According to the motto ‘saving the best for last’, the final stop on the Egypt trip was the desert trip. With our very tight schedule, organizing that trip wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a whole team in Kairo, organizing the jeep, fire wood, water and provision, extra sleeping bags, GPS and satellite phone and what else you need for a trip to the desert. So when we flew in from Luxor most of the things were already set. Starting the next morning at 5:30 with packing the whole household into the jeep, in order to get out of Cairo before the crazy traffic starts and still with one important task on our list: Filling the six 20 l canisters we had in our trunk with gasoline, since otherwise we wouldn’t make it there and back with our 150 l tank with a car that consumes at least 20 l /100km.
What sounds like a piece f cake was actually our only worry, since in Egypt it is generally not allowed anymore to fill canisters at the gas station (not clear if its because they are afraid you’ll use it for a Molotow-Cocktail or whether they want to prevent any stockpiling). When we asked at the gas station we were asked to get the permission of a military officer, who seemed to have the authority there. We were given permission to fill in 100 additional liters and off to the desert…
Actually you enter an endless desert once you are our of Cairo, but to go to the white desert we needed to take the oasis road, direction south, 5 hrs…
From the sandy dunes…
Passing by an oasis town on the way, we saw a gas station with a 2 km queue of cars, which made us worry a bit about our return trip, since the thirsty car consumed more than expected.
via black rocks…
Desert is not always the same. The landscape changed during the ride: from huge dunes to black rocks to white lime stone mountains (ok, the common thing is the sand…): Finally there; in the White Desert.
Driving around between the white lime stones in so many different shapes (I was so sure to see chameleons, churches, snails and even buffalos!), looking for a nice place to build our camp for the night…
… to the white desert
The desert was magic. It was my first time, I have never been in a place like that. I think that in Germany exists a place as quiet and empty like that. Especially after coming from crowded, smoggy and noisy place like Cairo, the contrast couldn’t be stronger.
Setting up the camp
Night comes early in the desert, after the obligatory Gin Tonic, the beans-corn-sausage-hot pot and after the camp fire burned down, it was high time (9 pm) to go to tent. No desert foxes visited us that night, but we woke up right before sunrise. After a small breakfast and and resolving the camp we left the Western part of the white desert and entered the (more famous) Eastern part with its sculpture like lime stone formations.
feeding the rabbit
the ‘mean’ dune
Since we (and our safe return) depended on many factors (daylight, gas), we had to follow our schedule with time and distance. This worked out quite good until the very end, when we found ourselves with an empty tank (used gas: 150l, gas reserve: 100l) with two huge sand dunes in between us and the oasis road. We knew that we didn’t have enough gas nor time to go all the way back, but driving across sand dunes hold a other risks, like getting stuck. Anyway, after calculating all alternatives we decided to go for it, lowered the pressure of the tires and went across the dune. It was quite adventurous but we made it and I wasn’t really disappointed that I missed out on the experience of getting stuck.
The real adventure then was actually the way back to Cairo. After finding the gas station on the way with some gas left for us and after a dramatic sunset we could only see in our rear view mirrors, we found ourselves on the road in the dark.
And as I said before: traffic in Egypt is like nothing I have experienced before; they refuse to use lights. We almost got hit by a truck, which was overtaking on our track and speeded with no lights in the complete dark right onto us. That was a pretty close thing… After two hours in the Cairo traffic we made it safe, sound and tired back home. While unpacking the car we realised that it had changed the color: from white to black. It must have been that freshly tarred part of the road in the desert..
It was an amazing trip for me and I’m really grateful for all the planning, organizing and driving of Jan (and his gang) that made this trip possible for me despite the tight schedule we had to follow. I have never seen anything as beautiful and will never forget it. I was in fact that impressed, that I woke up the first nights when I came back, thinking that I’m still in the desert…
The mushroom and the Hen
a new day begins
An oasis in the desert
Who might that be? Some Roman legionnaires?