Siwa Oasis and Marsa Matrouh on Bike

Trip Start Jun 04, 2006
Trip End Nov 04, 2007

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Siwa Oasis is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Egypt. It is an oasis in the middle of the Sahara desert, which is 50 km from the Libyan border. It is situated 12 mt below the sea level and 80 kms long and 29 km wide. It is like a vast field of greenery in the middle of the desert. When you approach it from the road, you travel between the canyons and suddenly the oasis appears from the distance, which at first glance it may look like a mirage as you wouldn't expect to find something so fresh and green in the middle of the desert. As you approach it, it looks like a valley with tall date palm trees and many many crop plantations. It makes you wonder how a place like this could exist in the desert.

The drive from Marsa Matrouh took us about 4 hours. We stopped on the way for a break. It is a very strange feeling, driving in the middle of the desert, with hardly any life around you and no cars. Except a few herd of camels! We did manage to see some snail shells on the road, which Ahmed told us they are fossils, as the desert used to be covered by the sea once.

Our first day in Siwa was quite pleasant. Very chilled out. Actually this trip is going to be a lot less hectic than the one before, which is quite nice. The couple I am travelling with are also British. They are from Cambridge. You would never guess they are in their mid 50s. They are very lively and a lot of fun, specially when they are arguing! :) They have been really nice to me. I am actually getting spoiled by them. I have to say they have really cheered me up.

We visited the temple of Oracle yesterday. This is where Alexander the great visited the oracle to find out about his future and he was told that he is the son of Zeus. He had wished to return back to Siwa but sadly he never did. We rented bicycles and visited the temple, as well as Cleopatra bath and had a good ride around the Oasis. It was one of the best ways of seeing the place. Not as much fun as being on a donkey but even more bumpier! :)

After our bike ride we went to see the salt lake and stayed around the suburbs of the Oasis to watch the sunset. It was quite something. We had tea with Ahmed, who filmed the series in the foot steps of Alexander, the Siwan style. They serve you tea three times, and each time they make the tea sweeter and after the last one, you are meant to leave the house, but this serving of tea takes up to one hour and maybe even more.

The Siwan people are really barbers and they have their own dialect. Which Egyptians do not understand. They are very friendly and have a very basic way of living. The women in Siwa cover themselves completely from head to toe and they are not allowed to go out, only from one house to another and are not allowed to talk to other men. To me that is very harsh, but who am I to judge!

Our hotel is very basic. We don't have any air conditioning! And it is very hot. Don't think of sleeping outside, unless you don't mind creepy crowlies on you! :) I had 4 showers last night, just to cool down and eventually I ended up putting tooth paste on my face and my arms to cool myself off! It worked, but I had a very restless night!

This morning we visited the mountain of dead and saw some cool mummies, Egyptian and Greek. You can tell the difference by the way they are lying. The Egyptian or the pharaohnic mummies have their arms crossed on their chest and the Greeks have their arms crossed on their belly. The tombs we visited on the mountain, belonged to Oreisis and Ammon. Very beautiful polychromic painting on the walls.

Now we are off to the desert for our jeep safari!
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