Sunday, January 31, 2010

Travel: An oases road trip

Al-Masry Al-Youm (John Harris)

With photos.

In the past, the problem wasn’t the spectacular scenery along the way, but the transport and accommodation infrastructure that made it all accessible. Until recently, accessing the Western Desert was better left to the most intrepid of travelers. A patchy road with limited services connected oases with spartan accommodation and dining options. Planning for a trip through this part of the country required the tenacity of the hardcore adventurer, equipped with satellite phones, and enough canisters of gasoline crowded onto the roof-rack of your battle-hardened jeep to get you from one island of civilization to the next.

Thankfully, all this has now changed. The first upgrade involved the road. All the oases are now connected by a quality, undivided road that places Bahariya under four hours from Cairo, Farafra another two hours down the road, Dakhla under three hours further on, and finally Kharga another two hours beyond that. From Kharga, it’s a straightforward transfer back to civilization via Assiut or Luxor. Decent services can be found along the way, making the trip accessible to anyone with a tolerably tuned up car. Along the way, you’re bound to pass a slew of adventurous desert rats emerging from multi-week adventures deep in the desert. Just make sure you’re well prepared before joining them. If your car’s not equipped for the exploration you have in mind, it’s easy to hire a jeep in any of the towns you’ll visit.

1 comment:

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