Oct 26th 2012  

 Travel diaries

Egypt Camp 2012

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series FWC Sahara Camp 2012

Prior to the excavated goat we indulged in a spot of champagne and caviar in fulfilment of a birhday promise. Magical! To contribute to the food overload there were two beef fillets (known locally as crocodiles) plus delicious rice and a smidgen of salad (didn’t want to overdo things). Slept outside the tent and woke up at 3am to stare at the stars. They are so bright and the constellations so distinct that I can now understand how you could navigate by the stars. Woke again at sunrise, breaking camp after training and breakfast. Now we are driving across a plain with rocky outcrops on my left and low sanddunes on my right. They are too dangerous to drive over, looking all innocent, because they are scooped out on one side and when the car goes over it drops straight onto its bumper – nasty. We are hunting the big beasties, coaxing fun out of them and then leaving them to be reshaped by the wind. Shovels and maxtracks ready on the roofracks.

Egypt Camp 2012

They were clean this morming

Found the big beasties but I think they saw us coming. Right, well… So far this morning Sand Dunes 3 FWC 0. Team Sergo gets the prizes for Most Spectacular Dune Crossing and Highest Decibel Scream in Car. Both prizes achieved simultaneously. “Agh, just a normal rally crossing..” he says phlegmatically. But next time he says “hold on” it won’t be treated as a polite suggestion. I got the ascent on camera but was too busy watching my life flash before my eye and dropped the camera as we went over the top. Fouli gets the Heaviest Passengers Prize on the basis of number of times needing a push and/or maxtracks. Alain has been disqualified for using the aircon in his car. Sorry guys, I just write the rules… As the heat is building up the sand softens and becomes more tricky. Alain and Sergo are seasoned desert rally drivers having competed in the Pharaons many many times. Fouli has spent his life driving through the desert. All three drivers read the sand, masters at picking out routes through this ever-changing terrain. Video and photos don’t do this experience any justice at all.

On our way back to Baharaya Oasis we cross the wierdest place on earth. This is truly the White Desert. Pillars of chalk rise out of the sand like primordial lifeforms leaving the sea to evolve into land animals. Lunch is in the shadow of one such Darwinian rock whilst we bemoan the heat and admire the fortitude of the tourists who hike with camels. Even the wind is hot. Apparently it is normally even hotter. We keep cool using a pressurised plant sprayer -maximum cooling, mnimum water.  Time to get back onroad having tested the new suspension to the max. Stop off to increase tyre pressure, do some camel watching then hit the asphalt. Past the zenith of heat and whizzing through a moonscape.  Gigantic pillars and cliffs rise up next to the road – today feels like a very long geography lesson – erosion, attrition, clints and grikes, scree, we’ve seen the lot.

Egypt Camp 2012

As the moon comes up the training continues

After the voluptuous purity of the White Desert, the Black Desert has an industrial wasteland quality. The sand and mountains are littered with iron ore and the overall effect is sooty. As the sun goes down the iron ore aeems to pick up the redness, edges soften and the Black Desert’s craggy beauty reasserts itself. Tricks of the light? Well that’s it for the poetic descriptions – as everyone piles gratefully out of the dusty Landcruisers into hot showers. Oooh – electricity – quick, charge everything up for the journey tomorrow. Wonder what’s for dinner.