A Memorable Place

Overnight in the desert of Egypt

By Nicole Feliciano


My husband and I went to Egypt last July to visit a friend studying at the American University in Cairo. My college pal was fluent in Arabic, and promised to be an excellent guide for our first visit to the Middle East.

We were not disappointed in either the country or my friend's abilities as a host.

Cairo is dense with cultural attractions. We spent our days touring mosques, museums and forts. We were duly impressed with the Giza pyramids and Tut's treasures. However, our most memorable experience awaited us after a five-hour bus ride from Cairo.

We journeyed to Egypt's southwestern oasis town of Baharya in the Libyan Desert. We had found an excellent safari company on the Internet. Rose-Marie is Swiss, and Khalid is Egyptian, and together they have been running Kalifa Expeditions for more than 10 years. They share a passion for the desert and for preserving its treasures.

We signed on for a two-day package, which included an overnight in the vast White Desert. Our driver took the Land Rover 300 kilometers into the desert. We slept under the stars amid ancient chalk formations. At dawn, Rose-Marie guided us on long, sandy walks, pointing out the various rocks and fossils that were in our path.

The trip culminated with an afternoon camel ride back at the oasis. Rose-Marie has raised her own herd of camels to provide peaceful walks around the relatively lush outpost. At her command, the camels bend their lanky limbs and crouch down. We climbed on top and then hung on tight as they lurched back to standing position.

We were there during the hottest time of the year, and no other tourists joined our expedition. Rose-Marie decided to take the entire herd out on our two-hour jaunt to give all the camels some exercise.

The ride was smooth, and the camels were gentle animals. We were sad to dismount and end our experience. We hope others will wander off the beaten path to see the treasures in the Egyptian desert.

Nicole Feliciano lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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