Siwa Sights

Local hand beaded cloth.

Important source of water.

 A visit to Siwa Oasis is an incredible journey back in time.  Siwa is still relatively remote and in order to get here from Cairo it requires at least 12 hours of travel.  Of Egypts various means of movement this can mean a rather uncomfortable 12 hours, as flying is not one of the options.  4 x 4’s compete only with donkey carts on the dirt roads and you are aware of the isolation instantly.  Mostly this adds to Siwa’s charm and beauty.  It is difficult to imagine the people who made their way through here at various points in time knowing that they would have traveled hundreds of kilometers through desert without any certainty that there was indeed an oasis that would save them.  Spending time in Siwa you cannot help but be reminded of the important things in life.  Family is central and material possessions are irrelevant with perhaps the exception of a 4 x 4 if you are interested in taking tourists out to the dunes, otherwise this is largely a subsistence culture.  Main trade items are amazingly sweet dates and tangy olives.

Shali Mountain
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Siwa Bound

 

When we stopped on the deserted highway between Bahariya and Siwa to give the Land Cruiser a drink we found these sand dollars.  While it is not unusual to find sand dollars in the sand, it is unusual to find them 600 km from the nearest ocean.  These ones are really, really, really old and the ground was blanketed with them. Certainly this gave us an opportunity for some simple entertainment while we were waiting.

Siwa

 Okay, so I realize that it is shameful that I have not posted since December.  Please be assured that I am fine and well and still in Egypt.  I have not become complacent either.  I still love this country and the more I see of it the stronger my affection becomes.  What it comes down to is that I am lazy and have been posting to Facebook rather than here.  Anyway, I am back.  An end of December, early January holiday took me to Siwa Oasis with some friends.  My colleagues, Montse and Jordi, and myself met our guides Ahmed and Essam in Bahariya to then travel across a little used road through military patrolled territory for the six hour trip to Siwa.  Permits required. Zero traffic.We arrived in Siwa early evening and checked into the Siwa Gardens Hotel tucked in the palm groves and complete with its own natural spring fed pool.   This place was a splurge for us at US$50/night half board, which means it includes a lovely breakfast and solid evening meal. Although it was mere hours I think that we actually got a taste of what the early traders, Roman or otherwise, had experienced arriving at Siwa after the desert trek.  It was like arriving in paradise.