In Arabic the word Sahara means desert, but although the Western Desert of Egypt, one of the many deserts that straddle the earth along the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, is a Sahara, it is not the Sahara It is the Libyan Desert (the name Western Desert did not come into use until World War II), separated from the African Sahara by a range of habitable highlands. These highlands form a chain starting northwest of Fasher and Kissu in the Sudan and include Ennedi, Erdi, and Tibesti in Chad, and the Fezzan in Libya. The Western Desert is one of the most arid regions on earth and carries some of the highest recorded temperatures. From near Kordofan in the Tibesti Mountains it covers 1,600 kilometers to the Mediterranean coast, beginning at the Nile Valley it proceeds west for 1,760 kilometers going out of Egypt into Libya.
Incorporating 2.8 million square kilometers including two-thirds of the area of Egypt, it is the largest desert in the world.
How did it all happen? How did the mountains and valleys of the Western Desert come into being? Within the cliffs of the barren and ex-posed mountains can be found a chronology of events that changed the surface of the earth. For age after age the environment that is now the Western Desert was uplifted, sank; went underwater, was hot, cold, moist, or dry. As it evolved debris piled up, level after level. That can now be identified as coming from a particular age. These strata, ex-posed in the cliff sides of the mountains and escarpments, were laid into place over billions of years, locking into the rock the secrets of life, telling the story of millennia. Life on earth began about two and a half billion years ago, a time too distant to fully comprehend. About six hundred-million years ago life forms began to leave traces behind in the form of fossils. Like the rocks in which they are found, fossils form a record through which scientists are able to piece together the evolution of the earth. The Western Desert is rich in such history and archaeological sites it deserves an adventure to explore what the western desert offer.