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Nelly Zakaria is a tour guide for the Cairo-based, family-run adventure tour group Badawiya Expedition Travel. She’s an expert on everything related to the Sahara and Egypt.


What’s the best thing about your job? 

It’s my dream job to be escorting adventurers into the desert. I love to see people’s faces the first time they visit.

There are so many magical wonders to enjoy here, it’s hard to squeeze them all in to our camping trips, but we like to try. 

What camping highlights would you recommend?

A noted highlight for campers is a visit to the Bir Sitta hot springs and El-Mufid Lake, a short ride from the Al Farafra town that sits on the periphery of the White Desert’s Farafra Oasis. 

Best time to go?

At night, you can enjoy the medicinal benefits of water – that’s rich in silver and iron ore – under the stars.

What about those with more time on their hands?

The 2000km round trip from Cairo into the southern region of the Western Desert’s Gilf El-Kebir National Park is not to be missed. It was the setting for part of the novel The English Patient and some of the movie was filmed here. 

What can you see there?

This giant sandstone plateau is extremely arid but wildly beautiful, and it plays host to nine deep valleys, plus a selection of caves featuring prehistoric rock art.

You’ll feel like you’re at the end of the Earth and you’ll also get to enjoy a section of the epic Great Sand Sea in between.

It’s the largest dune field in the world and capable of swallowing anything in its path, so we take extra care on our routes here.


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