Egypt - Bahariya Oasis and White Desert - SNP - May 2010

Below you find a list of pictures, taken on the Bahariya Oasis and the White Desert trekking organised by SNP from May 2 2010 to May 9 2010.
The most interesting images have a red bullet in front of them. In a hurry? Just want to see the pictures? Check out the slide show.
The days we were walking we kept track of how much time we spent walking. This is excluding the time for breaks.

May 2: Amsterdam - Zürich - Cairo

We had an early start as we had to be at Schiphol airport by 5A.M. We thought we would meet the entire group but as it turned out, it would only be 2 group members and our tour guide. The rest of the group had different inbound flights. We flew with Swiss via Zürich to Cairo. In Zürich we had 75 minutes so we were slightly afraid we or our luggage would not make it, but everything worked like a Swiss watch: right on time. In Cairo we met some more people of our group as their flight via Vienna arrived only minutes after our flight. Together we went to the hotel where we arrived around 5.30P.M. 2 more persons where already there. After dropping off our bags we went for dinner with the group. After dinner we had tea and later on a beer at the hotel.

May 3: Cairo - Bahariya Oasis via Gizeh

After an early wake-up call we had breakfast at the hotel. Around 8 the bus left. Gizeh was our first stop. As we were there quite early, it wasn't that busy yet. We walked around the pyramids and Sphinx for about two-and-a-half hours. Truly amazing to see what the ancient Egyptians were able to create with the limited technology they had! After a quick stop for sandwiches we headed for Al-Bawiti in the Bahariya Oasis. On the way over there we saw nothing but brownish and yellowish sand. Around 5.15P.M. we arrived at the oasis (finally some green again!) and some 15 minutes later at our hotel: Kasr Al Bahwiti. A wonderful spot! We unpacked and enjoyed a shower before dinner.

May 4: Around the Bahariya Oasis

After breakfast and a short explanation on the use of our GPS by Edwin and Frans, we started walking around 9A.M.. First we headed up to an old English fortified building on Gebel-al-Ingleez. From there we headed down to a plain - totally dry and apparently a resting place for died animals as we saw quite a few dead (nearly mummified) cows. Around 12.30P.M. we arrived at our lunch spot (fortunately in the shade). We rested for nearly two hours before continuing into the oasis, walking between the palm trees. In a small workers' home we had some tea before heading back to the village where we bought some beer. I was amazed to see how easily it was to get this, much easier than in Jordan (I must admit that we visited Jordan during Rammadan). It was nearly 6.30P.M. before we arrived back at the hotel. After drinks and a shower we had dinner.
This day we walked approximately 5h00m. Temperature in the shade was a maximum of 32 Celcius / 90 Fahrenheit.

May 5: Around the Bahariya Oasis

We started an hour earlier than the day before to enjoy one more "cool" hour. We were driven to one of the lakes from where we headed for Gebel Maghrafa. Some of the group stayed at the foot of this hill. We decided to go up (that's the spike after 6km. in the altitude profile). After we got down again we walked past a camel farm - man, these beasts make quite some noise! Just before noon we arrived at our lunch spot. We refilled our water bottles - a quick estimate showed that we would drink some 4 liters per person, just while walking so not including tea at breakfast and after dinner and the sodas at the hotel. Around 1.30P.M. we headed back through some sand dunes to the place where our jeeps picked us up again at 3.30P.M. At 4.30 we arrived at the hotel where we cooled off in the swimming pool. We had a wonderful dinner again before heading back to our (lovely) room around 10P.M.
This day we walked approximately 3h50m. Temperature in the shade was a maximum of 35 Celcius / 95 Fahrenheit.

May 6: Bahariya Oasis - White Desert

After reporting at the police station - mandatory for anyone entering the desert through the oasis - where we were assigned a policeman for our protection (from possible kidnappers, as had happened to a bunch of tourists near Luxor a couple of years ago). We then drove to a huge sand dune that some of our group (including Patricia) decided to climb - that was the 1st short walk. We then drove to a small hill in the Black Desert where we walked around (the 2nd short walk). We were picked up again by our jeeps on the other side before we drove deep into the black desert. After a stop for sodas we drove some more before we stopped for lunch. From there it was a short drive to Crystal Mountain - very nice rocks contain Crystal lay scattered around this site, which is on the edge of the White Desert Park. Only a few minutes after that we arrived at the starting point of the 3-day trek. We walked for about 2 hours before we arrived at the camp site (a nice word for some blankets between the two jeeps, as a roof and on the floor). Shortly after we arrived we saw 3 fox-like animals. They were given some meat and water which they clearly enjoyed. We decided to sleep in the open in our fleece bags. During the night it turned out to be a bit chilly due to the wind that had picked up. Some people that were awake had spotted the foxes - they apparently made use of the blankets to stay warm :)
This day we walked approximately 2h35m. Temperature in the shade was a maximum of 38 Celcius / 100 Fahrenheit.

May 7: White Desert

Everybody was awake early so after breakfast we could immediately start walking. The landscape wasn't very spectacular at the start, but we had learned that would be different in the afternoon. It was tough in the heat and we were glad we reached our lunch spot. Due to the heat we stayed there for 4 hours before we started walking again. By then it was still terribly hot. Even though we each drank over four liters of water plus some sodas, I didn't have to pee, meaning I was still not taking in enough fluids. A headache was the result... Near to the camp site the beauty of the white desert started showing: strangely shaped piles of chalk stood in the desert. From one of these piles we enjoyed the setting sun. After dinner there was some music by our staff. Some of our group sang some songs too, but we'd already hit the sack. We slept between some of the piles of chalk, in our fleece bag like the day before.
This day we walked approximately 4h35m. Temperature in the shade was a maximum of 44 Celcius / 111 Fahrenheit; in the sun it was well over 50 Celcius / 120 Fahrenheit, but as our thermometer only goes up to 50 Celcius, I can't exactly say how hot it got...

May 8: White Desert - Bahariya Oasis - Cairo

After breakfast we said goodbye to some of our staff as they headed back to the oasis. We walked through an amazing landscape of chalk shapes. Some part looked like a petrified sea of chalk another part looked like a bunch of enormous mushrooms. Beautiful! After little more than an hours' walk we arrived at the main road where we were picked up by the bus that brought us to the Oasis for lunch (and we took the opportunity to cool our feet in the swimming pool, some even went in) before heading back to Cairo. In Cairo we said goodbye to some of our group as we would not see them again due to different schedules for leaving. With the remainder we went to dinner at Taj al Sultan. The food was decent, but not as good as our cook made when we were in the desert... Back at the hotel we had a beer before heading to bed.
This day we walked approximately 1h20m, making a total of 17h15m for this trip. Temparature in the shade was a maximum of 38 Celcius.

May 9: Cairo - Zürich - Amsterdam - home

In the morning we headed straight for the Egyptian Museum where Hamada (our local guide) gave a tour of the highlights (king Tut, the mummies, etc.). We arrived back at the hotel around noon, packed our bags and left for the airport. We had learned the evening before that there was an ash cloud (similar to the one that had stopped all air traffic over Europe for nearly a week two week earlier) and that some airports were closing down. Fortunately we were able to get back to Amsterdam with only a slight delay. Just after midnight we got home.
The tracks were logged using a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. The tracks were then imported into Garmin Mapsource, exported and imported into GPS TrackMaker from which they were plotted into Google Earth to create the route images. The altitude profile images were generated by GPS TrackMaker.