Al-Ahram Weekly Online   3 - 9 April 2008
Issue No. 891
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Why rough it all the way?

A CAMP in the desert would at first trigger an association of roughness and even discomfort. That might be true in most cases but when it comes to Meroe Camp, the analogy is reversed completely.

Located a couple of kilometres east of Meroe's Northern Cemetery, Meroe Camp is situated on a relatively high plateau overlooking the vicinity. A landscape of orange coloured sand dotted with lavish green Acacia trees and the ancient Meroe Pyramids, is simply breathtaking to say the least. One of the most appreciated moments of indulgence during my stay in the camp was to sit in the terrace of the main, and only, building while watching the sunlight bid the day goodbye.

The camp consists of 10 tents furnished with essential needs yet with an authentic style, and an appreciated level of comfort. Spacious enough for two, each tent has its own private bathroom -- yes, you read it right -- your own private bathroom with hot and cold showers in the middle of the desert. But this is not where the surprises end; it is actually where it starts. After having a super active day, visiting the archeological sites, having a walk in the area and enjoying a late afternoon camel ride to the nearby pyramids, I was treated to a full three-course dinner. Oriental cuisine with a touch of Italian is what describes it best. Having pumpkin soup right after a Sudanese salad as a starter was by all means overwhelming. The final blow came as the dessert was served -- vanilla ice cream with powdered cinnamon on top. That was enough to transcend the dinner into a euphoric experience.

We are in the desert raising the "Back to Nature" slogan, enjoying life in a much laidback and simpler manner. But that doesn't mean to go for days without showering or eating tuna salad twice a day. Why rough it all the way when you have alternatives?

For costs, details and reservations, contact the Italian Tourism Co Khartoum, Sudan. Tel: 00249 1834 87961 Fax: 00249 1834 87962 or visit http://www.

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