Major Cities and Towns
Set in a depression covering over 2000 sq. km., Bahariya Oasis is surrounded by black hills made up of ferruginous quartzite and dolorite. Most of the villages and cultivated land can be viewed from the top of the 50-meter-high Jebel al-Mi'ysrah, together with the massive dunes which threaten to engulf some of the older settlements.
The Oasis was a major agricultural center during the Pharaonic era, and has been famous for its wine as far back as the Middle Kingdom. During the fourth century, the absence of Roman rule and violent tribes in the area caused a decline as some of the oasis was reclaimed by the sand.
Wildlife is plentiful, especially birds such as wheatears; crops (which only cover a small percentage of the total area) include dates, olives, apricots, rice and corn.
There are a number of springs in the area, some very hot, such as Bir ar-Ramla but probably the best is Bir al-Ghaba, about 10 miles north east of Bawiti. There is also Bir al-Mattar, a cold springs which poors into a concrete pool
Otherwise near the Oasis is the Black and White deserts, though traveling to the White desert seems not practical from the oasis. The Black Desert was formed through wind erosion as the nearby volcanic mountains were spewed over the desert floor.
Finally, there are the ruins of a 17th Dynasty temple and settlement, and nearby tombs where birds were buried.
How to get to the Bahariya Oasis
From outside Egypt
International flights direct to Cairo, then either an internal flight (see below) or overland by bus or by car.
You may like to book a tour through a travel agent or hire your own transport. Bear in mind that desert driving has special requirements and be sure to get a suitable vehicle and guidance on possible hazards. 0therwise you can travel to each location by bus or service taxi and arrange trips from there.
Service taxis from the Wahia Cafe, Sayeda Zeinah or buses from the Al Azhar terminal, near Midan Ataba.
Last Updated: June 9th, 2011