Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A night under the desert moon

So we left our humble hostel in Cairo to head out into the desert, on a safari to the Bahyrian Oasis area in the Western Desert.  After a four hour drive, we checked into Badr's Safari camp for a lovely cup of mint tea and a review of the days itinerary:  Black Desert, Crystal Mountain and White Desert for a night under the stars.  Our Bedouin guide expertly steered our Landcruiser through the sandstorm that whipped up for us (Rick thinks he would do well in the Dakar rally), with the grill of the jeep smeared in Palmolive to keep the paint from blasting off during the drive.  We found a shelter spot between two towering cliffs of lava sand in the black desert, and the wind calmed down for better visibility by our lunch break, a delightful "cafe" with a natural spring pool that was routed through the building to provide natural air conditioning.  As the temp often reaches above 50 degrees C in the summer, this is no doubt a big drawing card.  As it is winter now, we enjoyed a day of roughly 20, which for the Egyptians we travelled with translates to parka weather.  Thimo, our main guide, purchased a new touque and gloves especially for our journey (and to be fair, with the wind, it was cool.)
Next stop was a sparkling mountain made of pure quartz, natural desert formations left on an ancient seabed that makes up this desert area.  As the sun was setting the wind calmed and we enjoyed a surreal moonscape in the White desert, where each strange formation takes on shapes similar to how you might look at clouds - truly bizarre, and a wonderful place to set up the two-sided tent (windbreak) for our fire-baked dinner and sleeping spot.  The night brought a calm, clear sky and together we counted well over 50 shooting stars.  It was truly a magical place to be.

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