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Everything You Need To Know About The Egyptian Oases

‍The oases of Egypt are some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes. Whether you're looking to escape urban life or delve into the fascinating history of Ancient Egypt, there are oases all over the country that offer something for everyone. Oases vary in climates, landscapes, and cultures. Some are more developed than others, but they all have one thing in common - stunning scenery. The ancient Egyptians once called these green enclaves ‘wadis’ - Arabic for ‘valley’ - which is fitting given how seemingly endless they can feel from a human perspective. What is an oasis? Well, an oasis is simply a basin that has water stored in it during certain times of the year. The harsh dry season makes surface water scarce, but the rains fill these artificial lakes and streams with natural runoff water. As a result, these depressions become rich and wet enough to sustain vegetation and wildlife.

How Were The Egyptian Oases Formed?

During the last ice age, when the Nile River was much smaller and less predictable than it is today, the surrounding desert was much more barren. As the climate warmed, the fertile floodplains around the river began to grow crops. Families who settled here would have had access to better water than those who stayed on the riverbanks, which would have made them more prosperous too. Farmers, who now numbered in thousands, would have had enough wealth to hire servants and build monuments. The rich soil in the floodplains and low-lying areas around the Nile allowed for the cultivation of rice and other water-loving crops. When the rainy season arrived and water filled the riverbeds, farmers could plant their fields. This meant that food production was not dependent on the yearly rainy season, which was helpful when the climate changed or the river was lower than usual.

Different Types of Oases in Egypt

As well as the oases formed by ancient river systems, there are also salt pans, saline lakes, and sand dunes. Salt pans are areas where salt is mined from the ground. Saline lakes are areas where salt crystals have formed in the ground underneath a lake’s surface. Sand dunes are areas where sand has built up into large dunes.

Which is the Best Oasis to Visit in Egypt?

You can find truly spectacular oases throughout the country, but the most popular tourist destinations often have a high concentration of oases as well. If you want to get away from the crowds but still visit popular destinations, you’ll want to visit the Western Desert. Here, you can enjoy the beauty of a vibrant oasis while getting away from the throngs of tourists who flock to the Red Sea. If you want to visit an oasis that’s less well-known, but still offers an experience that’s unlike anywhere else in the world, head to the Western  Desert. Here, you can visit a vibrant oasis and marvel at the region’s beautiful landscape without having to compete with large numbers of tourists.

Cities, Villages, and Settlements Around An Oasis

The most famous cities like Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor are often surrounded by amazing oases, too. If you’re traveling to one of these cities, it’s worth spending a few days exploring the area around your accommodation. There are often fantastic towns nearby that you may have visited before. There are many smaller cities and villages in Egypt that aren’t famous outside of the country. While some of these not places may not be as stunning as the more popular tourist destinations, they are often more peaceful and less hectic than the larger cities. If you are traveling to one of these less popular places, make sure you plan your trip around your accommodation. Many of these smaller cities and villages are off the beaten path, so you may need to spend a night somewhere else if you want to visit them.

Popular Activities Near An Oasis

Visiting an oasis is the perfect way to relax after a long day of exploring the country. Many hotels in oases offer activities like horse riding, canoeing, birdwatching, camping, hiking, trekking, cycling, and more. If you’re traveling to one of these places, make sure you visit nearby before you arrive. You can often find reviews and information about the surrounding area online. There are also many tours that visit nearby attractions such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the temples of Abu Simbel, and the canals of Luxor. If you’re planning to visit an oasis, make sure to book your tickets or tour before you arrive. This way, you don’t waste time waiting for your tickets or finding open tours.

Pros and Cons of Visiting An Oasis In Egypt

Visiting an oasis is an incredible experience for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors. Most of these places are peaceful, remote, and quiet. They are also rich in history and offer a different cultural experience than bustling cities. The downside to visiting an oasis is that you will probably have to wait in line to get into the park, and you may have to deal with a bit of crowding. It is also difficult to travel around the country without taking a day trip to an oasis - though you could opt for a cruise instead.

The Most Famous Egyptian oases include: 

Baharia Oasis, Farafra Oasis, Dakhla Oasis, Kharga Oasis, and Siwa Oasis.

Baharia Oasis: 

Bahariya is most well-known for the so-called Golden Mummies tourist attraction and the Black Desert area. It has many dunes surrounding it as well as hot springs and good hiking routes. Historical antiquities from the Middle Kingdom and two interesting museums are also located in Bawati town. Baharia Oasis is 2,000 square kilometers in size and used to be along an old donkey trading route from Cairo as well as an important center of wine production in ancient Egypt. 

Farafra Oasis:

Farafra is a small town with a lot of tradition and relaxation. It's one of the tiniest oases in the Western Desert connecting the area together and is located quite near Libya. It is also situated at the borderline of the start of the White Desert, a beautiful landscape of wind-carved chalk formations. Farafra's economy is centered on agriculture, including growing melons, dates, olives, and rice. Your drive to Farafra Oasis also takes you by Crystal Mountain, which is a very interesting and fun place to visit. 

Dakhla Oasis:

Dakhla Oasis is located between Farafra and Kharga Oases and is often considered the most picturesque. It has over 500 water sources feeding it from the surrounding area and magenta cliffs, and beautiful verdant gardens. You can get an outstanding view by going to the Badawiya Dakhla Hotel pool and getting a good look over the beautiful oasis. Anthropologists believe that thousands of years ago, Dakhla had a massive lake where many animals like elephants and bison went to drink. 

Kharga oasis:

This is also known as the Outer Oasis and is the largest in the Western Desert and the farthest outside Cairo. It lies closest to Luxor and was known in ancient Egypt as the Oasis of Thebes. Kharga is ringed by mountains and sand dunes and has many interesting things to discover including numerous fossils including from dinosaurs. 

Siwa oasis:

Siwa is the most isolated big oasis in Egypt and is very close to the Libyan border and over 550 km from Cairo. The best way to get there is from Marsa Matruh driving 300 km on the road. Siwa has nice limestone cliffs around it and has the Great Sand Sea to the south as well as various salt lakes that go from being quite big to drying up during the hottest times of the year. There are charming old buildings in Siwa made from mud from the lakes, and Siwa is known across Egypt (and the world!) for its delicious dates and olives, not to mention its extraordinary beauty. Siwa is also becoming increasingly known for its drinking water, and numerous mineral water companies now produce and ship water from this beautiful oasis. 


Egyptian oasis are truly one of the country’s most stunning landscapes, and they’re definitely worth visiting. The lush vegetation, stunning architecture, and fascinating history of these green enclaves make them truly memorable places to visit. If you want to see what they’re all about, you’ll need to travel to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Or, you could visit a less-known oasis in the Eastern Desert or Western Desert. The choice is yours!

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