Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our first desert national park

Welcome to the Wadi Degla Protectorate, a desert national park in Cairo.  It is a 60 kilometer area that was protected by the Egyptian government in 1999.  It is one of the few places you can get away from any noise of traffic or the city, although we did hear the evening call to prayer in the distance at sunset.  

This nature reserve is beautiful in its way, and very popular with hikers, campers, and picnickers.  We drove in with some friends and had dinner followed by a camp fire and toasted marshmellows with smores.  Cameron loved running around the desert with his little friends and climbing the hills of shale.  

I've read that some of the best marble and granite quarries in the country are not far from this reserve.  I noticed when we were there that some of the piles of rocks have small scraps of polished flat marble slabs in them.  

We passed some Egyptian hiking group that looked like the scouts since they had matching green handkerchiefs tied around their necks.  They were friendly and seemed to be having a good time.  

It was interesting to be in the desert.  It's a very solitary place, sometimes feeling desolate, but also with a stark kind of beauty.  We were there with five adults and six kids so it wasn't quiet most of the time we were there, but we had a half a minute when one of the people in our group asked everyone to be silent so we could hear what silence sounds like.  We tried to be silent (though it's almost impossible to have six small children be silent at the same time).  In the distance we could hear some of the stray dogs which sometimes travel in groups on the outskirts of the protectorate.  It was nice to hear quiet.  

Egypt has quite a few protectorates.  Here is a map showing where they are.  You can click on it to make it bigger.

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