Into the Black Desert of Egypt

A delicious breakfast at the Sands Baharia Hotel and back in the 4×4 to head south into the Black and White Deserts of Egypt for our last desert excursions in the Farafra depression with what promised to be fantastic views. There would be three more checkpoints, off-roading into the dunes, sights unique to these areas only and one night camping – all in one day! This road leading south was also being rebuilt even though it had been finished two years ago. The sand and heat is very hard on the roads. The best time for tourists to visit the desert is January/February and October/November. Don’t even think of coming from March to the end of April when there are 50 days of sandstorms.. That would not be fun at all.

The Black Desert began appearing in 30-40 kms/18-25 miles after driving out of Bahariya. Called the Black Desert because of magma spewed up from undersea volcanic activity 70 million years ago. Magma is molten rock found beneath the surface of the Earth that erupts as lava. The lava can change to a black color when it cools. Even my uneducated eye knew when the Black Desert suddenly began. There were black rocks as far as the eye could see…View image….duh…View image

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waiter, ex-Marine and chef at the Sands Baharia Hotel, Barhariya Oasis, Egypt
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black rocks contrasted with white sand in the Black Desert, Egypt
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the endless Black Desert of Egypt


Mahmoud navigated off-road to see one of Ahmed’s, and other savvy tour guides, favorite sights in the Black Desert. A valley with small, big and immense black boulders (impossible to lift) laying in the soft golden sand with mountains on all sides…View image. An incredible study in contrast and one a person would really have to see for oneself to get the full impact. ex-Marine said it looked like one big, outdoor coal mine containing rocks that were 60% iron.

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the section of the Black Desert resembled an outdoor coal mine in Egypt


Back on the road and past the spot where the majority of tourists stop for Black Desert views. You can climb up a small rock/sand mountain but the site was nowhere near as spectacular as the one we visited.

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tourist scenic spot to view the Black Desert of Egypt


Moving on to another checkpoint and lunch at the “Oasis Cafeteria” (that’s what it is called), the “only game in town.” Mahmoud began making tuna sandwiches for lunch while I sat and watched young boys unload a truck filled with cases of water and soft drinks and carry into the store section…View image……View image. The owner paid them for unloading, and the boys began picking out candy, biscuits, and chips to buy with their earnings before leaving for home carrying bags of junk food.

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candy and cookies for sale at the Oasis Cafeteria in the Black Desert of Egypt


We sat inside under shady Date Palm leaves…View image… for a quite a while because of the heat outside. Ahmed didn’t want to leave until later in the afternoon when the desert would begin to cool off a bit.


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