Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Farafra, One of the Most Beautiful Egyptian Oases

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During ancient Egyptians time, Farafra was named “Tahet”, meaning the land of the cow, in reference to its agriculture.

Farafra Oasis is the least populated of all, the oases of the Western Desert of Egypt and the least irrigated due to the lack of water resources, consisting nowadays of 40 wells. Recent discoveries revealed many resources especially in Karaouine.

The most famous crops in Farafra are dates and olives. The depth of the wells vary between 800 to 1200 m below the surface, the water rising form the wells, is rich in iron and manganese. The irrigated land produces organic food which supplies the hotels and the desert safaris in the area.

There are four main families of Farfaronis (that’s what the locals call themselves) mainly deriving from Libya and the rest from Assiut in Upper Egypt. The families are Al-Hassayba-Rekabeya, from which the tribe of Awlad Ali derives, Ayadeya, Hananwa and Kadadra. Some people carry the name Sanusi, in reference to a person named Al Saeidi Sanusi who resided in Farafra years and years ago.

The Western Desert is becoming one of the major attractions in Egypt, where people come from all corners of the world to see its beauty and its dazzling scenery.

Farafra's depression is the home of the White Desert, perhaps Egypt's foremost nature attraction. This area is shaped from sandstorms forming massive sparkling white chalk rocks.

As tourism spread in the Western Desert, the oases people, generous and hospitable by nature, took responsibility upon themselves to serve the tourists. Therefore, many of them have become guides and drivers.

A variety of hotels and lodges could be found Frarafra so settling down is not an issue to worry about at all, after being settled one must be aware of the must see spots since they are plenty.

A good start would be a visit to the Temple of Ain el-Muftella, a Roman Water Source, the Tomb of Bannantiu, the Temple of Alexander the Great, the Museum of Bahariya where the Golden Mummies and the English houses 'Gebel al-Ingleez' are.

It is almost a must to arrange for a 4X4 jeep to drive you to the White Desert, also to visit the Black Desert and the dune area..

On the route to Farafra you can pass by the Crystal Mountain, the area of the wonders with the desert roses, and just not to miss anything visiting El Akabat and then heading to the White Desert, will make it a perfect tour, to wrap up a day filled with many activities and after seeing many sites a final destination would be the New Desert, as you relax the sun sets, just to make it more special at evening, a barbeque dinner can be arranged, a good night sleep in a tent under the stars is what one would need after such an exciting day.

Farafra is also famous for old Egyptian artifacts to Roman ones and the Sand Museum of that gentle soul named Badr who gave his entire life to create art from whatever the desert could offer him.

Many expressions of symbolic art are found, unique drawing from the sand, sculptures from sand and rocks, oil and water colored paintings describing love, agony and the desert. It is free entrance and most of what he created is for sale while others are his intimate and private collection.

A special treat would be a dip in the hot springs that could reach 60 degrees and its rushing waters which could ascend in some wells from 1000 meters deep and enjoy its healing powers, this is just what would one need to ease all the fatigued muscles and a final relaxation moment before you end your trip. But it's better to wait until nightfall so the spring waters will somehow be cooler.

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