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western desert trips and tours 2023

  • 08/02/2023

The Black Desert is a region of volcano-shaped and widely spaced mounds, distributed along about 30 km (19 mi) in the Western Desert between the White Desert in the south and the Bahariya Oasis in the north. Most of its mounds are capped by basalt sills, giving them the characteristic black color.

The mounds of the Black Desert, up to 100 metres (328 feet) high, vary in size, composition, height, and shape as some are dark consisting of iron quartzite while others are more reddish as its surface rocks consist of iron sandstone. On the outskirts of the Black Desert are volcanic hills proving the eruption of dark volcanic dolerite, dating back to the Jurassic period 180 million years ago.

White Desert

Main article: White Desert National Park

 

The White Desert is a site of cliffs, dunes and large white chalk rock formations, created through erosion by wind and sand.

The White Desert is a national park, first established as a protected area in 2002. It is located in the Farafra depression, 45 km (28 mi) north of the town of Qsar El Farafra. Part of the park is in the Farafra Oasis (New Valley Governorate).

The park is the site of large white chalk rock formations, created through erosion by wind and sand. It is also the site of cliffs (at the northern end of the Farafra Depression), sand dunes (part of the Great Sand Sea), as well as Wadi Hennis and oases at Ain El Maqfi and Ain El Wadi.

The park serves as the refuge for various animals, including the endangered Rhim gazelle and the vulnerable Dorcas gazelle, as well as Barbary sheep; jackals; Rüppell's, red and fennec foxes; and the sand cat.

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History

 

Rock carvings at Gilf Kebir

In pre-historic times the Western desert is thought to have been a semi-arid grassland, home to savanna animals and hunter-gatherers; evidence of abundant wildlife can be found in the cave paintings of the Gilf Kebir. It is thought that over-grazing and climate change led to desertification and the current geography. Even after this, however, the oases remained inhabited, and the Antiquities Museum at Kharga has artifacts dating back to times before the early Egyptian kingdoms.

In ancient times the area was regarded as being under the jurisdiction of the kingdom of Egypt, and Egyptian remains can be found in all the oases. In 525 BC, the Lost Army of Cambyses, a military expedition by the Persian king Cambyses II got lost in the desert while searching for the Oracle of Ammon, at Siwa. In 333 the Oracle of Ammon was visited by Alexander the Great, where he was confirmed as the son of Amun.

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With the absorption of the kingdom of Egypt into the Roman Empire, the desert region was organized into the province of Libya Inferior, while Cyrenaica became Libya Superior. In time the region came under the jurisdiction of the Byzantines and their successors, the Arabs, Mamluks and Turks. In 1882 the kingdom of Egypt became a British protectorate, and in 1912 the territory to the east was claimed by Italy as the colony of Libya.

 

Tank engagement during the Western Desert Campaign

In the 20th century the Western Desert became an arena of conflict; during the First World War it was the location of the Senussi Campaign against the British and Italians. The 1930s saw an upsurge of exploration and mapping expeditions by British Army officers, such as Ralph Bagnold and Pat Clayton, laying the basis for war-time operations by such forces as the Long Range Desert Group. This period was also marked by the search for Zerzura, a mythical oasis in the deep desert. During the Second World War, from June 1940 until November 1942, it was the location of the Western Desert Campaign fought between the Axis powers (Italy and Germany) and the Western Allies (principally Britain and Commonwealth countries, a total of 15 nations) until the Allied victory in November 1942.[116][777][842]

In modern times the Egyptian government has encouraged settlements in the oases, and surveyed for minerals, particularly oil.

Western Desert -"Toshka Project"

In October 2020, President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi ordered the revival of an ambitious decades old agricultural project once named the Toshka Project (aka the New Valley Project), aimed at creating a new delta in the middle of Western Desert and increasing living space and prosperity for Egypt's growing population.[9] President El-Sisi specified that 6.4 billion Egyptian pounds ($413 million) would be needed for the necessary infrastructure, breathing new life into national hopes for turning the desert green. Originally, Project Toshka was spear-headed by former President Hosni Mubarak, who spent 40 billion Egyptian pounds on the project, establishing the necessary electricity plants and water pumping stations.[10] A few years later, however, the project came to a sudden halt, with failure being attributed to the lack of political will and necessary investments.[1771]

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