Western Desert in detail


Dangers & Annoyances

At the time of writing the situation of traveling to the oases was fairly confused, not least in the variety of travel advisories from foreign governments. We recommend that you read the advice of your government before deciding to travel in this region. If you still want to travel, certain areas should still be avoided, including all deep desert areas, such as the Gilf Kebir.

Because of instability in neighboring Libya, there is said to be a considerable number of smugglers crossing the desert to the Nile Valley with weapons, drugs and other goods. The Egyptian army has neither the means nor the ability to control movement in the vast desert area, something that became clear in 2015 when the army killed 12 people, mostly Mexican tourists, who had driven off the road for a rest stop. Some near-desert areas are also off limits: the tourist police currently do not allow travel agencies to use the Cairo–Bahariya desert road. This leaves the arc from Luxor to Cairo through the oases. At the time of our research, there was no problem using this route, although individuals tend to be stopped at all checkpoints and may have to travel between the oases with a police escort. Some travel agencies in Bahariya and Siwa will arrange tours into the nearby desert without problems, including overnights in the White Desert. If you are booking through an agency, make sure it has permission in advance from the authorities and that all passengers’ details have been logged.

As long as the security situation in Libya remains unstable, it is unlikely there will be changes to the state of affairs in the oases. You travel here at your own risk and are advised, before traveling, to check the latest situation with a reputable, specialist agency.