Bahariya Oasis Egypt

Bahariya feels like the first real desert oasis in Egypt.

You reach it after a four or five hour’s drive from Cairo along a well made road that sees a bit of tanker traffic but little else. There is only one stop en route-a barn-like tea house-after 150km (and a smaller one about 10km further on) and that is it. It was on the right hand side of the road, in the direction of Wadi Natrun, that French Flyer Antoine de Saint Exupery crashed in 1935. Surviving on a half pint of coffee and an orange Exupery survived- and later wrote about the experiences in the marvelous desert book ‘‘Wind, Sand and Stars’’.

Being relatively near to Cairo Bahariya has attracted a number of foreigners over the years in search of peace and desert freedom. They have started, or been involved with, the several eco-spiritual companies springing up with safaris tailored to match the growing breed of travellers out to do more than stand and stare. 

At Bahariya itself the main town you drive through is Bawati. There are other smaller villages clustered within the depression of the oasis, many of them mentioned in Roman times. Bahariya has been inhabited for many centuries and it was here that the so calledGolden Mummies were unearthed a few years ago.

Some of the mummy cases can be seen in the museum in Bawiti which you drive past on the way in. There are shops selling most things- here you can buy your Bedouin scarf’s and rugs.

Look out for the traditional shops such as the bakery which is a small blackened hole in the wall through which hands pass to receive their daily bread. 

The hills behind the town include Gebel Dest- this was where important dinosaur remains were found by German paleontoligist Eric Strommer nearly a hundred years ago. He discovered a tyrannosaurus- like carnivore called Spinosaurus, which, if you have seen ‘‘Jurassic Park III’’ does battle with T-Rex towards the end of the film.

All around Bawiti there are ancient sites waiting to be visited. When one tires of sightseeing the oasis is well equipped with hot springs that gush from the earth and cleanse you of the sand of desert traveling.

Temple of Alexander

On the road going in the direction of Siwa is the temple dedicated to Alexander- the only one that still exists in Egypt- perhaps he came back through Bahariya after visiting the oracle at Siwa.

After the dusty atmospheric town of Bawiti one drives through theBlack Desert, called this because the air has oxidized the manganese in the rocks making them black.

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