Bir Wahed

Siwa Oasis

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Siwa Oasis attractions

1. Fatnas Spring

11.01 MILES

This fairly secluded pool is on a small island in the salty Birket Siwa, accessible across a narrow causeway. Nicknamed ‘Fantasy Island’ for its idyllic…

2. Fortress of Shali

13.17 MILES

Central Siwa is dominated by the spectacular organic shapes of the remains of this 13th-century mud-brick fortress. Built from kershef (chunks of salt…

3. House of Siwa Museum

13.22 MILES

This small museum contains an interesting display of traditional clothing, jewellery and crafts typical of the oasis. It’s worth the entry fee just to…

4. Old Mosque

13.24 MILES

Just above the entrance to the Fortress of Shali is the old mosque with its distinctive chimney-shaped minaret. The mosque was recently restored and a…

5. Ain Al Arais

13.56 MILES

The closest spring to central Siwa is Ain Al Arais, a cool, inviting waterhole with a grotto-like bottom, just five minutes’ walk from the main market…

6. Tomb of Niperpathot

13.77 MILES

In the Tomb of Niperpathot, one of the oldest in the oasis, the inscriptions and crude drawings are made in the same reddish ink you can see on modern…

7. Gebel Al Mawta

13.77 MILES

This small hill, at the northern end of Siwa Town, is honeycombed with rock tombs peppered with wall paintings. Its name, Gebel Al Mawta, means 'Mountain…

8. Tomb of the Crocodile

13.77 MILES

This tomb's name comes from its wall painting of a yellow crocodile representing the god Sobek. Many of the paintings inside are badly deteriorating.