Mountains ( Jebal )
Bahariya Oasis is a great place for short mountain hikes. Excellent sunsets and views of the oasis are gained from the top of the nearby peaks.
English Mountain, is also known as Jebel Williams, after the British captain stationed here. The ruins of the World War I fortress that the British controlled are on the top. The British monitored the movements of Sanusi tribes from Libya from this lonely lookout. It is an easy walk or jeep ride to the top.
Called the Pyramid Mountain by tourists because of its symmetrical sides and pointed peak, Jebel Dist is 17 km north of town. It’s a challenging 1-hour climb to the top for impressive views of the oasis, desert, and 1000s of palm trees.
The area around Jebal Maghrafa and nearby Jebel Dist is famed for the discovery of giant dinosaur remains early in the 20th century and in 2001. There is also a camel breeding farm near the slopes of Jebel Dist, which welcomes visitors to see the new-born baby camels.
30 km north of town, this is a spectacular location that needs 4-wheel drive to get there. It is surrounded by beautiful sand-dunes and perfect for a half-day hike and a picnic.
Soaking in a steamy hot spring is one of the pleasures of Bahariya. Locals bathe during the day, but travellers are welcome to bathe under the stars at night. Many people come for the ancient springs’ medicinal properties, as the sulphurous hot water can help rheumatism sufferers.
Is 7 km east of town on the Cairo road, is the nicest spring in Bahariya in both
temperature and setting.
Is 7 km northeast of Bawati, has quite cool water pouring from an aqueduct
into a small cement pool. Men bathe here by day and women by night.
Is 2, 14 km north of Bawati, is hot at 40 degrees. It is very private at night, though the pump is turned off at 10pm.
Is 2 km north is also very hot. It is more public, but women can bathe fully
clothed at night.
The Antiquities Inspectorate Museum
Also known as Bawati Museum or the Mummy Hall, the museum contains discoveries from a vast cache of mummies found in Bahariya. The Greco-Roman mummies were found by chance when a donkey stumbled into a hole in the desert in 1996. The necropolis beneath was vast and it is believed there are over 10,000 mummies buried there.
Many were beautifully decorated, some covered with a layer of gold, some wearing painted masks and jewellery, some buried in pottery coffins and some wrapped in linen. They were surrounded by amulets, coins and wine jars needed for their afterlife.
Among the 10 mummies on display in the museum are 4 of the famous Golden Mummies, which are a life-like representation of the deceased with curly hair and long eyelashes. Excavation of the Valley of the Golden Mummies has been suspended because the mummies deteriorate and decompose when they are taken out of the ground.
The Oasis Heritage Museum
This little museum highlights the work of Mahmoud Eed, a self-taught Bedouin artist. There is also a shop with beautiful embroidered dresses and locally-made silver jewellery.
Inspired by the old-timer Badr of Farafra, Mahmoud shapes clay to depict his experience of life in the oasis. The clay figures show a way of life that has disappeared for the local men, who used to hunt gazelles and do weaving.
Qarat Qasr Salim
This small hill in Bawati contains 2 tombs from the 26th Dynasty.
The tomb of Banentiu
A wealthy merchant, has a steep descent to a hypostyle hall. The 4 square columns are painted with deities and the ceiling has a fantastic winged sun-disk. The walls by the entrance show the journeys of the moon and the sun. The colours used are rich, earthy ochres and reds.
The tomb of Zed-Amun-ef-Ankh, his father, has very colourful pictures of the gods carrying out the mortuary rituals. It is thought that he was also a wealthy wine trader or local landowner. The ceiling is painted with a starry sky containing the image of a vulture.
The temple is 3 km west of town, built in the 26th Dynasty during the reigns of kings Apries and Ahmose II. The sandstone temple has four ruined chapels covered by a new roof. They are decorated with scenes depicting the king presenting offerings to 18 different gods. The reliefs are sunken and painted. One of the temples is dedicated to the god of musicians and dancers, Bes.
Temple of Alexander
Alexander’s temple is about 5 km east of Bawati, near the Valley of the Golden Mummies. It was built after Alexander the Great visited Bahariya in 332 BC on his way to consult the Oracle of Amun in Siwa.
The sandstone temple is surrounded by 45 mud-brick rooms, where the priests lived and goods were stored. A 1-m high red granite altar was erected south of the entrance, inscribed with Alexander’s name and now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In the inner sanctuary Alexander and the mayor who built the temple are shown in bas-relief making offerings to Amun-Re and other gods. The reliefs have unfortunately been greatly damaged by desert winds since they were first discovered.
Ridge of the Chicken Merchant
Qarat Al-Farargi, southwest of town, has extensive underground galleries with rows of small recesses. These are the burial sites of huge numbers of mummified ibis and hawks, dating from the 26th Dynasty. They clearly relate to the worship of Thoth and Horus.
Locals once believed that the mummies were those of chickens, which explains the Arabic name. The passages are closed to the public as they are underneath the modern cemetery used by the townspeople.
Qarat Hilwa is a ridge a few kms northwest of town containing the tomb of Amenhotep-Huy, mayor of Bahariya in the 18th or 19th Dynasty. It’s the most ancient tomb to be discovered in the area. Scenes in the forecourt show the governor carrying out his duties, along with his wife and son.
Farther away, 40 km southwest, from Bawati are the small villages of Al-Hayz. There are 4 important springs here, prehistoric artefacts, and the remains of Roman aqueducts.
Most interesting is the only well-preserved church in the Western Desert, near the hamlet of Ain Al-Ris. It was dedicated to St George and still has paintings on the inside of the mud-brick walls. Other Roman remains include Qasr Masuda, a large multi-storied fortress that had 13 rooms.