And then there was sand!

Bahariya Travel Blog

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Starting with what they call the Black Desert
The desert starts off with what they call the Black Desert. The sand here felt more clayey.. moist.. and as the name suggests, black. There was no vegetation, but it just looked like a desolate field of mud.

Soon we started to see rocks and some unique formations… it really was a pretty sight. Especially the crystal rocks..

The landscape kept changing every few miles and I was just taking it all in!

And soon.. we had crossed into what they call the White Desert. Yes, this was it!! My “real” desert! As far out as the eye could see, there was sand … nothing but sand.. and dunes! The best part was traversing the dunes in the car… Mahmoud was a great driver, and I trusted his skills completely.. Not that I had a choice, but you know! It was like a roller coaster ride.
The name speaks for itself!
There were times when I would actually feel that the vehicle would topple over. And then it would steady itself and I would breathe!

We came to this area which was littered with rocks.. almost like little hills. Mahmoud stopped the car and asked me to come have a better look at the area. And with that, like a nibble footed mountain goat, he spirited up one of the rock hills! I just stood at the foot and gaped at him disbelievingly! He stopped half way through the climb and called out to me – telling me that it was easy! I have to admit that it was ego and pride, more than anything else that got me going. But I edged my way up.. with more confidence than I felt! And soon, I was there! At the summit!! Well, it wasn’t Everest, but hey, you had to see it to know it wasn’t easy.
My guide and his shiny new vehicle!
. not for a city girl like me ;)

The view was totally worth it, though.. Stunning.. And I tried to soak it in as much as I could.. without thinking of the inevitable – the climb down!!!

Once again, with more confidence that I was feeling, I made my way downhill.. And surprisingly, reached without breaking a bone! Quite an achievement, I thought!

I had planned on spending only one day in the desert. I had arrived by the afternoon, and was scheduled to head back by the morning bus the next day. So my dusk, we decided to make camp. Usually, the guides bring along tents and put them up and in no time, everything is set. But we had decided to go traditional, remember?! So what did we have? A thick sort of curtain with poles attached to it at equal intervals.
And what were we supposed to do with this? Why, stick it in the mud and form a protective enclosure of sorts, of course! The enclosure was to be a three sided affair, leaving one side open for the camp fire and the cooking. So Mr. Mahmoud checked the wind and decided which side was safe to leave open. With the enclosure in place, he set some mattresses on the ground and set to work on the fire. Soon, with a nice fire ablaze, it was time to prepare the dinner. Mahmoud claimed that he was one of the few guides left who cooked the food on an open flame as opposed to using gas. He said he felt it kept the tradition alive. I of course, am all for tradition! And so, I watched on as he got dinner ready.

And as I was waiting, I realized that I was sitting under a sky more beautiful than I have ever seen! There was a sort of luminescence about the place just out of the light from the stars.
And the skies parted to reveal the light!! :D
And I really have never seen the sky so filled with tiny little spots. It was like seeing a whole new sky! The constellations glared out from amidst the thousands of stars that were strewn all across the sky. And with no moon to outshine them, the stars made a perfect ceiling for the camp :)

Soon dinner was ready and laid out. And I was amazed once again, by the skill of my guide! It was absolutely yummy! Especially the barbecued chicken. For someone who is on a diet and who doesn’t generally eat a lot, this trip to Egypt has been quite a routine breaker for me!

After dinner it was time for some Bedouin tea. Again, tradition demands that the first cup of tea be made ultra strong… bitter to the point of being just short of inedible! This is then followed by a milder tea laced with mint! Somehow, the combination of the two makes for a delightful experience.
Clayey black soil...
. Mahmoud then put to display, his skills with the drums! He song me a little Bedouin song which seemed to fit in so nicely with the ambience..

With that it was time to call it a day. We had to set out early the next day in order for me to be on the morning bus back to Cairo.

I was provided with two camel blankets for protection from the wind. And that was it! It was just the stars and the sand.. and me! I must admit that somewhere in the middle of the night I started to feel a little uncomfortable.. It was like realization had finally dawned on me – of where I was.. how far away from civilization.. with no defenses.. nothing at all..

And thoughts like that are not very conducive to a good night’s sleep, as you can imagine! But then I kept reassuring myself.. everyone knew where I was.. with whom I was.. it was a small knit community.. nothing could go wrong…

I reassured myself into a few hours of sleep.
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The desert starts off with what they call the Black Desert. The sand here felt more clayey.. moist.. and as the name suggests, black. There was no vegetation, but it just looked like a desolate field of mud.

Soon we started to see rocks and some unique formations… it really was a pretty sight. Especially the crystal rocks..

The landscape kept changing every few miles and I was just taking it all in!

And soon.. we had crossed into what they call the White Desert. Yes, this was it!! My “real” desert! As far out as the eye could see, there was sand … nothing but sand.. and dunes! The best part was traversing the dunes in the car… Mahmoud was a great driver, and I trusted his skills completely.. Not that I had a choice, but you know! It was like a roller coaster ride.
And then we cross over to - the White Desert!
There were times when I would actually feel that the vehicle would topple over. And then it would steady itself and I would breathe!

We came to this area which was littered with rocks.. almost like little hills. Mahmoud stopped the car and asked me to come have a better look at the area. And with that, like a nibble footed mountain goat, he spirited up one of the rock hills! I just stood at the foot and gaped at him disbelievingly! He stopped half way through the climb and called out to me – telling me that it was easy! I have to admit that it was ego and pride, more than anything else that got me going. But I edged my way up.. with more confidence than I felt! And soon, I was there! At the summit!! Well, it wasn’t Everest, but hey, you had to see it to know it wasn’t easy.
. not for a city girl like me ;)

The view was totally worth it, though.. Stunning.. And I tried to soak it in as much as I could.. without thinking of the inevitable – the climb down!!!

Once again, with more confidence that I was feeling, I made my way downhill.. And surprisingly, reached without breaking a bone! Quite an achievement, I thought!

I had planned on spending only one day in the desert. I had arrived by the afternoon, and was scheduled to head back by the morning bus the next day. So my dusk, we decided to make camp. Usually, the guides bring along tents and put them up and in no time, everything is set. But we had decided to go traditional, remember?! So what did we have? A thick sort of curtain with poles attached to it at equal intervals.
And suddenly, there was white!
And what were we supposed to do with this? Why, stick it in the mud and form a protective enclosure of sorts, of course! The enclosure was to be a three sided affair, leaving one side open for the camp fire and the cooking. So Mr. Mahmoud checked the wind and decided which side was safe to leave open. With the enclosure in place, he set some mattresses on the ground and set to work on the fire. Soon, with a nice fire ablaze, it was time to prepare the dinner. Mahmoud claimed that he was one of the few guides left who cooked the food on an open flame as opposed to using gas. He said he felt it kept the tradition alive. I of course, am all for tradition! And so, I watched on as he got dinner ready.

And as I was waiting, I realized that I was sitting under a sky more beautiful than I have ever seen! There was a sort of luminescence about the place just out of the light from the stars.
and some curious formations :D
And I really have never seen the sky so filled with tiny little spots. It was like seeing a whole new sky! The constellations glared out from amidst the thousands of stars that were strewn all across the sky. And with no moon to outshine them, the stars made a perfect ceiling for the camp :)

Soon dinner was ready and laid out. And I was amazed once again, by the skill of my guide! It was absolutely yummy! Especially the barbecued chicken. For someone who is on a diet and who doesn’t generally eat a lot, this trip to Egypt has been quite a routine breaker for me!

After dinner it was time for some Bedouin tea. Again, tradition demands that the first cup of tea be made ultra strong… bitter to the point of being just short of inedible! This is then followed by a milder tea laced with mint! Somehow, the combination of the two makes for a delightful experience.
I like this one :)
. Mahmoud then put to display, his skills with the drums! He song me a little Bedouin song which seemed to fit in so nicely with the ambience..

With that it was time to call it a day. We had to set out early the next day in order for me to be on the morning bus back to Cairo.

I was provided with two camel blankets for protection from the wind. And that was it! It was just the stars and the sand.. and me! I must admit that somewhere in the middle of the night I started to feel a little uncomfortable.. It was like realization had finally dawned on me – of where I was.. how far away from civilization.. with no defenses.. nothing at all..

And thoughts like that are not very conducive to a good night’s sleep, as you can imagine! But then I kept reassuring myself.. everyone knew where I was.. with whom I was.. it was a small knit community.. nothing could go wrong…

I reassured myself into a few hours of sleep.
Starting with what they call the B…
Starting with what they call the …
The name speaks for itself!
The name speaks for itself!
My guide and his shiny new vehicle!
My guide and his shiny new vehicle!
And the skies parted to reveal the…
And the skies parted to reveal th…
Clayey black soil...
Clayey black soil...
And then we cross over to - the Wh…
And then we cross over to - the W…
And suddenly, there was white!
And suddenly, there was white!
and some curious formations :D
and some curious formations :D
I like this one :)
I like this one :)
Now what does this remind you of?!!
Now what does this remind you of?!!
Crystal ricks, they call it..
Crystal ricks, they call it..
And that they say, is crystal!!
And that they say, is crystal!!
oooooh.. the sun on the desert san…
oooooh.. the sun on the desert sa…
The landscape just keeps changing..
The landscape just keeps changing..
And then we were amidst these moun…
And then we were amidst these mou…
Some as high as hills
Some as high as hills
Some as white as chalk!
Some as white as chalk!
And then we decided to climb one :D
And then we decided to climb one :D
And the view was worth all the eff…
And the view was worth all the ef…
Awesome.. (once youve caught your…
Awesome.. (once you've caught you…
I climbed all that way!! (Hey, Im…
I climbed all that way!! (Hey, I'…
Me - up high!
Me - up high!
And thats our jeep down below.. fo…
And thats our jeep down below.. f…
And then there was nothing..
And then there was nothing..
Nothing but sand..
Nothing but sand..
For miles and miles.. as far as th…
For miles and miles.. as far as t…
And we went crazy driving over the…
And we went crazy driving over th…
It was a roller coaster ride!
It was a roller coaster ride!
The sun sets over the desert sky..
The sun sets over the desert sky..
Bahariya
photo by: Alfie_Badawi