A Romantic Egyptian Eco-lodge in the Western Desert – Adrere Amellal
Imagine spending a few romantic days in a desert resort that looks like a whimsical sandcastle nestled at the foot of a mystical mountain.
already for a only traveller like me, the Adrere Amellal eco-lodge, about seventeen kilometres beyond Siwa oasis, fulfills ‘romance’ in its broader sense: a fascination that raises ordinary things and events into something beautiful and adventurous, far away from daily life. however, if you are an environmentalist without a romantic bone in your body, this lodge is a wonderful form of sustainable development.
For many tourists, visiting Adrere Amellal might be difficult taking into account time constraints and the lodge’s distance from Cairo (550 kilometres west). However, for those willing to make the trek across the desert by 4-wheel excursion or by the Western Delta Bus Company to the lush Berber oasis of Siwa, it is certainly worth the effort and cost.
This lodge of only forty rooms, is the brain child of Mounir Neamatalla who runs a private company called Environmental Quality International and whose aim in building the resort was to sustain the disappearing Berber crafts and culture. He promoted the old-time Berber craftsmen to teach the younger generation what they knew before it was too late.
So what makes this complicate so romantic and ecologically sustainable?
- It is built in perfect harmony with, and has minimal impact on, the surrounding desert and lakes.
- Its rooms and suites are built using the local ‘kershef’ method: a heat resistant combination of rock salt, clay and palm, and are filled with locally made furniture, fiber, rugs and decorative elements.
- The pool, hidden in a grove of palms and olive trees, is fed from old Roman springs in the area, and all water is recycled.
- To continue the silence of the desert, there is no telephone and guests are not permitted to use cell phones outside their rooms.
- There is no electricity. Hundreds of oil-filled lamps, beeswax candles and the glorious desert stars provide light, while old-style braziers supply heat.
- During the day, meals can be taken in any number of grottoes at the base of White Mountain or hidden among the date palms by the pool. Night-time dining is in a maze of alcoves, the walls of which are studded with shards of hard salt that sparkle in the candlelight.
- Staff are dressed in traditional Berber garb.
- The resort has its own organic garden from which fresh herbs and vegetables are picked daily, and the chefs use locally produced yoghurt, eggs, fruit and bread.
While at Adrere Amellal, guests can check out the fascinating features of nearby Siwa and take a excitement-filled adventure out into the Great Sand Sea.