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Egypt gave birth to one of the oldest and greatest civilizations of the world, a civilization which was born in the Paleolithic, along the Nile River and which is strategically positioned between the East and the West, with a mild climate all the year round. At first on the territory of Egypt were two centers of civilization: one in the north, concentrated in the Nile delta, where the first urban center Merinda appeared and another in the south around Tass . Around the 3200 year BC, Osiris united these two parts and this was the moment when the true history of Egypt began.
The Egyptian history is divided into three periods: the Old Kingdom is the most important period of the Egyptian civilization. It is the period of time when the complex of pyramids was built. The Middle Kingdom period intensified trade on the Red Sea and the New Kingdom period is characterized by military conquest , great artistic and cultural achievements.
Egypt was an absolute monarchy , the king or pharaoh was considered the Sun’s son and the symbol of power. What attracts the visitors is the mystery of gods of ancient Egypt. The perfect image of the supreme deity was the sun with three attributes: the shape, the light and the heat. The soul of the Sun was called Amon-Ra, which means the hidden sun.
Around 5000 years ago Mesopotamia was still a scene of disagreements, while Europe, America and much of western Asia were inhabited by the Stone Age hunters. The ancient Egyptians taught how to make bread, beer and mix paints; they melt copper and poured into forms, they put seeds in layers, mineral mixture for cosmetic and enameled stones and ceramics. They invented the oldest digging tool and they made experiences in agriculture and plants.
Egypt is a land with an unusual geographic isolation. There are vast deserts in the east and the west part, the Mediterranean is in the north, and in the south (before the construction of the Great Dam) there was a formidable barrier of a magma rock which lies behind the barren land of Nubia. Between these areas there was a divided territory : the Upper Egypt from Assnan which stretches a point south to the modern Cairo, and the delta or the Lower Egypt which stretches from where the Nile reaches the Mediterranean Sea and irrigates a fertile delta of about 200 km. The Nile River unites the Upper Egypt and the Lower Egypt.
Egypt and the Nile Valley, pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, Sinai, the Red Sea are very often spoken about in the world. Very few people know about the interesting articrafts that this country preserved. Besides, why to pay tens of millions of dollars to go on the Moon if you can find moon landscapes on the Earth in the Egyptian desert?
This might be the most romantic Arabian adventure going through mysterious knowledge of the moon, sand and dunes, admiring the rocks carvings in the winds and discovering the glorious past of the green oasis in the middle of the golden, rising up sea.
Egypt has always been and remains an inspiration for great stories. These were expressed by the formula "Egypt – where it all begins” campaign which aims to promote Egypt as a holiday destination to inspire visitors to discover the essence of the experience of a visit to this country, also encouraging them to share this experience with friends, family and the beloved ones.
The Western Desert
The Western Desert, called in ancient times the Lybian Desert, is a region of 700.000 km ², situated in the west part of Nile within Egypt and Libya. The Western Desert occupies two thirds of the surface of Egypt and it is a plateau covered with sediments under the sea (except Jilf he Kabir with an altitude of 1000 m) demonstrating that during the prehistoric time there was a large area.
Ramla he Kebir,the huge sands extend from Siwa to Jilf El Kabir and the remaining desert, dotted with ponds, small depressions has no source of water, no streams or rivers on the surface.
Located near the border of Libya and the West Qattara Depression, Siwa is the most remote and isolated oasis of Egypt. However it has been inhabited since ancient times due to fame and the famous temple dedicated to Amoun Oracle. In ancient times it was visited by countless of pilgrims including Alexander the Great.
The other major oases of the Western Desert are: the Faiyoum (an artificial oasis situated at 60 km from Cairo), Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga. A safari in this region is a unique experience because of the unusual landscape that is changing rapidly: here you can see immaculate white rocks carved by the winds in unusual forms, beyond the rocky peaks and the black , solidified lava, then submerged petrified ancient sand forests because the sun is finally shining crystals to capture the full attention of the viewer. It's a really magical place full of energy and unreal silence which seem to make the traveler feel into another dimension. Most of the scenes from the film "The English Patient" (as the action of the book of the same name) took place in the Egyptian desert where the main character , the Hungarian Count Ladislaus E Almásy, had numerous adventures among them. He was the first pilot who flew the giant plateau Gilf Kebir .
Though it looks weird, the Western Desert is not lifeless, but on the contrary, its history, customs and local traditions, the lush vegetation of the oases, naturally presented in various forms, each time surprise the visitors.
Ramla or The Great Sand Sea Kebir
Ramla or The Great Sand Sea Kebir is a very large area (occupying ¾ of the Desert West) and is composed of moving sand dunes. Only the brave and the couragious can have adventures here and thus they should be properly equipped and accompanied only by the best knowledgeable persons of the area. In the Southern Great Sand Gilf Kebir there is a mountainous plateau (the size of Switzerland), an interesting region with many valleys.
The Great Sand Dunes are moving continuously and the legend says that they have swallowed an army of 50,000 soldiers of the Persian king Cambysses. Land Rover Company and the Egyptian government sponsored searches of Egyptian archaeologists hoping to find a few millennia now lost army. There is also much logistic support provided to teams of researchers who study the largest field of meteorites in the world (fallen on an area of 4,500 square kilometers).
The Black Desert
The Black Desert is a mountainous region. It surrounds the volcanic Bahariya oasis with its olive and dates plantations. Although it is not as black as the traveler might expect, the dark color that characterizes this area comes from the black basalt, the charred rocks, the yellow sand and the thick layer of volcanic rocks scattered everywhere. The picture is surprising depicting a wonderful colorful contrast, ubiquitous black - yellow-orange.
The Black Desert offers a serene atmosphere and a great landscape can be admired in all its splendor from the top of the mountain. The middle of this desert turns into an amazing star show at night. Many visitors say that they have not seen a sky so clear and so many constellations anywhere in the world. Furthermore, NASA researchers have moved into this area to better observe the planets.
The Crystal Mountain
The Crystal Mountain or quartz is located between the Farafra oasis and the Bahariya, in the north of the White Desert and it was discovered during the work on the road between Bahariya and Farafra. The name "mountain" comes from Arabic and here it seems to have been used with great indulgence. The Rock formations that make up the Crystal Mountain, although not very tall, are striking with their sparkling appearance. They are the result of an intense volcanic activity in prehistoric times.
Geologists say that the place was originally a limestone cave with stalactites and stalagmites, ruined by the tectonic movements in the area. It is also said that the Crystal Mountain was a volcanic canopy made of Oligocene and the layers of limestone, chalk, coal and iron date since the Cretaceous period. The calcite crystals (a lower quartz hardness) occurred due to the cooling of the hydrothermal solutions rich in dioxide of carbon and calcium. The tourists’ wonder at this point is already a routine for the organizers of tours and safari but the visit in this place deserves attention as the travelers see the amazing scene from the Superman film. Quartz crystals of various shapes and sizes also shine as diamonds in the sun, filling the masterly picture of shiny arches polished by rocky winds to perfection.
The White Desert
The White Desert is a region located at 200 km near the Farafra oasis and consists of limestone and chalk exposed to a particular erosion. Here you can admire thousands of bizarre rock formations: shaped, white, leaving the traveler the imagination to define them (hawk, camel, ostrich, cone ice cream, mushrooms, etc.). Many of these natural sculptures seem to defy gravity, the feet of limestone is much thinner than the top, a consequence of thousands of years of exposure to strong winds, loaded with sand.
The white landscape appears antarctic and becomes more dramatic at sunrise and at sunset when the sunlight is projected on the surreal figures of the rocks, enveloping them in pink colors and gentle ocher. Not in vain the organized trips include an overnight stay in the White Desert under the stars in this great workshop of nature.
The El Bahr Cave
The El Bahr Cave is an interesting point to study geo-archeology. Numerous traces of fossilized marine animals is a proof of the existence of a prehistoric ocean across the Western Desert which were found here. With the withdrawal of waters the area began to be frequented more by people and the fossilized ostrich eggs inside the cave and the cave paintings are not only proofs of the hypothesis that confirm that the current desert enjoyed a mild climate and lush vegetation before and that the place allowed the development of human settlements.
Practical recommendations and considerations
Since this is such a vast and wild area ( the desert surface is similar with the summed areas of Germany, Portugal and the UK) it is recommended that the famous safari be organized by tour operators who will provide you with the necessary equipment to have the journey in good conditions. Exploring the Western Desert in an organized group also offers the advantage to complete circuits visiting many archaeological sites both inside and outside the oases. In case you prefer spending several days in an oasis , it's good to know that local guides and tours in and around the oases, include several days camel safari or 4x4 cars. Also, upon request, they can provide driving courses on the dunes.
An interesting fact to note is that the Western Desert is a dedicated destination for team building programs (namely Time Pressure Management) of multinational companies. The circuits in the Western Desert can be longer (including visiting Siwa and Faiyoum oasis) or shorter (only Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga oasis), from seven days to 15-20 days. They often involve overnight stays in the desert under the stars or in tents, alternating with green and hotel accommodation in thermal springs baths of the miraculous oases.
The route of the classic safari trips is Cairo-Bahariya-White Desert, Crystal Mountain, White Desert - Bahr-huge cave-Mare Sand-Farafra-Dakhla-Kharga Luxor or vice versa with the arrival and the departure from Luxor to Cairo. It is good to know that, for economic reasons, some travel agencies offer 4x4 side benches with arranged seats while others put vehicles at your disposal with seats. The latter, although more expensive, are preferable when you consider a safari for a week long, because it provides comfort and minimizes the possibility of an extreme fatigue accumulated during the trip.
When preparing an adventure in the desert you must take into consideration the existing equipment in the car which is to move, to avoid unpleasant surprises and extreme situations.. Because in these areas there are any settlements or facilities it is advisable to bring your own sleeping bag with you and of course items of clothing to protect you from the cold night.