Siwa Oasis in Egypt is a small place that combines the desert and agricultural setting. It is a place for tranquillity and rehabilitation, both spiritually and physically. Even in ancient history, it was the seat of the oracle temple of Amun which was consulted by Alexander the Great. The oasis thus preserved its spiritual stamina throughout history and bestowed its energy on all its visitors; making it one of the most desired tourists destinations in Egypt.
The Oasis is affiliated to Matrouh governorate, in western Egypt. Tourists can book a bus from Matrouh and arrive to Siwa on a 4 hours trip. It is a small Oasis in the western Egyptian desert near the Libyan borders. It can be visited for medical tourism purposes in summer from June to September and for site seeing during the rest of the year, but specifically in winter.
The Oasis inhabitants have preserved their traditions and simple way of life. They are Berbers who settled in the area, and they still speak their own language, adding to the Arabic Egyptian language. They live in mud-brick houses. Even hotels and resorts in Siwa follow the simple urban design of its people. They are famous for the agriculture of olives and dates, their handmade Siwan cloth designs, and natural products.
Things to Do in Siwa
Activities in the oasis range from site seeing and enjoying its natural landscape to medical tourism destinations.
First Site Seeing:
- The Great Sand Sea
It is considered the third-largest sand sea in the world, with an area of 600 km. The Great Sand Sea marks a natural border between Egypt and Libya. Expert drivers from Siwan Berbers take tourists on an adventurous ride with 4*4 cars in the desert. Tourists can enjoy sandboarding, the hot and cold springs in the middle of the desert, and Siwan tea serving from locals there.
- Shali Fortress
The fortress was built in the 12th century from the soil. It used to serve as a shelter for Siwans to hide from their enemies in its tunnels. They used the well inside the fortress to drink. The well is still there, but it is almost dry. The fortress has been restored by the Egyptian government and served as one of the most important tourists attraction sites in Siwa.
- Fatnas island
It is called “Fantasy Island” and for good reason. The magical natural scenery of the sunset, palm trees, and water make visitors feel like they are in a fantasy land. It is a good spot for swimming as well. It is located about 6 km away from Siwa town. Tourists can reach there by donkey cart or bike.
- The Temple of the Oracle of Amun
The ruins of the temple are one of the famous historical sites in Siwa. Many tourists visit each year to see the place which was home to the oracle of Amun and was once visited by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. It is located approximately 1.7 km east of the town of Shali. The area of the temple is sometimes called Aghurmi meaning “small village” in Siwan language.
- Mountain of the Dead
The Mountain of the Dead is another famous archeological site in oasis. It has many graves dating back to the Ptolemaic era. Some mummies are still in excellent condition to date. The writings on the walls there reflect the fusion between the Egyptian and Greek cultures. Its colorful artistic paintings make it one of the most attractive sites in Siwa.
Cleopatra’s Pool is a natural hot spring that visitors can enjoy swimming in. Siwans made the area into one of the most visited sites in Siwa by offering a chance for tourists to be photographed in the Siwans’ customs and enjoy resting in Siwan-designed lounges. You can visit it on your way to the Temple of Amun by booking a private car.
The marketplace is full of outstanding local Siwan items. Shops offer a variety of different objects like salt-made lamps, that are believed to produce healing energy, Siwan customs, handmade items, and natural products that are made from olives, dates, … etc. It is an enjoyable trip where visitors can buy many unique souvenirs at affordable prices. It is strongly recommended to buy their olive oil and dates as they are one of the best products in town.
Second Medical Tourism:
Egypt is known for its medical tourism spots. Siwa is considered one of the most famous and important destinations for that purpose. It offers different medical natural treatment that was inherited from the Egyptian ancestors over the years. The famous medical treatment spots include:
Sand Baths are said to treat joint pain, skin, rheumatoid, and many other diseases. The treatment is an ancient procedure that is said to be very effective to many patients. It is done at AlDakrour mountain, which is one of the most important places to visit on your medical tour.
Just like the sand baths, hot springs are also said to treat many rheumatoid diseases along with digestive problems. There are many hot springs in Siwa such as the Kegar Well. The temperature of the water in that well reaches 67 degrees Celsius.
The Salt Lake:
Siwans consider salt as one of their natural treasures. The Salt Lake lies at the foot of a mountain in a place called Al-Tibtah. Though the lake is 4 meters in depth, its water is very heavy because of the salt and one cannot drown there. It is said to have many medical benefits to swim in it, as it can treat some skin diseases as well as breathing problems. The salt is exported to different places to use in building salt caves, which are believed to provide mental relaxation and help relieve negative energy. That is why Siwans use salt in creating lamps and local handmade crafts, which are sold for the same purpose.
Where to stay?
Siwa Oasis offers its visitors modest resorts by the lake or isolated hotels to stay in. Some resorts are disconnected from all means of civilization including electricity to give their guests the chance to attempt connecting with nature.
The budget of staying the night in the Oasis varies. Some hotels start as low as USD 15 per night. Others might reach USD 600 per night. Therefore, staying in Siwa is affordable despite your budget.
Where to eat?
There are serval restaurants in town to eat in. Visitors are offered a variety of meals that are cooked in the Siwan style. Another option is spending the night at camps, where visitors can enjoy Siwan songs and food by the wood fire in the middle of the mountains. It is also where you can meditate the marvelous stars at night.
Egypt is a cosmopolitan country that serves all tastes and cultures. From traditional primitive towns to luxurious resorts, according to your taste, you can find a destination. But if you are looking to spend a couple of days reconnecting with nature and a glimpse of the ancient Egyptian traditions, then Siwa will be your perfect destination.