Studytrip to Dakhla 26 february - 2 March
At the end of February we left again for our annual study trip with the students outside of Cairo. This year we decide to go to the oases in the Western Desert: Farafra, Dakhla and Bahariyya (in this order).
We left early Sunday morning and drove all the way to Farafra the first day (approximately 550 kilometer). After checking into the hotel, we left with the bus to Bir Sitta, a hot water spring, to enjoy the sunset from a hot tub. De dinner afterwards was ever more rewarding!
The next morning we visited the museum of the local artist Badr. He built his house and museum in local materials (meaning palm trees and mud brick). He is making mostly wooden statues, sand sculptures and paintings.
Afterwards we left to Dakhla, where we spent 3 nights. After arriving in Dakhla we climbed the hill where the old town of Mut lies. Now there’s only a handful of people living in the old town, most people have abandoned the town and live now in concrete houses surrounding it. The view from the top of the hill over the otherwise flat oasis is breathtaking! Peter Verkinderen, the director of the Arabic program, was supposed to arrive that day, but only arrived the next morning due to a strike in the bus company.
The next day we visited Ismant al-Kharab where the “Dakhla Oasis Project” is excavating. Tony Mills gave us an introduction and a tour around the very interesting Roman site. Afterwards we left for the NGO weaving factory in the little village of Bashindi, around 30 kilometer form Mut.
The next morning after breakfast Omar Ahmed from the tourist office gave us an introduction to the life and habits in the oases. Afterwards we visited the town al-Qasr together with Fred Leemhuis. ‘Qasr’ means fortress in Arabic and on its site there used to be a Roman fortress indeed. The ruins of this fortress still lie buried under the town. Just like in Mut, people have moved out of the old town and have chosen to live around the city in ‘pretty and modern’ concrete buildings. Afterwards we also visited the ethnographic museum in Mut where the museum’s guide Ibrahim Kamel very entertainingly explained the use of all the different tools and objects in the museum. To end the day, we all went swimming in the ‘Magic Spring’ – another hot water spring.
The last day in Dakhla we got an introduction to the different dialects in the oases by Manfred Woidich. Afterwards we left for Bahariyya – our last stop before returning to Cairo. In Bahariyya we took a very hot – almost steaming – bath in another hot spring (this time over 45 degrees Celsius), the perfect ending of an interesting and pleasant study trip!