Though there is a road from Bawiti to Siwa Oasis, near the Libyan border, it is rarely traveled. Both are 5 EGP and are decent. If you haven't seen the White Desert, you haven't see Egypt! Even better than the work is the man himself, incredibly friendly and happy to talk, drink tea and smoke a waterpipe with visitors.
I began a three-week solo journey through the oases at Kharga, the southernmost village. Buses run daily to Cairo, but be sure to get your ticket a day in advance if you don't want to get stuck in Bawiti. Though there are few attractions, I had one of my more memorable experiences here. It sounded very loud. Massive sand slopes, which are easy to climb, rise to the peaks.
If you've never heard of the oases, it may be because they lack high Oasiss artwork, and these places demand time that many vacationers cannot afford.
I wandered through the market and was never approached to buy anything. It is great for a swim with the locals, who splash and play here, though Western women should be cautious about doing so. Visitors usually are free to explore unassailed by the hassles of the major tourist stops. Language: Arabic. The rock towers recede in rows to create grand avenues of sand, giving the impression of a magnificent white city. I took demale microbus bulging with locals about miles west, to Dakhla Oasis. Though we fsmale not see eye-to-eye about God, he invited me to his house, where I was greeted warmly by his family, who were grateful to welcome a stranger.
When they do, they are fully covered, wearing gloves and veils without eye-slits. A rugged ridge looms on the horizon. To get around, I rented a bike from my hotel, walked and hitched rides from trucks and donkey carts. Basic supplies can be bought in Farafra. Siwa Oasis has femqle of that and a whole lot more: ancient temples, a salt lake, hot springs and big, shifting dunes. Forty miles north of Farafra, in the middle of nowhere, bizarre rock formations emerge from the desert floor.
As the only tourist on the train, I was treated to lunch and friendly conversation by the Egyptians in my car, most of whom were soldiers. In summer, it is dangerous to walk too far between 11 a. There are no restrictions here, though I heard rumors that it is illegal to explore west of the highway. Three-story houses are built over the streets, creating a network of tunnels supported by palm trunks, a fortress against the sun.
The town lacks the mystique of Al-Qasr, but the natural surroundings more than compensate. Islands of greenery in an endless sea of sand, the Western Oases are Egypt's secluded jewels.
A miracle of lushness in a sub-sea-level wasteland, oldwr groves with fresh-water springs stretch below rocky plateaus. There was also an absence of sound.
Interoasis travel is by bus or microbus a crowded minivan. Walk past the conical mud crypts and the dirt soccer field, onto the multicolored plateau. For the budget traveler, Bawiti's hotel of choice is the Paradise, in the center of town. Nothing shifted across the backdrop of the white hill, the yellow sand, the green palm groves, apart from a fine Arabian horse from the nearby stable, a donkey pulling a water cart and some birds. We shared a marvelous evening of good, conversation and laughter.
It was as though the palms someone has calculated that there are considerably more than a quarter of a million of them in Siwa were untended, the salty water uncrossed, the broad sweep of sand dunes untrodden. Oazis is part of the fun, as is the feeling that around every bend you might witness any exotic scene from the past 10 centuries.
The desert behind the town offers days of exploring. It stops frequently so sand can be cleared from the tracks.
The dry breeze coming off the desert carried no scent. Women also should wear slacks and shirts with sleeves.
A single highway Oasiis four of the oases, to each other and to major cities on the Nile. I swam out a little way and flopped onto my back from the effort.
More cherished than my memories of pyramids and temples are Dakbla of the land and people of these remote parts. There's only one hotel in town 6 EGP and no restaurants, save what the hotel manager can create. Its largest town is Mut, but the place to be is the smaller, 1,year-old Al-Qasr. The prime place for views is Gebel Dakrur. Narrow alleyways twist and curve in no apparent pattern.
From where I was sitting, on the edge of the salt lake, my back to a white hill, there was an absence of people and a lack of movement. For the less intrepid, you'll find a lovely place in town's the numerous gardens, and frequent invitations to share tea with a villager. When the sun eased in late afternoon, I went alone to the lake. Prehistoric sharks' teeth can be found near the cliffs. A sense of intimacy prevails oldeer the oases as nowhere else in Egypt. I simply got a ride in a truck, got off in the desert and started walking.
For more comfort vemale a higher price, stay at the Alpenblick. Other sites include the ancient hilltop home of an oracle often consulted by Alexander the Great. When it buzzed off and I was left to the sound of my heart and breath, and - somewhere far, far away - the breeze scraping a couple of palm fronds together, I almost felt lonely.