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Bahariya Oasis

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Located 200 miles from Cairo, Bahariyya Oasis serves as a jumping off point for many safari trips into the desert. This is not only because it is the closest of the four desert oases to the Cairo, but also because it provides immediate access to the stunning landscapes of the White Desert.

Bahariyya itself is not that impressive. The main town of Bawiti is full of squat buildings of modern construction and there is a conspicuous absence of the lush greenery you might expect of an oasis. Further from the town center the construction turns to more traditional mud-brick and the palm groves become more evident. Historically, Bahariyya was different.

During the Roman Period it was one of the greenest places in Egypt, producing large amounts of wheat and wine that were shipped to the Nile Valley. It is thought that the population swelled to nearly half a million people during this time. A recent archaeological find revealed a vast, wealthy necropolis with nearly 10,000 mummies from this era. Regardless, Bahariyya offers little to visitors today.

There is one hot spring worth visiting if you have some extra time. Bir Al-Ghaba (the Well of the Forest) is about 12 kilometers northeast of Bawiti in a eucalyptus grove.