Minamar Hotel

Bahariya Oasis Egypt

Minamar Hotel Complete Package 3 nights /4 Days



Siwa Oasis Map




Siwa Oasis Egypt's Western Desert
With a population of about 23,000, Siwa, the most inaccessible of all Egypt's oasis until very recently, is also one of the most fascinating, lying some 60 feed below sea level.. On the edge of the Great Sand Sea, its rich history includes a visit from Alexander the Great to consult the Oracle of Amun in 331 BC. Archaeologists, such as Liana Souvaltsis and implied that the great military leader was burried here, but no real evidence has come from this. The King of Persia lead a 50,000 man army to the area to distroy the oracle, but the entire army was lost in the desert.

The area has a nice climate, chilly in winter, hot in the summer and moderate in the spring and autumn. Lake Siwa to the west of the town of is a large, saltwater lake.

The area is famous for its dates and olives, and is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Egpt. Olives oil is still made in the area by crushing the olives from the 70,000 olive trees in the area with stones. The dates are gathered by zaggala (stick bearers), who must remain celibate until the age of forty, and the area boasts some 300,000 date trees. It is located on the old date caravan route, yet until recently, it received few other visitors and retained much of its heritage. In fact, until the battles which took place around the oasis in World War II, it was hardly governed by Egypt, and remained mostly a Berber (Zenatiya) community for the prior thirteen centuries. Siwans continue to have their own culture and customs and they speak a Berber language, called Siwi, rather than Arabic. Interestingly, each October there is a three-day festival during which Siwans must settle all of their past year's disputes.

The area is also famous for its springs, of which there are approximately 1,000. The water is sweet, and is said to have medical properties.

Though relaxing and certainly now a part of the tourist community in Egypt, it is very traditional, and visitors should keep this in mind when traveling to the area. Girls of the area are often married by the age of 14, and afterward where completely covering clothing, and allowed little communications with the world outside their immediate family. Many women still wear traditional costumes and silver jewelry like those displayed in The Traditional Siwan House museum in the town center. In fact, the area is also well known for its crafts, particularly woven cloth, which is unique in Egypt.

Siwa History

Siwa like the other Western Oasis, has had a number of different names over the millenniums. It was called Santariya by the ancient Arabs, as well as the Oasis of Jupiter-Amun, Marmaricus Hammon, the Field of Palm Trees and Santar by the ancient Egyptians..

We believe it was occupied as early as Paleolithic and Neolithic times, and some believe it was the capital of an ancient kingdom that may have included Qara, Arashieh and Bahrein. During Egypt's Old Kingdom, it was a part of Tehenu, the Olive Land that may have extended as for east as Mareotis.

In many respects, the Siwa Oasis has little in common with the other Western Oasis. The Siwan people are mostly Berbers, the true Western Desert indigenous people, who once roamed the North African coast between Tunisia and Morocco. They inhabited the area as early as 10,000 BC, first moving towards the coast, but later inland as other conquering invaders arrived. Hence, Siwa is more North African sometimes then Egyptian and their language, traditions, rites, dress, decorations and tools differ from those of the other Western Oasis.

In fact, there is almost nothing known of the Siwa Oasis during Egypt's ancient history. There have been no monuments discovered dating from the Old, Middle or New Kingdoms. It may have been colonized during the reign of Ramesses III, but evidence only exists beginning with the 26th Dynasty that it was part of the Egyptian empire. It was then that the Gebel el-Mawta Necropolis was established, which was in use through the Roman Period. In fact, some sources maintain that it remained an independed Sheikhdom ruled by a Libyan tribal chief until Roman times. The two temples that we know of, both dedicated to Amun, were established by Ahmose II and Nectanebo II.

Yet just exactly how integrated it was in the Egyptian realm is questionable. One of the most notable and interesting stories in Egyptian history involves Cambyses II, who apparently had problems with the Oasis. He sent an army to the Oasis in order to seize control, but the entire caravan was lost to the desert, never arriving at Siwa. To this day, the event remains a mystery, though tantalizing clues seem to be popping up.

It was the Greeks who made the Siwa Oasis notable. After having established themselves in Cyrene (in modern Libya) they discovered and popularized the Oracle of Amun located in the Siwa Oasis, and at least one of the greatest stories told of the Oasis concerns the visit by Alexander the Great to the Oracle.

Almost immediately after taking Egypt from the Persians and establishing Alexandria, Alexander the Great headed for the Siwa Oasis to consult the now famous Oracle of Amun. This trip, made with a few comrades, is well documented. He was not the first to experience problems in the desert, as whole armies before him had been lost in the sand. The caravan got lost, ran out of water and was even caught up in an unusual rainstorm. However, upon arrival at the Oasis and the Oracle of Amun, Alexander was pronounced a god, an endorsement required for legitimate rule of the country.

Cleopatra VII may have also visited this Oasis to consult with the Oracle, as well as perhaps bath in the spring that now bears her name. However, by the Roman period

Augustus sent political prisoners to the Siwa so it too, like the other desert oasis, became a place of banishment.

Christianity would have had a difficult time establishing itself in this Oasis, and most sources agree that it did not. However, Bayle St. John says that in fact the Temple of the Oracle was actually turned into the Church of the Virgin Mary. This is understandable given that along with political prisoners, the Romans banished church leaders to the Western Oasis, including, Athanasius tells us, to Siwa. In fact, we find that during the Byzantine era it probably belonged to the dioceses of the Libyan eparchy. However, no real record, or for that matter, archaeological evidence exists to support Christianity in the Oasis.

By 708 AD, Islam came to the Oasis. Though earlier than some of the other Western Oasis, it had little success at first. The Siwans may have been Christian at this point, but regardless, they withdrew to their fortress and fought valiantly against the invading forces of Musa Ibn Nusayr, finally repelling his army. Next came Tariq Ibn Ziyad of Spain, but his army was also defeated. Though some sources disagree, it was probably not until 1150 AD that Islam finally took hold in the Siwa Oasis.

However, by 1203 we are told that the population of the Siwa Oasis had declined to as low as 40 men from seven families due to constant attacks and particularly after a rather viscous Bedouin assault. In order to found a more secure settlement, they moved from the ancient town of Aghurmi and established the present city called Shali, which simply means town. This new fortified town was built with only three gates. An Islamic historian, Maqrizi, explains that soon after there were 600 people living in the Oasis. At this point the Siwa may have been an independent republic. He goes on to say that it was populated by strange and fearsome animals and that the people were plagued by unusual diseases. However, he also says of the Siwa that its fertility was legendary, citing an "orange-tree as large as an Egyptian sycamore, producing fourteen thousand oranges every year". The Siwa exported crops to Egypt and Cyrene.

One of the main historical references we have on the Siwa Oasis is called the "Siwan Manuscript" which was written during the middle ages and serves as a local history book. It tells us of a benevolent man who arrived in the Oasis and planted an orchard. Afterward, he went to Mecca and brought back thirsty Arabs and Berbers to live in the Oasis, where he established himself, along with his followers in the western part of Shali.


Cairo Bahariya Road

White Desert

Akabat Mountain

White Desert

White Desert Camping

White Desert

White Desert

Crystal Mountain




Minamar Hotel Package

3 Days /2 Nights

Cairo - Bahariya - White Desert

70 $ per person the whole trip

Alexander The great Tour

Cairo, Alexandria ,Alamein, Marsa Matrouh, Siwa, Bahariya US$ 480

Oasis Complete Tour

Cairo, Siwa, Bahariya, White Desert, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga US$ 520

Wheals Valley Safari

Cairo ,Fayoum ,Bahariya ,White Desert US$ 420

King Tut Expedition Adventure

Cairo ,Siwa ,Bahariya ,

Farafra ,Dakhla ,Kharga ,Luxor ,Aswan US$ 770

Felucca Cruise Adventure

Cairo ,Bahariya ,Farafra

Dakhla ,Kharga

 ,Luxor ,Aswan US$ 550