A desert safari takes you through an endless stunning range of desert landscapes coupled with scenic sunsets and starry night skies. Walk along mud houses and ancient ruins in Egyptian desert oases, shop for locally made crafts and rub shoulders with Bedouins carrying out century old traditions− the Egyptian Desert is one of those mystic places where regular living practices are suspended or absent, a place where water access is everything and land ownership is nothing.
Discover amazing natural landmarks such as the Silica Glass Field and explore prehistoric rock art in the Swimmers Cave or Shaw’s Cave in Gilf El-Kebir. You can also experience the amazing thrill of Sand Boarding in the Great Sand Sea, Quad biking in the Western Desert, or dune camping under the desert’s starry night.
Qattara Depression / Alexandria
The lowest point in Egypt, under sea level that is; the Qattara Depression is situated in the Northern part of the beautiful Western Desert, its depths reach to 134 m below sea level.
It is the largest of seven such depressions in Egypt.
Unlike other depressions, the Oasis of Qattara, the Moghra Oasis, is uninhabited.
Bedouin tribes and their livestock do however move through the area, utilizing the waters and grass of Moghra for grazing. As you travel through the Qattara Depression you will see beautiful rock formations that differ in size and shape, as well as saline marshes.
Make sure you visit the black dunes (al-ghorood as-soud) in the South West of Qattara; these dunes are black due to the high shale content.
Qattara is the last known location where cheetahs can be found in Egypt although there are not enough individuals to sustain a population, the Dorcas Gazelle is also found here.
Many tour operators operating in the Western Desert and from Cairo will have expeditions into the area.
Try to stay a night or so as the area is intensely serene in the evening.
Safari into Western Desert
Safari Into the Great Sand Sea / Siwa Oasis
Covering over 72,000 square kilometers and forming the northern edge of the Sahara, the Great Sand Sea is the world’s third largest dune field. Siwa is the northern gateway and the perfect starting point for a safari expedition into a truly magical landmark. Experience the infinite tranquility of endlessly undulating dunes before stopping at one of the desert camps for a magical night under the stars. The Great Sand Sea is one of the largest dune fields in the whole world and contains some of the largest recorded sand dunes, one of which is 140 km long!
Black Desert/ Bahariya Oasis
A little to the North of the White Desert, the Black Desert is closer to Bahariya than Farafra; approximately 50 km to the South of Bawiti.
The mountains have eroded to coat the desert with a layer of black powder and rocks giving it its name.
Towards the end of the Black Desert are black volcanic hills that ages ago erupted a dark volcanic material called dolerite, which is what the black rocks are made of.
Climb up the English Mountain which is the highest point in the Black Desert and you will be awarded with an amazing view of the strange landscape.
The Black Desert can be seen as you pass the road from Bahariya to Farafra, but if you want to venture in to its depths a tour guide is advised, tours can easily be arranged from either Bahariya or Farafra.
The White Desert / Farafra Oasis
The White Desert is justifiably the most well-known desert destination in Egypt – and for a good reason. The quantity of unearthly and beautiful wind-carved rock formations shaped in the form of giant mushrooms or pebbles is unequalled in any desert in the world.
Farafra is nearer than Bahariya to this 300 kilometres protectorate, yet it offers a more limited choice of tours and safaris. However, it is still the perfect starting point for an overnight journey into the infinite whiteness.
Jara Cave / Farafra Oasis
Jara Cave is a massive cave that contains gorgeous prehistoric rock art.
Most of the engravings depict big game hunts and everyday life.
They were most probably drawn by hunter gatherers over 9000 years ago.
The cave was discovered by Gerhard Rohlfs during his famous expedition into the Western Desert.
Located in the middle of the Western Desert on a limestone plateau, you can reach Jara Cave from Farafra and Asyut along an old camel caravan trail.
The cave itself can easily be entered and has a level floor.
Make sure you bring a flashlight and wearing a helmet is advised but not required.
Bir Sitta Hot Springs / Farafra Oasis
Take to the hot springs after a hard safari through the White Desert.
Bir Sitta helps relieve back pain and joint ache after camel riding.
The large hot bath contains traces of sulfur, which is said to aid muscle and joint recovery.
It is about 5 kilometers from the main town and easy to reach by car.
Camel and Sheep Wool / Farafra Oasis
There is no greater craft tradition in Farafra than the spinning of wool – both from camels and sheep. Unusually, both for Egypt and the world in general, spinning is a male occupation. Heavy fellows can be seen walking down the main street twirling a spindle and bobbin as they chat with friends and drink a glass of mint tea. Knitting, too, as amongst sailors, is an occupation practiced by men in Farafra.
Bir Tarfawi / Dakhla Oasis
Bir Tarfawi is your gateway to the Great Sand Sea and the vast sand sheets of Gilf Kebir. Safaris often reach Bir Tarwafi from Dakhla, a remote oasis and the oldest continuously inhabited place in Africa. Bir Tarfawi embodies timelessness and stands at testament to an almost unimaginable prehistoric age where today’s barren landscape used to contain massive permanent lakes. It is also a site that has been heavily excavated because tools found in the area show how humans adapted to changes in their environment. There were numerous sites excavated in the area that are indicative of tool preparation for hunting as well as foraging and possibly scavenging.
Rock Art in Darb Al-Ghabari / Dakhla Oasis
At the crossroads of the ancient caravan routes of Dakhla and Kharga, where Dakhla’s cultivated lands come to an end, about 45 km towards Kharga Oasis, lie the strange rock formations of Darb Al-Ghabari. As desert travellers passed, some wrote their names, but most importantly are the rock carvings depicting pre-historic man and animals including a crouching camel and giraffes.
Sunset Camel Rides / Dakhla Oasis
offer brief camel rides that reach past the southern end of Mut. Let the guide know if you want to stop over a majestic dune. Go ahead, roll down the sandbank. We know you want to.
Cycling in Mut / Dakhla Oasis
Rent a bike in Mut. Visit ancient sites along nearly traffic free roads in one of the most bicycle friendly towns in Egypt.
Dune Camping / Dakhla Oasis
Gear up but don’t fan out. Take to the desert with a group of friends for a night under the starry night sky near the dunes of the Western Desert. Experience the silence of the desert night after the astounding colours of a desert sunset.
Abu Ballas / Gilf El-Kebir
Walk next to thousands of ancient broken pots and shards of pottery that litter a hill discovered by Prince Kamal el Din in the early 1900s. The scattered pottery consists of mainly Amphorae ceramics that date back to the Roman occupation of Egypt. Abu Ballas was a major station along the caravan trail that linked Wadi el Natroun to the south west of Egypt. Located about 64 km from Qasr el Sagha, Abu Ballas can be reached after a safari in Gilf el Kebir.
El-Mestikawi Cave / Gilf El-Kebir
El-Mestikawi Cave is a well-known site because of its prehistoric rock art. Located near Gilf el-Kebir, it features similar art to the Swimmer’s Cave and Shaw’s Cave. El-Mestikawi Cave was discovered in 1922. It is larger than Swimmer’s Cave and Shaw’s Cave and has lot more rock artwork and engravings. Variations in colour as well as subjects, with some art having been painted over, indicate a sustained and prolonged habitation of the area. The site is remarkable for the handprint drawings that are prominently featured over a half buried wall that also has paintings of human figures, animals and representations of hunting activities. There’s also an impressive drawing of a headless bull drawn in several parts of the cave. Please do not touch the paintings or use flash when you take pictures because the ancient paint will peel off.
Regenfeld / Gilf El-Kebir
If you reach Gilf el Kebir, you shouldn’t miss a chance to visit Regenfeld. Past the flat topped plateau crossing several deep valleys and towering dunes, Regenfeld is the site where rainfall saved the life of Gerhard Rohlfs during his exploration of the desert in 1874. You can still find the cairn Rohlfs used to mark the area. There’s also a marble tablet set up since 1933 by Almasy, the Hungarian explorer who was depicted in The English Patient, in honour of the Egyptian explorer, Prince Kemal el Din.
Shaw’s Cave / Gilf El-Kebir
Shaw’s Cave, also known as Mogharat el Kantara, is a rock art site discovered in 1936 and named after the explorer who unearthed the cave. Located on the western side of Gilf el Kebir, far from Swimmer’s Cave (the famous rock art site depicted in The English Patient), Shaw’s Cave is easy to reach from Dakhla. There are three rock art paintings depicting cattle and a homestead scene. The paintings are about 50 centimetres above the floor and have a weathered look despite the dry climate due to extreme old age.
Silica Glass Field / Gilf El-Kebir
Located in the southern end of the Great Sand Sea in the Egyptian Western Desert, the Silica glass field is an astonishing geological wonder. Very close to the Libyan border, no other place on earth has been found to house the amazing gem-like pieces of yellow-green colour that were discovered in that location. The exact origin of this tektite material is still unknown and scientists speculate that it is the result of the impact of a meteor which would have taken place centuries ago, causing sand to fuse due to the intense heat. However till this day no crater proving this theory has been found. The glass is worn with wind and has a polished feel; it was used by the pharaohs in making jewellery. When visiting the Silica Glass Field, make sure to resist the temptation of taking some of the shiny pieces of desert with you. This field is accessible through safaris and tours of the Great Sand Sea.
Swimmers Cave / Gilf El-Kebir
Made famous by The English Patient, the Cave of Swimmers was discovered in 1933 by the Hungarian explorer Laszlo Almasy. The cave has stunning rock paintings of people swimming. The paintings are over 10,000 years old. Almasy speculated that paintings depict daily life in the area before climate change radically changed the environment. The rock art is a rich archaeological site and a part of our world heritage, please do not touch or apply water to the paintings, and do not litter the cave.
Safari into Sinai Desert
Bedouin Village 4X4 Safari in Sharm El Sheikh
For an inspiring experience on your sun and sea holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh, try driving a 4X4 to one of the Bedouin villages in the middle of the desert and get a glimpse of their timeless life-style. As a guest, you’ll be honored by the very welcoming tribes who will surely serve you a herbal tea and invite you to share a shisha.
Bedouin Safari in the Dahab
Mountains, deserts, pristine beaches and crystal clear waters all come together to form the magical landscapes one can witness in the Sinai Peninsula, especially in Dahab. A Bedouin Safari is the only and most exciting way to explore the heart of the Sinai desert. Imagine the splendour of the colour changing rocks at sunset and the excitement of a night spent under the stars.
Coloured Canyon 4X4 Safari / Dahab
A 4X4 safari to the Coloured Canyon is arguably the most popular expedition you can take. Some of the sights to see are layers of bright, multicoloured stones of the steep narrow walls of the Canyon. Ask the guide to stop for a while. Enjoy a moment of sheer silence. Don’t be afraid to bargain with safari operators.
Safari to Ras Abu Gallum Protectorate / Dahab
Go on a camel safari with a Bedouin guide to the spectacular mountains that line the coast in the Ras Abu Gallum Protectorate. It is a beautiful place and the scenery is breathtaking. Camel drivers and guides are likely to meet at the waterfront in Dahab, simply walk up to them and ask if they are available to take you. Register with the police before you leave and don’t pay the guide until you return.
Nuweiba Desert Expedition / Nuweiba
Nuweiba is a great place to arrange camel and 4×4 safaris into the interior of the Sinai desert. Some of the sights to see are the palm filled oasis of Ain-al-Furtega, a large cistern (Mayat-el Wishwashi) concealed between the boulders of a canyon that feeds a palm grove and the largest oasis of the Sinai, called Ain Umn Ahmed. There are plenty of operators in Nuweiba. The best are usually Bedouins. Don’t be afraid to bargain with your guide, register with the police before you leave and don’t pay until you return.
Sahl Hasheesh Desert Getaway / Sahl Hasheesh
If you have never had the chance to ride a camel or a horse in your life, you’ll be able to do so on your Red Sea holiday in Sahl Hasheesh. This peaceful, upscale, and relaxing resort is one of the best locations to get initiated to camel or horse-back riding.
A camel and horse stable is available on site with qualified instructors who will teach you equestrian basics and take you on an initiation tour. If you feel like taking it to the next level, camel safaris and horse treks are also on the program, and whatever your skill level might be, you can be part of such desert escapes.