Life in Cairo is mostly characterised by the need for an escape and an ongoing search for tranquility. In a city that bustles from sunrise to sunset, the generosity the country affords in holidays and ideal weather, makes surviving the city that much easier.
On the road between Nuweiba and Taba, 7km after the Nuweiba city crossroad, you'll find the Maagana Camp. Founded in the early nineties, it is situated on a bay and surrounded by the stark beauty of crimson-tinted mountains.
Compared to the several other camps around the area, the most noticeable thing about Maagana is how spacious it is. With the main hut relatively centred, the rest of the grounds are spread out quite a distance to the right along the sea shore and to the left into the mountains.
The camp offers three kinds of accommodation: bungalows, beach huts and ‘khoshas’. The bungalows cost 200LE a night for two people and are easily the nicest of the three options. Built within the levels of the mountains, they come with beds, nice lighting and quaint detailing, including built-in shelves for storage. The front of the bungalows have wide wooden platforms made to relax and lay back on while enjoying the mesmerizing view of the bay.
The beach huts and khoshas are on the other end of the camp with the view of the mountains. At 150LE for two people, the huts also come with electricity and beds; but they are not directly by the water, so they seem cramped and not half as enticing as the bungalows. At 50LE per person, the khoshas are similar to the huts’ overall look except they are built more simply – the huts have a stone base while the khoshas sit directly on the sand. They are without electricity or beds.
Though they're the cheapest option, the khoshas are particularly nice. Located directly on the waterfront, they are constructed with high, peaked ceilings and with windows; they are a lot less confined than the usual design. There isn’t a lot of furniture in terms of cushions to sit on and mattresses to sleep on, but if you have the energy to go around collecting some cushions, a khosha can soon become a home.
Although the electricity option seems out of place for camping, the camp conscientiously uses solar energy for its needs. Six solar panels placed on top of the main hut feed two generators that work throughout the night and at some points during the day.
While the shore isn’t of soft sands, it is still easily swimmable and with a stretch of coral reef the camp is a popular spot for diving – a centre for courses and renting equipment is available. Snorkeling equipment is also rentable for those who prefer a simpler way of appreciating underwater life.
The menu at Maagana is the usual in Sinai style. The breakfast, included in accommodation, consists of eggs, foul and taameya along with white cheese and salad. The lunch and dinner options are a range of salads, pizza and pasta (between 20LE to 40LE) and the choice of fish, chicken or meat meals, with prices around 50LE to 70LE. The service is usually slow, so one should be prepared to wait at least an hour to receive the food.
On a trip like this, it is good to bring along snacks and munchies that are easy to store. A cooler is another useful addition to have; there is rarely ice available at these camps and it keeps water, juice and whatever other beverages nicely chilled.
Perhaps because of Maagana's location there were virtually no mosquitos or flies around, at least during this reviewer's time of visit. However, there was a camp donkey that could be heard hee-hawing at sporadic moments, day and night.
All in all, the Maagana Camp provides pleasant stay and is highly recommended for those seeking the place to laze around in, read, reflect and just enjoy good company.