Oasis to oasis

Jan. 31, 2012 (day 258) Egypt

The trip to Cairo was successful. I received the visa extension for three months, exactly as I had requested. That means I could enjoy Egypt until 29th of March, but thinking about the April temperatures in Sudan, I consider it as not the best idea.

On the other hand, there was no reason to hurry, especially with the rainy season in Kenya, which I would enter into if I kept to my original schedule. Therefore I had chosen to go with more relaxed pace, but soon I learned that it had not been only my decision. The progress through Sahara was much slower than I had expected.

The start from Bahariya oasis was delayed by one day, due to strong wind, carrying clouds of dust and blowing from very wrong direction. On the next day, however, the sky cleared up completely and I could go, enjoying beautiful landscape. The desert has different faces, and the one I witnessed since then, it was interesting, much more different to the flat and boring part I had crossed from Cairo.

Greenery on desert is attracting

Greenery on desert is attracting

With panniers full of dry food: rice, beans, milk powder, sugar, and with 11 liters of water I could wander in the desert for few days, without any need of contacting civilization. Indeed, I wished to do so, but along the road it was not easy to avoid presence of other humans. Fortunately, at least the traffic was much lighter there.

The surroundings were mostly sandy, with hills and rocks of dark colour, from which the name of the Black Desert comes. On the second day I crossed a small mountain range and descended into absolutely different terrain. Bright rocks and white, chalky structures marked the beginning of the famous White Desert, which consists one of Egypt's national parks.

Silence, nobody there

Silence, nobody there

The area, sculptured and polished through ages by the wind, just asks to wander there without end. Chalk rocks appear there in abundance of shapes and sizes, sometimes resembling mushrooms of strange animal creatures, otherwise being just surreal, fantastic blobs of white matter.

Into the wild

Into the wild

How far can I ride?

How far can I ride?

I veered off the road into one of 4x4 tracks, which looked to be hard enough to support my heavy bike. Indeed, it worked, and quickly I was well away from the road, completely alone with the masterpieces of nature. Camping in such surrounding was a pleasure, much unlike the next day's attempt to find another exit from the area. Trying not to come back by the same way, I reached huge sand field and had to push the bike for several kilometers on soft surface.

Desert camping

Desert camping

Morning coffee

Morning coffee

Mushroom

Mushroom

Just after the White Desert the Farafra oasis appeared. The most remote of all the oases on Western Desert route. Beside a few basic shops it offered a public tap with excellent spring water. The subsequent villages stretched for about 30km, marking the brave attempt to turn the desert into living ground. The New Valley project, as I had been told many times, uses underground water to support agricultural industry. The problem is, that with new and efficient diesel pumps being in broad use, it's level is continuously dropping, leaving not much hope for the future of these settlements.

Leaving the last village behind my back, I found a great spot for camping. A place few hundred meters away from the road, which could be easily called "the middle of nowhere". There are countless sites like that in the desert, and most of them are perfect for staying overnight. With no tent, using the bike and panniers as shield from the light wind, the sky being my roof. One of the last moonless nights let me look at the stars again. With clean air, three hours before the sunrise, I could finally see Gacrux, the top star of the Southern Cross, rising just over the horizon.

The morning ride was a struggle against the wind, on the last kilometers before the road would turn eastwards in Abu Minqar, letting me finally cycle with the long-awaited tailwind.

And all the way like this...

And all the way like this...

Before the settlement I arrived on the edge of a long cliff. Before me, a stunning view opened onto the endless areas of the Great Sand Sea. From here, there was no trace of human presence, until the distant settlements of southern Libya.

Towards the sun

Towards the sun

Descending from the ridge I noticed a camp of white tents and a small sign saying "Geofizyka Toruń". I did not think to much before turning, because passing without saying hello to fellow countrymen in such a remote place would be silly.

Three of them were present at the camp, while others worked in the field, looking for oil and other natural resources. I could enjoy talking Polish with Piotr, Radek and Kuba, who also knew how to make me feel good — with shower, lunch and sweets for the further way. I do not know who was more surprised by that strange encounter at the end of the world, but it was a pleasure to meet them and gave me a lot energy to cycle further on. Despite even the fact, that the sun was about to set when I finally cycled away. Thanks, guys!

In the New Valley

In the New Valley

After another night on sand I finally enjoyed a day of cycling with tailwind. The air was clean, and the sun did it's work. For the first time in my life I got sunburn in January. At the evening I reached another agricultural areas and had to camp between palm trees, with a company of pigeons and a herd of goats locked in a mud hut nearby.

Despite low fuel price, donkeys have work

Despite low fuel price, donkeys have work

The further road to Dakhla oasis was inhabited. Being the capital of the New Valley, this area sometimes looks really green, like the Nile Valley does. In the biggest town of Mut I quickly found Gardens Hotel, a convenient and the cheapest accommodation so far, where I decided to stay for a while.

Comments:

kmieto
kmieto
9 years, 8 months ago
Śledzę pana wyprawę z zapartym tchem , życzę zdrowia i wiatru w plecy .Pozdrawiam .
xmk
xmk
9 years, 8 months ago
U nas w Polsce słupek rtęci spada w tych dniach do -30 st. C, ale też świeci słońce. Pozdrawiam słonecznie i życzę powodzenia!
Marieke
Marieke
9 years, 8 months ago
Hi Michał!
Not sure where exactly I came across the link to your website, but I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading about your adventures. I stop by your website every 5-7 days to read your blog, look at the photos and dream about going on such a trip. I know I wouldn't have the courage for it, but I'm glad that people like you do, and allow me to travel along through stories and images.
All the best on your way south & greetings from the Netherlands,
Marieke
ARKOSŁAW
ARKOSŁAW
9 years, 8 months ago
Widoki z Afryki bardzo ciekawe. Piszesz że sie lekko opaliłeś w słońcu, w Polsce też słońca nie brakuje, ale niestety temperatura minus 20 st C.
mama
mama
9 years, 8 months ago
Mam wrażenie, że tej podróży nie da się opisać w jednej książce! Pięknie i w dodatku ciepło!!! Szczęścia na dalszej drodze i pisz, pisz, pisz, niecierpliwie czekamy na dalszy ciąg!
siostra
siostra
9 years, 8 months ago
Pożycz trochę temperatury!!! Tutaj ręce przymarzają do kierownicy - nie wiadomo, czy jechać powoli żeby nie odpadły palce i nos, czy szybko żeby ogrzać się "globalnie" ;)
Ahmed
Ahmed
9 years, 8 months ago
nice photos
mercik
mercik
9 years, 8 months ago
Cześć Michał, całkiem fajna lektura na wieczór ten twój blog, życzę powodzenia i pozdrawiam z mroźnego Wrocka
Rob
Rob
9 years, 8 months ago
Kosmiczny krajobraz na Białej Pustyni! Na zdjęciach wygląda jak wyprawa przez inną planete! Pozdrowienia z nad mroźnego Bałtyku :)
Michal L
Michal L
9 years, 8 months ago
Hej Michał :)
Mam taką małą prośbę. Mógłbyś zamieścić na stronie jakiś skrypt to wygodnego przeglądania zdjęć? Np fancyBox: http://fancyapps.com/fancybox/

Pozdrawiam i z niecierpliwością czekam na kolejne wieści.
Stevie
Stevie
9 years, 8 months ago
Amazing pictures.
C.Young
C.Young
9 years, 8 months ago
Nice blog, Just want to warn you that the third Africa Country you will cross, Ethiopia, will be a bit tough as children follow you a lot, even throw a stone at you. Be prepared for a lot of hassle and lack of privacy or personal space!