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Western Desert, Egypt
Fast Facts
Overland Adventure
Historic Interest
Places to Visit





White Desert, Egypt


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

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The Western Desert is remote, rugged and often extreme. And while a family trip to this 2.8 million square kilometer expanse extending from the Nile west to Libya and from the Mediterranean south to Sudan may not be for everyone it is uniquely rewarding for those that make the journey. Five isolated oases - Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga and Siwa - spot the brown desert green. Archaeological sites from golden mummies to the Oracle of Amun provide insight to life long ago. Linear dunes run uninterrupted for hundreds of kilometers and reach a height of up to 110 meters. This is the Great Sand Sea! Bizarre white chalk formations and inselberg monoliths, the result of thousands of years of mechanical weathering, are a White Desert art show. Seashell fossils and fossilized trees define ancient, even for kids. Yet the realities of a Western Desert expedition are twofold. Exploring the Western Desert requires spending lots of time in a vehicle, getting to the eastern reaches takes the better part of a day. Few companies make the trip in style; a Western Desert safari is truly roughing it.
History & Culture
The history of Egypt began long before the ancient Egyptians settled along the Nile. Learn about prehistoric Egypt when the brown desert was a lush green savannah inhabited by nomadic tribes and home to wild animals. Discover the geology of sand dunes and, in addition to discovering the nature of sand, find out how dune fields migrate. Learn more about the desert biome and find out where deserts occur. Discover hot and dry deserts as well as semiarid, coastal and cold deserts. Find out what makes each desert environment unique. But don't limit your exploration of the Western Desert to the environment. Learn about desert oases and find out how their fortunes have ebbed and flowed throughout history. Find out why Alexander the Great and other leaders of the classical world attempted the trek to Siwa. Learn about Bahariya's golden mummies and how archaeologists discovered this Greco-Roman necropolis of 10,000 graves.
Online maps are a great travel planning resource and a great way to get the kids involved in a family vacation. Use online maps to pinpoint family vacation destinations and create a travel itinerary. Map the Western Desert and identify points of interest from Siwa south to Sudan. Plot your route along the caravan route and discover Egypt's desert oases. And when maps fail use no-maps such as waypoints and satellite images to get a lay of the land and find your way in remote and poorly mapped places. You may find that your children are innate navigators.
Books are a great way to introduce younger children to a new adventure and get teens and tweens ready for a family trip. Discover books by notable Egyptian authors. Explore Egypt through fact and fiction. Embark on a different kind of family journey.
Music & Sound
The ancient Egyptians invented writing and were the first culture to erect a stone monument. And they were the first people to incorporate music and dance into religious ceremonies and everyday life. While little is known of the rhythm and sound, the importance of music is evidenced in wall paintings and the evolution in the instruments played can be followed overtime. Harps, flutes and double clarinets were played in the Old Kingdom. Percussion instruments, lyres and lutes, likely borrowed from neighboring cultures, were incorporated into ancient Egyptian song during the Middle Kingdom. But whether ancient Egyptian music is a precursor to modern Egyptian song remains a mystery. The Arabic music played in Egypt today is believed to be rooted in the courts of Islam between the 7th and 13th centuries. Sufi and Greek influence is noted in the music of that time but the hand of the ancient Egyptians is, as of yet, unproved.
Read Egypt newspapers online and brush up on Egyptian current events from politics to economics and sports to entertainment before you depart on a trip with kids. Get Egypt news and discover what Egyptians are reading. Daily Egypt News is only independent source for Egyptian news. Al-Ahram Weekly is a widely circulated government affiliated newspaper. Egypt Daily News aggregates the local news.
Kids' Stuff
Online resources make learning about Egypt's Western Desert lots of fun. Did you know that the Western Desert, like the rest of the Sahara, was once a lush, green savannah? Giraffes, lions and elephants roamed here in Paleolithic times. But before the Sahara Desert was a savannah it was an inland sea inhabited by very different animals. The discovery of the SuperCroc fossil known as Sarcosuchus imperator and sauropd Nigersaurus taqueti provide a few clues about life in the Sahara 110 million years ago. And when you finish investigating the Western Desert in prehistory fast forward in time and find out how weathering, as the process of breaking down rocks is known, has shaped the form of the land since the savannahs disappeared. Learn how sand dunes are formed and how they migrate.
Travel Trivia
At Four Corners you can stand in which four U.S. States?
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