Cairo Sights & Travel Guide - Sights & Travel reviews in Egypt

Cairo Sights & Travel

Good Vibes: Five Reasons HaciendaBay is 2016’s Go-To for a Perfect Sahel Summer
Published On: 04/08/2016

Unless you've been living under a rock, you might have noticed a strange, seasonal trend rear its head again; one that sees Cairenes flee the city and head north at weekends – or just at any time possible. Once there, these runaways engage in a range of different beach-based activities. The phenomena we speak of is, of course, Sahel Season. Yes, the North Coast will be a run with holidaymakers and sun worshippers all summer long, but there's one place in particular that seems to keep people coming back – HaciendaBay. The Palm Hills Developments seaside commune was a hit with beachgoers last year and here's why it's all the 'Good Vibes' you need this summer… Because Lake Yard is Even Bigger & Better This Year… The 'Retreat for All Treats' is back after a successful run last summer, bringing together all manner of fun and good vibes under one roof. Yes, that wonderful thing called Lake Yard is, once again, the place to head when you get that very specific post-swim, beachside hunger that we all get. This year's visiting eateries will include including TED's, Mince, Kazouza, Shader, Stavolta, Formula Onederfu, Qahwet Warda and more. It wouldn't be Lake Yard with some top-notch shopping, either, and fashionistas and shopaholics will be find plenty to sink their teeth into, with the likes of Pop Up Shop, Amina K., Vintique, Bluemint & Co., Vintage Boutique & Nile Eyewear displaying their unique goods and popular salon, Chez Richard, offering its beauty services. Because You Can Be Fit with BeFit… Here's an interesting fact; did you know that you can exercise and actually enjoy it? No, seriously it's true – sweating it out for the sake health and vanity in equal measures can come with its share of good vibes, too. Case in point: Aly Mazhar's BeFit setting up shop to help keep you beach-fit. Anyone who's followed Mazhar's career will know that he's found a new lease of life in the fitness game after his football career and has emerged as one of the biggest personalities in fitness in Egypt. This summer, Mazhar and co are donning the titles of 'Beach Freaks' and will be hosting various workout sessions throughout the summer, because, well, you need to keep up the forma. Because SANE Will Give Parents Their Sanity… There's good vibes all round for kids, too. Yes, Zamalek's SANE is hitting the road, this summer, too. The group which brought new meaning to community fun is ready and waiting at Lake Yard with lots in store, including a kid's playground. The more interesting aspect of SANE's summer surprises in Sahel is its cooking, music, dance and acting classes. Unfortunately, it is for kids, though, so, no – this is not your chance to finally be 'discovered' for the cooking/music/dance/acting master you've always thought you were. In the meantime, parents can get a little alone time just a few steps away… Because Bayside is Da Bomb… Whether summer sees you drift towards the kind of beach outing that is built on chilling while tanning, chilling while drinking, chilling while eating and generally just chilling, or the kind of more up-tempo, part-till-you-drop kind-of beach outing, Bayside is as versatile a spot as they come in Sahel. While some excellent gourmet food, lavish cabanas and silky smooth beach are enticing enough, Bayside is also no stranger to the odd party or two, with live music also a common feature. Just last weekend, Adham Roshdy, he of the Wave Jazz band fame, was one of several performers at Bayside, and don't be surprised to see more events popping up on your Facebook newsfeed this summer. Either way, a fun afternoon at Bayside full of good vibes means the night is still young… Because 6IX Degrees on Fire… This year, we've seen several new venues open, whether they're the restaurant or nightlife variety. But one in particualr of stands out among the pack – and not just because of the lights beaming out of its white arena-like set-up on weekends. 6IX Degrees has hit the ground running with a typically spectacular opening during Eid and the club's first few weeks have see everyone from belly-dancing star, Amie Sultan, to some of the country's most popular local DJs, to the likes of Haifaa and Ragheb Alamaa having appeared on stage – and there's more to come! For more information on HaciendaBay this summer, click here. (Photos: Pam Hills Developments)


Eid 2016: 7 Holiday Destinations in Egypt that Won’t Break the Bank
Published On: 30/06/2016

With Eid fast approaching, a large chunk of Cairenes are preparing their short escapes from the capital. Finding an affordable travel destination at what is a peak time of the travel season, however, is far from easy and the announcement that Egypt is to ban the use of debit cards abroad have derailed many a foreign excursion, too. But this Eid, there's no need to break the bank, nor to even look abroad for a perfect combination of sun, sea and sand. We've compiled a list of affordable Eid trips and packages that will not only save you money, but also promises fantastic time. Sharm El Sheikh Local travel company Tourisma offers a four-day trip from July 6th to July 10th in Sharm El Sheikh. With only 950LE, you will relish the city's warm sun, golden beaches, take a boat trip to Tiran Island for a dive in its crystal clear waters, dive into the desert with a Safari trip and unwind after a long exploration day in the city's buzzing hangouts. Click here for more information. Ras Mohamed and Blue Lagoon If you are looking for a place away from the city's hustle and bustle, then Ras Mohamed and Blue Lagoon is where you should go this Eid. A three days camping trip organized by Amaken Trips where you will get to discover the beauty of Sinai, visit the blue hole, take a boat to Abu Galoum, hike, snorkel and enjoy other fun activities for only 1300LE Click here for more. Giftun Island A full-day snorkeling trip in a private two-storey yacht for only 250LE they will explore the desert with a Safari trip and end the night with a delicious Bedouin dinner and tanoura show. You can also enjoy fun water games and for an extra 150LE Find out more here. Sinai Odyssey This Eid, Destination 31 promises to take you on a four-day exploratory trip to Sinai which starts by scouting Egypt's biggest national park, Ras Mohamed and ends with an exceptional adventure to the spectacular diving spot, the Fjord bay where you will get to dive into the 16 meter Fjord hole and observe the mesmerizing marine life and all for the cost of 1400LE. Click here for more about the trip. Marsa Alam Escape Cairo's traffic and noise and head to nature's own resort, Marsa Alam for a peaceful and serene Eid vacation with Gazef. The four-day trip costs 1950LE and includes a ride to the mountains, snorkeling, stargazing under a moonless night, meditation and yoga sessions to reinvigorate your body as well as a catamaran adventure. Click here for more information. Gouna Spend your Eid in water bungalows directly overlooking the sea and lagoon on your trip to one of El Gouna's breathtaking resorts, Panorama Bungalows Resort El Gouna. Organised by Rotana Egypt Travel, the trip costs 1200LE and includes a four-day stay in peace and serenity. Click here for more. Abu Galum Promising yet another exciting trip this Eid, Gazef is planning a journey to one of Egypt's most breathtaking reserves, Abu Galum. The trip costs 1550LE and includes snorkeling, kite surfing, hiking, rock climbing, camel rides, music jamming and other fun activities that will definitely make your vacation memorable. For more info, click here. Happy Eid, everyone!


El Gouna Grandslam 2016 Sets Tone For Another Summer at Egypt's Premier Coastal Destination
Published On: 06/04/2016

You don't need us to tell you that life in Cairo is, well, let's just call it 'complicated'. It's because of this that summer can't come soon enough – a seemingly never-long-enough window of opportunity to escape Egypt's capital and hightail it to a beach. It's a simple joy that can be found no more than at the unique Red Sea locale of El Gouna. An obvious choice, we hear you say? Maybe, but few places in Egypt tick as many different boxes under the heading 'Things I Need to Switch Off from Real Life'. And switch of we did during a recent visit as part of the 2016 El Gouna Grandslam, which saw some of the world's premier kitesurfers touch down in what still remains one of the most unique seaside destinations in Egypt, for several days of kite-looping, mega-looping and other gravity-defying stunts. From the moment we arrived at Hurghada Airport, to the first signs of El Gouna on the trip to the hotel, to the moment we stepped into the hotel itself – there was that perfect beachside smell in the air; the smell that tells you that you have found safe space where the stresses of Cairo can't find you. We've stayed at several hotels in El Gouna over the years, but never Sultan Bey – a stunning base from which we were to launch into our giddy El Gouna escapades. It's a unique hotel that keeps things fresh and simple, but with the touches of grandeur that one has come to expect from El Gouna. We'd have been happy to spend our days by the pool and the restaurants there, but couldn't help but throw a pair of flip-flops and shorts on to discover how things will shape up this summer – and there was the big final ceremony of the El Gouna Grandslam. It was a distinguished affair that saw the likes of tycoon, Samih Sawiris, and Red Sea Governor, Ahmed Abdallah, attend, alongside winners of in the tournament. As competitors took to the spotlight to receive their trophies and our collective applause, there was a sense that this is just the beginning for El Gouna in cementing itself as a leading destination for world-class water sports.It was a sentiment confirmed by El Gouna Marketing Director, Teymour Hosny, over a quiet dinner at the Smokery Yacht Club the next day. While he's been working with Orascom for a year, he's been a property owner in El Gouna for 15. Talking about El Gouna's evolution, Hosny pointed to the fact that more and more people – be they Egyptian of or expats – are making El Gouna their homes, which has contributed to an organic evolution in its infrastructure and its culture. There was one more matter to attend to on the third day – the enthralling Cairo Symphony Orchestra under the conductorship of Ahmed El Saeidi and featuring acclaimed pianist, Magda Emara. The black tie event was a fitting finale to a short, sweet excursion that reminded us why El Gouna stands as one of the most encompassing, entrenching and eclectic seaside experiences in Egypt.


6 Local Travel Groups That Will Help You Fall in Love with Egypt Again
Published On: 16/12/2015

Whichever side of the divisive #ThisIsEgypt campaign, there's no doubt that Egypt is filled with culturally rich landmarks and captivating attractions, not to mention marvellous hidden spots from the Eastern tip with all its underwater Red Sea wonders – Marsa Alam, Dahab and Sinai to name a few – to the Western end, which is home the incredibly peaceful and primitive Oasis that is Siwa. Outside of international tourism, though, we are guilty of not truly appreciating and embracing Egypt's lesser mainstream locations. If you're eager to discover Egypt through a different lens, though there are travel initiatives and companies that can kick-start your local tourism adventures. 1- Astrotrips: Founded in 2014, Astrotrips is Egypt's first astronomy initiative organising astronomy and exploratory trips. Founded by a team of travellers passionate about astronomy and discovering the untapped marvels in Egypt, Astrotrips combine cosmological flair with travelling to some of the more remote areas of the country. Astrotrips Upcoming Trips: Astrotrips' end of the year program includes hiking and observing constellations at Egypt's biggest summit, Saint Catherine Mountain on the 17th of December or camping at Wadi Baa'baa in Sinai on Christmas Eve; only make sure you book early as their trips sell out quickly. For more information about Astrotrips, click here. 2- Amaken Trips Amaken is another up-and-coming travel group, promising to provide travellers with exciting vacations alongside some cultural and natural education across Egypt. Amaken have taken their travellers across the Red Sea to Marsa Alam, Nuweiba, Dahab and many other destinations. Upcoming Trips: Join Amaken Trips' on the 17th of December, for a soothing meditation retreat to Nubia or sign up at their eventful trip to Siwa Oasis taking off on December 23rd. For more information about Amaken trips, click here. 3- Desert Adventures Egypt A travel group specialising in desert excursions from the east to west, Desert Adventures organises camping trips and safaris for travellers looking for a safe, exciting and relaxing desert expeditions across Egypt. Desert Adventures holds camping trips at Samuel Dunes in the Western desert, Safari trips in Sinai, Bedouin dinners at Cairo's Wadi Degla protectorate and many others. Upcoming Trips: Join Desert Adventures this New Year's on their 5 day trip to Siwa, taking off on December 29th. Follow Desert Adventures' upcoming trips right here. 4- Wild Guanabana Founded by Omar Samra, Egypt's most popular adventurer and travelling guru and the first Arab to reach Mount Everest summit, Wild Guanabana has been one of the top go-to travel initiatives if you're looking for a perfect unforgettable travelling journeys in Egypt and around the world. From climbing Kilimanjaro, experiencing the Berber life in Marrakech or a yoga retreat in Nepal, sightseeing in Cambodia and Thailand or mountain biking on Zaafarana road, Wild Guanabana's trips in and outside the borders will please every type of adventurer. Upcoming Trips: Join Wild Guanabana's Kayaking trip to Fayoum on December 24th and stay updated with their busy schedule of travels right here. 5- Kites From camping in the beautiful picturesque Wadi El Rayan, chilling in Nuweiba, or exciting safari trips in the desert, Kites is another local travelling initiative catering to all types of travellers. Upcoming trips: Kites December trips calendar includes a Nile cruise to Luxor and Aswan on December 18th, a camping trip to Wadi El Hitan on the 25th, whereas their end-of-the-year expedition begins on December 29th with their new year's trip to Siwa. For more information about Kites, click here. 6- Tourisma Another go-to local travel group if you're passionate about nature and adventure. Tourisma promises its travellers exciting safari trips exploring Egypt's deserts, diving into their mystical caves and admiring their nature. Within each trip, Tourisma organises fun games and activities to keep their travelers entertained at all times. Upcoming trips: Join Tourisma on their sandboarding trip to Wadi El Rayan on December 25th or on their New Year's trip to Ras Shetan and Saint Catherine on December 30th. For more information about Tourisma, click here. (Photo: Wild Guanabana/Facebook)


Al Silahdar Mosque: Captivating Architectural Landmark in El Muez Street
Published On: 09/12/2015

Boasting some of the most beautiful Islamic landmarks in Egypt's history, it's hard not to feel a certain sense of grand nostalgia at the sight of El Muez Street's architectural treasures. Taking a stroll down to the one-kilometer street, Al Silahdar Mosque, a beautiful mosque dating back to Mohamed Ali Pasha's ruling, stands as one of the most stunning buildings in the area – maybe even in the whole of Cairo. Named after its founder, Al Silahdar mosque was designed in 1839 by Sulayman Agha Al Silahdar;a lieutenant during the reign of Mohamed Ali, who built many grandiose structures during his rule. Situated between Abu Bakr Muzhir Mosque – built by religious scholar, Zayn El Din Abu Bakr Ibn Muzhir, during the Mamluk era – and Beit El Suheimi – the gorgeous Ottoman building now used as a cultural centre of sorts – our destination is in very good company. The entry to the mosque as such; a huge pathway leads you to a granite staircase, which in turn takes you to the main doors. Call us soppy, but Al Silahdar Mosque will instantly transport you back in time to the Mamluk era; its rectangular construct is divided into two large squares, with the western corner of the mosque featuring the mosque's courtyard – the unroofed open-air area of the mosque - which gets occasionally covered by a wooden roof to protect the building from the rain. Al Silahdar's courtyard is concealed by four corridors covered with beautiful small domes based on marble pillars. Each dome is adorned with multi-coloured carvings, architectural drawings and Quranic inscriptions all made with oil paints. The eastern corner of the mosque, meanwhile, is where the praying area is situated and is divided to three main hallways parallel to the Qibla (the direction of the Kaaba to which Muslims pray). The praying area is covered with a wooden roof boasting wonderful oil-painted carvings and right in the middle of it, lays an impressively carved Minbar made of marble, where the mosque's Imam stands during sermons. The architecture and configuration of Al Silahdar Mosque features elements inspired by the Ottoman Empire; however, the design also fuses elements of Cairo's own distinctive architectural features, as well as elements from the Baroque era which can be seen in the mosque's pillars. Egypt is blessed with many historic landmarks, but Al Silahdar Mosque stands as one of Cairo's most intriguing attractions in terms of design and history. Visiting El Muez Street during dusk-hours is highly recommended; the sunset, along with the breathtaking lightings reflecting the beauty of the mosques at night, is quite a sight.


7 Breathtaking Holiday Destinations in Egypt this Eid
Published On: 20/09/2015

The Eid Al-Adha weekend is just a few days away and while some have been planning their holidays since the last Eid break, many others continue to hesitate - even squabble - over where to spend the 'Bairam' break. Many Cairenes' go-to getaways revolve in and around the North Coast and Alexandria; but we're here to tell you that there are plenty of alternatives to escape Cairo's brouhaha this Eid. From the primitive paradise that is Siwa, to the nightlife-buzzing Red Sea destination that is Sahl Hasheesh, there's plenty waiting to be explored across Egypt's coasts. Dahab A beautiful coastal city situated 500km away from Cairo and most known for being the-go-to destination for those seeking a water-activity-themed holiday, Dahab charms with its breathtaking Red Sea locations overlooking the Sinai desert and by its underwater wonders. In Dahab, you can enjoy a variety of activities including rock climbing, windsurfing, desert hiking, snorkelling and scuba diving. Combining a budget-friendly accommodation, alongside a laid-back hippie lifestyle, Dahab continues to be an alternative holiday destination for lots of independent travellers and an outstanding spot for water-sports. Enjoy your Eid break at Dahab's Sindbad Camp or at Dahab Divers Hotel – if you don't mind going a little over budget. While you're at it, try the Kitchen Restaurant for tasty meals at extremely affordable prices. Castle Zaman With its perfect location between Nuweiba and Taba, and its breathtaking view overlooking Jerusalem, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Castle Zaman is that one destination for vacationers looking for a private, mystical and a less mainstream escape. While that stone-carved castle with a mountain-like exterior-combining an old, historical and authentic ambiance-does not offer accommodation, the castle offers, nonetheless, a pristine stone pool with panoramic Red Sea view, alongside some delicious slow-cooked meals served in pottery dishes. Only 30 minutes away from Taba and Nuweiba, Castle Zaman encourages a natural experience, where you can enjoy the weather, the water and the tranquillity. El Gouna El Gouna is an ideal destination for vacationers looking to have a bundle of sea, sun, pool, while enjoying top-notch hotel and nightlife experiences. Gouna's resorts are equipped with top quality services –spa, private beaches, gigantic pools- promising you a lavish stay, not to mention some exceptional dining options such as the Club House, Maritim, Pier 88 and Jobos Sportsbar. In terms of day-time activities, El Gouna offers a range of water-sports including water skiing, kite surfing, sailing, diving, yachting, in addition to aquarium trips, desert safari and mangrove promenades. If you don't mind spending a bit and looking to have that little-bit-of-everything getaway, El Gouna is perfect. Siwa An oasis holding one of the most unique primitive ambiances you'll find in Egypt – as well as some monumental sights including the Mountain of the Dead and Alexander's Temple of the Oracle –Siwa has its own unique Berber culture. Worlds away from El Gouna, the oasis is brimming with palm trees, with houses made from salt, donkey carts roaming the streets and has several eco-lodges with natural-spring pools, equipped with all the necessary accommodation services. Eco-lodges like Taziry or Adrere Amellal, though quite expensive, offer magical holiday experiences with a no-electricity policy, authentic Bedouin aesthetic and breathtaking views overlooking the lake and the Adrère Amellal (the White Mountain in the Amazigh language). We also highly recommend Siwa Gardens or Carols Ghaliet Lodge; wherever you stay, there's nothing quite like taking a stroll downtown to relish the oasis' local artisanship, with vendors selling basketry, silverware and embroidery. Sahl Hasheesh Though previously favoured as a honeymoon destination for couples, over the past few years, Sahl Hasheesh has evolved to become a popular spot for a relaxing holiday and one of the hottest go-to nightlife destinations on the Red Sea. A 20 minute drive from Hurghada, the resort encompasses dozens of hotels with premium services, including Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, Premier Romance Hotel and Tropitel Sahl Hasheesh. With a breathtaking sea view, diving trips to explore its marine life and underwater wonders, relentless DJ beach parties, exclusive fine dining spots and many others, you shouldn't hesitate to pack your bags and spend your holiday there; Sahl Hasheesh has something for everyone. Nuweiba Located on the eastern tip of Sinai, Nuweiba is another perfect destination for vacationers looking to have both a laid-back and a budget-friendly holiday. Primitive in its existence, Nuweiba is a coastal city ideal for those who are looking for peace and tranquillity; with several attractions including water activities-mainly diving and snorkelling- affordable restaurants offering tasty organic food, and several local shops selling Bedouin crafts. Nuweiba combines some decent resorts –of which we recommend Nakhil Inn and Dream - alongside cheap camps and lodges convenient for backpackers; including Habiba Beach Lodge, Dayra and Moon Island Camp. Ain El Sokhna A mere one-and-a-half hours away from Cairo, Ain El Sokhna has always been that quick – sometimes spontaneous – chill-out destination for many. While most Sokhna getaways usually entail staying at a friend's – or more likely, a friend's friends' – place, hotel options at Sokhna include the town's popular resorts Moevenpick Resort and Jaz Little Venice. If you play your cards right, you can have a cheap and cheerful holiday, but with Tabla being one of the only venues that might take you away from the beach, you'll have to make your own fun. Happy Eid!


Wild Guanabana Kicks-Off New Approach to Local Tourism with Zafarana Biking Trip
Published On: 18/09/2015

While tourism in Egypt continues to suffer setback after setback and money is ploughed into marketing campaigns rather than fixing the very many simple wrongs that underwhelm and disappoint those who do believe in the uniqueness of Egypt as a desirable destination, it's been left up to independent groups and institutions to champion the country we so love to call 'Om El Donya'. One such group that has been creeping closer to the forefront of that fight is Omar Samra's Wild Guanabana. Not content with conquering the highest mountains on earth, Samra's pride in spiking the Egyptian flag on these mountain-tops has translated into a new line from a company that has opened the world of exploration to adrenaline-seeking Egyptians. While Wild Guanabana has taken many out of the hustle and bustle of Cairo and into some of the most unique locations in the world for some once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Samra and co are just as enthusiastic – if not more so – about a new approach to local eco-tourism, offering some truly unique packages that will open up the places in Egypt that will, sadly, always come second to the misguided notion that the country's antiquities are the only thing worth shouting about. Local eco-tourism has enjoyed resurgence, somewhat, in recent years, but Wild Guanabana is daring to dig deeper – metaphorically, of course – in some of Egypt's most naturally stunning spots. Samra's considerable expertise in such matters makes Wild Guanabana the perfect vehicle, but in taking things to the next level, so to speak, they've called on the help of a man that can lay claim to knowing the secrets of Egypt's forgotten lands as much as anyone; a man who has undertaken a 7000km trip of Egypt with not much more than his bike and a lot of anti-chafing tape; twenty-one year-old, Galal Zekri Chatila. The first excursion will see partakers take on a mountain biking trip to Zafrana, where the area's gorgeous valleys and vegetation will be the scene for biking, camping and other, more abstract activities, including gazing into the night's sky and pondering the poetic insignificance of our existence in the context of a universe we will never fully understand. Taking place from October 15th Wild Guanabana will be providing the necessary tools to those who dare leave behind their inhibitions in the glove compartment of their car and step forward to experience an Egypt that is full of surprises. For more information on the trip, and on Wild Guanabana, click here. Photos: Wild Guanabana


Astrotrips: Egypt’s First Astronomy Trip Initiative
Published On: 26/08/2015

Imagine what thousands of millions of stars within our Milky Way would look like under the telescope. Now imagine that your gateway to get in touch with the universe, the space, the stars, is only as close as a hiking trip or a camping trip to the dessert. Egypt's first self-funded astronomy initiative, Astrotrips, provides exactly that, planning astronomy trips in Egypt and beyond, for all those who want to escape the city and explore the wonders of the universe. We sat down with Astrotrips founder, Amr Abdel Wahab and his passionate team, who shared the Astrotrips story as well as unforgettable anecdotes from their trips all over Egypt. Born and raised in Upper Egypt, in a town with limited access to light, stargazing has always been a passion of Abdel Wahab; a passion that grew from looking up the sky during the night. "The roof has always been the 'café' of women in Upper Egypt. Perhaps people don't know that stargazing is among Upper Egyptian women's favourite activities too," Abdel Wahab told us. Around the same time, when Abdel El Wahab would sit on the roof of his house along with his mother and sisters, he grew a major interest in the science of astronomy and had countless questions on how the universe operates. Keen to fulfill his eagerness to learn about astronomy, Abdel Wahab's father, who was a Director of the Department of Libraries in the Educational Directorate, would bring home lots of astronomy books. Moving to Cairo at the age of 25, Abdel Wahab, who later became the head of the Astronomical Society in Cairo-an association that holds lectures and forums on astronomy- felt that raising people's awareness on what astronomy is was just not enough. "I realised that there is so much more to astronomy than generic lectures. I wanted to take my passion for astronomy beyond the theoretical science which leaves people with untapped information, rather than observational evidence," he said. Elba: Astrotrips Journey Begins Astrotrips grew out of Abdel Wahab's dream to establish an initiative combining both astronomical knowledge alongside stargazing and discovery trips. The initiative was officially founded in 2014; but the Astrotrips journey began in 2012, when a team of adventurous friends-including Abdel Wahab-went on a trip to Elba, a natural reserve on the Egyptian Sudanese borders thousands of kilometres away from Cairo. After waiting for endless travel permits approved by Egypt's Frontier Guards, after travelling over 11 hours and over 1,600 km from Cairo, Abdel Wahab and his eager travelling buddies arrived to what is Egypt's biggest natural reserve. Located in the southeast corner of the Eastern desert of Egypt, Elba has a rich, unique and unparalleled biodiversity comprising of natural islands, mangroves, coral reefs and sand dunes as well as a group of coastal mountains, including Jabal Elba and Jabal Ebruq. The team was fascinated to discover a new natural and primitive side to Egypt that very few people knew about. Elba is enriched with a rare wildlife with dozens of animal species that can only be found there; wild birds, eagles, desert deer and sub-saharan species including Zoril, Aardwold and Barbary sheep. "The untouched beauty, the untapped nature, the plants, the mountains, the wildlife; everything was just incredible. I wanted the whole world to see that Egypt has such unbelievable resources and a beautiful picturesque nature that is yet to be known," commented Abdel Wahab. From then on, encouraging locals to rediscover and explore Egypt's newfound sights became Astrotrips' main mission. So far, the team have organised trips to different areas across Egypt, including Nuweiba's Coloured Canyon, the White Desert, Bahariya and Siwa Oases. Astrotrips Programs Astrotrips plan their astronomical getaways around three main pillars; the first one is picking the right timing for stargazing , which, according to Abdel Wahab is best done during the beginning or the end of the Islamic lunar calendar-when the sky is moonless- away from any light pollution. Photo: Astrotrips Yarab Eg3alha Leila Soda (May it be a dark night) is Astrotrips' official motto before grabbing their telescopes and hitting the road. "We hope for a dark night or Leila Soda, because that's when the sky is most perfect for crystal clear vision of the universe," Abdel Wahab laughed. The second pillar is about exploring Egypt's natural reserves because natural reserves, as pointed out by Abdel Wahab, combine both the astronomy and the natural angle. "Egypt has 28 different natural reserves. Natural reserves including Jabal Kamel on the Egyptian-Libyan borders are formed from meteors hitting the earth's surface forming impact craters," explained Abdel Wahab. Meteor Shower Phenomenon: Astrotrips Groundbreaking Trip Observing astronomical phenomena in the universe is Astrotrips' third pillar; something that the team takes huge pride in-being the very first Egyptian initiative to track astronomical happenings under the telescope- including the Meteor Shower Phenomenon. "The earth revolves around the sun in an orbit; whereas other meteorites and masses in the space orbit around the sun too. Once the remnants of those meteorites interrupt with the earth's spin around the sun, they penetrate our atmosphere and burn. Meteorite burning objects appear under the telescope as small objects that light and disappear," Abdel Wahab explained, adding that the energy, mass and chemical composition of those meteors determine the intensity of lighting and colour seen through the telescope. "Sometimes you'll see white meteors, blue meteors, green ones; it's a fascinating phenomenon," he added. During their trips, the team of Astrotrips provides a navigation session to their travellers on how to read the sky, in which they learn to identify and locate their directions within the desert using a constellation of stars in the sky. "The sky has an average of 2,000 stars under the telescope. In every season we see a different constellation of stars, and that's what defines what we'll be able to observe," Abdel Wahab said. The second activity involves participants learning how to put together and get the most out of a telescope, immersing their travellers in the process from start to finish. Bedouin Gardens, the White Desert and Kattameya Observatory: Astrotrips Best and Worst Trips The White Desert excursion is Astrotrips most popular trip; you get to enjoy stargazing as well as fascinated and drawn to the naturally shaped limestone formations in the desert. Photo: Mark Yousry Perhaps Astrotrips most memorable excursion was visiting the Bedouin gardens in Sinai during Ramadan. Located 1,500 meters above sea level in Sinai, Astrotrips and a team of ardent travellers stayed with Siwan Bedouins under the stars. "The air was fresh and clean, the food was organic and so delicious. We're talking about sipping an exquisite Qamar El Din juice picked freshly from the Bedouin apricot trees and praying under Sinai's starry sky. It's by far one of the most spiritual moments we've ever experienced," Abdel Wahab told us. When asked about their worst experience on one of their trips, Astrotrips Chief Coordinator, Mahmoud Khattab, said it happened during a stargazing trip to Kattameya Observatory last winter, when the weather suddenly dropped to -5 degrees and nobody was prepared for the cold to the point that the observatory guards at the sight provided woollen blankets to the entire team. "The sudden turn in weather was completely unexpected, but our travellers handled it very well and kept up a great spirit," Khattab said. On-Road Checklist Before hitting the road to one of Astrotrips' astronomy observatories, make sure you check their 'travellers checklist' which highlights the equipment you'll need for the day; think comfortable shoes and clothes, caps equipped with red headlights- caps designed for better observatory at night which can be found in Radio Shack- and a green laser for pointing at the stars and for navigation purposes. If the trip involves camping in the desert, Astrotrips provides tents and sleeping bags. Prices of the trips vary between50LE to 500LE, depending on nature of the trip and itinerary, which cover night-stays, camping, providing food and transportation. "Our travellers are the ones longing to step away from the noise of the city, the ones who want to participate in new unconventional and exploratory trips. The spectrum is huge; we always have artists, engineers, doctors, students and children who want to learn more about astronomy. We were honoured to have had Omar Samra attending one of our trips," Abdel Wahab told Cairo 360, adding that some of their travellers come all the way from Sohag and Qena to attend their trips. What's Next for Astrotrips Astrotrips aspires to create a "Portable Astronomical Observatory"; a car equipped with telescopes touring all over Egypt to spread people's awareness on astronomy while showing them the stars and the universe. "Some people can't afford to pay an average of 100LE for an astronomy observance trip; this is why I would like more and more people know how great the universe is," Abdel Wahab said. Astrotrips answers to the wish of many travellers out there craving adventurous out-of-the-box trips, allowing them to experience Egypt in a different light. "Our love for astronomy and the universe is our engine at Astrotrips. Because if it wasn't for our passion, if it wasn't for seeing people's happiness during our trips, we wouldn't have started this initiative and we wouldn't have continued doing what we're doing." Stay posted with Astrotrips upcoming trips right here. Main photo: Yasser El Amir 


Orascom Hotels & Development’s Joubal Lagoon in El Gouna Sells Out in No Time
Published On: 10/06/2015

What can you say about El Gouna that hasn't been said before? The seaside locale has always stood as the premiere beachside getaway in Egypt and Orascom Hotels & Development's slice of heaven expanded this year with the introduction of Joubal Lagoon. Having officially launched in Easter, it was sold out in no time - yeah, its hot property. The turquoise resort town is crowded year round and those lucky enough to have houses there often find themselves playing host to as many guests as they can. El Gouna's properties are so coveted that units essentially sell themselves out before construction. Situated halfway between Abu Tig Marina (our favourite nightspot!) and the New Marina, Joubal Lagoon overlooks a stunning blue lagoon that promises to forever eradicate all thoughts of traffic and pollution. In keeping with Orascom Hotels & Development's environmental philosophy, Joubal Lagoon has been designed with the natural surroundings and environmental sustainability in mind. Orascom Hotels & Development deserve recognition for maximizing energy efficiency. Essentially a self-sufficient town, El Gouna has everything. Do you want to party all night and then send your children to good schools in the morning? Do you want to play golf and have access to a world-class hospital? Do want to chill, kite-surf, and then go to a Bibliotheca Alexandria affiliated library? Of course you do – education is the future. Foodies will find themselves in culinary heaven: You can eat world class sushi, steak, Italian, and French cuisines any day of the week. So don't panic if you are looking to buy in El Gouna, although Joubal Lagoon was sold out in the blink of a sparkling eye, Orascom Hotels & Development is already developing new projects.


Joubal Lagoon: Orascom Hotels & Development’s Newest Piece of Paradise in El Gouna
Published On: 03/06/2015

Joubal Lagoon: Orascom Hotels & Development's Newest Piece of Paradise in El Gouna With summer all but here, most Cairenes' attention will – if it hasn't already – turn to planning weekend getaways at Egypt's eclectic and varied coasts – the most prized of which is Red Sea haven, El Gouna. Standing as one of the most desirable location in Egypt, it wouldn't be a stretch to call El Gouna the crown jewel of Orascom Hotels & Development's impressive and increasingly expansive work – work which also includes, Taba Heights, Fayoum and Amoun Island in Egypt. Launched in 1989, Egyptians flock to El Gouna year in, year out and the resort town has grown, most recently in April of this year, when Joubal Lagoon officially launched. As the newest development in El Gouna, the real estate sold out within a month – a testament to the continuing impact of Orascom Hotels & Development and the unique poise of Joubal Lagoon But why all the excitement? The arrival of Joubal Lagoon opens up El Gouna even more for Cairenes as an ideal second-home destination. As a centre point between Abu Tig Marina and the New Marina, Joubal Lagoon sits around a stunning lagoon and brings together the natural beauty of the area with modern and iconic touches, with energy efficient features being the backbone of the development. With seventeen hotels, 463 commercial outlets, two eighteen-hole championship golf courses and water sports complex, Cable Park, not to mention an international standard hospital and schools, a Bibliotheca Alexandria-affiliated library and three world class marinas, Joubal Lagoon is situated perfectly with all the facilities and amenities one would need available. But this is just the beginning. Plans are afoot for expansion as Orascom Hotels & Development prepare for follow-up phases; so worry not, you haven't missed the boat – or, seeing as this is El Gouna, should we say you haven't missed the yacht. Get it? No? Fine. You can find more information on El Gouna Real Estate and Orascom Hotels & Development websites – and while you're at it, why not follow the official El Gouna Facebook and Instagram accounts.


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Five Ways the New Emaar Egypt Community App Makes Life a Whole Lot Easier

The digital age, as they call it, has brought everything – and we mean everything – a touch away through that small little thing we have come to take for granted: the smartphone. There's an app for pretty much everything these days and one of the latest to shake up the way we do things day to da