Egypt Scouting 2018


by JoMarie Fecci

CAIRO, EGYPT — It was raining hard at Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris as we boarded the Air Egypt flight to Cairo but I was excited to be heading south to warmer climates and unknown adventures. Boarding completed quickly and the plane began taxiing towards takeoff with the prayer for travelers playing over the inflight entertainment system … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

CAIRO, EGYPT — The flight delay due to severe dust storms meant we arrived into the city quite late at night. A thin layer of fine sand covered everything, including parked cars along the streets, and it seemed odd because the city appears so detached from the desert on its outskirts. It was as if the desert sand storm was its attempt to reclaim terrain from the urban civilization that had grown up into a sprawling metropolis … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

CAIRO, EGYPT — The dust had cleared somewhat by morning and I got my introduction to Cairo traffic, which really IS worse than New York city’s chaos. There is a level of aggression in the driving here mixed in with a sort of lawlessness that means anything can come at you from any direction (and at any time) and roads don’t really have defined “lanes” even if there are lines painted on the tarmac. Still, the local drivers know how to navigate it and hesitant foreigners are the bigger road hazard… [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

CAIRO, EGYPT — An evening walk through the souk in the center of “Old Cairo” was a pleasant way to get a quick sense of the city’s soul. While tourists are welcome and encouraged, this is truly an Egyptian market with plenty of locals shopping for various commodities or just hanging out with friends. Though bustling and vibrant, there is an easy, fun, and light-hearted ambiance, with commerce mixed in. A stop for coffee and a friendly chat is a quick way to feel something of the softer side of daily life in what can be a hard-edged town … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

SAQARRA, EGYPT — Driving south from Cairo towards Memphis, the first capital of Egypt, we followed the line of an irrigation canal that in some places was dammed up by garbage while in other spots people in small boats were engaged in something I hoped was not fishing. A few dead animals could also be seen half submerged in the murky water. We were clearly not in Cairo anymore, but it was hard to tell when we actually “left” the limits of the city … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

GIZA, EGYPT — Impossible to come to Egypt and not make a stop to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. I had actually considered trying to avoid an actual visit here, with the thought that I could maybe just gaze briefly at the pyramids from a distance, but in the end I gave in to the pull of history and the magical attraction of these ancient monuments … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

GIZA, EGYPT — By chance I stumbled upon a wedding procession in the hotel lobby with traditional music playing as the bride and groom made their way surrounded be a coterie of photographers, musicians and well-wishers. It was quite a sight and the sound of traditional drums and flute created an ambiance that spilled over onto passersby, and we all clapped in rhythm to the music … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

BAHARIYA OASIS, EGYPT — This morning I was bundled off into a beatup old Toyota by a very kind bedouin driver to make the highway transit from Giza to the Western Desert. He didn’t speak much English, but offered me a falafel and a coke as we barrelled down the tar road and away from the urban traffic towards the open desert… [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

WESTERN DESERT, EGYPT — The Black Desert had a familiar look to me. It reminded me of some of the landscapes we drove through in the Algerian Sahara. What looks like black volcanic rock piled up or crumbling down creates a surreal landscape and erosion does its work turning the black rocks into fine black sand, covering and blending with the more familiar golden shades … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

WESTERN DESERT, EGYPT — Even though I had read that “Crystal Mountain” wasn’t a mountain, on first glance I was a bit disappointed that it was not more dramatic. Somehow I still expected a sparkling glass-like entity rising up from the desert sands. Instead it seemed to be more of an ordinary looking ridge formation, not terribly distinguishable from the rest of the desert. Then as I took a walk, I began to see and understand the hidden magic … [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

WESTERN DESERT, EGYPT — A flat section of soft fine sand gave us a chance to speed up and experience that unique freedom of desert surfing, and a hill climb revealed a new surprise. Rock fins and spires populated a valley alive with the saturated colors of late afternoon light. We just stopped at the top and looked out over it for a little bit. Smiling I just walked around trying to take it all in. My eyes were full and my heart was light and I couldn’t help smiling at the beauty of the desert in all its magnificence. Torn between rushing down into it and just appreciating it from the high point for a while I decided to make my way down on foot and just wander around a bit before continuing on… [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

WESTERN DESERT, EGYPT — The fennec, a desert fox specific to the Sahara, first showed up in the late afternoon while it was still light. This in itself was strange, as it is typically a nocturnal animal that shies away from people. And she was shy. Even my early attempts at photographing her made her run off back into the rocky hills beyond our campsite… [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

WESTERN DESERT, EGYPT — It looked like snow in the Sahara. Ice bergs melting in the desert. The White Desert is truly an other-worldly place, with a visual profile alternating between the artic poles and another planet. White rock formations rise up from the sand like surreal spires in a dada-esque church and hills of white sandstone seem snow covered from a distance… [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

BAHARIYA OASIS, EGYPT — Leaving the surreal world of the White Desert, we returned to the tar road back through the more earthly tones of sand that gave no hint of the mysterious landscapes hidden just beyond the lonely highway. Abdou raised the volume so the music drowned out the sound of the highway and gave us some time to mentally adjust to the return to civilization. When we reached the edge of Bawiti, the main oasis town, it seemed hectic and crowded compared to the freedom of the open desert… [read more]


by JoMarie Fecci

CAIRO, EGYPT — As if the transition from the desert to the oasis towns had not been jarring enough, the approach to Cairo announced itself with traffic that began to bunch up before becoming full-blown jammed. Just after the main checkpoint en route to the urban population centers a truck had spilled a load of potatoes and the driver was attempting to recuperate some of them. Other cars were stopped and people were picking up potatoes, whether to help the driver or to help themselves to free produce we couldn’t tell. Still other trucks kept on driving right over the potatoes creating a kind of mashed potato coating on top of the asphalt that seemed like it could be dangerously slippery — so everyone was going very slowly… [read more]


JoMarie Fecci, of USnomads, sets off on an independent scouting trip across Egypt and Sudan in preparation for an up-coming Sahara expedition. Driving locally-sourced Toyotas and working with small local teams in each region, she will traverse a winding route that jumps off from key points along the Nile as far south as Khartoum, where the Blue and White Niles meet. During the journey she will visit a series of UNESCO world heritage sites focused on the ancient civilizations that occupied the region and meet with local communities. The primary goal of this mission is to assess terrain, security, driving conditions, logistical concerns and approximate timeframes for future travel.


The Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. With the Mediterranean sea on its northern border, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, and the Red Sea to the east and south, it occupies a geo-strategic location connecting Europe, Asia and Africa. It has land borders with Gaza and Israel to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Islam is the official religion and Arabic the official language. Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, with over 95 million inhabitants. Most of the population lives near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of the country’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. Considered a cradle of civilization, Egypt emerged as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC and iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy.


Enroute to Cairo
Cairo: A Quiet Night
Cairo: Ancient and Modern
Cairo: Khan el-Khalili
Memphis and Saqarra
Giza: The Great Pyramids
A Local Wedding
Into the Western Desert
The Black Desert
Crystal Mountain
The Argabat Valley
A Desert Fox
The White Desert
Back to the Oasis
Return to Cairo
NEXT: Sudan Scouting

Copyright @ 2013 Team USnomads