Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 May 2008
Issue No. 896
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Snap shots

By Mohamed El-Hebeishy

DRIVING along the Red Sea coast, in Sharm El-Sheikh or Hurghada, Mohamed El-Hebeishy often wonders where he can stay if he doesn't want a hotel.

Hotels, in their classical definition, have grown to be correlated with "vacation". But does this mean that they are the only option in sight? For a change one may want to stay in a hut, or perhaps a tent. Fortunately enough, you can still find the answer to your long lost quest in some places across the country.

Going to the Sahara, Badawiya Travel offers a seasonal camp in the White Desert National Protectorate. Being inside a national park, one is required to raise the cautiousness level and be extra careful with the surrounding environment. Such ecosystems are fragile by design and the least disturbance might have an augmented butterfly effect. Disturbance vary from throwing a cigarette butt (please remember that any non-organic material will not decompose even in the desert) to collecting geological samples.

Still in the desert, yet moving to the Eastern one, Fustat Wadi Al-Gemal has a permanent camp inside Wadi Al- Gemal National Park. Though it offers camel tours, dinner and folklore shows, the lodging facility is rather limited.

Since it is summer time and one will probably be opting for the seaside rather than the blistering heat of the desert, there are a number of lodging facilities dotting the Red Sea Coast. In Sinai, the area between Taba and Dahab offers a wide array of options -- hut-based, tent- based, or even camp it the way you want. With Basata being the most prominent, various other options are beginning to gain a good reputation. Check out Ananda Beach and Rock Sea.

The South Red Sea is actually my favourite region in Egypt. Going deep south, Camp Zizo (14km south of Marsa Alam) offers a hut-based lodging facility that is one of the most relaxing I have ever enjoyed. Still within the vicinity of Marsa Alam and southward, Marsa Shagra, Nakari and Wadi Lahmi offer both tents as well as huts at your convenience.

Who would abandon five-star hotels with all the luxury and pampering they offer? Not many, but for a change, you could be happy with a simple tent on the beach.

Useful Contacts:

Badawiya Travel -- Tel: +2 012 576 6366

Fustat Wadi Al-Gemal -- Tel: +2 012 100 1109

Basata -- Tel: +2 069 350 0480

Ananda Beach -- Tel: +2 012 356 1742

Rock Sea -- Tel: +2 012 7963 199

Camp Zizo -- Tel: +2 012 248 8062

Marsa Shagra, Nakari & Wadi Lahmi:

photo: Mohamed El-Hebeishy

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