The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Sights & Travel

Cairo to Fayoum: Guide to a Day Trip in the Desert

Cairo to Fayoum: Guide to a Day Trip in the Desert
    written by
    Clarissa Pharr

    Sometimes it only takes a fresh perspective to remind
    ourselves of what a dynamic part of the world we actually live in. Cairo is a true blend of
    pop culture and ancient history, but it’s still easy to take for granted. We
    all know the Pyramids are looming somewhere in the haze nearby, but the routine of everyday life can
    still get us down. As it turns out, an escape from the traffic and daily
    grind of Cairo
    can be found closer to home, and it may only take up one day of your precious
    time.

    Fayoum Oasis is located less than 100 kilometres away from
    Cairo. Like
    much of Egypt,
    it has its historical significance: the oasis claims to be the discovery place
    of remarkable manuscripts and one of the earliest known agricultural
    communities.  

    Several tour companies offer all-inclusive forays into
    the desert around the Fayoum Oasis, and most offer competitive group rates:
    groups of fifteen to twenty people can land you a price as low as 150LE per
    person.

    Getting
    There:
    First, be prepared for an early start and avoid the
    pitfalls of pre-desert partying if you want to enjoy the scenery on the drive
    out. Second, the more the merrier: gather a large group of friends and take
    Fayoum by storm. This will also allow you to split up and enjoy different
    activities throughout the day.

    Travel companies usually provide drivers and
    4x4s for the journey, so you have to schedule a meeting point for the pickup.
    Once you’ve loaded in, you’re well on your way to your very own adventure along
    the bumpy road. As a side note, be prepared for a day spent without a bathroom.
    Packing a tent ensures that you’ll have a little shelter from the elements, as
    the sand and wind can get overwhelming. And be prepared for sand to get in all
    your clothes and shoes.

    Once you’re there, tawny desert dunes surround the cars from every angle.
    Just when the ups and downs of the off-road terrain get a bit much (pray that you’re
    not prone to seasickness), there are the dunes. It may be as early as 10:30AM
    if you got a good start, and you have already travelled to what feels like
    another world entirely.

    What to Do There:
    If you use a team of well-versed desert travellers, you are in for an in-depth
    lesson in the art of sand-boarding. Unless you have some serious skills, this
    sport is harder than it looks: don’t be fooled by the guide as he glides
    gracefully down the sandy slope; we have experienced some serious wipe-outs on
    several occasions.

    Fears aside, the trip down is a thrill. Less thrilling
    of course is the climb back up to the peak, which can be helped by a length of
    rope secured to a stake at the top of the sand dunes, used to hoist you back up
    to the top. Trekking up the steep dunes is harder than it looks; so pace
    yourself.

    If you need a change of activity, explore the desert;
    opt for a roller-coaster ride around the dunes in one of the sand-ready jeeps-
    enjoy the ride as you careen down the slopes, and you may quite possibly find
    the vehicle stuck in the sand.

    A perfect way to end the day of adventures is to
    gather around a bonfire and gaze up at the stars before piling back into the
    jeep to return to the city. Beware that the trip back along the dark highway
    can feel more perilous than off-roading through the dessert, so do encourage
    the driver to proceed with caution (use headlights at all times).

    Useful Tips: A trip to Fayoum is not advisable in the heavy summer
    heat, but if you’re travelling in spring or winter, do bring warm clothes. Desert
    wind can be brutal during the day, even in the glaring sun, but temperatures
    plummet once the sun goes down, so be sure to bring plenty of layers.

    For further information, contact Viator.com, Holiday Tours and Weekend Trips. Off-road
    equipment shop Traxx offers tours for groups of six or more; call 0122115241 or
    0122155042 for more information.

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