Western Desert Oases Travel Guide
Health and Safety
Avoid dealing with the local police. Should a problem warrant police attention, demand to speak to the specially uniformed Tourist and Antiquities Police. They are so numerous—and the oases villages so small—that you will not have to search for them; indeed, if there's a problem, they'll find you. Their English is not always good, so they may have to take you to a senior officer who speaks more English.
Medical facilities are rudimentary throughout the oases area, and there are only a few independent doctors and dentists. Every large village in the desert has a clinic with qualified staff, though services are not comprehensive. The nationwide emergency numbers aren't available throughout the oases, but anyone can direct you to these facilities. First-aid stations with ambulances have been put up at regular intervals along the main roads connecting the oases.
There is at least one pharmacy in each village and more in the major towns. Pharmacies open generally from 9 am to 1 pm and from 6 pm to 11 pm. Look for a sign of a chalice with a snake wrapped around it, which indicates a pharmacy.
Internet access is still rare in the oases, even in hotels. You may find a couple of small Internet cafés in each town, but most are one-machine affairs in the backs of coffee shops. Many connections are still dial-up, so systems are slow and unreliable. Prices are around £E10 to £E15 for one hour.
Abu Mohamed Restaurant. Shar‘a al-Thauwra al-Khadra, Mut, Dakhla. 092/782–1431.
Al Mannara Internet Café. Shar‘a al-Nebawy, Al-Kharga, Kharga. 092/792–2760.
Palm Trees Hotel. Off the main square on the road to Jebal al-Dakrour, Siwa. 046/460–2304.
Cash is king in the oases. There is at least one bank with an ATM in every oasis except Farafra, though the ATMs may refuse foreign cards or simply be out of order. Exchange services are nonexistent outside hotels, which may be willing to change your money or accept foreign currency in payment. The best advice is to change money in Cairo and bring plenty of Egyptian pounds with you.
Banque du Caire. On the road into town from Marsa Matruh, near the tourist office, Siwa.
Banque Misr. Shar‘a Wadi al-Nil, near Maydan Tahrir, Mut, Dakhla.
National Bank for Development. Just off the main road, near the tourist office, Bawiti, Bahariya.
National Bank for Development. Shar‘a Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir, opposite the New Valley Museum, Al-Kharga, Kharga.
Apart from tiny Farafra, all oases have tourist information offices. All are usually open Saturday through Thursday from 8 to 2, often with additional evening hours; sometimes they're open Friday. They can help with hotels, tours, transportation, emergencies, and most anything else. You may need to ask around to find someone who speaks English.
Bahariya Tourist Information Office. On the main street, in the garden of the municipal building, Bawiti, Bahariya. 02/3847-3039.
Dakhla Tourist Information Office. Shar‘a al-Thauwra al-Khadra, Mut, Dakhla. 092/782–1686.
Kharga Tourist Information Office. Shar‘a Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir, near Maydan Nasir, Al-Kharga, Kharga. 092/792-1206.
Siwa Tourist Information Office. On the main road, near the police station, Siwa. 046/460–2338.