In the Western Desert, a string of stunning oases lie hidden in the vast, wide open desert sands and mountains. Pockets of fertile land caused by craters closer to water sources hidden deep in the desert floor, they were cultivated since very ancient Egyptian times. They were very important to the Romans and early Christians too, and so they are host to marvellous ancient fortresses, temples and tombs. All together, the oases of Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra and Bahariya form a semi-circle veering away from the Nile, the life source of Egypt, and are called the Western Desert Circuit – which also includes marvels such as travelling sand dunes in the Great Sand Sea, the White and Black Deserts and Crystal Mountain, to name just a few. To do the whole Circuit properly, one would need at least 10 days… And it is a magnificent journey.
For those who do not have the time to do this, however, we are now offering a Taste of the Desert in the form of a three- and a five-day trip to the oasis closest to Luxor: Kharga Oasis. On these tours, you will experience the beautiful landscapes of the desert, tranquil, vast and silent, the wonderful simple agricultural life of the oasis villages, the magnificent ancient monuments and the detoxifying, healing hot springs that are filled with mineral-rich waters from deep below the desert floor. These springs are simple basins, most often set in nature right between the farm fields – they are extremely beneficial to wellbeing, but do not expect polished spa surroundings!
The three-day programme is as follows:
Early departure from Luxor – see the fertile Nile Valley make way for the rugged, wide desert. On the way, we will stop to experience the desert and its beauty. Once we enter the oasis, we will go for a visit to the Roman village, fortress and temple of Qasr el Ghuweyta, situated on a high hill with wide open views over the oasis – clever strategic placement by the Romans for sure! We will then move to our first hot spring, and have a freshly cooked lunch under the palm trees before plunging into the waters. Replete and relaxed, we will make our way to our lovely hotel, the Qasr el Bagawat Ecolodge – their philosophy of sustainability and traditional ways of building makes for a perfect blend with the adjacent landscape, and their chef will have a wonderful meal ready for us after we check in and freshen up a bit.
After a leisurely breakfast featuring traditional local dishes, we will make our way to the magnificent Temple of Hibis. After visiting this impressive site, we will head to the earliest Christian necropolis of Bagawat, with tombs dating as far back as the 1st century. This site also has a lovely hot spring near a palm grove, and so we will combine our visit there with a simple picknick lunch at the side of the spring, and a plunge into the healing waters.
In the morning you have the choice of relaxing at the hotel or heading into the city to have a look around and visit the local souk, pottery makers, and the Kharga Museum – a museum for all the Western Desert Oases and cultures. Make sure to buy some of the dates Kharga is rightly famous for! At midday, we check out and drive to a hot spring for a last lovely lunch amidst the fields and a last dip in the hot waters. Then, we drive back to Luxor, taking in the beautiful sunset in the desert on the way.
Dive Deeper Into the Desert – and Your Self
The desert is also a perfect place to experience silence, stillness, and coming home to yourself. So, on our five-day tour, we will embrace slow travel and add more of an inner journey to our outer journey. Focusing on cleansing, healing, becoming still, mindful and aware, and building our vision from a place of gratitude, this tour includes daily theme card readings to guide you on your path, guided meditations and a Vision Board workshop, as well as plenty of detox time at the healing hot springs and visits to the marvellous sites. Even though seeing and experiencing the oasis is definitely at its core too, this tour takes on the quality of a retreat as well.
Day 1 follows the same itinerary as above.
We will start each morning with a check-in using theme cards and a meditation, as well as enjoy our beautiful local breakfast at leisure. No rush, just ease and savouring every moment and bite with mindful awareness. After this, we will head over to Bagawat, where we will visit the impressive early Christian tombs and ruins of the earliest remaining ‘cathedral’ in Egypt, and have a picknick lunch at the hot spring next to the archaeological site in between soaking in the lovely spring there.
Today, we will work on our Vision Boards! We will do two meditations, one to clear ourselves and become still, and a second one to dive into the rich tapestry of our lives and see all that we already have to be grateful for. From this place of gratitude, we create our vision for the upcoming year(s) and make it visual through a Vision Board – rich with imagery that will help you to come back to your vision time and again and manifest it. After a light lunch at the wonderful Ecolodge, we will drive to yet another hot spring with glorious healing waters. In the evening, we will ask the Fire Master of the Ecolodge to build us a big fire and use it to release any inner blocks that may stand in the way of manifesting our vision. Day 4
After our morning check-in and scrumptious breakfast, we will visit the magnificent ancient Temple of Hibis, with its stunning reliefs and colours. In the afternoon, we will spend our time at a healing, cleansing, mineral-rich hot spring. Day 5
Our last check-in and meditation before checking out of our wonderful Ecolodge will be followed by a short visit to the town and the Kharga Museum. After this, we will have lunch among the fields and under the palm trees at the hottest spring around and take our last dip in its magnesium-rich waters. Then, we will start our drive back to Luxor, experiencing a beautiful desert sunset on the way back and a glorious, starry sky… You will be taken back to your Luxor accommodations full of new experiences, insights, and a sense of peace and vision for the future. In the days following the retreat, observe your body closely for changes brought about by the healing hot spring waters, and enjoy the possibly new-found core of stillness and calm inside yourself.
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A Taste of the Desert – 3 Days A Deeper Dive Into the Desert – 5 Days
Transport to, from and inside the oasis of Kharga (from Luxor), accommodation in a single room at Qasr el Bagawat Ecolodge on the basis of half board, lunches during the tour, access and tickets to sites and hot springs, basic tips, inner journey guidance. If you are travelling together and want to share a double room, a discount applies.
Tours do not include: Transport to and from Luxor, accommodation in Luxor, drinks, extra tipping, your own shopping.
We can of course help with accommodation and further exploration in Luxor if required. We are also happy to put a full Western Desert Circuit tour together for anyone on request. We can also help you put together a tour for all of Egypt, including the desert or to other sites and places such as Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan, the Red Sea, Sinai – Egypt has so much to offer and we love sharing it with others. Feel free to ask! Minimum participants for all tours: 2.