Exploring the Deserts in Egypt

Ancient Egypt people divided the country into two parts - the red land and the black land. The former is used to describe the barren desert land that saved the country from various neighboring invasions. The black land referred to the fertile banks of the Nile River which served as the best place for cultivation.

Did you know more than 94% of Egypt's land is desert?

The main deserts in Egypt are -

•  The western desert (which is a part of the Sahara desert)
•  The eastern desert, and
•  The Sinai desert

The Nile separates the western and the eastern desert, while the Sinai desert in the Sinai Peninsula (the easternmost region sweeping through the gulfs of Suez and Mediterranean).

Western desert

The Western desert Egypt is part of the Sahara desert Egypt and covers a vast stretch of land west of the Nile valley. It is about 680,650 square kilometers (262,800 square miles) and traveling through this intense landscape, you can also get a glimpse of rural Egyptian life. Most visitors to Egypt limit their tour to the Giza Pyramids and the surrounding ancient sites and wonders. So, when you plan for the trip to the deserts in Egypt, you are in for a treat.

The main settlements in the western desert Egypt include Bahariyyah, Farafrah, Daklah and Khargah - all of which are connected over a 1,000 km (621 mi) road that loops from Giza to the Nile Valley at Asyut.
The closest settlement is Bahariyyah from Giza and is about 330km (205mi). The furthest is Farafrah and has over a hundred of natural springs.

While passing road through Bahariyyah, you will be crossing the white desert Egypt.

•  Siwa Oasis

This is possibly the most mysterious of all the oases in the Western desert and lies approximately 300km (186 mi) from Marsa Matruh lying on the Mediterranean coast. What makes Siwa different is that it stands alone and you have to visit independently of the other four oases/ settlements. Given the remoteness of the region, Siwa has its own culture and language.

Did you know, Siwa is Egypt’s major producer of dates?

Crystal-clear springs are scattered all through the oasis along with an impressive olive trees and palms plantation. The shady groves and the mud-brick alleys will immediately bring out a slow-paced oasis life.

The deserts in Egypt will certain add a different gravitas to the entire trip Egypt trip. But, apart from the oasis, you must also take time out for visiting the striking features such as the Qattara Depression (characterized as the lowest point in Africa), the Great Sand Sea (learn about the legends of how it swallowed up an army), and the Ghard Abu Muharrik ( the longest dune in Egypt). You can also explore the mysterious craters and silica glass that some experts believe to have been formed due to meteorite strikes. Also, the Jebel Uwaynat and Gilf Kebir will fascinate you if you love prehistoric rock art.

Eastern Desert

The Eastern Desert is located southeast of the Nile River delta and is also referred to as the 'Arabian Desert'. Spreading to the south-eastwards into north-eastern Sudan and from the Nile River valley eastwards to the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea, it takes up an area of about 85,690 square miles.

The volcanic-rock Mountains are very famous here and run along the Red Sea Coast and studies suggest that they can be as old as three billion years. It dates back as early as the Naqada I period.

Given the arid climate, the northern section is almost devoid of vegetation.

You can find some more recent monuments like the St. Paul's and St. Antony's Monasteries. In fact, St. Antony's Monastery is the world's oldest functioning monastery that was founded in honor of Saint Anthony. He is acclaimed for founding monasticism and much part of the monastery has recently been restored to preserve the history.
Dating back to the Roman Era, you can find one of the famous quarries in the Eastern desert in Egypt.

White Desert Egypt

This is a unique calcium rock formation found in the deserts in Egypt that has been formed by centuries of erosion and sandstorms. And, today they appear like great abstract statues which are named as they resemble such as mushroom and ice-cream cone. However, there are some in the name of "the Monolith” and “Inselberg.” But the most famed one is the “chicken and tree” set.

For most people, white desert is one of the ideal options in deserts in Egypt to spend night camping under the stars. With the Bedouin guides, you can clearly enjoy the majestic natural show of change in faces of the chickens and mushrooms and monoliths with the change in the sunlight.

When is the best time to visit the deserts in Egypt?

It is always recommended to avoid the summers months for desert trips. The temperatures at destinations such as Siwa Oasis can go beyond 104 degrees F. On the contrary, the winter months see a plummet in the nighttime temperatures to as below as the freezing point. Thus, the best time to visit is anytime between spring or fall, that is during February to April and September to November. That being said, traveling in spring can make you face possible sandstorms from the annual khamsin wind.

Read More: Best Time to Visit Egypt


Egypt Sahara desert is one of the few places that offer such incredible landscapes that you cannot forget in a lifetime. Sahara desert Egypt is part of the world’s largest hot desert. So, before travelling, make sure you have the following-

•  loose-fitting, bright-colored long sleeve cotton clothes
•  SPF 80+ sunscreen
•  check the car’s air conditioning
•  get some dry easy meals and water
•  expect a long drive to reach your destination


The deserts in Egypt are older than the Pyramids and would offer a sublime experience in your trip. Nature's elemental beauty is what will make you plan again to visit Egypt!


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