Guide to Egypt’s Siwa Oasis – Dunes, Dates, Donkeys and Dwellings

By Mark Wiens 8 Comments

The Siwa Oasis (واحة سيوة‎) is the fertilizing lifeline for almost 25,000 inhabitants who have relied on the fresh water source in the midst of the desolate Siwa desert.

How To Get to Siwa Oasis:

From Cairo take the train to Alexandria, takes 2 -3 hours – Price – 37 LE ($6.23)
Bus leaves from Alexandria at 10 pm and arrives in the Siwa Oasis at about 5 am – Price – 37 LE ($6.23)

Siwa Oasis Egypt
Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Where to Stay in the Siwa Oasis:

There are a number of budget accommodation options as well as pricey hotels and eco-resorts around the Siwa Oasis.
I stayed at the very pleasant Elkalany Hotel, located right in Siwa city center near the main roundabout.  I split a double room with a friend for 70 LE ($11.75) per night / 2.

Transportation around Siwa Oasis:

You won’t be needing to ride in a car, or even take a bus around the Siwa Oasis, here are the options:

Donkey Cart at Siwa Oasis
Donkey Cart at Siwa Oasis

Things to Do around Siwa Oasis

1. Mountain of the Dead

Jebel al-Mawta is the Siwan version of the Valley of the Kings. A number of tombs and burial facilities exist, carved into the bone-dry hill. The tomb paintings and reliefs are not as glamorous as other parts of Egypt, yet the reliefs are still fascinating.

Mountain of the Dead
Mountain of the Dead, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

2. Temple of the Oracle of Amun

A short distance from the main town of Siwa in an area called Aghurmi rests the temple of the Oracle, dedicated to the cult of Amun. The temple thrived during the Greek and Roman periods and was visited by Alexander The Great during his Egyptian conquest in 332 BC.

Oracle of Amun
Oracle of Amun, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

3. Temple of Umm Ubayda

The Temple of Umm Ubayda was built by King Nectanebo II, connected by a causeway to the Temple of the Oracle and also dedicated to worship the cult of Amun. What remains today is a single wall of rock and some scattered boulders to remind us of what once existed.

Umm Ubayda Egypt
Temple of Umm Ubayda, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

4. Cleopatra Spring – Spring of Juba

Though the edges of the spring are blanketed with green algae, the water beneath is clear, fresh and soothing! Don’t ever miss an opportunity to swim in the desert, especially in an oasis!

Cleopatra Pool Egypt
Cleopatra Spring, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

5. Palm Tree Seesaw

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to horse around on a traditional Siwan playground, a teeter totter constructed from the trunk of a date palm! Located right next to Cleopatra Spring.

Egyptian Fun
Palm Tree Seesaw, Egypt

6. Eat Dates

Siwa is known throughout Egypt for producing some of the finest dates.  Let me say that you will hardly even need to open your wallet to buy a big box of dates filled with almonds.  Everyone should experience lounging around in a jellabiya on an oasis in the middle of the desert eating dates!

Egyptian Siwa Dates
Egyptian Siwa Dates

7. Sunset Point

Though there were a few too many visitors spoiling the serene atmosphere, the golden colors of the desert reacting with the cool colors of the lake, were nothing short of magical. The sunset point location is about 5 km outside of city center and can easily be accessed by donkey cart or bicycle.

Sunset at Siwa Oasis
Sunset Point, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

8. Ruins of Shali

The ruins of Shali are a throw back of mud brick homes and facilities in the heart of Siwa town. The ancient structures constructed of available earth materials cover an uneven hill. There are paths that lead around the village, offering spectacular scenery and views from the top.

Siwa Oasis Ruins
Ruins of Shali, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

9. Desert Safari – Great Egyptian Sand Sea

Siwa Oasis Desert Safari
Siwa Oasis Desert Safari

I went on a 2 day, 1 night, Siwa Oasis desert safari.  We visited a number of ancient ruins, roared through sand dunes, and spent the night in a semi-authentic Bedouin camp.

2 day, 1 night desert safari in the Siwa Oasis should cost anywhere from 150 LE – 200 LE per person ($25.19 – $33.59).  For more information on taking a Siwa Oasis desert safari check out this article.

The Siwa Oasis is a truly remarkable destination to visit, have an awesome time!