This tiny glamping fortress is decked out with a floor heating platform perched atop a rock plateau carpeted with lush greenery and bordered by a medieval-like stone wall.
There’s 749 kilometres of road between Cairo and the Siwa Oasis, a shock of green amongst the beige expanse of the Western Desert. Known for its mystical salt lakes and fresh springs flanked by palm trees, travellers the world over come to Siwa to escape from modern civilization - away from the all-consuming energy of the city, and towards the slower pace of life at Siwa’s unassuming stays. But if you dare venture a little further from this literal oasis in the unforgiving desert, you’ll find yourself caught in the Grand Sand Sea - one of the largest dune fields in the world. And the further you go, the more likely you’ll run into… a bunch of weird, white alien bubbles?
You may mistake it for a mirage, but what you’re actually looking at is one of the most relaxing glamping experiences in Siwa. Named ‘Al Nyhaya’, or ‘The End’ in Arabic, the resort is made up of multiple Lotus Belle tents decked out with a floor heating platform, surrounded by a stone wall. Within its confines are a botanical garden and a large pool with natural spring water. It’s this spring that made ‘Al Nyhaya’ possible, although it was through a twist of fate that founder Sylvester El Sayed found it at all.
As a frequent visitor to Siwa from Amsterdam, Dutch-Egyptian El Sayed always felt a connection with the area. “When we went for sunset iftar in the desert during Ramadan, there was something about Siwa that stoked my passion,” El Sayed tells #SceneTraveller. In 2018, he pursued those passions with hopes of buying a vacation home in Siwa, only to be led astray into the Grand Sand Sea, where he suddenly became the proud owner of 100 feddans of pure nothing. Nothing, that is, unless you manage to find a spring 125 metres underground.
Riding in a 4x4, the serendipitous discovery of the spring inspired El Sayed to go a step beyond his original plans for a vacation home into a full-blown glamping destination. “Slowly I came up with the idea of creating a getaway with the vibes of A Thousand and One Nights in the middle of the desert,” El Sayed says. “For me it was an honour to be able to create something in the beautiful country where my father was born. Things felt right and I followed my dream.”
And what a dream it is. As they’re serenaded by the folk music of local Beber bands, guests at Al Nyhaya are treated to traditional Siwan food cooked fresh on-site. Only 30 minutes away from Siwa’s salt lakes and local landmarks like Cleopatra’s Spring or the Shali Fortress, the camp offers private excursions to a variety of locations, as well as a safari adventure on a 4x4. Those who prefer to journey inwards are invited to unwind and recharge with meditation and yoga classes in the desert.
The mystical campground has hosted a number of techno parties in the past, with big names in the electronic scene throwing private raves in the middle of the Grand Sand Sea. With plans to host its first live music festival in the fall, ‘Al Nyhaya’ is slowly becoming one of Siwa’s brightest hotspots.
Al Nyhaya accepts inquiries and booking requests through their Instagram page @alnyhaya, their website alnyhaya.com, and booking.com. All visitors entering Egypt, including nationals, must be in possession of a negative PCR test taken at a maximum of 72 hours before their flights.