The White Desert National Park
The First Established National Park In Egypt
Covering 3010 square kilometres on both sides of the highway, the White Desert National Park was the first established as a protected area in 2002 to protect this unique landscape from over-exposure to tourism. Heavy fines for littering and the restriction of jeeps to specified tracks forced safari outfits which only cared about making a fast buck to mend their ways.
However, after the ticket office was burned down during the 2011 Revolution and park wardens went unpaid, enforcement ceased. At the time of writing, safaris were only paying fees to enter or camp in the park if they happened to meet one of the few park wardens on duty.
The park is the site of large white chalk rock formations, created through erosion by wind and sand. It is also the site of cliffs (at the northern end of the Farafra Depression), sand dunes (part of the Great Sand Sea), as well as Wadi Hennis and oases at Ain El Maqfi and Ain El Wadi.
The highest point in the park is at El Qess Abu Said (353 m above sea level) and the lowest is at Wadi Hennis (32m).
The park serves as the refuge for various animals, including the endangered Rhim gazelle and the vulnerable Dorcas gazelle, as well as Barbary sheep; jackals; Rüppell’s, Red, and Fennec foxes; and Sand cats.