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Helwan, Cairo, Egypt.
Nile Country Club: Budget-Friendly Family Pool
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been on a hunt for the best pool day uses around Cairo, ranging from budget-friendly to top-of-the -line swanky. Another sun-worshipping session was in store recently, so we decided to head out to a wallet-friendly country club to see if it would satisfy our therapeutic needs.
Located approximately eight kilometres due South on the Maadi Corniche past Alfa Market, the Nile Country Club is surrounded by greenery and a few simple changing rooms, separate for men and women.
The pool area caught us off guard at first sight. With shaded cabanas and very few chairs available to catch the rays, it was totally packed by 11AM with many families. Our preparation for a day by the pool wasn’t enough to say the least. We arrived in simple cover-ups and bathing suits, and seeing as how the few female patrons around were dressed in shari’a swimsuits, we felt uncomfortable and a bit out of place.
That being said, the pool is clean and works great for a family day in the sun or for a group of guys. Conjoined by a wooden walking bridge, the pool area is composed of two circular-style swimming pools of medium size. While it’s nothing fancy, it does the job for a mere 40LE for day use.
A children’s play area and two different restaurants are on site, including the Albergola Café outside. For something more formal, the Blue Nile restaurant offers a full-scale hot buffet to fill your cravings after a day in the heat. The club offers two types of buffets: the silver buffet consists of standard oriental mezzas and cold meats, in addition to shish tawook and other grilled options, followed by standard desserts. The gold buffet offers a more elaborate selection of hot plates and desserts. We were a bit perplexed by the menu’s description of ‘buffet tragedies’, featuring more standard dishes, and were obvious turned off from requesting them. If the moss chicken liver is a buffet tragedy, then we’ll take their word for it.
The club also offers tennis and football fields, as well as table tennis and pool tables. Wi-Fi internet is also available on the premises. A Bedouin tent on the Nile banks promises a spectacular sunset view and is decked out in traditional Bedouin fabric and colours. The club promises a night of dancers and oriental music in the tent, though we weren’t able to stick around to check it out.
Cabins are also available on site for day use (250LE) overnight stays (350LE) and can fit up to six people. For more information, check out their website.
Located inside the Ahmed Oraby Institute, on the Cairo-Ismailia Desert Road, Smart Camp is the perfect place to spend a full care-free day. Essentially farm land, robust in greenery, there are tents set up for the different activities, as well as a building designated to changing rooms and showers. Some of the sports available at the camp include sand boarding, soap football, regular football and American football as well as tennis and volleyball.
Smart Camp operates in a day-use format which starts at 9AM and lasts until 10PM. Larger groups are generally encouraged and this is because the place is usually rented out to schools and universities. One of the offered packages costs 100LE per person and allows you to go sand boarding on the expansive surrounding areas of soft sand or to try out soap football, which is essentially football on a soap covered floor - a recipe for good old fashioned slapstick fun. You can also battle it out in a coloured water fight or stick to the more conventional sports such as football and volleyball. For an extra 100LE you can even go horseback riding.
Another offer at Smart Camp is race-car driving that can have up to nine cars racing at the same time, while taking down your friends in a battle of paintball is also an option. This 200LE package also includes all other sports except for sand boarding and soap football.
A more family-oriented offer goes by ‘Telematch’ and involves games based on knowledge as well as fun and entertainment, appropriate for both children and adults. This package goes for 100LE per person.
When making a reservation you can add 50LE to each person for a full buffet meal that includes barbeque grills. The place is decked out with lighting and speakers if you want to play some of your own music, however, you can also hire a DJ but at a separate price.
A special option is to go camping there for a few days. With a camp fire before you, you'll surely be enticed to roast marshmallows as well as get the chance to embrace the simplicity of wilderness. A group of guides accompany you on this adventure, ensuring safety and the ultimate camping experience.
Smart Camp proved to be a fruitful experience and we suggest that next time you’re looking for a way to spend your day off, this could be the ideal answer to your needs.