Update September 2015: Due to recent unrest in the area, Sweet Cairo recomend to consult the travel advice from your country and local Egyptian authorities before going.
If you are ready to commit to a nine hours hot and bumpy drive South-West out of Cairo you will be rewarded with the magical landscapes of The Black and White Desert. These are two very different desert areas situated conveniently close to each other, which makes it an excellent destination for a small weekend trip with one or two nights camping in the desert. Even though nine hours might sound like a long ride for one night, the drive in the desert is part of the beauty of the trip.
Find a trustworthy agency and let them plan the trip for you. They will start taking you on a three hours bus ride (from Zamalek) and before you hit the sand dunes you will change the bus for small jeeps. Guides will then drive you the rest of the trip through the desert to where you will be camping for the night. On the trip you will see the crystal mountain, the interesting rock formations (that the guides have named after their shapes and history) and the parts of the desert which is partially covered in white sparkling rocks that from a distance almost look like snow. The black desert gets its name from the small black rocks and fossils that covers the sand dunes. If you are in luck you might even spot some wild camels and desert foxes.
After driving around in the desert for the day, the guides will find a nice spot to camp for the night. Here they will most likely cook you dinner and prepare some blankets for your sleep under the stars (the nights can be very cold even in the summer so remember to bring something/someone warm). Next day you will have the opportunity to either Sandboard (yes, like snowboard but on the sand dunes), go rock climbing, or other activities depending on what you arrange with your travel agency. This part of the desert also offers a selection of natural hot springs (nothing compared to what the Siwa Desert can offer though) but keep in mind that for some of the springs women will not be allowed to swim in them.
The guides will bring blankets to sleep with and food to be prepared over the fire for dinner and breakfast. It is a good idea to bring a lot of water and some snacks for the ride. as well as marshmallows for the camp fire.
Tip: Remember to bring suitable clothes and lots of sunscreen. The desert is pretty cold at night-time and damn hot in the daytime.
Price: If you are enough people to fill a mini-bus it will inevitable get cheaper.
For a group of around 9 people the price should be around 350 Le per person including: Busride, jeeps, food (dinner+breakfast) and sleeping under the stars.
Expect to pay more if you are fewer people. Make sure to get a written agrement on what the price includes e.g. salary to drivers, entrance fee to the desert (yes, that is a real thing), food, sleeping bags and maybe sandboards. It is good costume to tip the jeep drivers that stayed with you in the desert.
Duration: One night is often enough desert for most people, make sure to leave early. (pick up early morning, see desert, camp & sleep, and back to Cairo next day).