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They finish up just in time for the next natural highlight on our agenda: watching the full moon.

With our camp set up, and tranquility at a peak, there’s only one thing to do: kick back under the stars for some desert downtime.

The scent of supper being carefully prepared by one of the Bedouins and fresh hibiscus tea brewing on a crackling fire stirs my stomach.

The full moon’s milky light is more than enough to see by, but soft enough to allow the hundreds of thousand stars above us to take centre stage.

Watching them, I feel a rare sense of total contentment. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of phones, deadlines, social media and other distractions, but I’m totally lost to the cosmos above us.

At that moment, a sneaky desert fox takes advantage of the quiet to pop out from a rock and sneak some scraps from our camp.

As soon as it’s ready we devour a delicious, slow-cooked stew of chicken cooked in what must have been 20 different spices.

As we eat, three shooting stars burst overhead and I silently thank my good fortune at finding myself smack bang in Nelly’s “middle of nowhere”.

Glancing at her over the embers of a fire that’s keeping the rattlesnakes at bay, I now get exactly what she was grinning about. 

 

Best of the Rest: Desert Sights

Jara Cave

This massive cave contains jaw-dropping examples of prehistoric rock art.

Most of the engravings depict big game hunts and everyday life, most probably drawn by hunter-gatherers more than 9000 years ago.

The cave was discovered by the explorer Gerhard Rohlfs. en.egypt.travel

Badawiya Agricultural Farm

Ran by one of Badawiya’s socially and environmentally conscious residents, Hamdy Ali, this pioneering farm is already supplying organic vegetables to the local desert dwellers.

They plan to use its natural spring to kick start some medicinal desert ‘spa’ experiences, as well as harvesting the food for sick, hospitalised and disadvantaged locals. 

Clean up

Every April, after the main season of desert tourism ends, this five-day long experience encourages international conservationists to head into the desert with Badawiyan hosts and the White Desert Foundation to help clean up the remnants of visitors and make sure the Sahara stays untainted.

Expect fun, games, cooking lessons, Bedouin music round the campfire, shisha pipes and plenty of feel-good energy from a holiday that gives something back.  

Email info@badawiya.com for more information.

When to go: It’s best to visit the Western Desert between October and May.

Temperatures in summer can exceed 45˚C, which is simply too hot for camping and safari trekking. 

Currency: £1 = EGP 9.8 (Egyptian pounds)

Accommodation: Dakhla Hotel is a traditional mud brick building that opened in 2008.

This typical Bedouin venue offers affordable comfort after a hard day’s desert safari – plus an irresistibly cold swimming pool.

Rooms start from £40pppn based on single occupancy

See: egypt.travel

Getting there: Egypt Airways flies to Cairo daily from London Heathrow. Return flights cost from £360. egyptair.com 

Jennifer travelled with Badawiya Desert Tours, which costs about £250 per person, including a bi-lingual guide, two nights’ camping in the desert, all equipment, all meals and a camel safari. badawiya.com

Has this made you long for your own Egyptian encounter? Head over to TNT Tour Search for some of the best deals out there.

Photos: Jennifer Carr; TNT;  Getty; Thinkstock



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Big trip to Egypt: On a camel safari into the Saharan wilds, we discover mummies and surreal white lunarscapes
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