Located on the North East side of the Sinai Peninsula and about an hour’s drive from Nuweiba, Ras Shetan is a collection of rustic Bedouin-style camps on the Red Sea. A trip to Ras Shetan strikes fear into the hearts of parents; so do us a favour and tell them you’re headed to the general region of Basata– the lack of allusion to the devil is comforting. Name aside, Ras Shetan is a perfectly safe place to visit and is one of the most beautiful corners of Egypt. Although just a six-hour drive from Cairo, this area remains cheap and under-developed and is a great place to escape the vanities of urban living and get closer to the land.
If you have a sturdy car, driving to Ras Shetan is a good option to avoid being at the mercy of an overworked bus driver. Groups can consider hiring a minibus: many drivers offer a drop-off and pick-up service for around 1000LE, which is reasonable when split between a big group. Ras Shetan is also accessible by an East Delta bus from Cairo’s Almaza station to Nuweiba (about 80LE for a one-way ticket). Make sure to keep your bags with you and tell the driver exactly where you want to get off, though: Ras Shetan doesn’t have an official stop, so you’ll just be let off by the side of the road wherever you choose.
Be sure to bring your passport with valid visa or Egyptian ID; checkpoints are frequent on the route through Sinai and you will be delayed or sent back without valid documents. High-rollers could consider flying to Sharm El Sheikh and catching a three-hour bus ride up to Ras Shetan from there; but with all things considered this probably wouldn’t save much time.
Camping is the name of the game in Ras Shetan. Regardless of the camp that you choose to reside in, your accommodation will consist of a sturdy hut in the hills or a shack by the beach. Both options are clean and reasonably comfortable: the beach shacks have soft, sandy floors, while the huts are a bit more private with elevated sleeping areas and private porches. Both options start at about 25LE per night for as many people as you can fit. Bathrooms are communal but clean with ample running water. Toilet paper is provided for an extra fee; so you might want to bring your own.
The camps run on generators; meaning that electricity will be cut at midnight, so make sure to bring plenty of candles and flash lights with extra batteries. It’s also a good idea to bring along bug spray, sleeping bags or sheets and pillows, and any other comforts that you can’t live without. We recommend Ayash Camp (call 010 4442147), a great choice with its friendly staff and a lovely location complete with a massive beachside rock that’s perfect for star-gazing. Other good options are Castle Beach Camp (call 012 7398495) and Petra Camp (call 010 4722001), which boast some of the best food around.
The food is one of the highlights of the Ras Shetan experience. Breakfast is a feast of eggs, thin Bedouin bread, jam, butter, fruit salad and beans or potatoes with coffee or tea, all for about 10LE. Snack options include fries, pizza and sandwiches, which are available throughout the day along with a selection of sodas and juices. At night, Bedouin feasts of rice and meat, fish or vegetables with salads are made to order for your party. Most camps have a tab system, where the staff keep track of your orders and you pay at the end of your stay; so make sure to keep your own record to avoid any surprises. Food, drinks and water for a five-day stay in Ras Shetan shouldn’t set you back more than about 250LE if you eat a lot; so forget about money and enjoy the surprisingly delicious fare on offer.
Relaxing is the main activity here, with tents and chairs set up by the water for lazy bodies to occupy them. Bring books, magazines, cards, backgammon and musical instruments to stay entertained all day long. If you are a shisha addict; BYOS (bring your own shisha) and enjoy it by the beach. If you don’t like to be completely sedentary, it’s also possible to go for a hike in the craggy hills outside of the camps, or take a boat cruise in the sea and explore the reefs in the area. Most people turn in early and rise early at the camp to maximise daylight hours, but an evening spent by the beach gazing at the stars is also one of Ras Shetan’s best forms of entertainment.
When to Go:
Camps in Ras Shetan are usually open from spring to late autumn and the weather is great throughout this period. For maximum beach time; go between June and the first week of July, but be prepared to survive without AC throughout your stay. It’s best to avoid Ras Shetan and Sinai in general during August, when it’s unbearably hot without AC. An autumn visit will still reap sunshine but the mosquitoes are terrible; so bring bug spray and bug candles to stay sane during this time. Be prepared for a multicultural crowd at the camps, with the area often populated by Israeli tourists during popular Jewish holidays– the 6th of October weekend and the Easter holidays are peak times for the camp.
Get a bunch of friends together and head to Ras Shetan for a cheap and satisfying sojourn in the sun– this gorgeous corner of Egypt just might become your new favourite vacation destination.