The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the name Siwa is that magnificent sunset… where the sun slowly sets behind the dunes in unparalleled haste, turning the clear blue skies to all possible shades of orange and red. Its mesmerizing sunrises as well, when we hike up it’s highest point before dawn to catch the sun as it shines its first light slowly from behind the millions of palm trees transforming the dark of night to a fabulous green full of life.
The first time I visited Siwa was in 2007 on a business trip; and it was love at first sight. We were hosted by the Oasis elders, and I fell in love with everything about Siwa, though we didn’t get to see much of it. The Oasis is inhabited by 11 different tribes, whose chiefs constitute a tribune that resolves all issues that may arise between the population, and we were told that in the Oasis there is rarely a theft or crime as we know in our cities as all issues are resolved immediately by the tribune of elders and their decisions are respected by all. That is what we saw and felt, an atmosphere of peace and calm overcomes you the moment you set foot in the oasis and a sense of security beyond explanation.
As time was very tight during this first trip, as soon as I returned I started looking and seeking any of my friends to go with me again, to see and visit all the magnificent sights and enjoy the activities I had read about before my trip but didn’t get a chance to try. I tried to explain the magic of the place and the fascination I felt, but the long distance and the fact that none of my friends where actually avid dessert fans ended all my attempts in failure. The years passed, and I didn’t get to go to Siwa again.
Until 2011, when I came by Weekend Trip’s Eid trip to Siwa, in November. Without hesitation, I booked and travelled with them. I did not know any of the travelers nor the organizers back then, all of whom have become close friends and travel buddies after that trip, and ever since I have been visiting Siwa with Weekend Trips 2 times a year.
Siwa has something to offer for everyone. Winter and Summer activities. Swimming in deep wells and shallow ones. Salt lakes and fresh water ones. Cool springs and hot water ones. Ancient ruins; the old Mountain village of Shali, Temple of the Oracle and Mountain of the Dead. Natural tourism; forests of palm trees as far as the eye can see, magical sunsets, mesmerizing sunrises and vast desserts. Sports activities; cycling through the oasis villages, sandboarding, sand dunning in 4X4 cars and camping under the dessert starry skies. Shopping; best date and olive products the country has to offer, traditional artifacts and Bedouin silver jewelry. All that in addition to walking around the town center enjoying its simple restaurants and cafes, the hospitality of its people and their never-ending stories.
But all that is not why I love Siwa, and never tire of visiting it twice a year. Siwa has a special magic to it, an appeal that is hard to explain to someone who has not experienced it. I fell in love with the place; the land, the people, the palm trees, the waters, the air, the sun, the skies, the stars, the sunsets and the sunrises. I fell in love with everything about it the first time I set foot in the oasis, long before I got a chance to experience any of the activities it had to offer.
Yasmina El Habbal has encountered our Weekend Trips program in 2011 and enjoyed few journeys when she decided to apply to be part of our team. Now she is a part time senior trip leader, guiding travelers by passion.