This Issue is : 02-2014
Friday, 23 February 2024

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The white desert and the black desert…the beauty of the Egyptian desert

The white desert and the black desertthe beauty of the Egyptian desert
The White Desert, El-Sahara el-Beida, is located in Egypt, 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of Farafra Oasis New Valley governorate at a distance of about 500 kilometers from Cairo which is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and it has been declared as a nature reserve in 2002. Its total area is about 3010 kilometers square, and it was called “white desert” because it has the white color that covers most of its parts.
The chalk-white landscape is strewn with alien shapes, boulders of brilliant white which thrust up from the surface of the desert, intensified by the clear light of noon, shimmering gold at sunset or blackened and shrunken in a cloud-filled sky.
Many of the formations are given descriptive names – sculpted by the harsh desert winds into weird shapes which constantly change over time. There are ‘monoliths’ and ‘mushrooms’, ‘ice cream cones’, ‘tents’ and ‘crickets’, as well as the majestic conical flat-topped ‘inselbergs’, to name but a few of the formations.
In the remote past, the White Desert was a sea-bed, the sedimentary layers of rock formed by marine fauna when the ocean dried up. Later a habitat for many roaming herds of elephant, giraffe, gazelle and other animals, the desert would have been a savannah with lush green areas and lakes full of fish, an ideal hunting ground for pre-historic man. The landscape we see today was formed by the plateau breaking down, leaving harder rock shapes standing while the softer parts are eroded away by wind and sand. In some parts the chalk surface still has the appearance of delicate wind-ruffled waves on water.
The Black desert is located a little to the North of the White desert, it is closer to Bahariya than Farafra; approximately 50 km to the South of Bawiti. The mountains have eroded to coat the desert with a layer of black powder and rocks giving it its name. Towards the end of the Black Desert are black volcanic hills that ages ago erupted a dark volcanic material called dolerite, which is what the black rocks are made of. Climbing up the English Mountain which is the highest point in the Black Desert, an amazing view of the strange landscape will be seen.

Written By: Dr. Ali Taha