The mud city of Al-Qasr

Farafra Travel Blog

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I am lying on a rooftop in Al-Qasr, the prayers and being broadcast into the night, and the donkeys are braying.

Last night I watched the sunset in the white desert. Although completely barren, there were small birds catching flys, buzzards overhead and the tracks of bat-eared foxes (I caught a glimpse of one that came up to the camp at night). Michelle and I were trying to work out the primary producers (it must be microscopic lichen), one of the girls commented that we must be scientists because we want to know why. The guide didn't know the name of the small bird, so I dubbed it Michelle's Flycatcher, she wasn't impressed so I renamed it Adrian's Flycatcher.

This morning we drove across white desert, black desert and yellow sandy deserts. We reached Farafara oasis in the morning, and swum out into the chilly cold ponds. Also in Farafara we visited an amazing gallery, with the most beautiful traditional house, filled with sculptures and sandpaintings. Really beautiful work. Outside the gallery I bought a hat and gloves knitted from camel hair for the cold desert nights.

After driving through the desert for many more hours we reached Dakhla oasis. Dakhla has been populated from prehistoric time, through Pharonic Egypt and Islamic occupation. The village I am in, Al-Qasr, had a medieval mud village, wonderfully preserved for hundreds of years. It dates back as far as a thousand years, including a tall mud minaret 800 years old, although most of the village is 500 years old. While a village, it was more like a tiny city, with the buildings all two to three stories tall, with narrow streets or enclosed alleys running between them. We saw the buildings for making olive oil (with the crusher and the press) and bread (with a mill for grinding grain and an oven), the madrassa and the stables (complete with resident donkey). The city is amazing in how intact it is, now empty except for the bats and woodpeckers, it is one of the most amazing sites I have seen in my travels.

Now I am lying on the roof of our inn writing, having had a beautiful meal, while everyone else is downstairs watching a movie and smoking apple hashish.

Deannimal says:
Thanks for the blog! I just added Al-Qasr to my list for my trip this summer!
Posted on: Mar 21, 2009
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photo by: skippyed