Guest Post by Scott Hughes.
Looking for Part 1? Click HERE. 😉
The next day we hopped on a flight to Cairo. We had decided that in order to get the most out of our African adventures, we had to experience Africa’s other great wilderness – the Sahara desert.
After a much debate we had decided that riding a camel would provide a much more immersive experience than being driven around in a jeep. After looking around online we had booked an 8 day package with the Minamar Hotel.
We were a bit unsure about booking with a hotel rather than a dedicated tour operator but after speaking to them over the phone we felt assured that they knew what they were doing.
Upon arrival at Cairo International we were met by a member of the hotel staff. The next day, after a lovely sleep in the hotel, we headed off to the Bahariya Oasis.
The drive in our jeep lasted about an hour and a half before we arrived at a little settlement. There we met our guides for the next 6 days.
The people of this area are known as the Wahati and our guides gave us all a friendly hug upon arrival. After a quick cup of tea we headed to the edge of the settlement where our camels awaited. The first thing that struck me is how huge they were. I really had no concept of how big camels were. They are truly awesome creatures!
The other thing that occurred to me was the stench: camels really stink! Over the coming days I got very used to the smell but I remember being taken aback on the first meeting.
After packing all our stuff on the camel it was the moment of truth. My camel for the journey was called Mrs Papaya (the explanation behind this “intriguing” name was never explained to us).
We sat on the camels and with a little tap by the guides our camels lurched forward, and then back, then stood up slowly. They aren’t the most dainty of animals but I held on and was surprised how comfy it was. Then we set off!
Much has been written about the Sahara desert and its incredible wilderness, so I will not go into great detail here. Over the next few days we explored the desert on our camels taking regular breaks for the camels (and ourselves; my thighs have never hurt so much).
By day we rode around the desert, and by night we ate around the fire (usually goats that were bought by passing herders on the way) and slept under the stars; sometimes in the dunes and occasionally in a tent. It was truly awesome and our guides were lovely, telling us stories and laughing and joking all the time.
The amazing thing about the desert, especially in comparison to Makutsi, is the sheer lack of life. The desert of course has its own life, but being among this sparse and inhospitable area you realise how insignificant humans are on this planet. I liked that!
A friend of mine at home had recommended this “Camel safari” if I ever planned holidays to Egypt, and his advice proved to be highly judicious.
So, after two weeks of getting away from the city and exploring the wilderness of Egypt and South Africa I can only conclude that I had the most amazing holiday of my life. The South African lodge provided a certain degree of luxury and relaxation.
Being amongst these animals that I’d only ever seen on television was incredible, whilst exploring the desert by camel provided a unique experience of seeing a section of the world that has been completely undisturbed by humans.
Unfortunately I am going to wimp out! I can’t choose between these two safaris. They are both completely different and utterly incredible. My first experiences of Africa were incredible, so much so that my next destination is going to be Malawi. I can’t wait! 🙂
Scott Hughes has travelled around 5 of the world’s continents and has passionate about travel. He currently works in the travel industry for Beatthebrochure.