Monday, November 29, 2010

The White Desert

Jeff and Cameron racing up a rock formation in the White Dessert.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving camping under the stars in the White Desert.  Cameron's 6th birthday was the day after Thanksgiving so he woke up in the White Desert shortly after sunrise.  It was amazing.

Here's a map showing where the White Desert is in Egypt:
The White Desert is surrounded by Egypt's Western Desert:
Most maps I have seen have included Egypt's Western Desert as part of the Sahara Desert.  Here is an interesting world map that shows all deserts of the world and how dry they are.
The White Dessert is an amazing place.  Sometimes it felt like we were on the moon.  The guidebook describes it as being like Alice in Wonderland and it really is!  

The rocks in the White Desert are made from white chalk.  I read online that the White Desert was, at the end of the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago), a shallow sea that covered layers of sandstone.  During the next 30 million years, 300 meters of limestone and chalk collected at the bottom of the sea.  Then, an ice formation in the Atlantic caused the sea to recede.  The interesting shapes are caused by millions of years of erosion of the limestone and chalk by wind and sand.  For those of you wanting a more scientific explanation about the geology of this desert, here is a link that gives more details:

Interestingly, there are still signs of the ocean from long ago found in the White Desert.  Here are a couple photos I found online taken in the White Desert:

I wish I had thought to take photos of a really great collection of fossils we saw at the hotel we stayed at during our second night in this region.  

One of the things I loved about the White Desert was that in just the one night we spent there, the beauty of it changed dramatically every couple hours as the sunlight or moonlight changed.  Here are some of the photos that show this.
Cameron said, "Can I run?"  Yes!  And he did!

On the top of the world with the sun almost setting.
Jeff and Cameron named this one the "Kitty and the Bulldog"

The next morning, we awoke a little past sunrise.  It was beautiful and we were glad to have the sun back again after a very cold night (... thank goodness for sleeping bags and very heavy camel hair blankets!)

Our guide took us to other parts of the White Dessert to see the famous rock shapes:

"The Rabbit"
"The Sphinx"

"The Chicken and the Mushroom"

"The Tents"
"The Mushroom Area" (with the border of the road marked at the bottom in white rock.)

For those of you planning a trip to the White Desert, you may also want to read my other related blog postings about our visit to this area:

*  About the Black Desert (right next to the White Desert): 

*  About the International Hot Springs Hotel that organized the desert safari for us and where we stayed the following night:

*  About the Golden Mummies found near the White Desert and now in a museum nearby:

*  About Chrystal Mountain in the White Desert:   

Good luck planning your trip!  The White Desert is one of the most magical places I've ever visited, but dress warmly if you're camping out!

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