A favourite Siwa excursion is the freshwater lake at Bir Wahed, 15km away on the edge of the Great Sand Sea. Once over the top of a dune, you come to a hot spring, the size of a large jacuzzi, where sulphurous water bubbles in a pool and runs off to irrigate a garden.
Cooling down in the lake, then watching the sun setting over the dunes while soaking in a hot spring, is a surreal experience. The thorns in this rose are the mosquitoes that bite at sunset and the fact that a permit is necessary to visit Bir Wahed. Because it’s far from town, women can wear bathing suits here without offending locals. Bir Wahed can only be reached by 4WD, so if you don’t have your own, you’ll need to hire a guide and car. At the time of writing the spring was closed because of a fire, but it was due to reopen soon.