Unearth Egypt’s hidden gem. Siwa Oasis offers a day filled with ancient temples, therapeutic springs, and stunning sunsets.
Renowned for its stunning landscapes, ancient history, and rich cultural heritage, Egypt has always held a fascination for travellers. Beyond the pyramids of Giza and the temples of Luxor, however, lies a lesser-known treasure: the Siwa Oasis. A secluded sanctuary located in Egypt’s Western Desert, Siwa offers a blend of natural beauty, unique architecture, and profound historical significance. To help you explore this tranquil paradise, here are the top day tours you can embark on during your visit to Siwa.
- The Temple of the Oracle of Amun
A trip to Siwa wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Temple of the Oracle of Amun, also known as the Temple of Amun Ra. This ancient temple is linked to Alexander the Great, who made a long pilgrimage to consult the Oracle. The temple ruins are well-preserved and offer fantastic views over the surrounding landscape. Some tours even include a local guide who can enrich your visit with fascinating insights into the temple’s rich history.
- Shali Fortress
This medieval fortress was the heart of the Siwan community for centuries, providing shelter from desert raids. Constructed from kershif, a local material made from salt and mud, Shali Fortress remains a significant landmark. Despite its gradual erosion by rain, the structure’s ruins offer a captivating glimpse into Siwa’s past. A guided tour of the fortress and its adjoining maze-like old town offers an immersive experience.
- Cleopatra’s Pool
Dive into the revitalizing waters of Cleopatra’s Pool, an ancient stone pool fed by a natural hot spring. Legend has it that Cleopatra herself bathed here during her visit to Siwa. Surrounded by palm trees and featuring crystal clear, warm waters, this pool provides a perfect respite from the desert heat. Several tours include a stop at this pool, allowing you to soak in the therapeutic waters.
- Siwa House Museum
This small but well-curated museum offers a glimpse into Siwan daily life, traditional architecture, and crafts. Exhibits include a traditional Siwan house set-up, local wedding attire, jewellery, and ancient artifacts discovered in the region. The tour provides a valuable understanding of Siwa’s cultural traditions and the unique lifestyle of its inhabitants.
- Fatnas Island
Situated in one of Siwa’s salt lakes, Fatnas Island offers stunning views of the surrounding palm groves and golden dunes. A visit at sunset is particularly recommended, as the reflections on the salt lake create an ethereal, tranquil atmosphere. Some tours also offer the opportunity to sample traditional Siwan cuisine at a local restaurant on the island.
- Desert Safari to the Great Sand Sea
The Great Sand Sea, with its endless golden dunes, is a must-visit for adventurous travellers. A desert safari tour usually involves 4×4 off-road driving, sandboarding, and a visit to the surrealistic landscapes of the fossil-rich area known as the Mountain of the Dead. You may also visit the cold spring of Bir Wahed, where you can soak in a natural pool amidst the dunes.
- Bike Tours Around the Oasis
For those who prefer a more active way to explore Siwa, consider a guided bike tour. These tours offer a unique way to experience Siwa’s verdant date palm and olive groves, ancient olive presses, and salt lakes. Some routes also include stops at major historical sites and natural landmarks, offering an enjoyable combination of sightseeing and exercise.
A trip to Siwa is like stepping back in time, offering a serene break from the chaos of modern life. Despite its remote
location, the oasis is rich with things to do and see, whether it’s exploring ancient temples, bathing in natural springs, or simply appreciating the majestic beauty of the Sahara.
- Aghurmi Village and Temple of Amun
Perched on a rocky hill, the Aghurmi village is another significant historical site in Siwa. The village is also home to the ruins of the Temple of Amun, which once played a crucial role in the region’s religious life. Exploring the village gives you an up-close look at the traditional Siwan architecture, while the temple offers panoramic views of the sprawling oasis.
- Visit Traditional Siwan Crafts Workshops
Siwa is known for its unique handicrafts, including intricately designed jewellery, pottery, embroidered garments, and woven items. Many tours can organize visits to local workshops where you can witness artisans at work and even try your hand at some crafts. Purchasing some of these items not only gives you a special memento of your trip but also supports the local economy.
- The Festival of Siyaha
If you happen to visit Siwa in October, don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Siyaha Festival, one of the most important annual events for the local community. During the festival, locals gather at Gebel Dakrur mountain to share food, music, and dance in a spirit of unity and reconciliation. While not a conventional day tour, experiencing this celebration gives you a deeper insight into Siwa’s vibrant community and traditions.
Siwa Oasis is undoubtedly a jewel in Egypt’s crown, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. It provides the perfect off-the-beaten-track experience for those wanting to escape the typical tourist trail and immerse themselves in a profoundly tranquil and timeless place. The tours mentioned in this article represent just a fraction of what Siwa has to offer. Regardless of your interests, this oasis in the Sahara desert promises a memorable experience filled with unforgettable sights, rich cultural interactions, and the allure of ancient history.