One of the must-see sights in the western oases is the extraordinary medieval/Ottoman town of Al Qasr, which lies on the edge of lush vegetation at the foot of pink limestone cliffs marking the northern edge of the oasis. Portions of the old village have been thoughtfully restored to provide a glimpse of how other oasis towns looked before the New Valley development projects had their way with them; the effect is pure magic. Several hundred people still live in the town that not so long ago was home to several thousand.
Al Qasr is also a prime spot to romp around in the desert without a guide. Just north of town the plateau is textured with shallow, sandy wadis (valleys or dry riverbeds) that weave around rocky benches and weirdly hewn hills. The ground is littered with fossils, including sharks’ teeth.