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Getting There

As with the other New Valley oases, the best way to get here is by private car. The road in and out is good tarmac, so a 4X4 isn't necessary unless you're contemplating (as you should be) side trips into the desert along the way.

By Bus -- The bus runs regularly (a relative term out here) from both Kharga to the southeast and Farafra to the north for LE24 ($4.35/£2.20) and LE27 ($4.89/£2.50), respectively. The main bus terminals (again, a relative term here -- we're talking about a one-room kiosk on the side of the road) are both in Mut, but the bus will stop wherever you want en route and let you out.

By Plane -- The nearest airport is in Kharga, which is serviced by one flight a week. Contrary to appearances (a building in Mut with a large EGYPTAIR sign on top of it), there is no EgyptAir office in Dakhla.

Getting Around

By Bike -- There are a couple of places to rent bikes in Mut. The Abu Mohamed restaurant has a couple that they rent out for LE20 ($3.60/£1.85) a day, and so does the Garden Hotel (tel. 092/7821577). Unless you want to cycle around to pick up bus tickets or see the Ethnographic Museum, however, you'll be wasting your time and energy. It makes far more sense to save your cycling for Qasr, where the Eco Desert Lodge will rent full-on Euro-spec 18-speed bikes for LE110 ($20/£10); the maintenance has been a bit dicey, but the bikes are fine. Fifteen minutes from the lodge has you winding your way down quiet tracks amidst the palm trees, with the sand dunes looming in the background. The Qasr Ethnographic Museum is 10 minutes by bike from the lodge, and if you're in a hurry, you can also tour the old town (just watch your head on the long, hanging arches).

By Car/Minibus -- The only way to get around the oasis is to hire a local car or minibus and driver by the hour or day. Ask at your hotel -- there are plenty of air-conditioned cars and minibuses around. Expect to pay about LE250 to LE300 ($45-$55/£23-£28) for the day.

Orientation

Dakhla, with more than a dozen small villages strung out over 80km (50 miles), each with its distinct patch of green, feels more like a series of oases than one big one. To the northeast and north (the valley curves like a banana) looms the escarpment that actually defines the edge of the desert, giving you a dramatic point of reference on how deep below the level of its surroundings the oasis lies. To the south there are great rolling dunes of golden sand. At some points, the patches of green disappear completely, with the desert cutting across the depression, but then around the next corner in the road you find a thin green field that widens into a whole farm and then a well-shaded village.

Mut (pronounced moot), the main town, is located in the middle of the oasis, and is where you'll find most of the hotels, Internet places, restaurants, the tourist information office, and the bank. Charmless and not very clean, Mut is probably best avoided as much as possible. Qasr, which is about 20km (12 miles) to the northwest of Mut and almost at the end of the oasis in that direction, is smaller, but has more charm. Between the two there are a number of smaller settlements such as Dohous and Budkhuli. East of Mut, the green thins out and is lost completely for several miles before reappearing around the ancient town of Balat.

The major sights are spread the length of the oasis starting in the northwest with Deir al Hagar and ending somewhere out near the eastern town of Bashhindi or a little beyond (depending on whether you consider the rock paintings near the highway a major sight). You could probably do the oasis in a day, but I recommend taking at least two, particularly if you're there in the heat of the summer.

The tourist information office (tel. 092/7821686 office, or 012/1796467 Omar's mobile; desertlord@hotmail.com) is on your left as you enter Mut. If you arrive at the first roundabout without seeing it, you've gone too far. Here the affable Omar Ahmed can answer general questions in very functional English, but you're better off checking on specifics such as bus schedules and opening times yourself. The office is open daily 9am to 2pm and 6 to 8pm.

Most of the hotels listed here have Internet connections in their offices that they'll let you use, but there are several Internet cafes with multiple computers. The best of them is Karmnet, in the old part of town directly below the Forsan Hotel on El Forsan Street. It has eight terminals and can deal with a laptop. Expect to pay LE4 to LE5 (70¢-90¢/35p-45p) per hour for a good connection. I would avoid accessing the Internet at Abu Mohamed's restaurant; not only is the connection the slowest in Mut, but the rate -- LE20 ($3.60/£1.85) an hour -- is around five times the going price.

There is a Banque Misr (daily 8am-2pm, closed Fri and Sat) just off Horreya Square that can change dollars and euros. There is no ATM.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.