Traversing sand dunes in an SUV (what the monster vehicles are created for), admiring the wind-driven ripples of sand and the monolithic sculptures created by the harsh conditions led to a desert campsite. The White Desert is a popular area to camp out under the stars.
Our journey began in the desert oasis village of Bawiti where we stocked up on supplies. After, we traveled deep into the remote desert like Bedouins. The harsh landscape and terrain were beautiful. From the Crystal Mountain created of quartzite to the Black Desert with its suet-like sand, we traversed the White Desert. Sand resembles snow, the hills like glaciers and the sand sculptures eerie.
Three SUV’s were parked like a wagon train, in a protective “L” formation. The Bedouin drivers and guides unloaded tenting fabric, woven carpets and cushions from roof racks.
They unfurled the fabric around the SUV’s, creating a wind-proof, protective barrier. After, they lay down rugs and cushions. A campfire was started. The Bedouins proceeded to hook-up a propane stove and foodstuffs. Soon, they were cooking, the aroma of spice permeating the light desert breeze.
As dusk set in, we gathered around a low wood table to dine on lentil soup, barbecued chicken and an assortment of goodies ... the Bedouins are amazing cooks. The adorable desert foxes, with their cute floppy ears, had to agree, as they paid a visit for table scraps.
After dark, the campfire blazed. The Bedouins brought out drums and played. Best Middle Eastern drumming, and the most authentic, one could ever hear. They chanted out what sounded like “drinking songs” (for the most part, the Egyptian population doesn’t imbibe, mostly due to the predominant Muslim faith). Japanese from another campsite strolled over to join in the dancing around the fire. An amazing site.
The campfire died down and everyone settled in for the night. Everyone found a cushion. The guides and Achmed, our cute undercover security guard, formed a protective circle around we tourists. One guide did a bedtime check with a flashlight.
The sky was striking. Like a planetarium but this was the real deal. The constellations were recognizable as stars twinkled overhead. More stars than one can imagine over the complete black velvet sky and horizon. A sight to behold!
Dawn broke with a silent beauty. The giant monoliths loomed around us. In one way they looked like pillars of salt, in another they resembled ice sculptures. The rising sun struck, setting off angles and planes. Breathtaking.
Did I change my mind about camping? No. I still have a thing about bathrooms and running water. Heck, with the number of campsites in the area, it was difficult to find a private rock. ;-)) A Port-o-let wouldn’t have been reaching in such a popular camping spot. With a huge desert, I suppose it was felt that there is safety in numbers.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I would not have passed up. I’d highly recommend it.
PS: The next night was spent in a local motel with a private bath!