Situated between the Bahariya Oasis and the Farafra Oasis in Egypt is the Crystal Mountain, known in the local language as Gebel Izaz. This is a popular tourist spot due to the presence of natural crystals.
To be clear, Crystal Mountain is not actually a mountain made of crystal. Instead, it is a ridge of rocks that has crystals in it. When the rays of the sun hit the crystals, it is a dazzling sight to behold. Geologists believe that it is an exhumed cave. “It is made entirely of calcite crystal that combine altogether to create a striking ridge standing up out of the desert. In essence, Crystal Mountain… is an ancient Paleo that has been pushed to the earth’s surface, and is now in the process of being eroded away by the elements,” according to Egypt Tours Plus.
The crystals are oblong in shape. For someone aware of the mythology of Superman, the crystals would feel similar to the ones usually depicted in his “Fortress of Solitude.” Most of the crystals are either clear or cloudy white. When visiting the site, remember not to break off any crystals. They have taken so long to form and it would be a shame to destroy them. You should also avoid picking up crystal pieces scattered around the ridge. If every tourist were to take some crystals from the ridge, Crystal Mountain would cease to exist.
Crystal Mountain is located 96 miles from the Bahariya Oasis and 54 miles from Farafra. The mountain can be accessed through local tour groups that specialize in such visits. Keep in mind that Crystal Mountain is not something that you exclusively spend money to visit since it is not a grand, epic structure. Instead, it is a spot that is an ideal destination to visit when you are touring the region.
The Bahariya Oasis has been a well-known place since the times of the pharaohs when it exported wine to the Nile valley. In recent times, the region has undergone some tough economic times. “Although it covers 1200 square kilometers [720 miles], less than one percent is actually cultivated, with date palms, olive and fruit trees, vegetables, rice and corn. Ominously, where ground water was once tapped at a depth of 30m [98 feet], farmers must now bore 1000m [0.6 miles] underground; fruit trees have suffered from being irrigated by hotter water, raising fears for Bahariya’s future sustainability,” according to Rough Guides.
But thanks to tourism, Bahariya generates good revenues. If you have a deep interest in archeology, an ideal place to start your exploration would be the Temple of Alexander. As the name suggests, this is a temple built in honor of Alexander the Great, who is believed to have passed through the region on his journey to Memphis. You should also check out the temple of Ain al-Muftillah built when the 26th dynasty of the Pharaohs ruled the region. The complex is made of sandstone and has bas-reliefs and sanctuaries dedicated to Egyptian gods like Bes and Horus.
In case you want to just chill out, head over to the hot springs at Bir Ramla located about a mile from the capital, Bawiti. Though men are allowed to bathe in shorts, women are required to wear full-length opaque clothing. Plus, females are only allowed in the hot springs at night.