Monday, December 7, 2009

Egypts desert and Oasis

First a map of Egypt with the oasis areas on so you can see the area we where going to cover on this trip . after you get the page up click on Mut read what is in that area.
Click to enlarge the photos

I have been to the desert area of Egypt a few times but this time I wanted to stay overnight under the stars. the last time I went was with a group and it was mainly a business trip to check the hotels and camps of Dhakla and Farafra. as I was then running the Myegypt tours.
I stopped that business in 2007 because of all the hassle with the tour guides. Tourist were complaining and it was making a bad name for the business. the tours I was running myself with Guides only In the desert. I never had one complaint only from an elderly lady about the hight of the curbs and not being able to walk on the pavements. and that was something I had no control over.
This trip I made with 2 German ladies Monica and Christina only problem was we only had four days to do it in. and the overall trip to the white desert was 1900 kilometer
I will only remark on some of the places we visited, the one place I wanted to go was the first
village called Baris 250 kilometers from Luxor to sit in the sulfur hot spring. and seeing I had already done that trip 4 times and time was of importance, We did not go as it was 45 k in the opposite direction of Dhakla towards the Sudan,

I have been friends with Christine for a few years now she emailed 9/08 to let me know she was coming to Luxor again in November 08. and would it be possible to make a trip to the desert for her and another lady. and of course I jumped at the chance to go and visit my favorite place in Egypt, The white desert then we met up to discuss what we would do and the bad news we only had 5 days left to do it. so I called one of the taxi drivers and asked for a price for 4 day desert trip car and driver only after some bartering and telling him no way can he do the trip for 500Egp as he told us its only 400 kilometer to Baharia where we first wanted to get to to see some Pharonic tombs, the finale price was 1000Egp as I told him that was all he was going to get no tips and what about the drivers money and all the usual crap we get after a trip. even if its a taxi to my flat I am now aware of their tourist scams, 4.00 in the morning I had Hassan the taxi driver knocking at my door ;- Oh" Mr Tony we have a big problem, holding the carburetter
up , see my car is broken and there is no one to fix untill at least half the day : meaning afternoon; But I get you another Taxi but he needs 3000egp, at this my landlord turns up.
Later to find out he is the owner of the taxi we booked he also knew we only had 4 days to do the trip. but at this time I only thought he was helping us out getting another vehicle and driver,
A few phone calls were made. and the taxi we eventually took quoted 2000Egp I had to phone the ladies and we agreed that a 3 way split on 2000 was ok. as soon as the deal was made it came to this was only for the taxi and we had to look after the driver Ie accomodation food etc. no time to argue and the ladies said they would pay. place by this time it was already getting time to leave . I was already packed so I put my stuff in the taxi and off we went to pick the ladies up who were staying on the West bank and not far out from the route out of Luxor to the desert. there we made the final deal and only Petrol money would be paid until our return. using the same excuse they would cannot get to the bank now and we only have enough to make the trip and places we stay and visit. and off we went. By this time the whole thing was getting me down and I really was getting in a bad mood. and thinking these bastards are all the same get the money before someone else does. all kinds of things in my head and the reason why I stopped myegypt tours. but here I was just doing this for myself and 2 friends and still getting Hassle.
now 09 I know what was going on with these people. Machmood my Landlord is the owner of the original Taxi this has two drivers Hassan and Mohamed, after we finished the original deal for 1000. Hassan would have phoned the owner all pleased he has made a deal for 1000 for 4 day trip with Mr Tony, and 2 guests, "Not enough" he would have been told , his guests would be paying for the taxi. so we need 1000 from each. they can not work out that I am not doing it as a business. not done here even if I meet people in a coffee shop they think my friends are paying and the price is double what I would pay, then they would offer me 30%. they are all doing the same thing another reason I stopped the business. this rip off includes all the shops the guides take the tourist too and sometimes it can be as much as 70% commission on a sale
especially in the Alabaster and Papyrus outlets,
so they had to make an excuse hence the carburettor, not the first time they would have made this excuse. Hammam our new taxi driver gave Machmood half the trip money, so this lovable rouge my landlord made more 1000 in his pocket no petrol or food bill to pay for no wear and tear on his taxi.
Machmood also knew how far it was to Our original asked for destination Baharaya.
ah well we are in Egypt
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a 5.30 start from Luxor

First stop was the watering hole not that it was hot last time I went all the checkpoint police asked for money and they also wanted water, this time the only Checkpoint that wanted money was the first checkpoint on Leaving Luxor we went through several check points on the way all they did was take our taxi registration number and drivers I D. and the same on the return journey,
we had to give not the police in Uniform but what they call the secret police...........this is a photo of two walking on the cornish in luxor about as secret as an elephant in a herd of sheep. most carry on ouzi machine gun how can one hide that wearing a suite one has it strapped to his back under his jacket the other thinks he is a gunslinger at the OK Egypt coral.

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Our next stop at 7.30 was near the second checkpoint where the main desert road from Cairo to Aswan meet and branches off for Luxor and the truckers stop for breakfast In what first looked like it had always been there but was in fact a modern building just made to look old and all they are interested in was making money from the truckers Not many tourists call in a place like this for breakfast.

I have lived here in Egypt since 2002 and know about the eating habits and places to go for good food I have learned not to eat in a place thats empty.
it was not the first visit to Egypt for Christina and Monica's second, she just went with the flow and on the subject of Monica most of these pictures are thanks to her, the only time I saw her with a camera was in the white desert on our nights camp. Both the ladies are back on their annual 2 weeks break. thats how I have a copy of the photos from November 08 trip . I was not into photography at the time just took photos for My wife to see where I was and seen, so during this trip you will get two views of the desert and oasis.Mine and Monica,s

To see more on the journey go to index.php?f=data_home&a=1
A typical Egyptian breakfast usually served up to midday
Beans (Foul) boiled eggs salad and falafel bread.

A long road ahead to the next Checkpoint

Our second stop was for Lunch and a leg stretch At El Kharga as we had decided to go straight through to Dhakla and the Bedouin camp.Now the ladies had started to realize How for it was to the White desert.

Cemetery of Al-Bagawat
Ain Umm El-Dabadib
Temple of Dush
Temple of Al-Ghuwaytah
Temple of Hibis
Ain Umm Labakha
Temple of Nadura
Qasr Sumaria
Al-Zayyan Temple

we had also decided to do the historic sites on our way back to Luxor.and would then know the amount of time we had for each visit.
EL-Kharga used to be the last but one stop on The Forty Days Road, the infamous slave-trade route between North Africa and the tropical south. Today, it is the biggest New Valley oasis and its modern city houses 60,000 people, including 1,000 Nubians who moved here after the creation of lake Nasser. Outside the main center is the Temple of Hibis, built on the site of an 18th dynasty settlement of Saites, Persians and Ptolemies One of the few Persian monuments in Egypt, the 6th century BC temple is well-preserved with painted vultures and huge reliefs of Darius greeting Egyptian gods on the outer walls. Ten kilometers away, the Necropolis of al-Bagawat contains 263 mud-brick chapels with Coptic murals, including the Chapel of Peace with images of Adam and Eve and the Ark on its dome and the Chapel of the Exodus with frescoes of pharaonic troops pursuing the Jews led by Moses, out of Egypt. Pharaonic monuments include the al-Hhuwaytah Temple which dates from 522 BC and the Temple of Amenebis.

The thermal springs at Bulaq(baris) and Nasser villages to the south, are famous for water temperatures of up to 43 C and reputed to be suitable for the treatment of rheumatism and allergies. Camping facilities are available near both villages. Further south is Baris Oasis, the second largest settlement in Kharga. Houses designed in traditional Nubian style by Hassan Fathy remain uninhabited- local people refused to live in them because of their similarity to tombs and building stopped in the late 1960s. Ancient monuments include the Temple of
Dush, dedicated to Isis and Serapis. Its name derives from Kush, the ancient Sudanese capital which traded with Egypt along the Nile. Archeologists are still unearthing the ancient city of Kysis and elaborate system of clay pipes and abandoned Christian church, suggest that Kysis was abandoned when its underground springs dried up but the exact date remains a mystery.
As soon as we left the El-Khargo oasis we were back in the desert and well known for its moving sands. one part of this highway through the desert we travelled on a new part of road with the old road off to the right of us now with all the modern machinery they can cut through the rock and make the roads more direct one part I saw the old road going straight through a large sand dune and coming out the other side This pylon was not put in a sand dune the moving sand has built up around the pylon over the past few years/

Another stop in the middle of nowhere here they have a wc and An area where we could stretch our legs and have refreshment
This was a place I had been before as its the only place for Miles with a wc with water ok the wc was a bit sparse. but needs must and its better than asking the ladies to find a sandune to crap behind that was to come at least they will have the dark to hide in. the food in this place was good real Egyptian food.El- Dhakla coming into view I can smell the fish cooking from here ( in My mind) I was hoping that the Fish cook was still there as this is the best Fish in all of Egypt. .and our place of rest for the Night.
The guard of the temple of Dush. El Dhakla they were more inviting than the men on the Gate.
its 15egp to go into this temple of just stones they asked 50 so we just left, there are enough temples around without paying excessive prices just because no one goes there. and the only thing in this temple is the first gate that tells you its Pharaonic
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