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

By Mark Wiens 30 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:

  • 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!
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!



30 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • bob

    5 years ago

    it was AMZING!!!! i want to go back!! the food was very different to australia food but it was nice 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Cool to hear you also had a great time in Siwa!

  • Ryan

    6 years ago

    Thanks for an interesting read. I came upon this on twitter, oddly. I went in May, while visiting my partner’s family in Cairo. We actually drove out there from Cairo- what a long long ride. I loved how friendly and hospitable the people were. I found Egypt to feel so safe and welcoming. I have some awesome videos I took rolling down sand dunes and walking in a ancient sea. Siwa rocks! thanks for the nice memories!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much for taking a look at this article and glad it brought back some memories. Yah, you are right, the Egyptian people were truly hospitable, as was everyone I met in Siwa. Thanks for checking it out Ryan!

  • Lorna – the roamantics

    6 years ago

    mark i love the photos and story as usual, and really dig the video too! fun to see you come to life there and how you pause the music for dramatic affect= awesome. is it really hotter or as hot as phoenix in summer? yikes! guess i’d better get used to it!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Lorna! I was wearing that jacket aroundm mostly to keep the sun from instantly boiling my skin! It did get cold at night, but that direct sunlight during the day was brutal.

      • Lorna – the roamantics

        6 years ago

        oh crap! and meanwhile, i have the worst raccoon-like sunburn on my face from forgetting sunblock on sunday in the BAY AREA :/ i’m so white i’m see-through. hmmmm i’ll have to get myself some crazy spacesuit-looking outfit, but it’s NOT STOPPING ME FROM GOING! 🙂

  • Tijmen

    6 years ago

    The Siwa Oasis looks like a place definitely worth visiting, always love seeing ancient structures. The have more then enough over there 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yes, Egypt is just abundant with historical sites. It was just incredible following in the same footsteps as Alexander who also visited Siwa!

  • adventureswithben

    6 years ago

    1st, I didn’t realize Oasis’s in the desert were that real. 2nd – I want to go on the palm tree see saw.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      It really was a pocket of water = life, in the middle of nowhere, incredible!

  • Cathy Sweeney

    6 years ago

    Yet another fascinating place to learn about. Would love to take a donkey cart to Sunset Point — nice. Great photos!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Cathy. Riding around on a donkey and seeing that sunset over a misplaced lake in the desert was surreal!

  • Renee

    6 years ago

    Gorgeous pics and the see-saw is a testament that necessity is the mother of invention.

  • David @ MalaysiaAsia

    6 years ago

    Heya Mark, great stuff and I would really love to visit the Temple of Umm Ubayda. Reminds me Indiana Jones.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah, the entire time I was in Egypt I had a feeling like I was Indiana Jones or Alexander the Great, or someone cool like that!

  • robin

    6 years ago

    I know Siwa very well – I chose it as the spot where I would propose. This is a good round-up of it’s attractions but one of the nicest things to do there is just chill, or cycle around aimlessly. It’s a completely different vibe and culture to the Nile valley – the people here of of Berber origen, not Arab.

    On my (very short) list of truly unique and special places.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Wow, that is great Robin! You definitely chose a perfect place for a proposal! You are totally right about the relaxation, the entire feel of Siwa induces a strong urge to just chill and not worry about anything.

  • The Dropout

    6 years ago

    I have been so keen to visit Egypt for so long. Thank you SO MUCH for this post.
    Things look pretty cheap and I think a donkey cart is the most fabulous way to travel.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      You’re welcome, no problem. I was pleased with how affordable most things were in Egypt, even with the massive amount of historical tourists. You will have a great time!

  • Jozef @ Where Now

    6 years ago

    This looks like my sort of place, loads to see and a sprinkling of adventure! I’ve been to egypt and I cant believe I missed this. Oh well next time!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey, its alright man! When I was in Egypt, I didn’t get to go to the Sinai – you’re right, there’s next time!

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic

    6 years ago

    Ohmyword, I want to travel here so badly! The Ruins of Shali look awesome…

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Christy! It’s definitely a really cool place to visit!

  • Jeremy B

    6 years ago

    Wow, what a fascinating place! Love the ruins. Never been to a place like this but seems like an awesome place to visit and very affordable. How hot does it get there?

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Oh man, during the day things can get scorching (maybe similar but hotter than Phoenix in the summer), but at night it usually cools off.