Desert in Egypt (1 of 7)
Egypt is about 94% desert — such a figure conjures up images of vast, barren wastelands where nothing can live. However, there are plenty of desert regions where fragile ecosystems have adapted over millennia to extremely hostile conditions.
To the east of the valley is the Eastern Desert (this is also known as the Arabian Desert), a barren plateau bounded on its eastern edge by a high ridge of mountains that rises to more than 2000m and extends for about 800km. To the west is the Western Desert (also known as the Libyan Desert), which officially comprises two-thirds of the land surface of Egypt. If you ignore the political boundaries on the map, it stretches right across the top of North Africa under its better-known and highly evocative name, the Sahara.
This is the desert of deserts, an unfathomable natural wonder unlike any other. Egypt's Western Desert stretches from the Nile and the Mediterranean to the Sudanese and Libyan borders, rolling far into Africa oblivious to any lines drawn on the map. The Great Sand Sea starts here, a formidable khaki ocean undulating with some of the largest sand dunes on earth. Crescent, seif (sword) and parallel wavy dunes are found here, some of which are on the move while others remain in place. Undulating and beautiful, the dunes are treacherous and have challenged desert travellers for hundreds of years. Aerial surveys and expeditions have helped the charting of this vast expanse, but it remains one of the least-explored areas on earth.