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.

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