- Where is Siwa Oasis located?
- Best time to go to Siwa Oasis
- Proper Dressing for Women in Siwa
- Places to Visit in Siwa Oasis
- The Shali
- Cleopatra’s Spring
- The Salt lakes
- The Temple of the Oracle
- Mountain of the Dead
- Fatnas Island
- The Great Sand Sea
- Siwa House Museum
A beautiful green lake sits among this ocean of yellow sand, but Siwa has more than just breathtaking sceneries, it carries a culture of its own; local habitants of Siwa actually speaks their own language, which is more like the language spoken by the Berber (desert people from further west), than the Egyptian Arabic spoken in the rest of Egypt.
Where is Siwa Oasis located?
Located approximately 350 miles from Cairo, east of the Libyan border, Siwa Oasis is one of Egypt’s best western desert oases with its thousands of palm trees and gorgeous hot springs.
Until the 1980’s when a highway was finally completed connecting it to the coastal town of Mersa Mahruh, it was completely isolated from the rest of the country. Technologies such as television and phones were introduced relatively recently and the internet only within the past few years.
There is an increasing number of hotels ranging from budget hostels to a 5-star eco-lodge in the oasis and the tourist trade is now firmly rooted as part of the local economy, but this has not managed to affect the core of the life in Siwa. To this day Siwa is still a very conservative community and visitors are recommended to respect their local cultural values. Alcohol is banned and local women are rarely seen outside of their houses, it is very welcoming to visitors and the slow pace of the Siwan life is incredibly intoxicating.
Until 1926 the entire population of the oasis lived in a 13th-century mud-brick fortress at the center of town known as Shali, but it was completely destroyed by a heavy 3-day rainstorm.
Best time to go to Siwa Oasis
The weather in Siwa is almost always fine and the sun never fails to shine. However, there are sometimes of the year in which it can be better to come in than others. It is advisable to visit Siwa in the cooler months of the year, from October to April, as the temperature in summer can be quite hot.
Proper Dressing for Women in Siwa
Though Siwa is a very friendly place, women should be cautious about dressing appropriately to respect the local culture. Keep upper arms and legs covered. Women swimming at any of the public springs like the popular Cleopatra’s Bath can expect some extra attention. If you would like to avoid the attention then swimming in the desert hot springs are better recommended.
Places to Visit While in Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis is one of the most mysterious of all Egypt’s oases. Siwa Oasis offers variety of things to do, places to visit, and unique attractions.
Shali is now a tourist attraction, where visitors climb up the melted mound of mud and salt that is the traditional Siwan construction material so they can get a glimpse of the view of dates and olives groves that stretches out for miles in each direction of the Siwa Oasis.
Also known as Cleopatra’s Bath or Cleopatra’s pool, on the way to the Oracle temple, Cleopatra’s Spring is a natural spring water stone pool where locals and tourists enjoy the benefits of a spring bath among the town of Siwa. Even though there are no studies that back up the correlation to this pool to Queen Cleopatra VIII herself, the beauty of the site at the Cleopatra springs sure does the justice to its mysteriously acclaimed name.
Being one of the best natural pools, many locals in the area bathe and visit the pool frequently, it’s important to remember and respect the local customs and female tourists are advised to wear appropriate swimming attire to avoid unnecessary attention.
The Salt Lakes
One of the most beautiful sceneries in Siwa, the Salt Lakes are not to be missed. With waters so clean and transparently green, the Salt Lakes attract people to Siwa all year round, with its health benefit for its high concentration of salt, floating and swimming in the Salt Lakes of Siwa is something you cannot miss.
The Temple of the Oracle
In antiquity, Siwa was famous for the Temple of the Oracle that dates from the 6th century BC and was renowned throughout the Mediterranean world. Alexander the Great came here to ask about his fate and whether or not he was really the son of Zeus, as his mother had told him. After consulting the oracle, Alexander requested that his generals bury him in Siwa once he passed. The ruins of the temple of the Oracle are still open to visitors to this day.
Mountain of the Dead
Also near the center of Siwa, you can find the Mountain of the Dead, a rocky hill covered in more than 1500 tombs that dates back to the late pharaonic period. Some of the tombs from the Greco-Roman Period are decorated with beautiful and ornate funerary drawings. The tombs are locked and can be open by the local guards with the payment of a tip.
Another spectacular place is Fatnas Island, located on the edge of the oasis on the shore of Lake Siwa about 6 kilometers from the town center. Hot spring is a famous attraction of this beautiful place, where you can swim and enjoy the benefits of the healing waters as well as cafés and restaurants. Views over the lake at sunset are spectacular.
The Great Sand Sea
Siwa oasis sits on the doorstep of the Great Sand Sea, beautiful scenery of sands that forms mountains along with an endless desert view. Tours are available with local drivers and are recommended as the view is a must-see, Desert safaris in 4x4 will take visitors out for day trips, overnight, or on longer expeditions to visit the beautiful springs and rock formations within this vast and magnificent sites. A trip into the desert should not be missed during your time in Siwa.
Siwa House Museum
The Siwa House Museum is a great place if you love art and history. With real artifacts of the ancient Siwa population, the museum gives you a close look at ancient Siwan traditions and local customs. A lot of its items in the exhibition show the traditions of Siwa’s wedding which is known to last for 7 days where the bride wore a special outfit which you will be able to see at the Siwa House Museum.
Siwa is truly culturally unique, relaxing, and stunningly beautiful. The journey from Cairo takes about 8 hours by car and longer by overnight buses that run daily from Cairo, but it is well worth the effort once you are there.