Sunday, 3 February 2008

Souks & Sufis - The last night in Cairo

For our last night in Cairo we headed into what's known as Islamisc Cairo for one last spin around the souqs and then for a Sufi dancing show.

Valda & Delia in the Souq

Mosque in Cairo

Sufi dancing

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More stars

Not sure how this will look in the internet world, but the stars were amazing... no light pollution, no moon, and more stars than I ever remember seeing. Ever.

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The White Desert

And here we are, at the place that provided the reason for dragging friends and family through the sand for days on end.

Another breakdown. Nothing like a broken radiator fan in the middle of nowhere...

Mel and Delia hangin out at Crystal Mountain

Nothing in front of us but sand, nothing behind us but sand.

Amy & Delia at the "Obstacle Course"

The fine white dust of the White Desert

One of the rock features

Leave only footprints, take only photos - here are some fossils from the White Desert. I thought they looked like raspberries.

Paul & Amy

More rock features


Cricket in the desert

Delia joining in with the locals in providing entertainment

Look carefully, this isn't a blank photo, it is actually stars. I'll blog another when I've highlighted it

Tea at dawn - Paul & Amy

The Black Desert

I was reminded a lot of the Central Plateau here. And Lord of the Rings. Must've been something about the volcanic look.

The Western Desert - The Great Sand Sea (Day 2)

I take full responsibility for our trip going into the Western Desert. I had seen some photos of the White Desert and thought that just sounded unlike any other place in the world.

Of course it's not very easy to get to so we were able to enjoy more of the Great Sand Sea.

Paul, Amy, Valda, Delia

Paul during the standing jump competition

This photo has a bit of a story. I was in the girls' van with Kay, Valda and Delia. We had a "western" tape and it had some Sinatra on it. We were all singing away to "My way" and literally as the song ended we braked on the ridge with the other trucks - the timing was rather funny.

Walk like an Egyptian - Jess, Andrew, Paul, Delia, Valda and Graham

Lunch at another oasis - Andrew, Delia, Mohamed, Jess, Paul & Mel

The Western Desert - The Great Sand Sea

Here are a few pics from the long drive from Siwa through the Great Sand Sea. It was about ten hours, a one breakdown, several police checks (I do not envy those guys, so isolated and just tourists coming through with chocolate supplies to keep you going) and a few times being stuck in the sand.

The "road"

Just one of the times we got stuck

Our lunch stop

View from the top of the lunch stop

Shells/ fossils from the lunch stop

Out in the desert (Siwa)

After a very tough morning on the bikes we headed out into the desert for a 4x4 adventure in the dunes, a swim in the Oasis (there were two and the warm spring was far more popular than the cold one, even if it was err, full of slime), some dune boarding and finally the sunset.

Our drivers

Prayer time

Delia having a swim in the cold oasis

Paul sandboarding


Mohamed and the warm Oasis

More dunes

Sunset in the Sahara

Paul & Amy

Saturday, 2 February 2008


Siwa is an oasis town in the west of Egypt, rather close to Libya, kinda. Here's a map for a bit of a sense of geography. You might be intrested to know that when we left Siwa we headed east, yeah, over that bit with no roads...

Siwa is also a very conservative Berber town. You didn't see too many women about, and the older ones were totally covered. It was a bit odd, but as Paul and I had been to Berber towns before in Morocco and Libya I think it was less of a shock for us than some of the others.

A woman in Siwa (image taken from here)

It was a real change from the other places we'd visited, and in some ways felt like the chilled out places you get near the coast (sand + palm trees + water must be formula).

We went on a bike ride the first morning to check out a few temples and the oh-so-relaxing Cleopatra's Spring.

View from our room to the old town of Siwa

On the bikes

Mountain of the Dead

Valda and Kay being ladies who chat

Temple of the Oracle (where Alexander the Great came to find out if he was going to have children; we on the other hand just wanted to know if there was good coffee in the area).

Cleopatra's Spring

The Spring

Delia and Amy

Turns out the Oracle was right when good coffee was predicted

Fran and Amy looking very stressed while waiting for their coffees