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The White Desert of Egypt: Exploring Alien-Like Landscapes

  • Post last modified:May 13, 2024
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Before traveling to Egypt we saw that a friend went to the White Desert in Egypt. We were simply stunned by the pictures and videos, and knew that we had to add it to our Egypt itinerary.


We were on a bit of a budget, so were researching how we could visit the White Desert without just going ahead and booking an expensive tour.


After speaking with some local friends, we ended up going for it. We booked a trip to the White Desert in Egypt, and it was as magical as we had imagined.


In this guide we're going to share everything you need to know for visiting the White Desert in Egypt, and hopefully inspire you to also add this to your Egypt bucket list!

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Where is the White Desert in Egypt?

The White Desert is a national park in Egypt, and is located in theFarafra depression, about 45 km north of the town of Qasr Al Farafra. The park is 115 square miles, which is 300 square kilometers, and is a little north west of the center of Egypt.


How Far is the Black and White Desert from Cairo?

The Black and White Deserts in Egypt are about 500 km from Cairo, and it takes around 4-5 hours driving from Cairo depending on the traffic in and around the city.


How to Get to the White Desert in Egypt

There are three ways that you can get to the White Desert in Egypt.


1. Take a Tour from Cairo to the White Desert

This is definitely the easiest way to experience the White Desert and Egypt, and honestly the way we also recommend.


We were hesitant to book a tour as we typically like exploring on our own. However, there are some places in the desert that we never would have been able to find without a guide.


Guides are also in charge of making a meal right in the desert, and without the right equipment or knowledge, it would have been a real challenge trying to go on our own.

2. Take a Bus and Hire a Guide

If you want to save a bit of money, you could take a bus from Cairo to Bahariya, which is a tiny town that is near the white desert. It definitely can be cheaper to get a local from the area, and we did read about other people doing this.


If we weren't on a super tight schedule, this may have been our second choice for exploring the White Desert in Egypt.


3. Rent a Car

This is certainly the cheapest option, but not something we'd recommend unless you know a local or are very prepared.

driving through the white desert in Egypt

This is because other than the main road pictures above, there are a lot of areas that we had to drive simply through the sand to get to. So unless you are following someone else, or have an idea where to go, it can be easy to get lost, or worse, get stuck in the sand.


If you are feeling confident though, just make sure to rent a jeep or other similar 4x4, and try to get as much information as possible from the locals in Bahariya.

jeep in the white desert

You need a 4x4 to drive through the desert,

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Experiencing the White Desert in Egypt

It's finally time to experience the incredible White Desert in Egypt! So what exactly does a White Desert tour look like anyway? Well, we're about to dive right into that.


Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

The white desert in egypt travel guide
The white desert in egypt travel guide
The white desert in egypt travel guide

The White Desert Tour in Egypt: Pick Up

Pick up for White Desert Tours are typically very early, since the drive is so far. We were originally supposed to leave at 8 AM, but requested to start earlier so that we could maximize our time.


Most tours will arrive to the starting point of the tour in the town of Bahariya around lunch time. In our case, we stopped at the salt lake first, and then had lunch after.


The White Desert Tour in Egypt: Lunch

Our lunch was at a local restaurant, and we had a large spread of food including chicken cutlets, eggplant, spaghetti, salad, fries, and bread.


One thing you'll notice in Egypt is that portion sizes are extremely generous! We honestly got enough food for four people.


lunch at the white desert in Egypt
lunch at the white desert in Egypt
restaurant at the white desert in Egypt


The White Desert Tour in Egypt: The Bahariya Oasis Salt Lake

The first stop of the tour is at a salt lake in the oasis of Bahariya. There is a beach area with small shops, a swing, camels, and small wooden boats.


Bahariya oasis salt lake
Bahariya oasis salt lake
Bahariya oasis salt lake
Bahariya oasis salt lake


Since we were there much earlier than the other tour groups, we had the place to ourselves and took out one of the wooden boats on our own. We stayed for about a half hour, and our guides weren't strict on the time at all.


Bahariya oasis salt lake
Bahariya oasis salt lake
Bahariya oasis salt lake


On the way to and from the Oasis you'll have beautiful views of palm trees surrounding the area, where we requested to stop for some photos.


Bahariya Oasis
Bahariya Oasis
Bahariya Oasis
Bahariya Oasis

The White Desert Tour in Egypt: The Black Desert

Now it's time to head to the desert! But did you know the White Desert Tours aren't just the White Desert? They actually include the Black Desert, which is completely different than the landscapes you'll come across in the White desert. It's about a half hour from Bahariya Oasis, and just off the main road.


black desert in Egypt
black desert in Egypt
black desert in Egypt
black desert in Egypt

The Black Desert is vastly different than the White Desert which is nearby.

There are two areas we stopped at, and it really was such an interesting area! 


After the stops at the Black Desert you'll continue on the main road that drives right through the rest of the Black Desert, so make sure to keep looking out the window and enjoying the views along the way.

driving through the black desert in Egypt

Keep your eyes peeled while driving through the Black Desert!

The White Desert Tour in Egypt: The White Desert

After the Black Desert you'll start heading towards the white desert, which is just a half hour further down the highway.


There are two main areas of the White desert which are the old White Desert and the new White desert, both of which are incredible but have different landscapes.


The Old White Desert

The first stop in the Old White Desert is Crystal Mountain, which is a mountain that is full of actual crystals! It has beautiful views around it, and the walk up to the top is just 5-10 minutes.


Crystal Mountain at the White Desert in Egypt
Crystal Mountain at the White Desert in Egypt
Crystal Mountain at the White Desert in Egypt

The first viewpoint of Crystal Mountain


We made two stops at Crystal Mountain, both with different but equally beautiful views to appreciate.


Crystal Mountain at the White Desert in Egypt
Crystal Mountain at the White Desert in Egypt
Crystal Mountain at the White Desert in Egypt

The second viewpoint of Crystal Mountain


After Crystal Mountain We went to Al Aqabat, which has large rounded mounds scattered around, making you feel like you've just landed on another planet. You can climb up to the viewpoint, and also walk around at the bottom near the mounds themselves.


Al Aqabat, old white desert in Egypt