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)
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:
- Hire a donkey cart, fits up to 4 people (but faster with less): Price – 70 LE ($11.75) / day for full cart
- Rent a bicycle for the day: Price – 20 LE ($3.36) / day
- Though the heat is strong, you can walk everywhere for free!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
9. Desert Safari – Great Egyptian Sand Sea
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.