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Map - Oases

    
 

Egypt is very much desert, and the number of oases are smaller than many might imagine. There are 8 oasis communities interesting to a traveler, plus a handful of places where people do little but work and long for the day when they can return to their home town.
Getting to the oases is straightforward these days: There are good roads and plenty of public transportation that costs next to nothing compared with Western price levels.
Egyptian oases correspond fairly with the Hollywood/Disney-like image of an oasis, where sand dunes suddenly turn into lush palm groves with a fresh-water pond in the middle. Some of the oases have blurred

 
 

borders, where the gardens and settlements in the outskirts are poor and ugly. Other oasis begin almost suddenly after you climb down into the bowl where water is naturally pumped up from the ground, and agriculture is possible.

And that is very much the true reason for the existence of Egypt's oases. Water is pressed up from underground water reservoirs, water which can be distributed through canals to allow extensive agriculture. In modern times, gasoline driven pumps are used for reservoirs without sufficient pressure.

Until a few decades ago, before the roads were built, the oases were quite isolated from the rest of the world. Most of the inhabitants never left the oasis through their entire lives. Culture, life styles, clothes and even language could be unique from oasis to oasis. Much of this diversity is disappearing these days, but still there is plenty left to intrigue visitors. Tourism has had a positive impact on the oases; the inhabitants have been taught that they possess something unique, so valuable that people from the other side of the world come to discover it.

So which are the best oases to visit, for anyone with limited time?. Here is my ranking, just remember that every oasis has its own attractions, so many other travellers would make a very different ranking.

 
 
 
 

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