The desert and the oases
It is not easy to reach since it is located in the middle of the Libyan Desert. Its speciality is the memorial of Alexander the Great. Alexander pronounced himself as the son of Amun in the Amun-temple of Siwa, so he gained divine legitimization to the throne of Egypt (322 BC)
Its most interesting features are the water wheels. It takes an hour to get there by car (in the following oases you have to overnight).
These two oases are in the northern part of the
country, the rest is located to the south in the i.e. Quattara-depression. You can take
bus or car, which is not easy but worth it. THERE IS a road between the oases. Your
vehicles are registered every time you leave any of them, they report about them to the
next oasis and the rescue is coming if you dont appear at the next checkpoint within
36 hours. So, dont panic!
The distance between two oases is 200-400 kilometers and you will never meet anything coming to the opposite direction. Almost never. But sharp bends will protect you from falling asleep behind the wheel.
Beside the road, you can see the old roads already covered with sand dunes and pylons in sand up to the wrist. You will like the Arabian traffic signs and sign posts - what could they mean? (For driving in the desert, the music of Ennio Morricone is a must!)
First the desert is black (frittering basalt), then it turns into white (frittering limestone), then is becomes red like the Grand Canyon but without canyon. After you left the last oasis, the endless yellow sand dunes are coming to your way. I suggest that you should stop to make short walks, to climb a cliff or two, maybe a dune. The view and the silence are more than magnificent.
The order of oases from north to south: Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga.
You will enjoy the spa rich of iodide (it is excellent to soak off the sand of the desert you purchased on your wanderings) in the suburbs of the city of Mut. In the other hand, before you get relaxed in the hot water dont miss the camel-ride. It is perfect entertainment when the sun sets.
The ancient Christian cemetery in Bagawat (a Coptic city) is one of the ten most beautiful places of the World Inheritance. A mile away there stands a fortress that was reconstructed on the ruins of a monastery, the asylum of the first heretics. Darius I build an Egyptian temple in this oasis, the Hibis, which is under renovation nowadays but you are allowed to visit it - also recommended to see in time of the sunset.
The Sinai Peninsula
- Hamman Pharaon
The Bath of the Pharaoh - Boiling hot sulphur-rich springs rise to the surface from the sand and mix with the cool seawater. Where they meet, they create a lukewarm bath where you can relax. It is fine and perfectly clear. The mud of this bath was delivered even to Thebes in order to ease the joint problems of the pharaoh. It is a military area. Be careful! Most of the time they don't shoot...
- Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa)
If you are a hiker, I offer and outstanding experience for you. You dont have to be a cliff-climber to climb the Mount Sinai where Moses was give the Ten Commandments. It is a two or three hour-long excursion from the St. Catherine Monastery (where you can overnight and have some food) to the Chapel of Moses on the top of the hill. It is not a hard climb. A rather comfortable serpentine leads you up, only on the highest part you have to climb, but I would rather call it a flight of stairs. On the top you will find small shelters where you can buy a cup of hot tea and borrow a blanket (it is more than 2000 meters high so you will probably be cold) for LE 5. Why would I climb this hill? - You may ask. For the sunrise (you have to leave St. Catherine at about 2-3 a.m.). Be aware! During the Eastern period, you will not be alone.
The town itself is not much to see and according to the divers, the coral had died by now. However, once you are there I suggest that you should take a cruise on the Red Sea. Almost every hotel organizes yacht-trips and they take you to beautiful places. The price is between LE 40-100.
Around Aswan, you can find a tropical paradise in the desert. Due to the evaporation of the Lake Nasser, it rains sometimes. You can enjoy cruising on the Nile in a felucca (small sailboat) e.g. to the Kitchener Island Botanical Garden or to the mausoleum of Aga-Khan. This is a must to see if you are the member of an excursion but you should see it anyway. (If you go by yourself, you must bargain with the felucca-owner! Be thick as a brick!) The sight of the city is the Hotel Old Cataract, which is the site of many novels set in Egypt. The bazaar is the cheapest here in Aswan and the spice-market is unique.