23.12.2011 - 23.12.2011 21 °C
We met our new driver and our 4WD, a Toyota Landcruiser at 9:30 and then headed off for the White Desert, "Sahara Beida". It was a struggle fitting in all our bags, even though we had left our 5 main bags back at the hotel in Cairo, and were traveling light.
We left the road after about 30 minutes and hooned around the dunes, which was good fun. We then joined the road again, but this time we were driving In excess of 120km/h, with all the camping equipment on the roof, and deflated tyres to cope with the sand driving. Ahkmed Schumaker seemed to be in a hurry, and none of us were enjoying it. We thought the White Desert was named after the white rock or chalk formations that are everywhere, but with Ahkmed at the wheel, it must be due to the color of your knuckles as you hang on tight to whatever is nearby.
About 10 minutes later, unfortunately Ahkmed's pit crew weren't around as the roof of the vehicle caved in at around 130km/h! We called into the pits immediately, assessed the damage, and lifted the roof off Louisa and Jessica's heads. It was deemed to be just the inner shell and not the roof proper so after a couple pokes, prods and bangs, we were back on our way, albeit a tad slower.
We pulled up at a hill that we could walk up, about a 30 minute round trip and the 360 degree views were amazing. We also pulled up at a 30 million year old Volcano in the Black Desert, or "Sahara Suda". Am pretty sure it is a natural structure and the Egyptians didn't build it. There was black volcanic rock everywhere and a nice little walk.
We were now heading to the White Desert proper and the first stop was a walk around the Crystal Mountain and then stopped at a spring for lunch. Whilst we were there, out of the desert came about 60 camels with their guides. I thought it might have been pay day, but Jessica and Jacinda took to the car. I was later informed that they weren't camels, they were Dromedary's, from Morocco and only have one hump. The girls can wait till later.
We drove off the road (intentionally) and took to a sandy track, up a hill and then before our eyes was an elevated view of what could easily be a view of Mars. In fact earlier I am sure I saw Neil Armstrong's footprints....and he was wearing Nike! Proof that the Apollo missions were a fraud.
Not long after we got a puncture....go figure. We were driving at a million miles an hour on tyres deflated to allow us drive on sand, yet Ahkmed Schoemaker did the same on rocks. Anyway, we were soon driving through these weird structures made from chalk formed in the days that this was a huge sea. You make out all sorts of shapes such as rabbits, chickens, mushrooms, dogs, you name it. Quite spectacular and we were fortunately using a digital camera and not the old 35mm variety. Reckon we fired off around 300 photos.
We made camp inan exposed area but Ahkmed had it all figured out and had camel blankets to block the breeze and even a coffee table on the roof! He then cooked up a fantastic meal. Ahkmed, give the driving away and be a chef!!!
It was strange watching Ahkmed doing the dishes. He washed them very well and then looked to dry them on his shirt.....he couldn't find a tea towel and it was on his head the whole time.
The stars that night were amazing with a lot of the constellations new to me. It was getting really cold too so it was off to bed. What a sensational location and atmosphere. Looking forward to see if Ahkmed Schoemaker will be driving under MACH 1 on the way home......