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White Desert Tour

Well I arrive back at the hotel pretty late and have to prepare for my trip out to the Oasis and Western Desert. I have paid for a four night trip out to Baharaya to go and see the Oasis and the White Desert.

My taxi picks me up at 7am to get me to the local bus station for my 8am departure. The trip should take four hours but of course thats what it should be and not what it will be. I board what seems like a fairly comfortable coach and it fills to the brim with travellers (locals and foreigners). I settle next to the window and get out my sleeping bag to wrap up for the long journey ahead.

Soon after leaving I am dozing when this god awful noise interrupts my semi-conscious state. I look up and see that they have turned on the video and an old Arabic movie is being screened with the volume turned up full blast. It is a very painful experience. I close my eyes and pull up my sleeping bag up to my chin and cover my head with my scarf. I doze a little but keep getting woken up by the ticket seller who taps me on the head numerous times over the journey to see my ticket. This is driving me insane. I look at my watch and realise that we are nearly there its noon.

Low and behold this is not the case, and we still have another two hours. The bus starts stopping at various so called bus stops on the side of the road. I don't know where these people are going because we are in the middle of no where. The desert is one huge vast flat plane of sand. It just seems to go on and on and on. After nearly six hours on the road we finally pull into Bawiti.

Bawiti is by far the largest village in the Bahariya Oasis with some 30,000 inhabitants. The town center is modern, while outside the center are mud-brick houses. Recently, the town has received considerable press due to the find of a huge (possibly the largest) necropolis of mummies from the Greco-Roman era.

I am met by my transfer from Achmed's Safari Camp where I will be staying. He takes me out to the camp which is a primative camp a long way from town and not possibly walking distance. This is frustrating because it means that you are reliant on asking for a lift into town and may not be able to go when you want. I am shown to my room which I had specifically stated needed heating. My room is pleasant but of course the heater does not work. I ask to change rooms and I am perseeved as a trouble maker. The staff move me into the room next door and I put on the dual air-conditioning/heating unit on full. I then unpack and go and see what’s for lunch.

The benefit of this accommodation is that all meals are included. Well I thought this was great until I learnt that we were eating chicken and rice with every meal plus a soup or pasta. It became a bit repetitive but hey I wasn’t cooking so I can’t complain too much. I meet up with some fellow travellers who recall some horror stories of their travels so far in Egypt and I told a few of mine.

I then met up with another fellow female lone traveller who I had met in Aswan. She too was going to go on the safari with me. We were told that we were going on an afternoon drive to see Black Mountain, the Oasis and to have a swim in the hot thermal springs. This turned out to be a pleasant afternoon until we arrived at the thermal springs.

We both strip down to shirts and hot pants to take a dip and jump into the water. I then look around the beautiful springs to see that we have a few prying eyes. We are being looked at from the bushes by no less than six different men who are camouflaged amongst bushes, reeds and other vegetation surrounding the pool. It's pretty spooky and I for one don’t feel comfortable. After getting out of the water the Japanese girl and I helped each other get dressed whilst holding up our towels so that we don’t offend anyone. It just felt all very weird when back in Italy or Oz you would just wrap the towel around you and do a quick change. In the end it was a bit of a dampner on a nice afternoon.

After our swim, our guide takes us to his house to meet his family. He youngest son had already joined us for the drive around the Oasis and he turns out to be a bundle of hyperactive energy. This continues when we arrive at his house. I meet his other brother and two sisters and their mum. We share a pot of tea and have some homemade biscuits. I brought along with me chocolates and pens for all the kids, which goes down really well. I also show them my video camera and film them whilst the viewfinder was turned around so that they could see themselves. They all find this extremely fascinating thinking that they are on TV. After two hours it's time to return to camp.

After such a long day I don’t even make it to dinner. I have a shower, get dressed in my pjs and go to bed. Unfortunately my heater no longer works so I have two blankets and my sleeping bag to get through the night. I also sleep on two mattresses because I was warned by others that the cement floor under the mattress brings up a terrible chill throughout the night, which can only be offset by sleeping on the two mattresses. The things you do to get a good nights sleep.


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