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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.
Getting There
Siwa Oasis is the departure point for day trips to the Great Sand Sea. A variety of outfitters as well as individuals offer jeep tours to this immense dune field. Independent travelers may want to consult the tourist office in Siwa before booking a jeep and driver directly through an individual. Multi-day desert safaris can also be booked from Cairo.
When to Travel
The best time of year to visit the Great Sand Sea is from October to April. From June to August the average daytime high exceeds 40°C (104°F) making desert expeditions all but unbearable. Late evening and early morning temperatures are significantly lower than the daytime high throughout the year and in December and January can plummet to freezing.
Health & Safety
The Great Sand Sea is not a place to venture unprepared. Heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunburn are the most common ailments; getting lost or stuck are the greatest risks. A 4x4 convoy, GPS, satellite phone and experienced guides are a necessity on all multi-day desert safaris in the Great Sand Sea. High factor sunscreen and sufficient bottled water should figure prominently on every traveler's packing list.
Things to Keep in Mind
A military permit is required for all travelers visiting the Great Sand Sea. They can be acquired, through a local guide, at the Siwa tourist office for short trips. Permits for longer expeditions can be obtained in Cairo only.
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Travel Trivia
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