ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Libya

GREAT SAND SEA, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

2006.06.02.

With an area of approximately 72,000 square metres stretching across western Egypt and eastern Libya, the sand dunes of the Great Sand Sea offer visitors an opportunity to experience a sandy Sahara. Sand seas only cover a minor part of the world’s largest hot desert. The majority of the Sahara is in fact rocky and barren. The remote Siwa Oasis is a popular base to explore the Egyptian side of the Great Sand Sea. Getting out to the vast sea of sand requires a 4×4 vehicle. Most tourists would join a local tour for either an overnight stay in the desert or a half day visit that ends with watching the sunset from the dunes. I opted for an overnight tour. After all, it was such a romantic concept to sleep under the Milky Way in the open Sahara. I shared the 4×4 desert tour with a young American couple. Our 4×4 spent sped out the oasis and spent much of the afternoon doing “roller-coaster” runs up and down the sand dunes. To enjoy the full excitement, the driver told us to sit on top of the 4×4.

After some chill out time on the dunes, we were dropped off at a campsite right by a small artificial pool. After a simple meal, we got to choose to either stay inside a simple stone shelter for the night, or spread out our provided rug and sheets nearby to claim an open spot on the sand. I slept a bit and woke up at around 2am. As soon as I opened my eyes, the imposing Milky Way was right over my head. Until my other stargazing experiences in the Atacama during my 2013 South American journey, the starry sky that night over the Great Sand Sea was probably the most beautiful that I have ever seen.

Doing a desert tour in the Sahara was like a dream came true for me.
Low light in the afternoon over the Great Sand Sea offered me a delightful moment for photography.
The afternoon desert scenery was as romantic as anyone could have hoped for.
After several rounds of roller-coaster runs on the dunes, our 4×4 had a flat tire.
The driver immediately stopped the vehicle and changed the tire on the spot.
Probably caused by the wind, the wavy pattern of the sand worked perfectly with the low afternoon light.
The wavy pattern appeared more obvious at certain spots in the desert.
At one point, we walked to the top of a sand dune and did some sand tobogganing.
Ridge of a sand dune in late afternoon.
Ridge of a sand dune in late afternoon.
Sunset over the desert
Beautiful sand pattern
Our campsite was close to some large sand dunes.
Probably because of the water, more vegetation could be found near our campsite.
Not until early morning that I could notice the patches of salt on the ground near our campsite.
Our campsite was centered at a small pool.
Overview of our campsite.