Mark Read

Siwa Oasis

Siwa is the stuff of desert daydreams. Just 50km from the Libyan border this fertile basin, sitting about 25m below sea level and brimming with olive trees and palms, epitomises slow-paced oasis life. Set between the shady groves, squat, slouching mud-brick hamlets are connected by winding dirt lanes where trundling donkey carts are still as much a part of the street action as puttering motorbikes and 4WDs. Scattered throughout the oasis are crystal-clear springs, which are a heavenly respite from the harsh heat. At the edge of the oasis, the swells of the Great Sand Sea roll to the horizon, providing irresistible fodder for desert exploration.

Siwa’s geographic isolation helped protect a unique society that stands distinctly apart from mainstream Egyptian culture. Today, local traditions and Siwi, the local Berber language, still dominate.

Well worth the long haul to get out here, Siwa casts a spell that’s hard to resist.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Siwa Oasis.