Island Of The Blessed

BY Lisa Lindblad

August 3, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 4.11.38 PMEgypt might not be the first place you would consider traveling to these days, but the Siwa Oasis may strike you as it did Herodotus — “an island of the blessed.”   Accessible by charter, by train or by 9-hour bus ride from Cairo, the Siwa depression lies in the Western sector of Egypt and just 50 miles to the east of Libyan border.  Its claim to fame is as a place visited by Alexander the Great.  He came to consult the Oracle of Amun – in fact he came twice – and while there may have been antiquities to write home about, today there are few.  Some of the land has succumbed to sand dunes, some of the lakes have become so saline as to be useless.  But there are other land formations and lakes that make a visit here stunningly beautiful, mystical, even mythological.  Cleopatra’s pool, the Mountain of the dead induce the imagination to spin stories.  And at night, as Benedict Allen wrote,  “it is so quiet that you begin to hear the stars.”

The place to stay is Adrar Amelal, a divine, simply divine, hotel, one of those rare places that is the product of one person’s imagination coupled with an unerring eye and some money.  This is a place that marries quality with simplicity, a place that even the most spoiled of aesthetes would fine infinitely satisfying. With hundreds of beeswax candles in lieu of electrical light and an architecture that melds into the desert, you sleep like a queen in the desert, on perfect sheets, with all amenities, having fed on organic produce grown on the hotel’s grounds.



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John Derian Goes West