Dakhla Oasis: Undiscovered Egypt, part 1 (photo essay)

April 3, 2012

Egypt

Al Qasr school courtroom

Happy Travel Tuesday! Today we start a series called “Undiscovered Egypt,” introducing you to some off-the-beaten-path spots in the country. This week, we are kicking off with Dakhla oasis (al-Dākhla / الداخلة), one of my favorite places in all Egypt.

Dakhla, Egypt map

(Wiki Commons)

Location and background

Dakhla is one of seven Egyptian oases located in the Libyan Desert. It has a total area of 2,000 km2 (800 sq mi) and population of 75, 000 as of 2002 (Wikipedia). What’s more interesting about Dakhla oasis, though, is how one of its towns, fortified Al Qasr, is believed to have been built over remains of a Roman-era settlement (Ayyubid kings of Egypt) back in the 12th century (Qasr Dakhla, Egyptian Monuments).

Dakhla oasis panorama

Photo: Vyacheslav Argenberg, Flickr

My amazing visit to Dakhla oasis

I had the privilege to visit Dakhla oasis with a group of experienced Egyptologists from the Amercian University in Cairo while studying abroad in Egypt (2008-2009). The oasis fascinated me because it offered way more than the date palm trees and sand dunes that I imagined.

Dakhla oasis Al Qasr

Al Qasr, Dakhla oasis (Photo: Margaux de Borchgrave)

Dakhla oasis hills

Desert hills surrounding Dakhla oasis (Photo: Margaux de Borchgrave)

Dakhla Egypt vicinity

Egyptian temple ruins in Dakhla oasis vicinity (Margaux de Borchgrave)

The fortified town of Al-Qasr is truly a gem. Our group, being the only tourists there at the time, had the whole place for ourselves, minus a few locals walking by (amazed) every so often. It was wonderful to wander the narrow, dirt alleyways with a local guide, telling us all about the history behind the walls towering above us. Looking over at the Arabic calligraphy on wood over most doorways was particularly interesting.

Al Qasr school courtroom

Al Qasr School/Courtroom (Photo: Lee Horrocks, Flickr)

Dakhla Arabic calligraphy

Arabic calligraphy on wooden boards, decorating doorways across Al Qasr (Margaux de Borchgrave)

Wandering around the towns and neighborhoods around Dakhla oasis offers contrasting views.

Dakhla, Egypt

Fellow student Marine and I looked at the small wildlife

Dakhla, Egypt

(Photo: Margaux de Borchgrave)

Dakhla, Egypt town

Photo: Margaux de Borchgrave

My favorite hotel in the world

I will never forget Dakhla oasis, especially our hotel there! The Desert Lodge served organic, delicious food and was built in an environmentally-friendly way. The domed rooms feel like mini villas themselves, naturally cool thanks to its design–no need for A/C here, even in the middle of the desert! The view from the backyard was to die for, plus there was a hot spring within short walking distance of the resort. I would say that the layout of the hotel is an attraction in itself. I ventured around the grounds for about an hour after breakfast every morning I was there in order to take in the architecture (and take lots of pictures!):

Desert Lodge, Dakhla Egypt panorama

Desert Lodge hotel panorama (Photo: Paul Robinson,Flickr)

Dakhla, Egypt towers

These towers could be seen from Desert Lodge Hotel's backyard - beautiful!

Desert Lodge, Dakhla Egypt hotel

My room!

Desert Lodge Dakhla oven

Outdoor oven?

Desert Lodge hotel, Dakhla view

The BEST view in town!

Bottomline

Dakhla oasis is one of those unexpected places that touch you deeply and you just can’t wait to go back to. I strongly advise you to go during your time in Egypt!

Dakhla oasis shop

Dakhla shop (Photo: Margaux de Borchgrave)

How to get there

From Cairo, simply head to the main bus station and buy a ticket straight to the main square in Mut, a village in Dakhla oasis (approx. travel time of 8-10 hours).

Dakhla, Egypt view

I <3 Dakhla!

Have you been to Dakhla oasis? Or is it on your travel bucket list? Tell us on a comment below!

 

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