The Beautiful White Desert of Egypt: The Magical Landscape Beyond the Pyramids

The White Desert is the most famous place in the western desert of Egypt. It has unearthly beauty, with bizarrely shaped chalk rocks sculpted by the wind into forms resembling animals and other fantastic shapes. It is one of the most easily recognized and famous landmarks in Egypt.

The white chalk formations have been created through erosion over centuries. The desert is located 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of the town of Qsar El-Farafra and is in the Farafra depression. The Farafra Oasis (New Valley Governorate) is a part of the reserve.

White Desert National Park and the surrounding desert area became declared as protected in 2002 and it is roughly one hundred square kilometers in size, with a distinctive variety of strangely shaped chalk rocks that are eerily strange in form. Some protrude at odd angles, while others appear to have been melted or pushed upwards by tremendous force from below. In other places, there are strangely eroded pinnacles covered with small vertical holes which resemble Swiss cheese.

White Desert of Egypt
Credit: Look / Dirscherl, Reinhard

In most parts of this area, there are no living things except for birds and snakes, scorpions provide companionship for lizards (although these only come out at night). The desert is open for visitors, who can admire the rocks and climb to the top of some of them. It is also possible to drive along a track between the formations. There are even small caves that can be visited where one can see ancient drawings and graffiti from Pharaonic times – it would seem that these places were used as rest areas by soldiers making their way through this part of Egypt.

The White Desert of Egypt is most popular with photographers because of the unusual shapes with shadows creating different shapes when illuminated by sunlight during sunrise or sunset. Some of these rocks look like animals or human beings. Thousands of years ago this area was a vast sea; now the bones and fossils of those long-dead Marine creatures can still be clearly seen poking out from beneath the surface as one explores the area.

White Desert of Egypt


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How to visit the White Desert of Egypt

The easy way to go to the white desert from Cairo is by taking a flight from Cairo Airport to Asyut Airport. By Taxi or driving the road distance is 678.4 km driving through the green fields at south Karnak and Luxor. From the airport or driving from Cairo, go to Kharga. Once you arrive there you can hire a taxi to go to Dakhla (about 200km) through the black desert (about 5 hours).

The Beautiful White Desert of Egypt

You have many options there, first, you can stay in Dakhla in one of the hotels there, second, you can rent a car to go around the desert and see all the sandhills. Some parts are small sand dunes but others are high sand mountains. At night you can observe the stars because it is so clear and the milky way looks amazing with its light.

The third option, you can take a tour in the desert with one of the local guides who know about the place and will show you everything. This will be more expensive but worth it.

Fourth, you can go with a group from your hotel or ask them to organize something for you. All hotels in Dakhla (or Cairo) can arrange tours and cars for you.

The Beautiful White Desert of Egypt

The White desert is easy to access and it has the most beautiful white sandhills. It takes a few good hours driving from Cairo to get there, so you need at least two days to really see everything. But sometimes it’s worth staying in Dakhla for another few days just enjoying this beautiful city.

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White Desert of Egypt

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