (they are all the same in all directions, and there is no sun shades to determine the direction).
- If you want to charge batteries (e.g. for camera), ask the driver when the jeep runs (not when you stop for camping).
Do you like these tips? This is a must go place and I will come back there on a longer trip one day (I hope). Enjoy your trip!
If you own or manage Western Desert, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.