Qasr Al-Farafra low ground has been colonized by modern infrastructure, which obscures the view of the ancient hilltop village, backing onto palm groves. Even there modernization is apparent, with austerely beautiful old mud-brick houses topped by flowing pediments or crenellations being superseded by breeze-block homes with proper bathroom
Though Qasr’s population has shot up to five thousand in the last twenty years due to better healthcare, its shops and market are still meagre and frugality is the order of the day, despite a few wealthy locals who’ve built villas on the edge of town.
Come nightfall, there’s little to do but hang out in teahouses or maybe wallow in the hot spring at Bir Setta, unless you happen to chance upon a zikr in somebody’s home.
These play an important role in the religious and social life of Farafra; foreigners of both sexes are welcome, providing they respect that they are guests at a religious ritual, not spectators at a tourist attraction – which means modest dress and behaviour.