Reborn in the desert
After midnight, It’s a full moon night, every this is quite, all went to sleep and in the middle of nature, it all starts. Hot water springing up and warming our cold bodies at 10 *C in January. The moon is shedding silver light on the scene. You can’t see much, actually there isn’t much to see around the water spring. A few bushes here and there, suddenly you are in the middle of the clouds with the steam coming out from the hot water. It really looks like you are swimming among the clouds on the rhythms of an everlasting Bedouin song.
This is how we started our three days journey to Al- Farfra oasis, New Valley governorate. The trip took about six hours drive from Cairo to our destination. The destination is almost 550 kilometers away from Cairo, but we made three stops during our journey to rest and have coffee etc.
By the time we arrived to Badaweya hotel the sun was gone. Each checked into his room in the traditionally designed hotel as separated chalets with domes at the top. Of course everyone was very hungry. We enjoyed a welcome treat of mandarins and dates from the hotel gardens, while our dinner was being prepared. Dinner started with hot creamy lentil soup followed by roasted chicken with potatoes, mahshy i.e. stuffed vigutables, rice and salad, all homemade style.
After dinner we gathered around fire and enjoyed Bedouin tea. Some were too cold to join,and only six of us decided to take the adventure of swimming in the water spring in the middle of the night. Our guide from the hotel drove us in a Pajero to the spring, about ten minutes from the hotel.
Healthy natural spa
Besides the marvelous scenery of swimming under the beautiful stars, bathing in hot water springs is very healthy. This water contains a variety of minerals like calcium and sodium bicarbonate. The minerals in the water, helps relief stress and heat relaxes tense muscles. It’s also good for Rheumatism and other joints problems in general. It smoothes and softens the skin, plus the properties of sulfur water can relieve eczema. It’s also good for the heart and whole body nourish , moreover , it improves sleep.“Saad” our guide said that swimming at night in hot spring keeps you warm for the rest of the night, where the temperature goes down to 8 or 9 *C.
* Bonus: You don’t have to shower after swimming in a hot water spring. It’s better to leave the minerals do its magic work on your skin.
I woke the first morning in my warm bed room, rays of sun coming from the circle window up the high wall. Spacious bed and a room decorated with Bedouin style and desert rocks. The living room has a traditional chimney and fridge and TV ; I doubt you’ll ever of using it.
Unlike the cold night, morning was sunny and warm. We enjoyed our breakfast by the pool. Traditional “foul and Taameya” eggs, cheese, salads, yogurt, and “halawa bar” you need a lot of these at night to give you power.
We started off to the old gardens; a massive gardens of palm trees, citrus and olives that has been there for ages. You can try climbing the palm tree and get fresh dates, but be careful not to get caught. After a refreshing walk amongst different shades of green, we moved to the farm, ten minutes drive from the old gardens, a unique combination of desert rocks, and green land. We walked among old clay houses and met some nice farm cows and donkeys. We found a shaded spot on a golden ground. Golden yellow tree leaves covered the place and it was about time to have a small snack. Bedouin tea and dates dipped in virgin olive oil a total new extravaganza combination. The sun is about leave and we took off to the hot water spring. A different spring where you can stand and the water will cover you up to the nick. The hot water pores on you from a man made tube. It runs down strongly giving you the best natural Jacuzzi experience in the world. The minerals in the water turned its color into more red color, so it’s normal to feel like you’re swimming in tomato soup. It’s ok; some springs have clearer water than others.
Desert evenings usually starts with the dinner around 6 pm. Taking a walk around Farafra town, then gathering around fire camp enjoying the melodies of bedioun “nay”, traditional songs and dances. Or you can merely observe the stars spread sky or go swimming in the water spring.
Nature Master piece
On the third day, we went on our major adventure of all. After thirty minutes drive we arrived at one of kind in the world, the White desert or “ elsahara elbeeda” . It’s a national protected area where sand storms, over time, has created nature master pieces of rock formations. The massive chalk rock forest has taken many shapes; the most famous one is the mushroom which is the symbol of the nature reserve. Also there is The Rabbit and The Chicken rocks and you can spend your day imaging what other shapes you can find there. Millions of years ago this area was a big sea, that’s why you can find fossils in limestone. Another ten minutes drive we passed by “Ein Khadra” a small oasis in the middle of the desert where you can meet some funny camels. There is also the black desert. Then we arrived at another type of desert with colored sand rocks, with different shades of red, green, yellow and black marvelous formations. Our last stop was in an ice cream-like desert, it has smooth white surface as if you have fallen into a vanilla ice cream bucket. This was our spot for a quick snack before sunset, Then we headed back to the hotel.
On the fourth day, we woke up early, had breakfast and got ready to go back to Cairo. Some authentic shopping is a must; you get to choose from a variety of local dates and pure olive oil. Also there is a range of different handmade wool products that make a wonderful souvenir like gloves, scarves, and wool rugs. On the way we made a very important stop at the Crystal Mountain. It’s part of The White Desert nature reserve. The sand there is literally glowing. Natural crystals are everywhere behind a dark gloomy rock mountain; a spectacular sightseeing. Then we continued our journey back to the capital.
Three days seemed out of this universe. As if you have travelled back to the very old times,pure, virgin nature all around you. You enjoy fresh air, glowing sky day and night. You are relaxed and enchanted i.e. you are reborn.