By Hilary Diack
All partied out after summer in Sahel and looking for somewhere to relax in and rediscover with your inner self? Somewhere that won’t leave a major dent in your credit card every time you walk through the door? Head east we say, just a few hours’ drive through breathtaking Sinai scenery that will get you into the mood for re-bonding with nature.
Long known as a ‘sleepy little Bedouin fishing village’, Dahab still retains its authenticity and laid back vibe. Disconnect the tech and reconnect with a more natural lifestyle.
What to do: Activities are very much based around the local culture and exceptional beauty of the natural landscape and sea. They tend to complement each other, so let your sense of adventure take over and go with the flow.
Dahab is a diver’s paradise, with everything from PADI courses for beginners to challenging dives for the more experienced. Amongst the more than 20 dive sites ranging from five to over a hundred metres, the Blue Hole attracts divers from all over the world, but should be treated with due respect. No novices here please.
Dive packages generally come with tanks, transportation and guides who are familiar with the sites visited. Something to put on your ‘must do’ list – a diving and snorkelling trip via camelback to the national park of Ras Abu Galum.
Freediving could be your ticket to the wonders of the deep. Unassisted by tanks or scuba gear, the diver depends completely on the ability to hold his or her breath under water. Courses are on offer, and can be coupled with yoga classes to assist with breathing and mind control, helping you open up to a new underwater world.
Shallow waters and protection from exposure to heavy waves or wind make for near perfect kitesurfing conditions. Lessons are available for beginners as well.
If plunging into the depths is not your thing, attending yoga sessions could be the key to finding balance and serenity while you escape the bustle of city life. With programmes from one weekend, week-long breaks, tailor-made private retreating, and teacher training, the combination of the powerful Kundalini teachings, a complete break from the daily stresses, and an environment that promotes and supports relaxation and healing, even the shortest breaks will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the world.
Traditional Bedouin Dinners
A trip by horseback, camel, or car for the less hardy, winds up with a BBQ dinner in a Bedouin encampment. Visitors can even stay overnight to experience the magic of sleeping under the stars and return to Dahab the following morning.
Exploring and sightseeing on horseback allows you to take things at a relaxing pace while you soak up the natural beauty around you. Rides usually take around an hour, but excursions to locations like the Blue Hole, and Wadi El Bida can take up to three hours.
Trekking, Hiking and Safaris
Best tackled during the cooler months, these excursions can range from a few hours up to a week or more. The surrounds of Dahab boast some of the most spectacular scenery to be found in the region, with mountains, desert and canyons. View breath-taking sunsets from the peaks of rugged mountains, wind your way through the White Canyon, or come face to face with early history on Dinosaur Mountain. Climb Mount Sinai to catch the sunrise, and pay a visit to neighbouring St Catherine’s Monastery. Meander up towards Nuweiba and spend time enjoying the Colored Canyon. or go on safari to the Ain Hadra Oasis. Whatever your time and energy levels permit, Sinai will not disappoint.
Where to Stay: Dahab offers a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from simple but charming guesthouses and holiday apartments, up to major hotel chains with all the creature comforts of home. We have made a few suggestions, all reasonably priced, but please also check out our recommended links to find something just right for you.
The villa is a little oasis of calm and sleeps up to four, with two double bedrooms, one of which is ensuite. The open plan living space includes a fully equipped kitchen, safe drinking water, and opens out onto the shaded courtyard garden. The sun terrace offers a private place for sunbathing or sun-downer drinks, overlooking the mountains and the sea in the distance.
Tel: 0122 744 5646
Coral Coast Hotel
The hotel is a stone’s throw away from Eel Garden dive site and boasts its own freshwater pool, and two yoga and meditation spaces. The rooms are bright, colourful, fresh and modern, most of them with sea views. The hotel is locally owned by a Bedouin Sheikh and his family; built on lands belonging to their ancestors. Lease fees are introduced directly into the local community and distributed between family members. The hotel employs local staff and supports eco-initiatives as well as encouraging local Bedouin farmers who have cultivated arid desert land to produce various purely organic fruits and vegetables, which are grown from seed using natural spring water.
Tel: 069 3652 152
Mobile: 0100 260 1312
This cosy boutique hotel features classical Arabic interiors with rooms and suites set around an inner courtyard complete with a Bedouin seating corner and pool. The suites also have private balconies, and a lounge area.
Tel: 0101 948 4804
Habiba Organic Farm and Beach Lodge
No-frills Habiba is a small, barefoot lodge, overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba, offering the ultimate in seclusion, Bedouin culture and exotic adventure. You will find affordable single, double, and triple rooms suitable for independent travellers or groups. Individual travellers can camp in their own tent or sleep on the beach using all the infrastructure of the shared kitchen, restaurant and shower rooms either in Habiba Village or on Habiba Organic Farm. Volunteers are always welcome to help out on the farm, or pop in to visit the learning center which provides after school lessons for local children.
Tel: 0122 217 6624
Diving and Freediving
Desert safaris, camel and horseback riding