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Uwaynat Mountain

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Complete isolation

Uwaynat Mountain, Egypt

In the most southwestern corner of Egypt, actually defining the demarcation between Egypt, Sudan and Libya, lies the highest point in the Libyan desert, the Uwaynat Mountain. It rises to 1898 metres, up about 1300 metres from the surrounding desert floor.
The mountain catches some rain, and during parts of the year, the valleys beneath the summit becomes fertile. There are as many as 8 pools or springs that contain water almost throughout the year.

People lived here until the 1930's, in what was one of the most isolated places in the world. The local community had next to no contact with the outside world, and in oases like Kufra in Libya, the nearest settlement, nobody knew with certainty of its location or its community until 1923. Once discovered by the outside world, it took only 10 years for the locals to abandon their homes for easier lives in the civilization.
In addition to the attractiveness from history and the extremity of its location, Uwaynat offers its visitors beautiful scenery. The mountain region covers an extensive 1500 km², which is more than what a tour group can cover. There are numerous engravings and rock paintings. The best area for such is the Karkur Talh, which means Acacia Valley, with depictions of lions, giraffes, ostriches, gazelles, cows as well as human beings.
Parts of this region is inaccessible travelling with Egyptian travelling companies. Rough Guides report that the largest spring, Ain Doua, which was the fictional Cave of the Swimmers in The English Patient can be reached by travelling from Libya (Fleigel jerzerniczky Expedition).

Uwaynat Mountain, Egypt

Being uninhabited, and completely isolated, and not connected by surfaced roads, this is a destination only for organized trips only. As of yet, there is virtually no way of getting out here by your own, even if you are correctly equipped (that is with 4WD vehicle).
Since few people venture out here, organizing from your home travel operator is the best. Trying to do it while in Egypt could easily end up in vain, or a long wait. This option is therefore best for people living in Egypt.
Once you arrange for joining an organized trip out here, you will be given all necessary information on what to bring and such.
Travelling is best done in fall or spring, when days are not too hot, and nights not too cold. Expect that an expedition takes 3-4 days at least, including a stop at Gilf Kebir, 150-200 km northeast.
Some tour organizers arrange trips that takes up to 3 weeks.

By Tore Kjeilen