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Monday, February 16, 2015

Wadi El-Hitan. Getting There Is Half the Fun

After last year's unexpected attempt to reach the World Heritage Site at Wadi El-Hitan, I was determined to make a successful journey there this year.  Linda agreed to go along with what was clearly "my idea," as she put it more than once.

We started out this morning at 8:00 sharp.  That turned out to be around 8:35 Egyptian time, which isn't too bad.  We started out from our front door in a Toyota van.  It is about a hundred miles as the crow flies to Wadi El-Hitan except no crow follows this route.  We headed north to catch the southbound highway toward Fayoum.  Here's a map that shows our route.
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It's the last 23 miles across the desert that makes it a four hour drive although the multitude of speed-bumps along the lake-shore drive near Fayoum don't help either.

Our first stop was for fuel, of course.  Vehicles here are seldom filled before beginning a trip. After all, why fill up before you pick up the clients?  Note that the van is well equipped with Kleenex on a piece of shag rug which is another local custom.

Our next stop was a rest stop.  We pulled in at this convenience store which has chips, water, soda and tea.  Linda is being shown to the restroom around back, a tiny square shack with a door off the hinges and a porcelain hole. The courteous driver adjusted the door over the opening after she was inside and then he discreetly disappeared.
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We opted for freshly brewed tea.  A wide variety of  teas and Nescafe is available and you know the glasses are always clean, because they are wet.
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I know there are people interested in construction who read this blog, so here is a shot of the ceiling support beam and electrical work.
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Back on the road, we passed this one or two miles long row of tombs.  Linda says I have taken this picture  before but I can't help using it again.

Shortly after we turned south from Lake Qarun at the Fayoum Oasis, it was time to change vehicles.  We switched from the van into a 4-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser, the vehicle of choice for the desert.
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If something looks not-quite-right about that Land Cruiser, it is because it is stuck in the sand.  No driver of a 4-wheel drive vehicle here can resist taking a shortcut off-road.  We have been to the desert three times in recent years and have had to help extricate the vehicle each time.
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Since I was busy taking pictures, I couldn't push at this point.  I imagine that the passengers on the bus were wondering why we didn't just stay on the paved road.  I was wondering that myself.

But, I have to admit, the Land Cruiser got us to some spectacular views of this area that we were not able to see last year in the low-slung sedan.


They were well-worth the initial inconvenience.

We finally arrived at the entrance to Wadi El-Hitan at about 1:15.  Well under five hours.

(To be continued.)

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