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The Mesmerizing Salt Pools of Siwa Oasis

Siwa Oasis, one of Egypt’s most remote settlements, is also a popular tourist destination thanks in no small part to the stunningly beautiful salt pools with their azure water that people can float in.

Salt is both a blessing and a curse in Siwa. Years ago, people started realizing that there is money to be made in the salt trade, and salt mining operations created the salt lakes that the oasis is now famous for. Bottled salt and salt-rock souvenirs such as lamps are also very popular among the tourists that visit this wonderful places, but it’s the natural salt pools that get the most attentions, especially since photo-sharing sites like Instagram became so popular. To be fair, they really are a perfect place to have your picture taken, whether you’re a simple tourist or an Instagram influencer.

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But salt causes a lot of problems as well. For one, the fresh water springs in the area run into salt water lakes, making the water both impossible to drink and use in agriculture. This means that the only crops that can be grown in the area are hardy ones like olives and dates. Also, all the bodies of water in Siwa Oasis are so incredibly salty that no marine life forms can survive.

 

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The local population, which consists of ethnic Siwans, who speak Siwi, and Arabic-speaking Egyptians, uses the salty soil to build traditional mudbrick houses. On the one hand, the high salt content helps strengthen the walls of the houses, but when it rains the salt starts to melt and can cause the structures to collapse. This is such a serious issue in Siwa that most houses are prefabricated to remove the risk of collapse due to melting.

 

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The stunning salt pools found in Siwa Oasis are beautiful to look at, but tourists wanting to bathe in them should take special care not to scratch themselves on the sharp salt crystals that basically make up the bottom and the edges of these pools. Bringing rubber slippers is also a good idea, as the salt can pretty much destroy regular footwear.

 

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Because of the extremely high salt content of the water in these pools, you basically don’t need to move a muscle to stay afloat, as the salt helps anything and anyone float freely. But while taking a nap in one of these amazing bodies of water may seem like a great idea, because of the high salt content in the water, it’s not recommended to spend more than 25 minutes in one of these pools.

 

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While Instagram pics of the salt pools have really put Siwa Oasis on  the travel map, it’s really worth visiting both for its unique culture and its history. Located in the Qattara depression which spans the north west of Egypt, Siwa was once famous as the home of the Oracle of Amun, whom Alexander the Great visited during his campaign to conquer the Persian empire. The ruin’s of the oracle’s temple can still be visited.

 

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