The quiet corner of Egypt

Just about everyone associates Egypt with pyramids, grand tombs, cruises down the Nile and the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s great cities, Cairo.  Of course, no one can be accused of having a false impression if the above are all that you know of Egypt, because pyramids and ancient tombs, Nile cruises and Cairo are all very good reasons for visiting Egypt, but so too is the Western Desert, which is little known outside of Egypt.

The Western Desert covers about 700,000 square kilometres, which is an enormous area and equivalent in size to Texas.  The Desert is so big it accounts for about two-thirds of Egypt’s land area. Situated to the west of the Nile, this immense desert spans the area from the Mediterranean Sea south to the Sudanese border. Like most of the Sahara, this desert is primarily sand and hamada, which is the local name for stony plain.

There are seven important depressions in the Western Desert, and all are considered oases except the largest depression, Qattara, because the water there is salty. The Qattara Depression is approximately 15,000 square kilometres in size and sits largely below sea level.  At its lowest point the Qattara Depression is 133 metres below sea level, and is mainly covered by salt marshes and salt lakes.    

The Western Desert is not all depression, though.  The Jiff al Kibir Plateau rises to around 1100 metres in the south and lies in the south west corner of Egypt.  It is utterly spectacular, particularly as the southern rim of the Plateau rises as sheer cliffs, which are separated by wadis, or valleys.

Egypt Travel is locally based in Egypt who can organise tours to the Western Desert.  These tours are designed for adventurers, and accommodation in luxury hotels is not promised.  The Desert is a harsh place, but that is also part of their attraction.  Visitors do see some extraordinary scenery, and do experience some wonderful adventures and sometimes it can be quite cathartic to get right away from civilisation to enjoy the majesty of nature at its best.

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