Visit Siwa — the Most Relaxing (Yet Underrated) Destination

Find unusual places, foods, drinks, and people in Egypt

At the end of last November, I spent the best journey I ever had. I went to Siwa, an oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt.

It’s been an underrated destination for many people (including Egyptians) and full of magical places to visit and relax in.

In this story, I’d like to share some places in Siwa that you can’t see anywhere else for medical tourism and breathtaking views, unusual drinks and foods to have, useful souvenirs to buy, and very generous people to meet.

Salt lakes

Such beautiful clear-color lakes will trigger your eyes and can make your body float on the water because of the high density. You don’t have to be a swimmer 🎉 the water can lift you up and there is no need to worry about drowning even if you dared to!

Also, it’s used for medical tourism so if you have dead skins, the heavy-salty water can cure it.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah
2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah
© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

See me floating on this water on my Instagram!

Natural wells

Hot natural well

After finishing your tour at the salt lake, your body is probably pale due to salts so it’s recommended to get a bath. In Siwa, you don’t need to get to your hotel to do that because there is a natural bath you can take in the hot natural well. As said by the Siwan guide there, this natural well is coming from Dakrur Mountain.

The warmth of this water is so amazing; it’s like the same hot temperature you desire at any hot bath  — but fully natural. The more unusual thing here is that next to the hot natural well (the big pool) you can see a small one at the left — this small pool is a cold natural well!

© 2020  Ezz El Din Abdullah

Cleopatra Spring

There is a belief that Queen Cleopatra took a bath in this sulfurous natural well. This well is naturally fed by underground water and can cure rheumatic disease and pains in muscles and bones. I, myself, had some pains in my back and after I swam in this water the pain was gone.

The warmth of this water is not hotter than the previous hot natural well and according to a Siwan guide, it has a constant temperature whatever the weather is!

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Fatnas island

About 4km away from the center of Siwa exists Fatnas island. You might ask how come an island in the desert?

Well, this Fatnas is a lake inside the oasis and in this lake, there is an island with the same name.

So yeah, it’s an island inside a lake inside the desert 😃

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah
© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

On this island, you can see one of the best sunset views you’ve ever seen in your life (if not the best).

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

You can also see Windows backgrounds in real!

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Shali Fortress

The Shali is the place where you can see the old houses of Siwa — they were made of karshif which is mud bricks mixed with salt rocks back in the 13th century. Floods, bombings in World War II, and modern developments in the town have destroyed many ancient structures.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah
© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Souvenirs

In Siwa, you can do shopping in the town in which you can find unusual souvenirs that can remind you of this amazing trip and will be also useful.

Lampshade made of salt

This lampshade brings warmth when you turn it on. There is a little lamp inside and the salt rocks are around it.

There are some health claims that these salt rocks can ionize the air and something like that, but I don’t believe that. I just believe they are attractive and can create a nice ambiance (a relaxing atmosphere that helps you unwind) and they might help limit light in the evening (if you struggle to sleep because its light is dim).

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Jams

It may sound familiar when you see pomegranate or dates jam, but when it comes to roselle (karkadeh), olive, tomato, and even eggplant you then realize Siwan markets have very unusual kinds of jams that you may not see anywhere else.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Food

Abo Mardam

In Siwa, Abo Mardam is a chicken put into the sand to be grilled — it’s way more delicious than the usual-oven grilled way.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Most of the restaurants there have two options to sit, on chairs (as ordinary) or on the ground which is called the Siwan Sitting —  the same way Siwan people have their food. I personally prefer to try the second option to be inlined with the Siwan culture.

Kamounia

You can also have Kamounia which is slices of meat mixed with a salty sauce and cumin. Next to it lentil soup and I’ve never had such delicious lentil that way.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Beverages

Siwan tea

A red tea that is commonly found on desert safaries and in almost any restaurant in Siwa.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Louisa

Louisa is a Moroccan drink and made of green herbs called Aloysi or lemongrass. This drink is very common in Siwa, and I drank it with tea.

It tastes like lemon and is very healthy for relieving pain and swelling and it can reduce fever and many other benefits.

It’s useful also during this pandemic since it boosts the immune system

© 2020  Ezz El Din Abdullah

Dates with milk

Tastes really good especially when you’re at Fatnas island enjoying the sunset view.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

Siwan people

Last but not least, Siwan people — they are very simple, generous, and helpful. They speak the Amazigh language to each other. Amazigh is one of the Berber languages and is spoken by the Berbers, who are indigenous to North Africa. Berber is spoken by large populations of Morocco, Algeria, and Libya, and by small African populations including Siwa.

Siwan people speak Amazigh and Arabic, but Amazigh is not taught in school — they learn it from speaking.

© 2020 Ezz El Din Abdullah

I believe Siwa is the best destination if you want to relax and see unusual stuff and I hope I have opened your eyes to one of the underrated amazing places in Egypt and also in the world.

I might talk about my journey to Siwa as a solo-traveler because I traveled 737.8 km from Cairo alone without any travel agency.

If you want me to share some tips about solo traveling, what do you want to hear about in the next blog post?

You can follow me on my Instagram, I have more pictures of this wonderful trip.

Peace! ✌️

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Published on my new medium publication: Brainwave

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