Most people who visit the Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt are drawn by its long and famous history, notably the visit of Alexander the Great in 331BC who thereafter always represented himself as the son of the Amoun after prophecies from the Oracle in the oasis.
There is plenty to do however as well as all the antiquities and historical sites. To the south of Siwa lies the great Sand Sea, a huge expanse of sand desert that runs south all the way down to the border with Sudan. Most people book an excursion into this. It’s possible to go for a few hours or on week-long camping trips. Many opt for an overnight visit so they can experience a night in the desert and witness a truly astonishing sky, packed with more stars than you can believe. All camping equipment is provided for these tours.
As well as a bit of dune-bashing – driving your 4×4 off ridiculously steep dunes and surfing down the other side, there is plenty to do and see. Before you go you can hire sand boards – think snow boards without the cold – and “ski” down the large dunes to be met by your vehicle at the bottom.
Outside the main Oasis there are several secondary springs, several of which are hot ones and make for great stops to bath and relax. There are even small lakes to swim in.
In other places you come across the rocky desert floor, strewn with shells and fossils from when this area was under a great ocean. Occasionally you even come across entire coral reefs that now stand in the hot desert air, left behind by the waters millions of years ago.
Other outlying regions of the oasis, such as El-Zeitun, offer ruins and remains of old habitation and civilizations. Here a deserted Berber village of mud-brick buildings stands near a salt lake, and hidden in its heart is the remains of a small ancient temple, still complete with roof.
If you wish to travel further afield it’s possible to head south and visit the white desert, a trip of 2 plus nights. Here, the wind has eroded the landscape into a bizarre mixture of pillars and stone mushrooms, the floor littered with fossils and shells left behind as the chalky dust is blown away.
If you feel inspired to visit the Siwa Oasis and Egypt then read our Travel Guide to Egypt for plenty of ideas and advice. And then search for your ideal Egypt adventure holiday with our selection of exciting and inspirational tours.
For those who want to stay in the oasis itself, you can visit one of the small hotels and spas that offer therapeutic treatments, ranging from hot springs to El Dakroor, a mountain famed for the healing properties of its hot sands.
Otherwise you can simply explore by foot or bike, cycling the small track and paths that criss-cross the oasis. End the day on the shores of the great salt-lake to the West of the oasis and you can watch the sun slowly set behind the huge dunes of the great Sand sea while the sun twinkles on the lakes water – an unusual but breath-taking combination.
For more information on the inspiring Siwa Oasis, check out our previous blog post complete with a Siwa Oasis video and information!