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The Desert at Leisure - Five days, four nights

Day 0
Meet up in Cairo
Spend night in Cairo at Victoria Hotel
N.B: this night is not included in the price; it is a suggestion because we need to move early on day 1. We can, and will of course if you decide to do this, make the reservations for you etc.

Day 1
Wake up early to start our fabulous exploration of the desert oases!
We drive to Bahariya from Cairo. On the way the huge expanse of the desert starts to reveal itself, and the contrast between it and the busy streets of Cairo is extreme…
Just before we enter the part of Bahariya Oasis called Bawiti (which is where we will be staying), we visit the romantic ruins of Qasr Muharib, Castle of the Warrior, a huge Roman site where we see the ruins in their ‘natural’ state – this is what the temples and sites of the Nile Valley looked like before the archaeologists cleaned them up. Then we pop into the Oasis Heritage Museum to see some fun local art. And after that, we make our way to our hotel, the simple but delightful Old Oasis Hotel, with its very own healing hot spring pool set in a sweet palm-grove garden. After checking in, we can take our first plunge in the hot healing waters for which the oases are rightfully famous! After dinner we can take a night time stroll through the oasis town and into some of the nice shops there featuring local arts and crafts

Day 2
We visit the ancient sites of Bahariya Oasis, including the famous Golden Mummies and the very interesting and colourful tombs there. Then we set off from Bahariya and drive through the splendid landscape of the Black Desert towards Crystal Mountain, where we can marvel at this natural phenomenon all made up of crystals, and pick up some for ourselves from the ground! Then it’s on to the White Desert, with its fantastic calcite rock formations that make it seem like a giant sculptor just left his workroom for a second, only to return soon to finish these magnificent creations… we catch the sunset there, as we set up our camp in the middle of all this beauty. Next a delicious dinner cooked over a traditional wood fire, and we’re ready to marvel at all the stars we can see, including the Milky Way!

Day 3
After a nice breakfast and a quick wash in the White Desert, we move on to Farafra, where we only stop for a quick cup of tea in a local coffee shop (this oasis is a bit depressing, to be honest, and not home to any major or interesting sites) before moving on to Dakhla Oasis. On the way we have a simple lunch. Just before Dakhla we visit the site of the Muzawaka Tombs. The tombs themselves are unfortunately closed to the public, but the view from the hill top is stunning, and the guardians will show you some Roman mummies on the way up there. After this, we drive on to our simple but charming hotel in the lovely oasis of Dakhla, El Nogoom (The Stars).

Day 4
We start early to view the spectacular ruins of the 6th dynasty tombs at Balat, proving that Dakhla was an important site even as far back as that! Then on to the quaint town of Bashendi, to see the Roman tombs there and how one was converted in the middle ages to house the remains of an Indian Muslim saint (Pasha Hindi, therefore Bashendi). After a sumptuous lunch we drive out to the fascinating site of Deir el Hagar (Monastery of the Stones) a charming temple of the Roman era, but built completely in the ancient Egyptian style. Marvel at the lovely colours on the pieces of plaster still left on the stones and the commanding view from the temple hill… on the drive over we pass through some really traditional parts of the oasis, an experience in itself. After Deir el Hagar we move on to Qasr, a fantastically preserved medieval fortified town where we can wander through the narrow streets, and see what life must have been like then… Then we drive back to Dakhla, and for those of us feeling adventurous, there is the opportunity to do a sunset camel ride. What better place to ride a camel than in the desert!

Day 5
After an early night we make a very early start from Dakhla, in order to view the fantastic sites of the next oasis, Kharga. There, we visit the Oases Museum which houses fantastic finds from all the Oases, one of the oldest and best-preserved early Christian cemeteries at Bagawat, and the best-preserved temple in all the Oases, at Hibis. After a quick stop at the outlet of the date plantations for which Kharga is rightly famous, and time-permitting, we will then drive on the oasis of Paris, to visit the site of Dush. Most tours don’t make it this far, but it is a fantastic site with amazing views over the infamous Darb al Arbayin, the old caravan and slave-trading route from the Sudan. Seriously worth visiting! And then it’s back to Luxor over the desert road… once there, we will drop you off at whichever hotel you have chosen or, if you have chosen to go straight back to Cairo, at the train station or airport (we can arrange the tickets for you as well if you like, at added cost of course).

Consider extending this trip by one day to try out the Bedouin healing methods:
In Dakhla, a healer is carrying on his ancient family tradition, and offering full-day treatments, consisting of:
• Hot springs (and believe me, they are HOT!)
• Diagnosis of possible ailments in the hot spring
• Water massage in the spring
• Oil massage in a special tent next to the spring
• Sand treatment (consisting of being buried in special, hot, healing sands for one hour, which pulls out all of the toxins in your body)
• If needed, a sand massage as well
This day includes all the treatments and a lovely picnic lunch (the other tradition this healer is continuing is the restaurant business, and his cooking is healing too, trust me!).

Although this trip has been described starting from Cairo, it can actually be done both ways, from Cairo to Luxor or from Luxor to Cairo, whichever suits your travel schedule.

Price for five days, four nights: 675 euros per person, all-inclusive

Includes: set-up, transport, tickets, over-night stay in de desert including camp-fire dinner under the stars, 3 nights hotel based on double occupancy in a double room (single supplement applies if single room required), facilitation, explanation, all meals, drinks (except for alcoholic beverages and drinks while in the hotel), baksheesh (driver, temple guardians etc)

Price does not include the extension for the treatment day (€150 extra per person, all inclusive).

A discount applies to every group of over 4 people and for children under 12, unless they are the second person in the party. All groups must have a minimum of two full paying travellers.

Please note: as our trips are geared towards exploring the sights of the oases, we travel by air-conditioned minibus and not by 4x4. So our trips do not, as a rule, include driving over the desert dunes etc. We can refer you to other companies who do that kind of desert trip, but we do have to point out that however adventurous such desert rides may be, they are actually quite damaging to the fragile desert eco-system, which is another reason we prefer not to do it this way. The desert and its oases need to be treated with respect if they are to be able to benefit from any kind of sustainable tourism.

A Quick Taste of the Oases - explore the fascinating sights at Kharga and Dakhla Oases, get a taste of life in the oases, and feel the vastness of the Sahara.
Dush, Egypt
Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Bahariya

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This Site Was Last Updated Tuesday, 05 August, 2008 4:02 AM (UTC+3: Cairo)


A Quick Taste of the Oases - explore the fascinating sights at Kharga and Dakhla Oases, get a taste of life in the oases, and feel the vastness of the Sahara.
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