This may have just turned into Egypt week here at Let's Stay Here. All this talk of Nile cruising and tourism in Egypt has left me dying to talk about my very favorite Egyptian destination, Siwa Oasis. One of Egypt's most isolated towns lies deep in the western desert, about 30 miles east of the Libyan border (I'm curious if tiny little Siwa is now housing Libyan refugees? Anyone?).
I've been to Siwa twice from Cairo and the journey is epic. A train ride to Alexandria to spend the night, hours in a shared taxi west to Marsa Matrouh, and then an 8-hour bus ride due south, deep into Egypt's most remote desert. But when you arrive you are given exactly what you've been promised, an oasis.
Siwa has generally avoided the touristic hustling that is born from centuries of European travel to Pharaonic sites, and maintained a traditional way of life built around harvesting date palms and crafting baskets and other goods. A few days there feel like a few relaxing days on the moon.
When I visited Siwa the only tourists were backpackers and we stayed in a hostel with cots and squat toilets. Since then, Siwa has gotten hip to its appeal and a number of higher end resorts have been built. The most impressive of the bunch is Adrere Amellal (lovely website with lots of photos). Lit at night only with lanterns, the lodge provides 3 gourmet meals a day with food grown primarily on the premises. It's certainly not the budget way to experience Siwa but it does seem quite appealing.