Our Pick of the Best ‘Get-Away-From-It-All’ Spots in Egypt
From the expanse of the Western Desert, with its lush oases of Bahareya, Dakhla and Siwa to the upper reaches of the mighty Nile, or across the mountainous Sinai ranges to the beach of Basata, Cairo West Magazine has rounded up the most delightful eco-lodges and agri-lodges for an escape from the bustle of the city.Disconnect from your tech, reconnect with friends and family, and recharge your own inner batteries. Savour farm-to-table cuisine, explore desert and mountains, and experience the beauty of World Heritage sites and antiquities in their natural settings. Throw a few things in a bag, and head off for a simpler lifestyle.
In alphabetical order:
Adrére Amellal Desert Ecolodge
Set against a backdrop of the great sand dunes of the Western Desert, Adrére Amellal bears testament to the beauty of the simple life. It has been created with earth and traditional materials to deliver an aesthetically pleasing environment, and eschews the accoutrements of urban life. This is the ultimate escape.
Impeccable cuisine created from ingredients grown in the garden, or sourced locally, is served in idyllic settings, which vary from day to day. Nature abounds, and whether you want to explore the majestic terrain and rich culture of the oasis, or simply while away your time, each day will unfold with new discoveries.
Don’t expect to find electricity in your rooms, there is none. Instead you will find the rooms gently lit at night with beeswax candles, and garden pathways gently picked out by flickering lamplight. Everything is geared to relieve you of the sensory overload of stressful city living. Skillfully managed and supported by impeccably trained staff, the lodge boasts a guest log that includes royalty, actors, and the cognoscenti of world travellers. Suffice to say, this paradise comes at a price, but it is worth the indulgence.
Al Tarfa Desert Sanctuary
This award winning eco-friendly lodge has been garnering praise from both international and local visitors since it first opened. Set in a large nature reserve in the oasis of Dakhla, Al Tarfa has drawn on traditional building techniques widely used in desert villages, with interiors reflecting the culture of the Sahara desert. Furnishings are contemporary and luxuriously comfortable and blend with traditional eclectic pieces, so each of the 20 suites and rooms reflects a unique identity.
Local cuisine is a highlight of any stay, and the menu at Al Tarfa is no exception. Ingredients come as organically grown vegetables from their own land, and local produce from the surrounding area. Meals can be served in the restaurant, in the courtyard garden, by the pool, or set up as intimate dining under the palm trees. Worth noting, for anyone wanting a bit of sheer indulgence, champagne breakfasts are also a popular option.
The surrounding area offers awe-inspiring scenery, as well as historic relics and an abundance of nature. Activities such as horse-back riding and desert excursions can be arranged, while those less inclined to an active holiday can simply idle their days away in the pleasant grounds by the pool.
AnaKato Nubian Houses
Gharb Soheil Nubian – Aswan
Starting as one simple village house back in 2008, AnaKato in Gharb Soheil Nubian village is now comprised of a cluster of three dwellings, perched above a panoramic view of the Nile. Bursting with colorful energy, each of the 19 rooms and shared spaces exudes the essence of traditional, hospitable Nubian culture. Perfectly situated as a kick off point for sightseeing excursions, AnaKato also invites you just to relax and unwind with the vista of sparkling waters of the Nile just a few meters away from its simple wooden terraces. Its quintessential charm has already placed AnaKato firmly on the map with anyone looking for a totally authentic experience in Aswan.
The combination of soaring mountains, white sands and sparkling blue waters is irresistible. Add on endless days of sunshine and you have Basata, an eco-village that can count itself as one of the pioneers of back-to-nature tourism in Egypt. Accommodation ranges from simple tents, to huts and small chalets, all within a few meters of the water. Kitchen facilities are communal, with meals highlighting produce from Basata’s own vegetable patch, fresh fish and home baked bread or pizza.
Based strongly on principles of minimal environmental impact, Basata also flows harmoniously with the Bedouin culture of the region, by respecting the delicate balance and beauty of nature.
Desert Rose Eco-Lodge
This picturesque eco-lodge has been created from clay and palm fronds, using traditional methods. Capturing the spirit of the desert, the architecture reflects the true character of the oasis. The tasty and well-prepared meals come from organically grown food from their own garden, and all functions of the lodge are ecologically based. With all the majesty and serenity of the desert around, visitors will have the opportunity to bond with nature, enjoy hot springs and have the option of safari excursions to the desert and neighboring oases.
Kom El Dikka Agri-Lodge
Just a short drive from Cairo and you will be transported into a haven of tranquility at Kom El Dikka. Set inside a family owned olive farm and perched on the shore of Lake Qarun, the authentic architecture of the agri-lodge and its small farm give a taste of rural life. This doesn’t mean that modern comforts are missing, everything you need for a pleasant stay is available in the well appointed rooms.
Family friendly, Kom El Dikka offers a host of activities such as horseback riding and fishing, and children have a special playground to keep them entertained. A bonus feature is the location of Tunis, the renowned pottery and ceramic center of the region. This is a ‘must visit’ during any stay!
Qasr El Bawiti
Nestled in the heart of a lush palm grove, Qasr El Bawiti was created from rocks and stone handpicked from local quarries. No metal or cement has been used; the buildings have been constructed using traditional techniques with the expertise of local craftsmen and workers. The end result is an elegant, traditional eco-lodge, conveniently based in an area known for its natural beauty. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, and totally conducive to an enjoyable and relaxing stay.
Tuna El Gebel, Mallawi, El Minia
For anyone seeking peace, serenity and solitude, they will find it all in New Hermopolis. A retreat for writers, artists and groups looking for a calm environment, this beautiful haven is also a perfect place for long term stays, which can be arranged upon agreement. Set against a backdrop of stunning mountains and embraced by the desert, New Hermopolis is open from October to May each year.
Zad El Mosafer Guest House
A lakeside getaway, Zad El Mosafer is a great reasonably-priced option for a break from Cairo life. Easy to reach, it is well located, as there are ample activities in the area to keep everyone happy. Dining options are simple but tasty, and the rooms are typical of the local style and ambience.
Taziry Ecovillages Siwa
El Maraky Village – Siwa Oasis
Not simply a blissful escape, Taziry is a Siwan desert eco-village with a total commitment to the concepts of a sustainable lifestyle. Located in spectacular surroundings by El Maraky Village at the foot of Adrar Azugagh (Red Mountain) about 16 km from Siwa, facing the famous White Mountain and overlooking the vast Gary Lake and the distant greenery of Fatnas. Constructed using traditional materials and techniques, the buildings are naturally cooled by the desert breeze. Oil lamps and candles provide lighting after sunset, and photovoltaic energy is used, along with solar water heating. The delicious organic food comes from Taziry’s own farm, which also supports a range of health food products.
Taziry also plays an important role in the local community, with a library and museum dedicated to cultural heritage and resources promoting sustainable development initiatives. A handicraft workshop is also organized to provide an income for the community of Siwa. In keeping with proud Arab traditions, there is also a breeding stud for prized Arabian horses, with rides being organized upon request in the sublime Great Sand Sea surrounding the oasis. Combining beauty with an environmentally sound ethos, Taziry makes for an unforgettable experience in magical Amun-Zeus oasis.