Bahariyya and Farafra Oases
Just 365 KM southwest of Cairo is an area span of approximately 2.000 KM²,
acting as a bridge between Siwa oasis in the north and the White Desert in the south,
it's the famous Bahariya oasis. Palm trees, olive trees, apricots, rice and corn provide
the attractive scenery of the oasis in contrast to massive sand dunes and vast endless
desert. In fact the Bahariya oasis is one of the few places where you find the
endangered Argun Palm Tree, as well as the Acacia Nilotica, also known as the gum
Arabic Tree. Typically used in traditional medicine remedies, the Cocculus Pendulus
plant can also be located at Bahariya oasis which is rich in the wild life, From
Ruppell’s Sand Foxes, Dorcas Gazelles, and Egyptian Wolves – it doesn’t really get
any more interesting than the wildlife at Bahariya oasis! The oasis is one of the main
attractions for birdwatchers because of its distinct collection of feathered species,
among them are the Egyptian Barn Swallows, Black and Mourning Wheaters, little
Egrets, little Stints, and the colorful white-throated kingfisher birds.
The oasis is famous for its mineral and sulphur springs, of the most famous is Ein EL
Bishmo springs flowing through both hot and cold water flowing from separate
sources then blend in a rocky creek, in addition to AL Qassaa wells.
The history of the oasis dates back to the early periods of the ancient Egyptian
civilization, Zis Zis was the name original name given to the oasis, which flourished
during the 7 th century B.C during the 26 th dynasty, and continued during the Ptolemaic
and Roman period, among the most famous monuments in the oasis are the temple of
Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic necropolis in Bawiti (the capital of oasis)
dedicated to the ibis, the sacred symbol of god Thoth god of writings and wisdom in
ancient Egypt, also among the famous pharaonic monments are the two tombs of
binnatiu and djed Amon,dating back to the 26 th dynasty, famous for the rich wall
paintings representing different religious scenes and gods, and the valley of the
golden mummies dating back to the Roman period, also among the famous
monuments are different churches and palaces.
Traditional music plays an important role in the oasi's culture. Flutes, drums, and the
like are played regularly at social gatherings, especially weddings. Traditional songs
sung in the local dialect, a heritage passed down orally from generation to generation,
with new songs introduced into their cultural repertoire from time to time. The
remoteness of this region means tribes are able to preserve, maintain and practice this
unique culture until present day.
Next to peaceful palm groves, with its oldest part lies on a hill- side, and looks as an
isolated village, known in ancient times as ta-ihey, meaning the land of the cow.
Due to its proximity to Bahariya oasis, so its nature and history don't differ too much,
flourished during the late pharaonic and Greco-Roman period, the evidence of that, are
the ruins of ancient Roman buildings, known as Qasr IL-Farafra and Qasr Abu-Minkar
(the word Qasr means palace in Arabic). As in Bahariya Oasis, the Springs here hot
sulphur springs, gained a world fame due to its mineral richness, like Bir Setta (well
number six), and AL-Mufid Lake, where you can enjoy swimming. Nowadays, the
oasis famous for an art center of a local artist, that houses amuseum and studio
exhibiting paintings and ceramics, situated in a garden area full of sculptures made of
materials locally collected. Among the local products the oasis is famous for, is
beautiful hand-knitted, camel-hair sweaters, socks, and ornamented scarfs.
The White Desert:
Farafra Oasis is the closest to the White Desert, A trip there, is something that no
visitor to the New Valley Governorate should miss. For travelers coming from Farafra
it doesn't take more than half an hour drive, but due to most of Safari programs begin
with Bahariya, so coming from Bahariya will cross through the Black Desert, passing
the tiny village of El Heez on the way. Nearby, there are some Roman ruins, including
a church with Coptic graffiti. Bahariya and Farafra are separated by huge golden sand
dunes which get you a stunning photograph during the journey. Once you arrive at the
white desert, you'll be astonished at the unique landscape of surreal wind-eroded rock
formations which is particularly fascinating at sunrise or sunset. Whether your Safari
departs from Bahariya or Farafra, it doesn’t mean anything except for a great
adventure and experience await for you.