Thursday, 8 June 2017

The White Desert of Egypt


Just a few hours from the bursting metropolis of Cairo lies a strange desert that will make you feel like you have landed on the surface of the moon. The White desert is located about 45 km north of Farafra, Egypt. The main geographic attraction of Farafra is White Desert (known as Sahara el Beyda, with the word Sahara meaning a desert. The white desert is clear contrast with the yellow desert elsewhere, something which you will not believe before seeing with your own eyes. The exclusive calcium rock formations crop up across the landscape like great abstract statues, resemble food, names like “mushroom” and “ice-cream cone,” while others have inspired more impressive designations, such as “the Monolith” and “Inselberg.” Perhaps the most characteristic of these unusual natural formations is the famed “chicken and tree” set, also called “chicken and mushroom,” or, better yet, “chicken and atomic bomb.” Only in The White Desert will you encounter such a inexplicable and breathtaking natural museum of chalk-rock.

In the night time, several of the organized trips out here include overnight stay out in the desert. If you want to enjoy the real view of white desert, the best viewed at sunrise or sunset, in the light of a full moon, which gives the amazing landscape an eerie Arctic appearance. The tourists can observe the changing faces of chickens and mushrooms and monoliths as the bright sun of the afternoon sinks into a shadowy dusk. As the sun goes down, the calcium sea seems to reflect all the fuchsias and oranges of the sky. However, any night under the stars of the Western Desert is an experience not soon forgotten; the fortunate few that catch a full moon will witness the desert giving off a ghostly, iridescent glow. Tourists are well advised not to get too close to the formations because any certainly not touch them.  Millennia of erosion have made a lot of them extremely unstable and an unwitting hand could cause these ancient creations to collapse.

The White Desert is a widely held tourist spot for its melodramatic and rare rock formations. The magnificent snow-white desert is actually made of chalk that has been exposed for years to what geologists call "differential weathering," the erosion of soft particles that results in strange protrusions of hard rock. The mushrooms shaped rock formations are 10 to 15ft tall. The limestone bases had been worn away by the mixture of wind and sand that had blown by them at high speeds for thousands of years. The differential weathering explains the very striking forms that now fill the White Desert including shapes like domes, minarets, castles, towers and so forth. The rock formations of the desert are often quite dramatic; you should not miss out on the weird rock balancing, on top of a white pillar. Much of the white desert is accessible only by four-wheeled drive or, for the more traditionally minded, the camel. It’s an anthropomorphist’s paradise.