WEST of the Nile, several oasis towns, such as Al Qasr, Mut, Farafra and Bahariya dot the desert with green. There’s more serenity than Bonnie Doon, 12th century towns and the stunning White Desert.
The area was a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, so when we visited in 2005, security was tight. And helpful. In Asyut, we were met at the station by police who took us to the bus station. In two other towns, police took us to a hotel in their jeep. So we hitched 40kms out to the White Desert, and I went jogging alone after dusk.
A sandstorm blankets the desrt oasis town of Farafra, an Oasis town in the western desert.
Security is tight around the Western Desert. Police met us at the bus station and drove us to a hotel.
So we hitched out the the White Desert. As you do.
The views from the top of these sand hills behind Dahkla are awesome.
Green patches are enclosed by desert yellows.
A desert mosque, Dakhla Oasis.
Al Qasr town in the Dakhla Oasis. Human settlement probably dates back 12,000 years. Contact with the Pharoanic rulers began around 2550BC.
The Abbuyid kings established Al Qasr on the site of an old Roman town, in the 1100s.
An approaching sandstorm added to the other-worldiness of the White Desert.
The shapes are white chalk rock formed by wind erosion.
William Dalrymple's "From The Holy Mountain" concludes with an account of an early Christian monk who meditated in the Western Desert. In the desert, he said, there is just you, the sand and your thoughts.
Mudbrick mosque in Al Qasr, probably 12th century.
Bird tracks, dunes on the edge of Dakhla Oasis.
Trees bend in a sandstorm. Farafra.
At sunset, with no vehicles about, we questioned our wisdom of hitching out to the White Desert, in an area with high security. We got back OK though.
"Just walk out of town and go up," was the advice.
Walking up the sandy hills, we found shards of pottery probably from Roman times.
Zero visibility is apparently no obstacle to safe driving.
A check point on the highway. Looks like the White Desert in the background, right of picture.
Our donkey man returns from his day's work in the green oasis fields.
Sand, mosque, donkey. Egypt.
More wonderous shapes of the desert, where millions of years ago, fish swam in the ocean.
A bus in the distance. As the sunk began to sink, we had no way of getting back. We did get a lift after a while.
The White Desert. The harsh brightness and colours of the sand made for challenging photography, not helped by a looming sand storm.
The hard slog up the sand in the summer sun rewarded us with these kinds of views.
A grab-bag of different shapes and textures in the deserts of Egypt.