Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Icebergs In The Sand The White Desert Of Egypt (27 Pics)

Hours from Cairo is a collection of formations even more stunning than the pyramids.

The White Desert—or sahara el Beyda—is in the middle of Egypt.

One hundred million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, this was a massive sea. 
When the sea receded, it left the remains of billions of tiny sea creatures, which compressed into chalk.
Over the next 20 million years that chalk has worn away, creating these incredible formations.
They are frequently called mushroom caps, but visitors can find all sorts of shapes and faces in the windswept columns.

White desert

These formations are called ventifacts—they form when there is no vegetation to disrupt the punishing wind and sand.

The White Desert became an Egyptian national park in 2002 to protect the fragile area from too many tourists and off-road vehicles, but the revolution in 2011 changed that. The ticket office burned down and park rangers left after not getting paid.
The nearest town is Farafra, situated on an oasis and inhabited by local Bedouins. 
Roman pottery scattered through the White Desert suggests traders travelled through it on their journey to Farafra and other oasis towns.

From some vantage points the white sand from the eroded chalk looks like windswept snow, with icebergs bobbing on the horizon.
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