Green Retreats

by Matthew Link

Where: Northwestern Egypt

The pitch: Located 350 miles west of Cairo and near the Libyan border, this resort is nestled at the base of a mesa, overlooking palm groves and a salt lake.

Green factor: Built to create a sustainable tourism industry for the local Siwans, the lodge was constructed in 11th-century style—that is, out of clay and salt, and without electricity. Oil lamps and beeswax candles illuminate the place like a mirage, and coal-filled braziers keep it toasty.

Creature comforts: Handwoven Bedouin carpets on the floors, doors built from palm trees, beds made of palm fronds—surprisingly comfy!—and doors without keys. Food is traditional and ranges from pumpkin couscous with lamb kebabs to a scrumptious date soufflé. The whole place feels like a true desert palace; in fact, Prince Charles and Camilla have stayed here.

Eco-activities: Siwa is the base for excursions into one of Africa's largest dune fields, the Great Sand Sea. There is also the chance to see the ruins of the Temple of the Oracle Ammun, where Alexander the Great journeyed in 331 B.C. Or simply chill in the Siwa lake, said to be as salty as the Dead Sea—and therefore excellent for the skin.

Green rule of thumb: When searching out an eco-lodge, Dalia Shawky of the Siwa Sustainable Development Initiative looks for "a respect for indigenous people—a dynamic where people relate to each other in a positive way."

Adrère Amellal
Tel: 20 2 738 1327
Doubles from $400, including meals, drinks, desert tours, and horseback riding

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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