A Desert Adventure: Siwa Day 2

The next day, I woke up to a slight chill and a cloudy desert sky.

A fox had circled our camp in the night.

Zait and Aadil packed up.

I ran to the top of one of the dunes for a view

We drove back through town and straight to another spring: Cleopatra’s Pool.  Zait jumped right in.


Next we went to the Temple of Umm Ubayd.  It it thought to date to Nectanebo II‘s reign during the 4th century B.C. In 1898 the structure was blown up by a Siwan governor to reuse the stones as building materials for a new mosque and police station.  So we only have a wall left and a field of rubble lying around it.  

After that Zait dropped us off by Birket Siwa, one of the salt lakes, so we could walk around and he could go to pray.  Along the way we saw a little bit of the local fauna: a heron, several egrets, gulls, and one pink-winged flamingo.  

When Zait returned, we drove down the road to the other side of the salt flat at Fatnas Island, which had yet another spring.

The Temple of the Oracle was next, which is famous for a visit by Alexander the Great in 332 BC after he drove the Persian rulers out of Egypt.  

This, above, is an entrance to a tunnel that used to run from the Temple of the Oracle all the way to Gabel al Mawta.

Next we visited Gabal al Mawta, the Mountain of the Dead.  There are Ptolemaic and Roman-era tombs all over the mountain, most looking like huge anthill entrances under hillocks around the edges, but three tombs still bear signs  (though damaged by looters and time) of the wealth of culture that existed here with colorful paintings and small statuary.

The graffiti on the ceiling at one of the tomb entrances.

We drove back into the desert at sunset.

Two friends of Zait’s were leaving that night to go back to the Netherlands after 3 weeks in Siwa, so Zait invited us along for dinner at a Bedouin Restaurant, El Babenshal.  I had a fantastic chicken dish cooked in a thick sauce with pungent local olives.

After saying goodbye to Kor and Margerita, we went for tea and shisha at Nour el Waha, where we chatted around the fire before our bus.

Finally, we bought our tickets and a bottle of local spring water and boarded the bus back to Alex.


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