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Great Sand Sea, Egypt
Fast Facts
Overland Adventure
Natural Wonder
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips

Great Sand Sea, Western Desert


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

The Great Sand Sea is Egypt's last frontier. So why take the kids? This 150,000 square kilometer expanse from Siwa south to Sudan is the third largest dune field in the world. Here, linear dunes run uninterrupted for hundreds of kilometers and reach a height of up to 110 meters. Navigating safe passage across rolling sand dunes is an adventure in the liking of Lawrence of Arabia. And sand dunes are just the start. The Great Sand Sea is home to not one living sole. There is no water in this once lush, green savannah. Fossils, 25 million years in the making, carpet the sand. Sea urchins, seashells and shark teeth are all to be found. But what sets this desert destination apart is the chance to explore. Multi-day jeep expeditions, complete with camping under the stars, are the stuff adventure stories are written about. But before you depart on a trip with kids take note, the difference between a trip to remember and a trip to forget is in the hands of your guide.
Types of Sand Dunes
Crescent Sand Dune

Crescent Sand Dune

Alfredo De Simone

Not all sand dunes are the same; they vary in size and shape. Crescentic, linear and star are the three basic dune forms. All other types of sand dunes are a subset of one of the three.

Crescentic or crescent dunes, shaped like the new moon, are the most common type of sand dune. Crescentic dunes are usually wider than they are long and they are formed by winds that blow in the same direction day after day. And they are one of the fastest moving sand dunes. Crescentic dunes can move as much as 100 meters in a single year!

Linear Dunes are long, snake-like ridges that run parallel to one another. In contrast to crescentic dunes, linear dunes are longer than they are wide. The longest known linear dune measures more than 160 kilometers! Yet like crescentic dunes, linear dunes are formed by winds that blow in the same direction all the time. What's more, they migrate too.

Star dunes, shaped like starfish, have a central peak and multiple arms. These sand mounds, up to 500 meters tall, are formed by winds that blow in many directions over the course of a year. In contrast to crescentic and linear dunes, they grow upward rather than sideways. But they have one thing in common with the other two. Believe it or not these giant sand mountains move.
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Travel Trivia
The first settlers in Patagonia were: