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Bahariya Oasis, Egypt
Fast Facts
ACTIVITIES
Overland Adventure
Historic Interest
 
 
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CITIES & CULTURE
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Bahariya, Western Desert

 

Photo by Elizabeth LoCicero

Bahariya (also spelled Baharia) is a must stop on oasis tours and Western Desert expeditions. But don't be fooled into thinking that your half-day break at this desert oasis is for panorama or shopping. In Bahariya, cement buildings have all but replaced traditional mud-brick dwellings. And apart from shops selling dates and olives, there is no tourist market here. Tours, even private guided expeditions, stop at Bahariya Oasis out of necessity. It is the only place to refuel and buy supplies for several hundred kilometers, in all directions. Nonetheless, a trip to Bahariya is not a complete waste of time. The recently discovered Golden Mummies and rock-cut tombs provide insight to an oasis of once greater fortune.
Getting There
 
Bahariya is situated roughly 350 kilometers southwest of Cairo and roughly 200 kilometers north of Farafra Oasis. The drive from Cairo is 3-4 hours. (It can take upwards of an hour to get out of Cairo.) The West Delta Bus Company makes the trip from Cairo to Bahariya and on to Farafra and Dakhla daily.
Getting Around
 
Bahariya Oasis has 6 distinct villages: Bawiti, Qasr, Mandishah, el Zabu, Aguz, and Harrah. The small museum displaying Golden Mummies and two 26th dynasty rock-cut tombs open to the public are located in the village of Bawiti.
When to Travel
 
The best time of year to visit Bahariya is from October to April. The average daytime high exceeds 40°C (104°F) from June to August making desert expeditions and cultural touring all but unbearable. Late evening and early morning temperatures are significantly lower than the daytime high throughout the year and in December and January can plummet to freezing. The peak tourist season for oasis tours and desert treks is Christmas, New Year and Easter.
Health & Safety
 
Heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunburn are the most common aliments afflicting tourists to Egypt's Western Desert. Apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas, including your child's nose, ears, and toes, before you set out and repeat applications throughout the day. Buy bottled water and encourage the children to drink regularly.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
Bahariya is the departure point for many Black and White Desert tours as well as desert safaris to the Great Sand Sea and beyond. Independent travelers may want to consult the tourist office in Bahariya before booking a car and driver directly through an individual or local hotel. Minibuses will get you to the viewing areas just off the main road but they will not take you to wonders off the beaten path. A 4x4 convoy, GPS, satellite phone and experienced guides are a necessity on all multi-day desert safaris.
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Travel Trivia
Which of the following are descendents of the Anasazi: