Alice in a white wonderland

Trip Start Jul 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2011

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Flag of Egypt  , Asyūţ,
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unique, extreme landscapes...wordsmiths perhaps can, on occasion, summon up the adequate words or turn of phrase to convey what they see. I always struggle with this. How many times can you use words like, "beautiful, stunning, amazing, breath-taking," and so on. I think the true writers- the artists - can formulate evocative descriptions that give the reader not just a sense of what the writer saw or is seeing but perhaps a smile, laugh, a chill or a tear.  

Apart from suffering from intellectual laziness, I am not a natural write so...I struggle. At any rate I will do my best because where we are going next needs some kind of proper depiction. 

From the flat and occasionally gentle undulations of the desert sands sprout chalk white rock formations of all manner of of shape and size. Cupcakes, mushrooms, rabbits, profiles, monoliths, tables, crowns, swirls, mounds and any other shape your mind imagines dot the golden yellow sands for as far as the eye can see. They call it the White Desert and it is unlike anything I've ever seen before.

It's an incredible transformation that saw what was an ocean 90 million years ago slowly transform into a white, cream coloured desert with massive chalk rock formations that have been created as a result of occasional sandstorms in the area.

Ninety million years ago the chalk was ooze at the bottom of a great sea. Protozoans such as foraminifera lived on the marine debris that showered down from the upper layers of the ocean. Their bodies were made of chalk extracted from the rich sea-water. As they died a deep layer built up and slowly became consolidated into rock. At a later date the sea-bed became dry land, as earth movements thrust it upward towards sea level. 
We had two good guides who while perhaps a bit casual, did take good care of us and set up a great camp where we were quite alone - apart from the curious and hungry desert foxes. I saw my first moon rise which was really cool and after a good meal and a few cups of Bedouin tea we stretched out under our sleeping bags and camel hair blankets and watched the stars until we fell asleep.

The next morning I awoke a bit before sunrise and walked alone amongst the strange white rock formations. It was surreal and peaceful and I could have walked for hours but... time to go back to camp to rouse the others and have some breakfast  

After breakfast Chisa and I walked around some more and finally had to get close up camp, jump into the jeep to drive back to town to catch the bus to Dakhla. But on the way we stopped at Crystal Mountain, famed for it's quartz crystals. Pretty cool but after the White Desert...well..

Oasis and hot springs next...   

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joel on

Amazing stuff! thanks for sharing

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