Nestled in the Western Desert of Egypt, Siwa is a desert oasis perfect for an intrepid traveler. Inhabited by 20,000 people, this Egyptian town is comprised of a handful of historically significant landmarks and a cluster of small hotels. Positioned approximately 350 miles west of Cairo with a mere 30-mile distance from the Libyan border, Siwa is an often overlooked part of Egypt, full of the best of everything the Egyptian desert can offer.
Even from the plane, one can observe a captivating Egyptian sight below, with a mosaic of vibrant palm groves, shimmering olive trees, and expansive lakes encircled by salt formations radiating with mesmerizing shades of azure and aquamarine. Enveloping these lush pockets is a vast expanse of desert, evoking a profound sense of seclusion. The destination of Siwa possesses the unique character of being a part of Egypt yet imbued with the essence of an autonomous state. Throughout countless generations, Siwa had been home to Berber tribes who governed the region by their own set of laws and established a rich heritage throughout millennia.
The Old Town
At the heart of ancient Siwa resides Shali, or the Old Town, a fortified Egyptian village erected in the 13th century to safeguard the community against rival neighboring tribes. Tragically, a series of torrential rainstorms in 1926 wreaked havoc on Shali, destroying numerous buildings constructed from kershef – a mixture of clay and salt. Although remnants of these structures still endure, the present-day inhabitants of Siwa, predominantly descendants of the Berber lineage, now reside in stone dwellings. As vendors go about their bustling trade every morning, the streets of the town pulsate with vibrant energy and wafting aromas of falafel and freshly baked aish baladi – the ubiquitous traditional Egyptian flatbread.
Located in Siwa, Adrere Amellal is a remarkable Egyptian desert retreat, resembling a sand fortress. The unique eco-lodge consists of a collection of nine handmade structures, a meticulously arranged grid of organic vegetable beds, and a total of 39 rooms, overlooking a tranquil lake. From a distance, the buildings seamlessly emerge from the surrounding sandy cliffs of the towering White Mountain. A spring-fed swimming pool is nestled within the premises, offering a serene relaxing oasis. The absence of electricity and Wi-Fi allows guests to immerse themselves in the captivating Egyptian desert environment. The hotel provides a plethora of activities like invigorating hikes up White Mountain, thrilling desert drives, refreshing dips in salt lakes, and fascinating excursions to extraordinary historical sites, such as the 331 B.C. Temple of the Oracle of Amun.