Desert Towns, Tombs and Temples

Dakhla Oasis

New Valley Governate

The Western Desert


February 28, 2020

The Western Desert of Egypt is alive with splendid scenery, agriculture, friendly local folks, and fascinating archeological sites.

Here are the descriptions of two ancient sites near the oasis town of Dakhla:  the Egyptian Necropolis of Al Muzwaqa and the Roman Temple Deir el-Hagar

Necropolis of Al Muzwaqa

The Necropolis of Al Muzwaqa translates as “the wonderfully decorated tombs.”  They are located north of Mut village near Deir El Hagar. The Necropolis was discovered in 1908 by the American archeologist Herbert Winlock during his excavation missions in the Western Desert of Egypt.

The White Desert

Farafra Oasis

Western Desert


February 27, 2020


“Have I landed on the Moon?”

Just a few hours south of Cairo and 45km (28 mi) north of Farafra lies a desert that will make you feel like you’ve landed on an alien landscape.  *

The White Desert, also known as Sahara el Beyda (sahara means desert), is an astonishing and shocking geologic experience. 

Molded by centuries of ventifact erosion and sandstorms, these unique snow-white and cream colored calcium rock formations crop up across the landscape like great abstract statues.

The Black Desert

Bahariya Oasis

Western Desert


February 25, 2020

In Egypt I had the opportunity to visit The Black Desert, one of the most unusual deserts in the world.

I visited the desert twice: on a cold cloudy morning at sunrise (hat, scarf, shirt, sweater. hoodie, jacket, gloves) and the next day, a warm afternoon (no gloves needed).

The Black Desert was formed over 180 million years ago by the volcanic activity that took place in the area. Now, the desert is covered with black stones of hardened lava. In some places, I can see majestic hills covered with black stones. Other parts are large plains with orange to brown terrains where the sandy soil now supports large scale agriculture. 

The Crystal Mountain of Egypt

Bahariya Oasis

Western Desert


February 24, 2020


The "Crystal Mountain" in Egypt

A subvolcanic vault, filled with crystals of a hydrothermal event

Norbert Brügge, Germany

(I have taken the liberty to edit this essay for syntax and punctuation.  jp)

The crystals from the Crystal Mountain between the Bahariya Oasis and Farafra Oasis, in the northern section of the White Desert, are not Quartz crystals. They are Barite crystals (BaSO4) and/or Calcite crystals (CaCO3). 

To ascertain the hardness of the crystals, Quartz (SiO2) has the hardness 7, Barite and Calcite the hardness 3.5-3.0 (Mohs-scale). Quartz crystal can scratch glass, Barite or Calcite cannot.

At first glance, the crystals of Calcite and Quartz are similar, but a closer look reveals the differences.  Quartz crystals have six sides, mostly with a pyramid-shaped crystal tip.  The crystals of Calcite, on the other hand, can be rhombohedral (crystal with six rhombus-shaped sides) or scalenohedral (triangles with different lengths and with different numbers of sides). Every specialist will confirm that what we see here are not Quartz crystals.

Mersa Matruh

Mersa Matruh

Matruh Governate


February 23, 2020

Despite our itinerary to spend only one night in Mersa Matruh, I decided to spend two.

I was exhausted after the journey across the desert from the Siwa Oasis.

Except for meals, I never left my hotel room.  

Why leave?  The hotel was called the Belle Vue Hotel.

The view was beautiful across the beach and the  Mediterranean Sea.