Exploring the Oasis by Donkey!

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Africa » Egypt » Western Desert » Siwa Oasis
May 27th 2008
Published: May 29th 2008
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The Mountain of the DeadThe Mountain of the DeadThe Mountain of the Dead

caves are still being excavated
Siwa is great! It is a small desert community that had no road until 1980, so things are still very "old Egypt". There are donkeys everywhere, the women were covered from head to toe (face too), and every morning everyone lines up at the bakery to collect their flatbread for the day (including me!). It is only 90km from the Libya border and in the middle of the desert. I was told by a Canadian guy (Scott Cable, met him in Irkutsk, Russia) that I had to check it out. He also informed me of an interesting tidbit of information that he was told by an Egyptian guy regarding the habits of the local men and their lust for the donkeys. Apparently some politician's wife was bothered by this fact, and ordered that all the female donkeys be removed from Siwa to protect them from this fate, and I noticed that this seems to be true. I checked out every donkey that I saw (leave it to me!) and they were all male! I told this to the Japanese girl that I met and whenever we would hear a donkey cry in the distance we would both cringe and say: "Oh,
view of Siwa view of Siwa view of Siwa

from the top of the Mountain of the Dead.
poor donkey."


The bus arrived at 5:30-6:00am, my favourite time to arrive in a new place. I immediately noticed a foriegner and approached her. Sadoka is 28 year old Japanese woman and we set out to find a room together. Once we had found one that we liked (Yousef Hotel), which had a great view of the town from or balcony, we set out for some breakfast and hired a donkey. We quickly learned about the bakery and grabbed some cheese, fresh bread, and fillafil and had a feast in the donkey carriage, while Mustaffah (our driver who was supposed to be 19, looked more like 12) led us to the Mountain of the Dead. A hard sand hill filled with caves where there are 2500 year old drawings on the walls. Then we went to the Oracle Temple, and then to Cleopatra's pool where we went for a swim. Then we went to a hot spring, and swam there again. Riding around in a donkey carriage with a local guide was amazing, and there was almost no foriegners around, (some arrived at night, but we seemed to be alone all day, which was great--darn tourists! haha).
A Natural BedoiunA Natural BedoiunA Natural Bedoiun

Mustaffah, Ali Baba and I cruising through the oasis!

By this time it was just after noon and it was beginning to get quite warm, so we went back to our room and hibernated like the locals (all the shops close in the afternoons, very lazy place, but I understand- it was SO hot, probably 45C). Our room had a great breeze, and I read and snoozed until 4pm, when we were starving and went to get some food. I had some great chicken couscous and then we checked out some local shops until we met Mustaffah and Ali Baba (the donkey) for the journey to Paradise Island to swim and watch the sunset. This was amazing. To get to the sea you had to walk though some weeds to a huge area where there is only about 10cm of water over the hard sand. Then you cross two streams of cold fresh water and some dunes and then you get to the very hot and salty water. It was similar to the Dead Sea, because it was so easy to float, but not quite as extreme. We had a great time laying in the water, and Sadoka and Mustaffah even buried me in the hot sand (the
Paradise IslandParadise IslandParadise Island

the oasis! really beautiful
sand here is supposed to be great for your skin-- and it was true, my skin was softer after. The sea was so salty that your skin would be white when you were dry. We then went swimming in another fresh water "pool", before having some tea and watching the beautiful sunset.

I love Siwa!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Fresh water PoolFresh water Pool
Fresh water Pool

Mustaffah jumping off the donkey cart into the 7m deep natural pool.
Siwa CompanionsSiwa Companions
Siwa Companions

Satoko and I...we had a blast together! Cool people in a cool place makes travelling amazing.

30th May 2008

Great pictures and adventures
Hi Erin, We really enjoyed your pictures and comments of your travels. It is like we were travelling along with you. You look like the locals. Take care, be safe. We love you. Got your postcard thanks. Love Dad and Mom XXXXOOOO

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