Sleeping under the stars in the vast White Desert
We were counting the stars right above us, they felt so near like they were within our grasp. I looked around us, all I could see was pure darkness, and a whole sky filled with glittering stars enveloping us. All I could hear was sheer silence, and sometimes the sound of a fox running past. I felt a sense of adventure, sometimes fear when I imagine the fox pouncing on me, but our Bedouin host would make jokes and we would all burst out in laughter and the mood would sooth me down. Snuggling under thick blankets over the sleeping bag, our Egyptian bedouin host tugged us in and made us feel so cosy and at home.
Early in the morning, Mohammed had picked us up at the Bahariya Oasis bus terminal for our 2-days Desert Safari. Dressed in his bedouin scarf, our host is an authentic bedouin who had grown up in the deserts, and knew his way around even with a blindfold. Along with 2 other Japanese travellers, we hopped into our safari jeep and were all geared up for the adventure in the desert. All meals, jeep transport and camping were included in the entire package that had cost us only US$88, that we had booked with our hostel in Cairo. (Check with your hostel, most of them organise such camping safaris.)
We kickstarted the safari with lunch at a camping ground - Egyptian vegetables (cooked with tomatoes and potatoes), pita bread and roasted chicken all served hot and steamy. Right after, we headed into the wild Flower Desert - where fine sand dunes and flower-shaped rocks spread through out the vast plains. Rolling around on the sand and climbing up rocky formations, we were already having the time of our lives.
Mohammed continued deeper into the wild, soonafter we stopped at Crystal Desert, where odd-shaped mushroom looking formations littered across the desert. Although Mohammed could hardly speak English, we understood his short tales and anecdotes, which made it so interesting to be looking at something that had been formed by nature. Along the way, we saw camels roaming the deserts, with local bedouins making their way back home. Just part and parcel of their lives, yet such extraordinary experiences for us - I can't express how that feeling intrigues me.
When the sun was setting, we climbed up to the top of a flaky white formation in the White Desert. It's where we were going to sleep for the night, like Mohamed said, it's also the most beautiful desert around. From the top of the rock, the beautiful sunset shone its last rays over the desert, all white- it looked like snow, so pure yet tender.
Mohamed then started setting up camp, together with his good fren, Mohamed, Same names for the two bedouins. Mohamed II (his good fren) was a funny character who made jokes constantly and cracked us up all the time. We helped them set up the camp, they had even brought tables and pots for dinner. Within 2 hours, we were having the best meal in Egypt - fresh roasted chicken and stew vegetables and rice, cooked right there in the middle of the desert with no electricity. We couldn't stop praising the 2 Mohameds for their excellent culinary talent and they couldn't stop laughing. I wondered why.
Night had fallen for awhile now, I got used to the stark darkness thanks to the campfire we had made. Sitting by the fire, we had sweet Arabic tea, exchanged funny conversations, mostly about the Japanese language and how the bedouins found them funny. It was a great night and great company.. not forgetting, the amazing desert at its best.
The next time you're in Egypt, be sure to pay them a visit, I'm sure the 2 Mohameds would show you the best time in the White desert! [more ]