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Travel Warning WARNING: Several western governments have issued travel warnings to many areas in Egypt. The UK Foreign Office recommends against non-essential travel to most of the Western Desert region, and the US state department recommends against all travel.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated Mar 2020)
Not to be confused with Dakhla in Western Sahara.

Dakhla (Arabic الداخلة) is an oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt, 740 km from Cairo. It extends some 80 km from east to west and 25 km from north to south.

Towns and villages[edit]

Map of Dakhla Oasis
  • 1 Mut (or Mout, Madinat el-Dakhla) – The main town in the oasis, at the junction of roads (and historic trade routes) from Kharga, Farafra and south all the way through Sudan.
  • 2 Balat – Less built up and has retained its traditional village centre.
  • 3 Budkholo – A village 21 km north of Mut with many 18th century buildings. Note the old mosque and Ottoman-era graveyard.
  • 4 El Ma'sara – A village with an interesting old centre; more accessible from Mut than similar such villages. Five km further on is the Roman graveyard of Beit el Ara'is, which you can't enter, but can view from besides the watchman's hut.
  • 5 El Qalamun – 4 km from Ed Duhus, an interesting old village but sadly tumbledown. The old mosque is 12th C.
  • 6 Ismant – 11 km east of Mut is mostly modern, and the old village is a sorry ruin.
  • 7 Qasr el-Dakhla (or el-Qasr) – Another attractive traditional village with well-preserved old buildings.
  • 8 Tineida – 43 km from Mut, a large village with a ramshackle old quarter, still inhabited. There is a small museum, and southside an old graveyard.

Understand[edit]

A lane in El Ma'sara

Like the other western oases, the climate is hot desert, 40°C and above summer and 5–10°C in winter. There is zero rainfall and all the oasis supply is "fossil water" extracted from the aquifer, a non-renewable resource.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Upper Egypt Bus Co. runs daily buses from Asyut, which is on the Cairo-Luxor main road and railway line. These leave around 8AM and take 3-4 hr to Kharga Oasis, then the same again to reach Dakhla towards 4PM.

They also in the past ran direct buses from Cairo Turgman Terminal, via Bahariyya and Farafra oases, but it is not known if these still run in April 2020.

By taxi[edit]

Getting here direct from Cairo, Luxor or northern oases, you will probably need a taxi. The price might be reasonable between two or more visitors.

By plane[edit]

Dakhla has an airport but no longer has scheduled civilian flights.

Get around[edit]

There are 4 or 5 buses per day from Mut to Balat at the east edge of the oasis, and to Qasr at the north edge.

The bus stand is just north of the main road junction in Mut.

See[edit]

In the tomb of Petosiris
  • Popular Heritage Museum, Mut. This follows the ground plan of a traditional Islamic house with women's quarters and public men's rooms. It displays pots, rugs, dresses, baskets and jewelry used in Islamic times and pictures of everyday life. Hours erratic.
  • 1 Deir Abu Matta (19 km north of Mut). The remains of a monastery basilica. Deir Abu Matta (Q14207544) on Wikidata
  • 2 Qasr el Dakhla Old Town. An extensive old town, where an Islamic fortress has been built over a Roman fortress (open daily 8AM-5PM, adult LE40). The minaret of the Nasr ed-Din Mosque is 12th C, though the rest of the building is 19th. Continue through the higgledy-piggledy streets to the Council Chamber, with an impressive entrance. The Madrasa may at one time have been part of a palace. There is a small ethnographic museum in an Ottoman house (LE5) and another old mosque in the Shihabiya district of town. At the edge of town is a cemetery with several notable tombs.
  • 3 Qarat el Muzawaqa (43 km from Mut). Daily 8AM-5PM. Graeco-Roman graveyard with hundreds of tombs tunnelled into the cliffs. The most notable are those of Petubastis (1st C AD) and Petosiris (2nd C). Both are richly decorated with scenes of funerary gods and rituals, zodiacs, and the deceased being judged on his life. Adult LE40, combi day-ticket LE120. Qarat el-Muzawwaqa (Q14218523) on Wikidata
  • 4 Deir el Hagar (43 km from Mut). A sandstone Roman temple to the Theban gods Amun-Re, Mut and Chons. It's elaborately carved with ritual scenes, especially within the sanctuary. Deir el-Hagar (Q14207694) on Wikidata
  • 5 Amheida (22 km from Ed Duhus). A large former Roman settlement. The main buildings are the Temple of Thoth, and the house of Serenus, which is being reconstructed. In 2019 Amheida was under archaeological work with restricted visitor access. Nearby is the tomb of Sheikh ed Dahawi. Amheida (Q14202004) on Wikidata
  • 8.5 km from Mut along the highway to Farfara is the cemetery of El Uweina and El Hinda villages.
  • 6 Deir el Malak (8 km east of Mut and just west of El Ma'sara). The ruin of a church/monastery from the 16th / 17th C. Deir el-Malak (Q14207588) on Wikidata
  • .
  • 7 Ayn el Gadida and the tomb of Sheikh Abuda ('Ain el-Gedida) (nearby Ismant). An archaeological and a tomb. 'Ain el-Gedida (Q88802946) on Wikidata
  • 8 Ismant el Kharab (Kellis) (14 km from Mut). It was known in antiquity as Kellis. It is centred on the Temple of Tutu and associated graves and shrines. In 2019 this was an active archaeology site with restricted visitor access, and the temple remains have been re-buried to conserve them. The early Christian site of Ayn Sabil is 2 km west. Kellis (Q3814386) on Wikidata Kellis on Wikipedia
  • 9 Balat Old Town, Balat. Still inhabited, but it's tumbledown and people prefer to live in the modern quarter. Stroll the old alleys to the graveyard, with the tomb of Sheikh Hamuda Saʿad Allah Hamdan.
  • 10 Ain Asil (35 km from Mut). It has several notable tombs. One group is at Qila ed Ḍabba, with Mastaba tombs, the best being that of Shentiqa (6th Dynasty circa 2200 BC). A little south is the grave of Betjou and Ideki (from 10th Dynasty circa 2100 BC), which has been relocated as it was being damaged by groundwater. The tombs were extensive and stacked with funerary goods. Although there are images of deities, many show domestic life, with the family round the table and the dog lolling beneath. Ain Asil (Q14299218) on Wikidata
  • 11 El Bashandi (43 km from Mut). Daily 8AM-5PM. By the village is the extensive Roman tomb of Kitines, circa 1st C AD. It's flanked by the tomb of Sheikh Bashandi. Adult LE40, combi day-ticket LE120. El-Bashandi (Q14203699) on Wikidata
Camel Rock near Tineida
  • 12 Halfat el Biʾr (40 km from Mut). A series of rock carvings from 6th Dynasty and earlier. You need an off-road vehicle to get here. Halfat al-Bir (Q14224010) on Wikidata
  • 13 Temple of Amun at Ain Birbiya (northwest of Tineida on the highway to Balat). It has been re-buried to conserve it, so there's nothing to see. Ain Birbiya (Q14223965) on Wikidata
  • 14 Camel Rock (7 km south of Tineida). The large "camel rock": alas many ancient inscriptions have been lost under modern graffiti, and modern power cables spoil your photo.

Do[edit]

Magic Spring
  • 1 Magic Spring (2.5 km from Ed Duhus). A natural hot spring that you can bathe in. Magic Spring (Q14214714) on Wikidata
  • 2 Gilf Kebir National Park (along highway southeast towards Mut in Dakhla Oasis). The area southwest is a vast desert terrain, occupying the corner of Egypt between Libya and Sudan. Going there is a full-on expedition, taking 2-3 weeks, and only by military permission. For more details see Dakhla Oasis, the usual entry point. There are fantastical rock formations, great sand dunes, war remnants, and a litter of ancient pitchers used to water donkeys. Cave decorations depict animals, plants and human activities from the last wet period 10,000 years ago. Or was it? - Gerhard Rohlfs' expedition of 1874 got caught out here in a downpour that lasted almost 48 hours. Gilf Kebir National Park (Q14300376) on Wikidata Gilf Kebir National Park on Wikipedia
  • Dakhla Oasis Project has since 1978 directed archaeological research in this region. Their base is 3 km east of Mut.
  • Dig deeper into Egyptian history. The German description of Dakhla (on sidebar left) runs to 24 pages of documentation, and that on Gilf Kebir (below) to 18.
  • The historic route between Dakhla and Farafra, used since Roman times, continues north for 200 km; but the modern road swings west and is 300 km. That's to avoid the mountains, shifting sands and the difficult 3 Pass of Naqb el Qasr, littered with huge limestone blocks. The crest is only 200 m, but the terrain will defeat all but a rufty-tufty experienced off-road driver. Or take an 11 km hike from the nearest roadhead to enter through Bab el Cailliaud, named for Frédéric Cailliaud (1787-1869) of Nantes, whose work in these regions helped decipher ancient hieroglyphics.

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

  • Abu Mohamed Restaurant, Third Street. expensive
  • Anwar Restaurant, Desert Paradise (in the town center), +20 92 2820070.
  • Arabi Restaurant, 3rd Street.
  • Ahmed Hamdi Restaurant, Third Street, +20 92 2820767.
  • Also in Mut are Dawia, Shahab, and Abu Zeid Qalamuni cafe.

Drink[edit]

Mint tea is always a good choice hereabouts.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Al-Dohous Bedouin Camp, Sheikh Abd-al Hamid, +20 92 2850480, +20 92 2850605. 20 chalets or tents, hot and cold water, inexpensive, view on the desert, camel safaris and 4x4 drives can be arranged
  • El Forsan, Ehab Zacharia (in the town center), +20 92 2821343. 9 rooms, hot and cold water, associated to Anwar Restaurant
  • Gardens Hotel (Al-Ganain Hotel), +20 92 2821577. hot and cold water. LE15 single without bathroom, LE20 with bathroom.
  • Nasser Camp and Hotel, Sheikh Wali (outside of Mut). 7 rooms, bath separate, sand dunes, hot and cold springs, English and German spoken, offers safaris, contact through restaurants only

Mid-range[edit]

  • El Kasr Inn (across the road from Qasr Dakhla village), +20 92 2913505, +20 92 2913506 (fax). Booking via Pan Arab in Cairo, 5 rooms with bath, hot and cold water, 10 tents for campers, showers, toilets, jacuzzi, restaurant.
  • Mebarez Tourist Hotel, Third Street, +20 92 2821524. Rooms with hot and cold water, showers, TV, air conditionning. Cafeteria and dining room.
  • Also in Mut are Anwar Hotel and El Negoom Tourist Hotel.
  • In Bier El Gabal is Hathor-Chalet.

Splurge[edit]

  • Sol Y Mar Mut Inn (Mut 3 Chalet) (3 km north of Mut), +20 92 2392016. Former Hot Springs Resthouse, completely renovated, Roadside Resthouse with 4 bedrooms, 3 private baths and a living room, Pooslide Resthouse with 6 chalets with 2 beds and a bathroom. operated by Solymar Resorts and Hotels, 157, 26th July Street, Zamalek, Cairo.
  • 1 Al Tarfa Desert Lodge, Ain el Dome, El Mansura, Budkhulu, +20 92 910 5007, +20 92 910 5008, +20 92 910 5009, +20 92 910 5006 (fax), . Opened in 2008 using traditional adobe architecture, this relaxing resort has 20 rooms, restaurant, bar, fitness centre, sauna and pool.
  • Qaṣr ed-Dāchla has the Badawiya Dakhla Hotel and Desert Lodge Hotel.

Cope[edit]

  • Tourist Information – New Mosque Square, tel: 820407, fax: 820782, and on the main road to Qasr, tel: 821686, fax: 820782, open daily 8AM-2PM.
  • Mut Hospital – Beside the petrol station on the main road.
  • Bank Misr – Tahir Square, open Su-Th 8:30AM-2PM, money change only Sa-Th 7PM-9PM.
  • Gasoline stations – At each entrance of Mut, and several tire repair shops on the main road.

Stay healthy[edit]

Do not swim or fish in the lake north of Mut, it is heavily polluted.

Go next[edit]

  • The usual route is back to Asyut, then either north to Cairo or upriver to Luxor and Aswan.
  • You can hopscotch north through the oases of Farafra, Bahiriya, then west to Siwa and reach the Med coast at Marsa Matrun.


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