Your Guide to Caving in Egyptcaves caving Desert Egyptian history
Photography by Roland Unger
One of the great things about living in Egypt is that there is so much to do that we don’t always need to travel abroad for new experiences. We’ve got some of the world’s most important historical landmarks, stunning beaches, and many options for exciting desert trips. But here’s one thing that not many people know we have plenty of—caves. Caving is definitely one of those activities that you have to try at least once. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and no feeling quite compares to caving. So, we’ve decided to give you some tips and tricks on going caving that we hope will inspire you to get out and do it!
A History of Caves in Egypt
The study of geology in Egypt did not begin until 1873 when a German expedition headed by explorer Gerhard Rohlfs was supported by the Khedive Ismail. The expedition left Assiut for Farafra and then made its way to the Dakhla Oasis, on to Kharga Oasis, and then back to Cairo. Throughout this expedition, many caves were discovered, and the first geological map of Egypt was published as a result. Although this area is extremely rich in history and its relative proximity to the Nile, the Western Desert has not attracted that many scientific exhibitions. No archaeological expeditions were even carried out there until 1989.
Photography by Beshoy Fayez
There are a great many places in Egypt to go caving, including in Cairo! This may come as a surprise, but the Wadi Degla Protectorate is not just for hiking; it’s also home to one of the country’s most interesting geological wonders, the Bats Cave. As the name suggests, the cave is home to a fruit bat colony, and while this place is not for the faint of heart, it’s a safe and beautiful cave that is relatively easy to access and makes for a wonderful adventure.
A little further towards the south, you can find the Wadi Sannur cave, which is among the oldest in the world. It’s also among Egypt’s most famous caves, attracting many tourists because of its immense geological importance. It’s one of Egypt’s most notable natural reserves, thanks to its unique nature, with limestone protrusions resulting in glass-like stalagmites and stalactites and beautiful colours reflecting all around you.
For the more adventurous, the Western Desert is a true goldmine for caves. There, you can find more of the world’s oldest and most unique caves, like the Gara (or Jara) cave. Located in Farafra, it served as one of the most important Stone-Age settlements in the Western Desert. You also have the Cave of Swimmers and Cave of Beasts (discovered in 2002), which were used for shelter during the Stone Age and have beautifully illustrated walls.
There are many other examples of caves in Egypt, far too many to list, but some other ones that are truly worth a mention are the Judr Cave in Assiut and the Zaranigh Cave in South Sinai.
Photography by Roland Unger
It might seem daunting to go caving when you have no experience, but it definitely shouldn’t be. As long as you follow some rules, you should be alright. The golden rule for caving is never to go alone. It is vital that you go in a group of four to eight people, and children should not go without an adult.
Next, wear suitable clothing: The ground in caves is extremely uneven, so make sure to wear the correct footwear. It’s also important to bring layers along in case it gets cold. Lastly, wear a helmet, grab a flashlight, and have fun!