We spent the night here in the Bahariya Oasis and leave this morning for a 10 hours in our 4 WD deep into the Western Desert The only things out here are sand and checkpoints. There are markers for a new road to be built but only minor construction has started in small sections.
The landscape here is mainly that of sand dunes and flat rocky areas. We stop at a wreckage of a helicopter. We are told that it is of a German helicopter from World War II.
We stop for a picnic lunch along the desolate road under a large rock appropriately called “ship rock”. The desert once again has shown its versatile history as the rocks here are made entirely of shells. Millions of years ago this entire area was a large ocean. The area is literally made of layers upon layers of small round clam shells.
We finally arrive in Siwa. This area was separate from Egypt till the late 19th C. it has it's own culture and language. The people are a mix of the Bedouins, Sudanese and Egyptian and total about 20,000. There are very traditional here and the women
are fully covered. Their black veils completely covers their face even the eyes. They wear a blanket type garment that covers their bodies to the ground and also their hands. The homes are mud brick and most have donkey carts to get around. There are cars and motor bike too. The oasis has over 300 fresh water springs that help to irrigate the 300,000 date palms and 70,000 olive trees and hundreds of fruit trees. Adding to the picture is the huge salt lake that borders half of the oasis.
Our first destination is to the Shali Fort this is a mud brick fortification built in the 12th C.
for protection. Much of the area has eroded around the top areas, although lower down people still maintain the mud bricks for their homes. The top of the fort gives a great view of the entire oasis and we meet here later to watch the beautiful sunset.
We have found the perfect restaurant here in Siwa, it has a blend of Egyptian and Western foods. We eat every meal here for the next two days and even order take way for our journey when we leave.
They have omelets
and fruit filled pancakes(crepes) that are delicious. The pizza is one of the best pretty close to American/Australian as you can get. The French Fries are light and crispy. YUM my mouth is watering as I write.
We have a full day planned and the day starts with a donkey cart (taxi) ride around the oasis. We visit the Tombs of the dead - Gabal El Mawta, and the Prophecy Temple that is famous because Alexander the Great made a special trip here to receive the prophecy from the god Amoun. No one really knows what the prophecy was but he did send a messenger back home to his mother to tell her that everything was alright and everything was done. On his return trip to Alexandria he died and to this date his body nor tomb has ever been found.
Our next stop is to the Cleopatra's Spring. We take some time out to have a swim in this large pool. The water is tepid and the steps and bottom are covered in slime / algae with a mild sulphur smell, yet the water is clean and clear. Francine gets in quickly for a change.
MAIN ROAD INTO SIWA
Date & olive groves
Angie shows her prowess at diving and at swimming the butterfly.
Our young men driving the carts are delightful and all speak really good English. They tell us that they are in high school and play in a steel drum band and they travel around the area playing there music. 2 of the boys are Identical twins.
We are back in the taxi cart and meander through the palms and olive groves back into town. We pass though areas of homes and see how basic the lives of the people are and how they live.
We have a short break and do some blogging and have lunch. Then we are off on the dune riding in the 4WD for the afternoon.
Riding the dunes are somewhat disappointing as we are comparing it to the time we did this in Peru. The land rovers are not as fast or agile as dune buggies so the thrills are minimal for us, the others love it. The land rovers have trouble climbing the dunes and the drivers stop at the top then slowly go over the apex, sometimes they do pick up some speed and it is fun but
most of the time it is anti climatic. But is fun never the less.
We get to go sand boarding!!! The dune is very steep and long. The ride down was fantastic—the downside is that they are making us carry the board back up the dune. If you haven't ever climb a sand dune you have no idea how difficult this is So of course since we have done this before we know that no one should have to carry a board and walk back up the dune. We complain to the tour guide. The drivers were just sitting and smoking in the shade while we do all the work and we paid for the privilege. We suggested that they earn the generous amount they were being paid and retrieve the boards and the people back up the dune. The leader said that this was impossible. So we went to cool off.
Our second chance at swimming is in a large spring feed lake surrounded by tall reeds. The water is cool but refreshing. Tiny little fish share the spring and the swim is a great way to cool off after driving through the desert dunes, and climbing
Our first beer & it's Egyptian, made into a shandi
back up them.
After a while it was decided to go sand boarding again. The drivers have agreed to do as we asked and we all had a great time boarding down the slopes. Even the older couple Wendy in her mid 60's and Ray in his mid 70's took a turn.
Our 3rd chance to get into the water is a mineral spring that has a heavy sulphur smell and much warmer than Cleopatra's Spring but much smaller and more like a big hot tub. We don't stay here long because it is getting close to the sunset and we need to climb to the highest dunes to enjoy it to the fullest.
Our drivers speed over the dunes and get us to a high dune just in time to see a very spectacular sunset. They build a fire and make tea, we munch on peanuts and potato chips after taking our pictures.
What a wonderful way to end the day.
But wait... we arrive back to the hotel, take a quick shower and go for a late dinner. Or at least Angie does. Francine again is not feeling well. She decides to go to
City Tour - Sam & Stef drivers in training. Others in the group on bike
bed early. Ending off the trip in the same fashion as Morocco. We think it could be too much oil in some of the food.
Tot: 2.445s; Tpl: 0.08s; cc: 16; qc: 66; dbt: 0.0516s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.5mb