Last updated April 7th, 2023
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The White Desert, otherwise known as the night I will forever remember as the most magical night of my life! Nowhere else on Earth is even remotely like the White Desert. We got to witness the most incredible sunset just after arriving at our campsite. I slept under the most stars I have ever seen in my life, and I woke up on a scorpion that had been stuck under me all night. It was the coolest experience!
Before I embarked on my own journey to the White Desert, I did a lot of research. What I read repeatedly was that the White Desert looked like nowhere else on Earth, but instead closer resembles Mars! I quickly knew there was no way I could leave Egypt without making the trip!
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A Journey To the White Desert – A Place Unlike Anywhere Else On Earth!
So just where and what is The White Desert exactly?
The White Desert is a part of the Sahara Desert, in the Farafra depression in Egypt’s very large Western Desert. Not only is it a part of the Farafra Oasis, it also covers both the Ain El Wadi Oasis and the El Maqfi Oasis. Any place that covers multiple oases is fine by me!
Only a 5 hour drive from Cairo, the typical amount of time to spend is one or two nights.
Just a visit to this area shows you have diverse this 300 sq-km National Park is. You have black sand, quartz crystals, white sands, fossils, barite crystals, lush hot springs, high sand dunes, endless desert. While the white may look like snow, it is actually sands and sandstone formations! This area is well known for the naturally formed formations, which are also known as Ventifacts.
How I Got To The White Desert
I took an overnight tour into the White Desert, and this was the best tour I’ve ever taken. It was arranged by iEgypt, who I will definitely be using again. I was picked up at 7 am from my hostel in a jeep with 4 other travelers. We drove about 5 hours to the Bahariya Oasis. During the drive we had time to get to know each other, and our group got on well. We arrived at the Oasis Camp to wait for our jeep to take us into the Desert. It was our last chance to use a toilet for 24 hours. Here we also had lunch prepared by the Bedouins who live there.
We spent about an hour here, me mostly playing with the sweet kittens running around. Quickly we were transferred into our new jeep, and got ready for our adventure.
First Stop – The Black Desert
The first stop you make once you’re on your way is to the Black Desert, which is the utter contrast to the white sands you’ll see later. Here you’ll find no white sands, but instead the desert floor is covered in black powdered stones that came from volcanoes erupting millions of years ago.
This desert has mountains of those black stones, and I loved seeing exactly what I wasn’t expecting; black mountains in the White Desert.
A Quick Hot Spring Stop
We stopped at our first hot spring of the trip (we visited two in total). Our group all went into the hot water and lounged for a bit. Truthfully, the location seems to just be in the back of a small building in the middle of nowhere, but hey, it’s still fun! Just don’t expect it to smell nice.
Next we went to see the Quartz crystals at crystal mountain. A ridge between the Farafra Oasis and the Bahariya Oasis, this area is covered in crystals! Calcite and quartz litter the ground from the ridge that has been pushed up from underground.
There are some large hills to walk up, a ridge to see, and a few small cave openings to look into to.
And then we went sand boarding! I was by far the most excited to sand board. Never having sand boarded before, or even snow boarded, I could not wait to get on that board! I was not expecting just how fast I flew down the dune! Going down was exhilarating and I was more than ready to go for round two… until I began walking up the sand dune! That was more work out than it was worth, so I, like the others, all took one turn before we were ready to get to camp for the night.
Our camp was lovely! We arrived just before sunset, so we hurried up to higher ground to watch the sunset. Never has the sun gone down so quickly before, but never had I seen such colours before either!
Afterwards we went down to help our guide lay out blankets, matts, and work on dinner. Dinner was a vegetable salad, rice, soup, potatoes, and various drinks.
We sat around the fire before witnessing so many stars come out! I had never seen so many stars before and it was absolutely breathtaking.
When it was time for bed, everyone else chose to set up a tent, but I decided to sleep under the stars. It was a great idea, because every time I looked up, I felt so in awe. I saw more shooting stars than I could count.
In the morning we had a simple breakfast of pits, dates, jam, and egg, then packed up to head to one more hot spring before arriving back at the Oasis Camp to switch vehicles again and drive back to Cairo. I had another bit of play time with my kitten friend, who in turn brought several of his friends to meet me.
I woke up the next morning to the sun beating down. It went from being quite cold to hot within minutes it seemed. When I went to move the matt I slept on, a scorpion went scurrying out from beneath me! Poor little guy must have been stuck under me all night. When I went to grab my sneakers I had in my bag, I tipped them over first and several little scorpions fell out. After being told there were no scorpions in the desert, we all shook out our clothes before packing them away.
After we left camp we drove through the White Desert to check out the different formations before we stopped at our second hot spring. This one was much too hot to relax in, but I did get to meet a donkey who lived there. He was shy and sweet.
We drove back to our Oasis stop to switch vehicles, eat one last delicious Bedouin made lunch, and started the drive back to Cairo.
We got back to Cairo at around 5 pm. Altogether the trip was about 34 hours long, but it was the most magical night of my life!
Would you make the journey to the White Desert?
What would you like to see most here?