Egypt- My first solo travel destination was a well thought-out decision. Considering the kind of contrast I was looking for in a country with rich cultural diversity, land of world’s longest river, world’s largest hot desert, land of only standing ancient wonder of the world, and lot more; Egypt had everything.
The country is nicely connected by its public transportation system including train, buses, and that’s something I used throughout my travel in Egypt – Please check my Egypt Itinerary here.
Visiting western desert and particularly white desert was one of the must-to-do in my list. Though when I visited Egypt in late 2015, it was the time when Islamic states (ISIS) was at its peak. There were few unfortunate incidents which made Egyptian government to close white desert for tourist. Only option I was left with was to visit one of the Oasis there “Bahariya” – A desert town.
A morning incident – When I lost my Wallet!!
Bahariya is just 370 Km or around 5 hour drive from Cairo. I was accompanied by one other traveler (Bharthi). We booked our morning bus to Bahariya which was scheduled to leave at 7:00 am from Turgoman Square bus-station. We were just waiting and waiting (it was already 7:10 am) and then someone told – Bus has already left. How?? When did bus platform changed? And why?
We quickly approached the staff and certainly there was a resolution – “We will hold the bus over next stop for you guys (for 20 min), and you have to grab a cab and reach there”. Next bus was only at 12:00, this was the only thing we could agree with!
Cabs in Egypt do have meters but then it’s all about how much you can haggle. We took a cab and left as directed. I knew that we will be paying a good extra amount for this unplanned ride, and that certainly happened. Bus was about to leave and Bharathi and I; both of us were getting restless. I quickly took my wallet out and gave the driver around 45 EGP, which was still way more than meter price and without hearing anything ran towards our bus.
The bus was leaving and conductor waved us to quickly grab our seats. We both were happy and then while arranging stuff, I realized – I lost my wallet. It was nowhere in the bus, and the only possibility was being dropped in taxi.
A bad start of the trip, but yeah I loved one part of this, as mentioned below…
Bharathi: Don’t worry!! I have enough cash, we will manage somehow…
A traveler whom I just met, is ready to help me for complete duration of my trip…
“A lesson for me – Be Quick but Don’t Hurry”
Reaching Bahariya – “with no accommodation!”
Accessing a war struck region with not many accommodation options could be the worst thing you can ever think of! What about accessing it without any pre-booked accommodation and with no further plans as well?
That’s what we did, and things eventually fell in place! Bahariya that time was low on tourism, and every bus arriving from Cairo attracted many travel agents in the hope of getting some business. Being their target customers, we were approached by quite a lot of agents and it was rather irking to negotiate with so many of them. Thankfully, we were accompanied by a couple from Netherlands (they were the only other foreigners), who were travelling to Bahariya and they had their stay booked. We decided to stay in the same property after negotiating for a quite decent price inclusive of food as well as an excursion to desert around Bahariya.
We did some inquiry on possibility of visiting White Desert as well – but HARD LUCK!!”
What it means to be in Bahariya!!
Bahariya is one of the closest of the five western oasis to Cairo city, most accessible yet so pristine. It’s always an experience to witness an isolated area of vegetation in the middle of the desert. Bahariya indeed provides a mind blowing accessibility to few of the most visited places in Sahara desert – Black desert, white desert.
We took an excursion to desert area around Bahariya itself and I got to click some of the most amazing clicks of my entire duration in Egyptian trip here.
With palm trees on both sides along the road, a gigantic lake in the middle of the desert, a huge natural pyramid like structure surrounded by rocky and sandy desert, sand dunes, bumpy camel rides, and accessing all these on a 4X4 drive vehicle along with an excellent breathtaking sunset with the backdrop of this sleeping town of Bahariya; everything was so incredible that I even forgot if I lost my wallet with a good sum of money.
More than writing things in words, I feel that pictures give a better sense of “How it feel to be in Bahariya”, below pictures are symbolizing our day!!
So, what are you waiting for?? Pack your bags and go on!!
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Stay connected and happy travelling…