STANDING at the foothill of Gabal Al-Teir (mountain of the birds) is Bagawat -- the highlight of any tour of Kharga Oasis. Bagawat is famous for the desert-brown domed mausoleums that are part of one of the earliest and best preserved Christian cemeteries in the world. At the centre of the cemetery stands a church that still had "traces of saints painted on the wall" when Edmondstone passed this way in 1819.
Numbering 263 in all, with many pit burials between the chapels, most of the tombs are but a single room. Some are larger, and six have domed roofs. Evidence indicates the area was a burial site long before the Christian era, but the current structures date from the fourth to the seventh centuries. Most of the chapels have plain interiors, but there are several with wall paintings and graffiti.
Several travel agencies organise trips to Kharga Oasis. There are also hotels in Kharga that can organise tours to Bagawat, including: Solymar Resort Paradise (+2 092 927 982), Al- Kharga Oasis Hotel (+2 092 921 500 and Hamadalla Hotel (+2 092 920 638).
photo: Mohamed Wassim