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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.
Seashell Fossils
Seashell Fossil

Seashell Fossil

Alfredo De Simone


Believe it or not the Western Desert was once underwater. And the evidence is in the sand. The sunken geological formations called depressions are literally littered with seashell fossils. Finding them is fun. Knowing how fossils are formed makes it cool. Here's how fossil formation happens:

  • For a seashell to fossilize it must be covered by a sediment such as mud or sand.
  • As the seashell decays it creates an empty space that has to be filled. That's were minerals and crystals come in. They take up the space left by the seashell.
  • Over millions of years the minerals and crystals turn to rock but they hold the shape the seashell left behind.
  • Erosion and weathering wear down the surface of the earth and expose the seashells for us to see.
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