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Itinerary Gilf Kebir, Egypt - February 2013 (11 days)
 
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During our trip we shall make a 2600 km loop in the desert from Dakhla to Siwa , visiting the prehistoric rock art sites and vegetated valleys of the Gilf Kebir, and cross the Great Sand Sea. The trip will commence and terminate in Cairo.
 
Day 1. Cairo - Baharya - Farafra - Dakhla (spend the night at Hotel Mebarez)
This will be one of the toughest days, so if anyone feels uncomfortable do not despair, things will be better! It’s a 780 km very dull drive from Cairo to Dakhla, especially the first 340 kms till Baharya. We shall start early, around 6am, to make most of the daylight and try to reach Dakhla by the evening, so we will not have time to stop too many times along the way, the objective is to maximise our time in the deep desert. In order to do so, we'll drive till Dakhla and spend the night in a local hotel, allowing for the fuelling of the cars in the evening.
Day 2. Dakhla - Selima Sand Sheet
Early morning we’ll set out on the road south to Bir Terfawi. It’s a roughly 270 kms drive south on tarmac till our turn-off point, about 5 hours as we need to go slow due to the very heavy cars (the tires take the weight much worse on tarmac than on sand, and we want to avoid getting some burst right at the start). If no delays at fuelling or checkpoints, we’ll turn west accross the Selima Sand Sheet, camping at the dune belt at 27* 30' east (or possibly the eastern foot-hills of the Gilf).
Day 3. Ard al Akhdar
We'll continue accross the dunes, and enter into Ard al Akhdar, one of the main valleys of the southern Gilf Kebir. We'll make camp and spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful valley, and the eroded playa remnants with a multitude of prehistoric habitation sites. We will make a short trek to a recently found rock art locality with engravings of wild fauna at the end of a short tributary.
Day 4. Ard al Akhdar - "Rupert’s cave" - Wadi Sora
Leaving Ard al Akhdar via Wadi Wassa, we'll climb a col and cross over to Wadi Firaq, from where we will visit the only rock art site of the southern Gilf Kebir, "Rupert’s Cave". We'll continue in Wadi Firaq to the far side of the Gilf Kebir, and continue to our camp at Wadi Sora (we will be able to see the "cave of swimmers" in the evening in darkness, an unforgettable experience).
Day 5. Wadi Sora area
We will spend the entire day visiting the rock art sites of the Wadi Sora vicinity. In the morning we will visit the magnificent "Cave of the Beasts" that ranks among the most important Saharan rock art discoveries for several decades, then return towards camp seeing a number of other sites along the way. In the late afternoon we will have the opportunity to re-visit the "cave of swimmers" to photoghraph it in daylight.
Day 6. Wadi Sora - Aqaba pass - Wadi Abd el Melik
We will backtrack 50 kilometres east to ascend the Aqaba pass, then continue up another pass to the top of the Gilf Kebir plateau. We will drive on the featureless plateau until descending down the Lama pass into Wadi Abd el Melik, the largest valley with vegetation of the Gilf Kebir (identified with the mythical "Zerzura Oasis" by Almásy. We will make camp in the vegetated zone near a rock art site (within walking distance).
Day 7. Wadi Abd el Melik
In the morning we will start driving northwards in the valley, visiting a number of recent rock art finds not generally known. We will camp in a tributary in the middle section of the valley.
Day 8. Wadi Abd el Melik
We will continue north along the now broad valley, briefly passing the western edge of the Gilf before entering a large transverse valley, Wadi Gubba, leading us north east to the Libyan Desert Glass area at the edge of the Great Sand Sea. If we make good progress, we should be there by mid afternoon, allowing a couple of hours before sunset for prospecting or just quiet relaxation among the huge dunes.
Day 9. LDG Area, Big Cairn
In the morning we will continue north along the western edge of the Great Sand Sea to Big Cairn, and across the flat tongue of serir to the north. We will camp well inside the GSS among the big dunes.
Day 10. Crossing the Great Sand Sea at it’s narrowest part to Siwa
The crossing itself should take little over a half day, so it will be quite leisurely. Will probably have time to see some sights of Siwa in the late afternoon, spending the night at a local hotel.
Day 11. Siwa - Cairo
All day drive to Cairo via Mersa Matruh and el Alamein.
 
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