Western Desert
Western Desert
5
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This desert covers more than 600,000 square kilometers stretching from the Nile River to the Libyan border, and from the Mediterranean Sea coast to the Sudanese border.
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tkontheroad
Hanoi, Vietnam27 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
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.

What activities?
- 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!

Other tips:
- 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!
Written 23 December 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael S
D42 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2013 • Couples
We found Djed Egypt Travel to take us on a 6 days desert safari from Cairo to Luxor. Guide and drivers were enchanting. We enjoyed their attention and brilliant cooking. We found the camping nights on top the sand dunes and among the bizarre formations of the White Desert an unforgettable experience; no way to decide between the brilliant sunsets and sunrises. Weekly markets, breathtaking landscapes, deserted mud brick villages, a few temples and tombs, the studio of a local artist, and the very remote Roman fortress of Umm el Dabadib were among the highlights. Contact Djed Egypt Travel for your taylor made tour: info@nile-dahabiya.com. From Luxor to Aswan we have used one of their Dahabiyas sailing up the Nile; our perfect "deceleration"
Written 9 January 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Noora K
New York City, NY138 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2012 • Solo
Obviously, for such a vast desert like this you need a good guide to trust. I'm so lucky I found one, because I just picked one from online without knowing anyone there. Even my friends in Cairo couldn't make recommendations, so I just went with my gut feelings on this and looked up reviews on tripadvisor (thanks! tripadvisor!). I found several about this guy Hamada, and I looked at his site, desert-safari-egypte.com, it looked legit, so I contacted him, and he replied very fast in a very professional way. His rates were a bit lower than other places I inquired, if you count in the private transfer back and forth from Cairo. I went ahead with it, and it was the best choice I made in a long time. I only got to see the white desert (well, the black one too and agabat nearer to Bahariya) and next time I plan on going with Hamada again to see different parts of this vast wonder. This guy was a truly a desert whiz, and the way he had everything prepared was pretty phenomenal. Sometimes he was even pushing me and the driver to hurry to get the best photo before sunset (which is my job to get them to hurry up. the roles got reversed sometimes because he was so on top of it, even more concerned about my work than myself). And the best part was that he was very well acquainted with the police and all the locals. I never felt unsafe at any point. He's also a really down-to-earth person, a downright nice guy.

When I go back I plan on seeing different parts of the Western Desert, any recommendations here would be great! Hamada told me he's done long long 21 day trips to Sudan borders, to see ancient inscriptions and explore the desert there. I don't think I can do that anytime soon but I would love to some day.

One thing I wish I had brought was a natural bug spray (or unnatural if you don't mind DEET). I didn't think there would be bugs in the desert, but one time when I was shooting a swarm of small flies came and bit me everywhere. That was crazy!

And I'm a coffee freak so I brought my own coffee (hamada had some instant coffee and powdered milk as well), and advil just in case. I didn't get sick or feel uncomfortable there, and hope it stays that way. You don't really have to worry about water, Hamada always had ice water and plenty of bottled water.
Written 21 October 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Johnmaur26
Tamborine, Australia42 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2013 • Couples
We travelled to Egypt in April/May 2013. We were not put off by all the stories of safety issues. We made our booking direct with Select Egypt in Cairo and paid online. Our consultant was Sandy. She was great – very helpful & knowledgeable. I work in the Airline/Travel Industry so I had a good idea of the places we wanted to visit. I emailed Sandy and she put together a private tour for us. Our tour guide Ahmed (nickname ‘Mido’) was great. His English was perfect so we had no communication problems. All the vehicles were either new or only a couple of years old which is important when we were going to be travelling long distances and spending time in the Western Desert & Oases. The drivers were also good. We had Mohammed around Cairo & the Mediterranean Coast and & to Luxor & Mustafa in the Desert. We always felt safe with these guys behind the wheel.
One of the highlights of this trip was camping in the beautiful White Desert and the drive through the Agabat Valley - ‘the valley of wonders’. The scenery was spectacular & camping in the White Desert was pure magic – so tranquil. Mustafa (the driver) cooked a lovely dinner & later we had ‘Bedouin tea’ by the campfire. This was made even more special by the visit of the little Desert Foxes during the evening on the lookout for a free meal.
It is worth spending the extra time in Egypt so that you can visit the desert. Happy to also recommend ‘Select Egypt’. We were extremely pleased with all the travel arrangements.
Lastly we had no problems in Egypt and felt safe at all times. We also travelled by train back to Cairo from Luxor, used the Metro to get around in Cairo and at no time were there any safety problems. Everyone was very friendly & welcoming.
Written 8 June 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

world2u
USA15 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
I traveled with Minamar Tours (parent company Select Egypt) January 2010 for their 8 day/7 night desert safari.

The area is spectacular and I had a great adventure. There is some hiking in deep sand which can be difficult such as at the Mestqawe-Foggini (“Sistine Chapel” of African rock art). But, what is more difficult is sleeping on the ground for a week in a tent and not having any toilet or bathing facilities. There is also only the simplest of meals. We ate pasta, rice, and vegetables for most dinners and tuna fish and salad for most lunches. Breakfasts were eggs, cheese, and some sweet loaf bread. And, for most nights the temps were in the 30’s. So, if you’ve never been camping before, this trip is not for you. If you don’t like the cold, go in the fall or early spring. But, remember, at these times the days are much hotter. If none of this fazes you and you decide to go, it would be an experience you would never forget. You will see some of the most beautiful sights in very remote areas of the desert. We were blessed with moonlit nights, an unusual red moonrise, and a nighttime visit by a desert fox. Our guide and drivers were friendly and it was fun to be with them. Bring warm layers and a warm hat and gloves. A long, light scarf is helpful as the dust/sand kicks up and can cause some respiratory problems. I had a dry cough for several days. Taking Sucrets throat lozenges helped me through the worst of it.

There were problems. On the first day of the itinerary, there is a tour of the oasis of Dakhla. When we arrived we were not given the tour. I asked about it and was told that it’s impossible to drive from Cairo and do a tour the same day. When I asked then why it was on the itinerary, I got a shrug. Raed, the operation manager of Minamar, had always been prompt in responding to my emails prior to finalizing the trip. When I emailed him while on the trip about Dakhla, there was no response.

The second problem was the change in itinerary due to a failure to secure the military officer required for travel. It was explained to us that this was not the fault of Minamar. Nonetheless, we felt there was a lack of coordination in deciding how to make the best of our itinerary given the delay of almost a whole day until the military officer arrived. Because of the uncertainty of the effects of the delay and the requirement that we cannot extend the time in the desert as approved by our permit, we were told we would have to cancel the caves, both Mestqawe-Foggini and Swimmer’s Cave. After much arguing with the staff, they agreed to take us to the Mestqawe-Foggini. A very disheartening setback to our trip as the Swimmer’s Cave is one of the must see sites when you go out to the desert.

The third problem was again with the itinerary as we did not see the “fulgurites” on our way back from the desert. When I asked about it, I received a shrug and no effort was made to figure out what it was and why we would not be going to see it.

So, since my return, there has been no follow-up from the tour company offering any apologies for the problems encountered and no credit given considering the changes to the itinerary for which we paid. This is too bad as I really liked the staff and being out in the desert was wonderful
Written 13 February 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DAVID L
Los Angeles, CA8,096 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2018 • Friends
We visited the Western Desert - the Sahara, and were stunned by the beauty found interspersed amongst the vast sand expanses. One doesn’t think of Egypt without thinking of the vast Western Desert - the Sahara, which comprises about 95% of Egypt. Enjoyed the scerenity!
Written 8 February 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

enjojo
Toronto, Canada63 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2011 • Friends
So important to have the safest drivers when going into the desert. If you want 2 days in the White Desert or two weeks in the Gilf Kibir, please hire and get reference from people. The best are in Bahariya Oasis, they do these trips all the time. We have used Emam Fawzy and his brothers many times. You can email at desertteam@gmail.com. He's been doing it for 18 years. This is a wonderful fun adventure with the right people. Great for all ages. Just tell them how many people and they work out the details and cost. Please support the locals they know what they are doing and need the work. Enjoy!
Great photo opportunity
Written 20 March 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

abercrb
Sussex UK167 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2010
We spent 2 weeks in egypt and travelled around to soak in as much experience as possible. However our trip to the Western Desert is one we will remember forever. We booked through Select Eygpt and it was our guides that really made this an experience to remember.

We travelled to Bahariya Oasis in the morning the first day and after lunch we were picked up by our guide (Tamar) and the driver in a 4x4. After picking up the food and drink for the trip we travelled through the Black Desert, saw the crystal mountatin & the Aqabat and then onto the New White Desert.

We stayed on night "camping" in the desert. There was no tent but a rather ingenious contraption that was attached to the side of the 4x4 which provided two walls and a floor. This meant we slept looking up at the stars - what a wonderful way to drop off.

The food was simple, cooked there an then in the desert but was probably the best meal of our entire trip (rice and BBQ chicken). We had been worried about there not being enough water (having read other reviews) but our guides bought more than enough.

Then we all sat round the fire and they brought out a drum so we sang and danced until eventually falling asleep.

This was a fabulous experience and I would recommend it to anyone. The children loved it. You can read our full experiences our our holiday website at www.our-egypt-holiday-experience.com.
Written 8 May 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Maureen H
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia55 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2013 • Couples
We recently spent a night camped under the stars in the White Desert in Western Egypt, courtesy of Your Egypt Tours. It's an experience not to be missed. Amazing limestone formations carved by the wind. Walking between these towering monuments is a fantastic experience. The sunset was spectacular. When night fell small foxes came to the campfire hunting for leftover food. They were quite tame and completely harmless. Thanks Mamdouh (our guide) for suggesting a change to our itinerary to include what was one of the highlights of our trip to Egypt. We felt completely safe.. Your Egypt Tours they looked after us completely.
Written 30 May 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

redharry
southampton109 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2012 • Friends
Incredible scenery with opportunities to enjoy rustic and authentic hotels. Off road driving, swimming in oasis, visiting adobe villages etc are all available. The white desert is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Written 18 April 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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