By Simone Egarter
With the long weekend of Eid ahead, it is about time to start planning your beach vacation and big-city getaway. Destinations such as the North Coast, Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, and Ain Sokhna are long-time favourites for Cairenes looking to get out of the city to celebrate the end of Ramadan. These destinations are great, but at Eid El-Fitr, the beaches and compounds are going to be packed with people. Here are a few ideas to help you relax and a hide away from the crowds:
Fayoum has it all. Around the Qaroun Lake, only 80 km from Cairo, you find fantastic fish restaurants and charming hotels inviting you to stay. During summer large boats operate in the lake to take you on a trip for lake viewing and also for fishing. You can enjoy water sports, bird sighting or just dangle your feet in the refreshing wet and chill out.
The Fayoum Depression became popular after the discovery of fossil remains of ancestors to monkeys, elephants and marshland mammals. The lake and the Gebel Qatrani Area were declared as protected areas according to the Egyptian Tourism Authority “to protect the area’s rich biological, archaeological and geological diversity”. To explore more of this amazing region you need to go to Wadi El-Rayan and Wadi El-Hitan, where you can find the remains of prehistoric animals. Wadi El-Hitan (Valley of the Whales) owes its name to the 40 million-year-old whale skeletons found there. According to the World Conservation Union, “the Valley of the Whales is the most significant site in the world to see one of the most iconic stories of evolution”. If you would like to relax and still find interesting sights and activities, Fayoum is the best choice.
Siwa is the destination for adventure and city escape. You can enjoy the untouched beauty of nature and the authenticity of the small towns and farms, which make Siwa the perfect place for a romantic hideaway and freeing you from the daily stress and hustle of the big city.
When you arrive at the oasis, you will be overwhelmed by the green of thousands of palm and olive trees shading you from the burning sun, with fresh water springs all over the oasis. Some of these water springs are public pools, inviting you to take a swim on your way to the mountain high dunes of the Great Sand Sea.
Visit the White Mountains and Cleopatra’s Spring to enjoy the breathtaking beauty. It almost feels like a timeless escape to ancient Egypt when you wander in the footsteps of Alexander the Great when you visit the Oracle Temple or the Mountain of the dead, a Roman necropolis.
Not only the landscapes and ancient monuments are fascinating in this part of the country but also the habitants and wildlife. Since the 1980s Siwa was established as a natural protectorate. Today the UNESCO is investing great effort in keeping alive the Siwan language, a Berber dialect that has survived thousands of years but is now endangered. If you want to flee the mudane rituals of your daily life, enjoy nature and beauty and discover the heritage of ancient Egypt, Siwa Oasis should be your next destination.
Camping in Ras Shitan
The amazing beaches of Nuweiba and Taba are well known, but there is still more than lying in the sand. For those who want to abstain from all luxury and amenities you should go camping in Ras Shitan. You will live in a tent and share a bathroom with the whole village, according to happy campers, who describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Take an early morning swim in the sea, have your breakfast in a café amidst the mountains and the relaxing sea shore, in the afternoon you can dive the reefs of the Red Sea or go hiking in the Sinai mountains. It is the finest spot of the Sinai Peninsula, bringing you one of the most scenic, quiet and secluded beaches of Egypt to keep you relaxed and help you unwind.
You would like to have an extraordinary experience and travel without hustle and bustle, choose to sleep under the stars in Nuweiba and Taba.