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Expedition Karkur Talh & Gilf Kebir

The Gilf Kebir National Park (since 2007) is delimited to the west by Libya and to the south by Sudan and consists of three different ecosystems: the Great Sand Sea, the Gilf Kebir plateau and the Gebel Uweinat massif. Gebel Uweinat, which is situated 150 km south of the Gilf Kebir, is a massif of 1,934 meters high and its wadis contains one of the richest concentrations of rock art in the whole Sahara. Especially Karkur Talh (means Acacia Valley), located in Sudanese territory, contains a large number of prehistoric sites with petroglyphs and wall paintings.

We will see the best of the sites of the Gilf Kebir and Gebel Uweinat during this expedition, including the in 1935 by William Shaw (1901-1979) discovered cave Magaret el-Kantara with its extremely beautiful paintings. One of the highlights of this tour is Karkur Talh, this large wadi boasts over 4,000 rock art sites and is an open-air museum of inestimable value. Also do we pass the most famous site of the Gilf Kebir with the Cave of the Swimmers and the Cave of the Archers. Not far from Wadi Sura is the Foggini-Mestikawi Cave. In 2002 the Italians Foggini and the Egyptian col. Ahmed al-Mestekawi discovered a new shelter decorated with hundreds of paintings which make it the most beautiful and interesting rock art site in this part of the Gilf Kebir. Finally we'll head deep into the remote landscape of the Great Sand Sea weaving to find our way through the sand to Ain Della. Adventure!

 

 

 

Trip Highlights

Abu Ballas and Eight Bells with the remains of an airport

the shelter Shaw's Cave with its extremely beautiful paintings

Petroglyphs and rock paintings at Karkur Talh

Along the Clayton Craters

the famous rock paintings at the Foggini-Mestikawi Cave

Aqaba Pass and the red sand and cliffs of Wadi Hamra

The sand dunes of the Great Sand Sea

Sakhret el-Amud (Pillar Rock)

White sculptures in the White Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Route Expedition Highlights Karkur Talh and Gilf Kebir

 

day 1   Arrival Cairo - Bahariya

day 2   Bahariya - Farafra - Abu Minqar

   

     Regenfeld

     Abu Balas

     Mud Pans (yardangs)

     Wadi Wassa

     Mogharet el-Kantara (Shaw's Cave)

     Eight Bells

     Clayton Craters

     Karkur Talh

     Wadi Sura (Cave of the Swimmers and of the Archers)

     Foggini-Mestekawi Cave

     Aqaba Pass

     Wadi Hamra

     Great Sand Sea

     Sakhret el-Amud

     Ain Della

 

day 13  White Desert - Bahariya

day 14  Bahariya - Departure Cairo

 

 

 

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  Travel dates / Price

 

 Duration 14 days / 13 nights
 Minimum Group size 6 persons

 

 Travel dates 03.12.2013 - 16.12.2013 04.03.2014 - 17.04.2014
     
 

Since September 2010 the National Authorities of Egypt decided that Tourist Police has to escort (for security) expeditions to the remote areas of the Western Desert. For expeditions north of the latitude 23 (northern Gilf, Silica and the Great Sand Sea) 1 police car; for expeditions south of the latitude 23 (Gilf Kebir and Uweinat) 2 police cars with armed policemen.

 

Price

The price is 'tour only' and do not include international airfares.

 

Included:

  • all airport transfers and transport

  • 4WD vehicles on expedition

  • converter 24V-220V (can be used for charging guest's batteries or loading phone, etc.)

  • off the road permits National Authorities

  • overnights at hotels (at Bahariya), is based on double occupancy (single supplement is available)

  • overnights camp

  • during camp tent, sleeping mattresses, sleeping bags and blankets

  • mineral water, tea and coffee

  • during camp full board (3 meals a day)

  • meals specified in program

  • sightseeing mentioned in program

  • entrance fee

    • White Desert National Park

Not Included:

  • flight, visa ( 15) and insurances

  • meals unless specified, alcoholic drinks

  • entrance fees unless specified, optional sightseeing or activities during free time

  • tips and spending of a personal nature

  Price: on request

                                                           

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Itinerary Expedition Karkur Talh

 

Please note that the realities of travel across the Gilf Kebir mean that it is not possible to guarantee the tour will pan out exactly as described below. Flexibility is required in planning as the National Authorities may change regulations of access to restricted areas and through the unexpected in terms of mechanical problems, a change in weather- and terrain conditions, reasons of safety or in case of emergency. One of these cases can be the cause that we may have to change our program.

It is a true expedition into the remotest reaches of the Egyptian desert. This is a journey of a lifetime for the true desert lover prepared to tolerate some discomfort in order to see places only a few Westerners have ever visited.

Navigation equipment is used throughout the expeditions.

 

 

Day 1: Arrival Cairo - Bahariya Oasis

After your arrival at the Cairo International Airport you'll be transferred to your hotel in Bahariya Oasis. The rest of the day you have free.

The rest of the day the Bedouins will take the last preparations for the expedition of tomorrow. In the afternoon you can explore and walk around at Bawiti, to visit the local market and, to see the old village. Bahariya is the closest oasis to Cairo but is the most distant oasis in time. Here the Bedouins live traditional. Bawiti is the main town of the oasis. In the Greco-Roman times Bahariya was very important. Many tombs and temples remains from this period. But also of the times of the pharaoh's colorful tombs as Qasr Selim remains.

 

Day 2 - 12 (11 days): Expedition Karkur Talh and Gilf Kebir

After breakfast we load our 4x4 land cruisers and start our adventure. On our expedition towards the remotest parts of the Western Desert we'll first encounter Abu Minqar. This expedition has not to be taken lightly, as they cover vast distances in a very hostile environment. Participants have to be physically and mentally fit to endure possible hardships due to the unpredictability of terrain and weather, as well as participants will have to anticipate the unexpected in terms of weather, terrain, mechanical problems, and flexibility is required in planning as the National authorities may change regulations.

To give you a day by day itinerary is almost impossible. So many unexpected things can happen. The provided food will be a simple and basic diet based on non-easily perishable ingredients.

During Expedition Full Board (Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 dinner)

 

Day 2 - 3: Bahariya - Abu Minqar - Regenfeld - Abu Ballas / Mud Pans

Departure by landcruiser to Abu Minqar. Via Regenfeld we drive to Abu Ballas, also known as Pottery Hill. At the foot of the northern slope of the hill you can find broken jars and the fading drawings of on the southern wall of the hill. There are hundreds of shards but not a single intact jar. Also there are a number of drawings carved on the rocks. Then we drive to one of the worlds most spectacular and haunting desert landscapes: an immense playa where purplish-red yardangs seemingly float on waves of silt. Dated to 8000 BC these sites have yielded many tools, including grinding stones and other grain-related objects.

 

Day 4 - 6: Wadi Wassa (Mogharet el-Kantara) - Eight Bells - Clayton Craters - Karkur Talh

In 1935 Kennedy Shaw discovered a shelter on the promontory separating the Wadi Wassa and Wadi Firaq in the southern area of the Gilf. Cave 'Mogharet el-Kantara', also known as Shaw's Cave, is decorated with beautiful paintings, mostly of cattle; some of these paintings were executed about 8,000 years ago. Then we drive towards Eight Bells, eight bell-shaped hills in a open valley at the southern part of the Gilf Kebir. During the Second World War, the English laid out an airport in this broad valley. A large arrow that indicated the direction of plane landings, made up of hundreds of empty fuel tanks, can still be seen. Then we pass an ancient volcanic area, the Clayton Craters which were formed by gas eruptions. Finally we enter one of the most arid areas, Karkur Talh (valley of Acacia). Beside trees, shade and savannah like greenery it has a large number of prehistoric sites with beautiful petroglyphs and paintings of hunting scenes, cattle, wild animals and humans.

 

Day 7 - 9: Karkur Talh - Wadi Sura - Aqaba Pass - Gilf Kebir Plateau - Wadi Hamra

Along the volcanic hills of Peter and Paul and the cliffs of the Gilf Kebir Plateau we drive to Wadi Sura in the western part of the Gilf Kebir. In 1931 the Almásy-Clayton expedition searched for the lost oasis of Zarzora and the lost Persian army of Cambyses in the Egyptian Sahara. They set up their base-camp at the foot of Jebel Umm Ras in the western Gilf Kebir. Here they discovered some rock paintings. This was the first evidence of prehistoric occupation in Gilf Kebir. The in 1933 by Almásy discovered Cave of the Swimmers has paintings of cattle, ostriches, giraffes, of thick-torso men and of persons, painted in red, in a horizontal position with their arms stretched in front of them, appears to be swimming or to be diving. The Cave of the Archers is decorated with large human figures, armed with bows and arrows, and animals. In 2002 the Italians Foggini and col. Ahmed Mestekawi discovered a new shelter decorated with hundreds of paintings which make it the most beautiful and interesting rock art site in this part of the Gilf Kebir. This shelter has innumerable negative impressions of human hands. Decorations of human figures, hunters, of wild animals and of headless animals.

The Aqaba Pass was historically a strategic defense point and it still bears land mines left by the British Army in World War II. About 60 km to the north of Aqaba Pass a gap opens and Wadi Hamra appears. Before we reach Wadi Hamra (Red Valley), named for its red rocks and sands, we passes the Abu Ras Plateau.

 

Day 10 - 12: Great Sand Sea - Saghret el-Amud - Ain Della - White Desert

The last part of the expedition is through the sand sea, one of the highlights of the tour. The Great Sand Sea covers 72,000 kilometers and is lager than some countries. There are some dunes in the sea that are not only 100 meters high, but also 100 kilometers long. The first European to enter the Great Sand Sea, and the man who named it, was the German explorer Gerhard Rohlfs. In 1874, Rohlfs surveyed the Libyan Desert for the Khedive Ismail. We drive in north-east direction towards el-Maktura. During the Second World War the Gilf Kebir and the Great Sand Sea was the site for various British operations. Army petrol cans and other remains and wrecks left by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) can still be seen. Via Saghret el-Amud (Pillar Rock) we cross over the sand dunes to Ain Della. Ain Della is a spring located in a small depression, situated 100 km northwest of the Farafra Oasis. At this tiny green spot east of central Sand Sea, there grow a few palm trees that have guided travelers out of the surrounding deserts for ages. The Arabic word 'della' means 'the guiding one'.

 

Day 13: White Desert - Bahariya Oasis

Our driver will brings us to the famous New White Desert. The wind has eroded chalk monoliths into surreal forms resembling skulls, hawks, mushrooms. The ground and the chalk monoliths are littered with shells, crystals and iron pyrites shaped like sea urchins, twigs or turds.

In the afternoon we'll arrive in Bahariya.

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch

 

Day 14: Bahariya - Departure Cairo

In and around Bawiti there are many things to see. In the morning you can explore and walk around at Bawiti, to visit the local market and to see the old village, but we can also visit the ruins of the temple Ain el-Muftella (26th dynasty), the tombs of Qasr Selim (26th dynasty) and Bahariya's famous Golden Mummies.

In the afternoon we drive to Cairo International Airport for departure.

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

 

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