Siwa in the Summertime


Siwa is best visited outside the summertime. Everyone in Egypt knows this, and we knew this before heading out in the middle of July. But, since I'd survived the Danakil and Joanna hadn't died in Sumatra, we decided it couldn't be too bad.

Aside from 50°C (122°F) heat, it wasn't. This oasis was the very first spot I hit when starting my solo travels over four years ago, and it was the very first post on this blog. Out of a bit of nostalgia we retraced some of my routes. After twenty minutes on our decrepit old rental bikes, bumping along roads half-carpeted in sand, the Saharan sun made Joanna's Scandinavian skin glow bright red.

As a result, I did much of the route as I'd done years before, alone. New hotels, "eco-hotels", white-brick homes, traveler cafes, potholes and telephone wires proved the passing of time, but mud-brick Shali, Jebel Dakrur, Cleopatra's Pool, Siwa's vast, million-palm palmeraie and the 2,000-year-old Temple of the Oracle stood unchanged.

Dozens of unknown oases dot the map around Siwa and the Qattara Depression, most rarely if ever visited by outsiders. Sadly, after only a couple of days in town the heat had forced us back onto the long bus to Cairo.

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