Mirage

Alexandria Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 15 › view all entries
Just got back from Siwa Oasis, in Egypt's Western Desert, and it was by far the most wonderfukl and rewarding experience I've had in Egypt thus far.

Giza? Pick up any book on Egypt and that'll do you.

Valley of the Kings? Overrated.

Abu Simbel? Pretty damn cool, but too full of tourists so all ambience the place could have is lost.

Alexandria? Aesthetically pleasing, but there isn't much of Alexander's or the Ptolemaic influence left to make it a worthwhile trip.

But Siwa... Ah, Siwa. Descriptions of it being paradise in Egypt really are not far off the mark. The place is magical, the Siwans beautiful. They're not Arabic like other Egyptians, but of Berber origin and are therefore completely different in their customs and behaviour to anyone else we've met here.

I can't really describe Siwa as a place all that well. .. When I get the photographs up, you'll see. The Oracle's temple in Alghurni, the lakes and springs, the Great Sand Sea... phenomenally beautiful. :)

I could happily forego seeing the Sinai Peninsula and have stayed in Siwa for the reminaing three weeks of this holiday. After all, all that's in Sinai is a wreck of a mountain that is swarming with (no doubt) scantily clad tourists, and Sharm el Sheik and Dahab, which are towns overpopulated with scantily clad Russian and German tourists who drink too much and will therefore also come with hundreds of touts trying to sell you every imaginable piece of souveniery plastic crap they can get their hands on.

In Siwa, only independant travellers go there. There was one tour group in town, but they were with an adventure/safari company and were camping their way around Egypt for a month. However, give it a year or two and Siwa will become just like Luxor or Aswan, thanks to a brand spanking new bitumen road connecting Siwa to the coastal highway. I think this saddens me the most as the Siwi will from that point begin to lose their culture... They'll cater solely to the tourists, and in return the tourists will disrespect the Siwi women by taking photographs of them (something which is forbidden in Siwi custom), they'll parade around the springs with very few clothes on completely disregarding the fact that Siwa is one of the most conservative towns in Egypt, and modesty is absolutely necessary. They'll damage the Oracle Temple with graffiti and make sunset over Alghurni Lake feel like a circus. The Great Sand Sea will swarm with Land Cruisers so all feeling of isolation and abandon will be lost. And the worst thing about it is that the Siwi realise that this is how things will be in a few years, and yet they won't be able to stop the busloads of tourists from coming.

It's so easy to detest orgainsed tour groups. So very easy.




Anyway, we're back in Alexandria and we'll be here for a few more days yet... Then off to the Sinai Peninsula to climb up a mountain to see the descendant of a bush that supposedly once caught on fire.

Yeah.. we really should have just stayed in Siwa.
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Alexandria
photo by: Nzelvis