Throughout the years of our experience as tour operators for private guided desert safaris in the Western Desert of Egypt, we have gathered some practical information to help you prepare your trip to the Western Desert. This information is also available as a downloadable PDF.
Going through any border around the world requires certain formalities. Please visit Egypt’s official tourism website to find out what you need to get into Egypt.
Best Time to Visit the Western Desert of Egypt
In September and early October you enjoy the freshest and sweetest dates you have ever tasted as the date harvest begins. The best time to visit the Western Desert of Egypt is October through March, when the days are not too hot anymore (see the climate section below); after May travellers thin out and you can visit the sights of the Western Desert without the crowds.
From October to March, average daily highs are at a very pleasant 20–30°C (68–86°F), but nights can be chilly with average lows of 5–15°C (41–59°F). April through September are considerably hotter with average daily highs of 30–38°C (86–100°F) and lows of 15–20°C (59–68°F). However, the low humidity (monthly averages between 32 % and 56 %) makes the heat bearable. And as you might have expected, you don’t have to worry about rain: the average annual precipitation is 4 millimeters (0.15 inches). Check Weather Underground for the current weather and a 10-day forecast for Bahariya Oasis.
While all our tours include full board services and we also will provide snacks throughout the day, it might still be a good idea to bring extra snacks for children or if you have snack preferences. Just make sure these extra snacks don’t contain chocolate or other ingredients that might melt in the Western Desert’s heat.
Water and Hydration
In the desert, water is a very precious good—that’s why it has to be rationed (see our personal hygiene section below). However, you will not miss water to drink.
To prevent dehydration it is important to drink before you get thirsty. We recommend to drink a few sips every 15 minutes; if we are hiking, a good rule of thumb is 1 hour of walking = 1 liter (34 ounces) to re-hydrate. To monitor your water intake you might want to bring your own (insulated) bottle.
Since water has to be rationed (see our water and hydration section above), you cannot take extensive showers or baths—but don’t worry: thanks to the dry climate you won’t sweat much. Moreover, chances are that we stop at one of the Western Desert’s many hot and cold springs where you might enjoy a bath.
Since we care about the environment, we kindly ask you to bring a lighter so that you can burn toilet paper after usage.
Clothing and Shoes
During the days a combination of loose fitting, light T-shirts/tops, shorts, long-sleeved shirts, and light pants are best suited. Since nights can be quite chilly (see our climate section above), don’t forget to bring a warm sweater as well (it is recommended to bring a scarf and a windbreaker/jacket, too). Especially from October through March you are well advised to bring warm underwear and socks.
Although it might seem odd to recommend that you should bring a towel and swimwear to a desert trip, you should definitively do it as you might happen to pass by one of the Western Desert’s many hot and cold springs.
You should wear shoes that are already broken in. If you are planning a hiking tour, choose hiking boots in fabric or Gore-Tex with thick but flexible soles. For our 4 x 4 tours, comfortable, light sneakers are your best choice. At the campsite you might want to wear flip-flops or enjoy going barefoot.
We provide sleeping bags, however, most guests prefer bringing their own. In this case, be aware of low temperatures from October through March (see our climate section above). You also might want to bring an insulated sleeping mat and a pillow. Camel-hair blankets and mattresses will be provided (see accommodation).
In the Western Desert of Egypt, the hundreds and thousands of stars and the moon shine quite brightly; therefore, you might want to bring a sleeping mask.
You are supposed to bring: your prescription medication and vitamins as well as a simple first-aid kit with tweezers, pain reliever (in case of a sunstroke), Band-Aids, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, eye drops, medication for diarrhea, motion-sickness remedy etc.
There is no special vaccination needed when traveling in the Western Desert of Egypt—nonetheless it is recommended to see your physician and your dentist for a check-up before departure.
Please pack a big bag (not a suitcase) as it will be carried on the roof rack and you cannot reach it until evening. Therefore, a daypack/small backpack is essential to carry your personal belongings (e.g. water, camera, sunscreen etc.).
- In order to protect yourself from the sun, bring enough sunscreen (high protection factor), after sun lotion, lip balm, a hat/cap, and sunglasses,
- during the night you might feel more comfortable if you carry a flashlight or a headlamp (a miner’s lamp) with you,
- resealable plastic bags are great to protect your valuables from the sand,
- if you drink and/or smoke, bring alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, lighters, and a pocket ashtray.
- and last, but not least: Don’t forget your camera (with spare batteries and a car charger adapter)!
Literature about the Western Desert of Egypt
We highly recommend Cassandra Vivian’s “The Western Desert of Egypt: An Explorer’s Handbook” if you want to delve deeper into the geological, historical, and cultural background of Egypt’s Western Desert.
If you are historically interested, you might want to read Gerhard Rohlfs’ account of his 1873–1874 expedition, its adventures, and its many trials in “Three Months in the Libyan Desert”.
This useful information and a detailed packing list are also available as a downloadable PDF.