Jebal Uwainat is 1934 meters high and is a sandstone and granite massif lying in a border triangle of Egypt, Libya and Sudan. It covers an area of 1500 km². The mountain lies in the southern extension of the Gilf Kebir, which is an Egyptian high plateau. The highest point of the mountain is in Sudan whilst the greater part of the mountain belongs to Libya. When colonial forces decided country borders in the 19th Century, they measured them out ‘ruler straight’. They took no account of geographical features and so territorially, this region was split into three.
The name Jebal Uwainat means, Mountain of the Little Sources. Due to the height of the mountain, clouds coming from far off subtropical Africa are sometimes caught and can cause rain. However, this rain is extremely rare and unpredictable, and occurs only once or twice every 10 years. When it does come, natural caverns help in collecting the water and, during the dry years, they can supply sources of water at the bottom of the mountain.
Jebal Uwainat was explored and mapped in the 1920s by the Egyptian, Ahmed Pasha Hassanien. Further famous explorers visited this area in the 1930s. These were, amongst others, the British explorer, Bagnold, the Hungarian, Almasy and the German cultural anthologist, Frobenius.
Jebel Uwainat can be divided geologically into two distinct parts. The western part is the eroded part of a granite massif, which nowadays represents itself as a ring shaped complex with 25 km diameter. The eastern part of the mountain consists mostly of sandstone lying on top of a granite bed.
To the west, the mountain drains in to three big valleys. Two valleys in the south of this area - Ain Gazala and Ain Doua - have water sources supplied only by rain which, in the memory of mankind, have never dried out.
The complex valley system to the east of the mountain leads to Wadi Karkur, the most famous Wadi of the mountain - also known as the Acacia Wadi. The end of Wadi Karkur lies in Egyptian territory. It is only here that you will find vegetation. You can find acacia trees and sparse plants on the ground. These plants attract lots of animals such as special birds ( Zarzur ), hyena , mice , lizards , jackals and others.
The whole area of Jebal Uwainat was inhabited in pre-historic times as is proven by the hundreds of rock arts that can be found there. It is In Wadi Karkur that you can find the most interesting examples. Here, there are pictures of great diversity, which are not hidden in caves but are painted or carved on the rock faces and rock overhangs. These pictures can be found mainly at the south side of the Wadi and by side streams of the Wadi. Most of these pictures are of indigenous animals - herds of giraffe on the run, ostriches , antelopes, gazelles and cattle.
In more remote regions of Gilf Kebir pictures of human beings have been found but these are extremely rare.