are always warmly welcome -

10 January 2008

Introduction to Kharga Oasis

[W]hen the Romans came to Egypt they increased the prosperity of the oasis by creating new wells, cultivating many crops and building a series of 'fortress settlements' for protection of the caravan routes. These Roman 'fortresses' are especially numerous in the Kharga Oasis, where the Darb el-Arba'in (the 'Forty-Day Road') which ran north to south between Asyut and the Sudan, was the most important trade route. This was later to become part of the infamous slave-trade route between North Africa and the tropical south. [...]

We do not know precisely when the desert route to Sudan developed. Camels, which were introduced after the Persian invasion, enabled ancient travellers to cover greater distances than they had done previously, but the trade caravans were not popular in the desert regions until the Mamaluke era when rising tolls made the Nile Valley routes too expensive. Two villages at the southern end of the Oasis, Maks Qibli and Maks Bahri were customs posts on either side of the Darb el-Dush, the Nile Valley route which connected with the Darb el-Arba'in. A small mudbrick watchtower at Maks Qibli, known as Tabid el-Darawish, was built by the British in 1893 to protect the trade route.

There are numerous ancient sites to see in Kharga oasis. Some are close to the road but many others will require the use of a 4x4 vehicle to visit them. The oasis is connected to the Nile Valley by two main routes, one from Armant, near Luxor to Baris, in the south of the region and the second from Asyut to Kharga City in the north. Tourists are encouraged to use the northern route, which follows the ancient Darb el-Arba'in.

Please note that the above details were correct on the day this post was published. To suggest an update, please email the site's editor at