The thought of Egypt reminds many of its Great Pyramid of Giza, but there is an equally fascinating if not the most remarkable scenery in the country. It is the 300-sq-km national park of the White Desert – 20km northeast of Farafra, on the east side of the road.
The Northeastern African country is considered the bedrock of civilization. The early signs of mathematics, reading and lettering systems were derived from Egypt.
And let us not forget to mention the artifacts, the Great Sphinx and the ruins of Memphis and Thebes among other attractions. However, the white rock sprouting mystically from the ground into a fantastic landscape of diverse shapes by the dry desert winds has been described as a treasure trove of awe by locals and tourists.
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The White Desert is a five-hour drive from Cairo. “The White Desert is so different from any place on the planet,” Ziad Omran, co-founder of the adventure travel company Destination 31, told CNN.
“Once they experience adventure travel there, they end up coming back again with their friends. So, they can experience it for themselves.”
Interestingly, the journey to the White Desert usually starts with a stop at a completely dissimilar landscape, the Black Desert. Apart from a single road that stretches into the distance, the area is said to have no sign of life.
Activities on the White Desert feature a countless unique mountain range from dune bashing and sandboarding to mountain biking and kayaking in the nearby Bahariya Oasis.
The white Desert is housed in the national park and to experience the breathtaking view of it, one will need a dune bashing across the mysterious desert that was once a sea or an ocean. The only evidence of that is a collection of calcified limestone rocks sculpted over time by sand and wind.
The White abstract shapes change their color depending on the time of day, shifting from brilliant white to creamy, then reaching a golden brown. According to Lonely Planet, the sculptural formations are best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when the sun lights them with orangey-pink hues, or under a full moon, which gives the landscape a ghostly Arctic appearance.
“On the west side of the Farafra–Bahariya highway, away from the wind-hewn sculptures, chalk towers called inselbergs burst from the desert floor into a spectacular white canyon. Between them run grand boulevards of sand, like geologic Champs-Élysées. No less beautiful than the east side of the road, the shade and privacy here makes it a great area to camp”.
A strategic navigation point for travelers are two flat-topped mountains known as the Twin Peaks about 50km north. More spectacular is the view from the top of the surrounding symmetrical hills, all shaped like giant ant-hills.
Also there is the Crystal Mountain, a large rock made entirely of quartz situated right beside the main road to the north of Naqb As Sillim, and has a large hole through its middle.
Nestled between the massive rock formations in the Valley of Agabat is a soft sandy hill that’s ideal for sand boarding. Usually the local Bedouins prepare a traditional dinner over an open fire for visitors who are camped.
According to CNN, the exotic aroma of the feast often draws attention from one of the rare residents of the White Desert – the fennec fox, also known as the sand fox. The harmless and charming animals which are hard to spot often approach campsites to feed on visitors’ leftovers. Taking a trip to the beautiful White Desert National Park will leave you with an unforgettable experience.