Our hut at the Bedouin camp
Today was going to be a full day of exploring the Dakhla Oasis followed by a camel ride in the afternoon to our next camp. After breakfast I decided to explore the Bedouin camp and take some photos. While we were waiting around in the reception area, Kimo asks us if we wanted to purchase a keffiyeh (Arab headdress) we thought it would be fun to wear 1. To keep the sun and dust off the head and 2, to look the part. So I chose a white one and Vaughan a traditional red and white check. The Bedouins wrapped them around our heads for us, which we later forgot how to do! We then piled into the troopies and headed off to Al Qasr, an old mud brick medieval settlement that was once the capital of Dakhla.
The settlement dates back to the 15th century and its structures are amazing; it was similar to what you would find in Morocco. We explored its maze of alleyways and deserted buildings for more than an hour. When we arrived at what was once the courtroom, Kimo explained to us how trials used to work and thought it would be a good idea to act one out so we got an understanding of what it was like in the old times. Vaughan was chosen to be the man accused of stealing a goat! Natalie was the goat owner, I and the other Natalie were the press and Ann Marie was the Judge. There was no two ways about it, Vaughan lost and thus was hung! Well in the old days they would chop the head off and hang for the whole town to see as a lesson to be learnt! So after we finished our exploring we went to the Ethnographic Museum which displayed photos and artefacts from all the different Oasis’ in the Western Desert.
Our accommodation at the Bedouin camp
The managers office, Bedouin camp
Our next stop was a 4Wdrive exploration of the sand dunes. Here we had great fun as we zipped across the sand, up over the dunes it was like a rollercoaster ride. It looked like the Sahara, it was gorgeous, and all you could see was a vast sea of sand as far as the eye could see. We continued on up and over the dunes until we stopped sharp! We were sitting on the edge of a massive dune with a very long steep drop, this dune was one for rolling and running down and sand boarding if only we had boards! We stopped here and had fun rolling and running down the dune, only problem was it was long hard walk back up! After having fun in the sand we then headed to a natural hot spring called ‘Magic Spring’.
This hot spring was more like what I expected of a spring not the concrete troughs we have been passing on the side of the road. It was like a little oasis surrounded by palms and reeds, it was very appealing. There were two ways of getting in, either fight your way through the reeds or bomb drop off the cliff edge, it was a little high for us girls so we scrambled through the reeds. The boys, Vaughan and Kimo bomb dropped off the cliff edge! Good job there was an endless supply of water; I reckon they would have emptied it! The water was lovely and warm, around 35C and very red in colour which was the result of the sand being rich in iron. It was strange sensation being in the spring, it seemed bottomless and the sand felt like quick sand but without pulling you under. Tiny bubbles rose up from the bottom, tickling your legs. We stayed in the spring for a quite a while before heading back to camp for a hot shower, lunch and to pack an overnight bag ready for the camel safari.
Our camels were nearby to the camp and we were matched to our camel based on size. The ride would be around 2 hours to our camp and was great fun and very enjoyable, even the baby camels came with us! At the end of the ride a couple of the cameleers who were not much older than 12 or so demonstrated a camel race. Our camp site was already set up for us with one big tent for the girls , the boys were sleeping outside! Before dinner Vaughan sat down with the Bedoiuns and learnt to count in Arabic. Being the only bloke on the tour he bonded well with the Bedouins and they gave him an Arabic name of Sayed which stuck for the whole trip!