Jeep-safaris to the Gilf are a major logistical effort involving multiple 4WD vehicles equipped with GPS and satellite phones, authorized by a permit and accompanied by an armed escort of Tourist Safari Police – all of which add to the basic cost of fuel, drivers, food and water. Reckon on paying €120–150 per person per day, once everything has been factored in.

Aside from the cost there’s the bureaucracy: you must book at least a month if not six months’ ahead of the only times when the temperature is tolerable (Feb–March & Sept–Nov). Even so, discomfort is inevitable: sand gets into every crevice of your body, there’s no water to spare for washing and you start to stink – like everybody else. Unless you’re willing to rough it and muck in when needed, there’s no point in coming at all. But if you do, you’re sure to remember it for the rest of your life.

Since the kidnapping of a safari group at Uwaynat in 2008 (a wake-up call for the Egyptian authorities who had previously turned a blind eye to people being trafficked into Libya and failed to anticipate that banditry in Darfur might spill over the border), security is now a consideration for anyone travelling this way. Check your own government’s travel advice (Germany warns its citizens not to expect to be rescued at the state’s expense), and that your insurance covers deep-desert journeys and what (if any) back-up exists in case of emergencies.

Though the safari operator will supply meals, tents and bedding, you need to bring personal essentials such as sun block and skin cream and any luxuries like alcohol or cigarettes (the nearest supply is in Kharga or Dakhla oases). Binoculars are a must, too.

Most safari outfits will take people in their own 4WDs providing they’re able to handle the driving, which requires experience, skill and nerve. If you have doubts on any of these scores then you should come as a passenger and let the safari team handle all the work.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Egypt features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
12 captivating pictures of Egypt

12 captivating pictures of Egypt

Rough Guides author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from Morocco to Indonesia and Ethiopia to India, capturing many of h…

16 Mar 2015 • Anthon Jackson insert_drive_file Article
Video: things not to miss in Egypt

Video: things not to miss in Egypt

The oldest tourist destination on Earth, Egypt has a multitude of things to see and do. There are ancient pyramids, crumbling temples and vast deserts to explor…

13 Jan 2015 • Site Editor videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month