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El Gouna - A travel report by Vibeke
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El Gouna,  Egypt - flag Egypt -  Al Ba±r al A±mar
7498 readers

karmapd's travel reports

Artificial, but close to nature!

  28 votes
report of the month contest
Jul 2003

El Gouna travelogue picture
El Gouna is a new development on the east-coast of Egypt. Located about 25 km from Hurghada, it's a tourist town crowded with luxurious hotels and apartments.

Only tourists, homeowners, workers and their families are allowed into the area. The area is therefore sealed off with armed guards (which is very normal in Egypt).

El Gouna is developed and owned by one man (and his company) Mr. Onsi Sawiris, and most locals seem to think of him as a fair (but stinky rich) man.

In El Gouna you will find everything you need. There is a pharmacy, two ATM's, a lot of restaurants, supermarkets, diving schools, bars, casino's, baby-sitting services, a hospital (which even offers plastic surgery), and there are excursions to everywhere in Egypt.

El Gouna might be somewhat out of touch with the rest of Egypt, but this also makes it a very relaxing home-base for discovering Egypt. Since almost all workers and their families live in El Gouna, you'll still meet a lot of interesting people.

Favourite spots:
El Gouna travelogue picture
The Eastern Desert

For about €45 per person (€55 for 2 people on one quad) you can discover the Eastern Desert by quad (4-wheeled motorbike) at sunrise or sunset.

The standard tours are in the evening, but going in the morning is highly recommended. The chances are that you'll be the only people in the group, and sunrise is amazing compared to the sunset. Waking up the Bedouins is also quite cosy.

Khalaf, who's the guide of one of the two quad-tours, is extremely nice, open-minded, trustworthy and his English is far better than the Egyptian average. He will give you discounts if you don't order through the hotel you're staying in.

Khalaf is the first Egyptian I have met that wouldn't accept baksheesh (tip/gratuity)...we actually got presents and breakfast from him on our second trip.

What's really great:
El Gouna travelogue picture
Even though I have some ethical issues with the concept of El Gouna, I have to admit that I have never been so relaxed as after my stay there.

When staying in Cairo, or even only Hurghada, there are people all over wanting to sell you stuff and what not. In El Gouna you get to rest between your trips in 'real' Egypt.

The design of El Gouna is very nice. No buildings can be taller than 3 floors, and they all have to be of traditional architecture. The constant wind makes the heat very bearable, you are always safe (even as a female walking alone), the town is self-sufficient in an environmentally conscious way.

Everything you might need is always within walking distance, public transport is well developed (and cheap) and the town is really beautiful with all the lagoons and the smart designs.

El Gouna travelogue picture
The Eastern Desert - You get there in no-time, and the sights are beautiful.

Cairo (Gisa) - 1 or 2-day excursions.

Luxor - 1 or two day excursions.

Sharm el Sheikh - tourist-area on the tip of the Sinai peninsula.

Red Sea - Go snorkelling! If you can dive, GO DIVING! There are a lot of reefs and shipwrecks to see. Most El Gouna diving schools offer excursions for snorkellers and divers.

There are beaches running around all the lagoons, but for clear waters you have to visit the Red Sea beaches (see: other recommendations).

For more information see:

El Gouna travelogue picture
There are tons of luxurious hotels and apartments. There is also a B&B/Hostel in Abu Tig (the new marina).

According to Khalaf, our Quad-guide and friend, he could arrange a fully equipped studio-apartment for L.E. 750 /week (€ 100).

When staying in El Gouna you are always free to use all pools (no matter which hotel) and facilities. You can always go swimming in the lagoons. Even the marinas are not polluted.

El Gouna travelogue picture
El Gouna is continuously developing, and since I'm not much of a party-person, I can't give a personal impression. There are however a lot of night-clubs, and the beauty is that you're not confronted with the night-life unless you want it.

El Gouna travelogue picture
There are a lot of pubs. All hotels have at least one pub, and in downtown, Kafr El Gouna, there are quite some more.

El Gouna travelogue picture
There are a lot of restaurants. None did however stand out as they're all pretty good. A meal is rather cheap, even in the nicer restaurant. Look out if you want any imported goods (especially alcoholic drinks), these can be quite expensive.

Other recommendations:
El Gouna travelogue picture
It's important to know that El Gouna is artificial. The water of the Red Sea has been led into man-made lagoons. Technically this means that it's still the Red Sea, but the water does not have the brightness that the Red Sea is known for.

Snorkelling in El Gouna is basically pointless, swimming there is however great. There is one coral-reef in El Gouna (located in the lagoon outside of the Sultan Bay Hotel. The water here is not clear enough for any good sights.

El Gouna has three Red Sea beaches; Mangroovy, Zeytoona and Marina Beach. These are very beautiful, but do not have much underwater vegetation.

Other Information:

Most shopkeepers handle 'tourist'-prices which are similar to western-European prices. An example: According to Khalaf a 1l bottle of coke costs him 50 piasters (€ 0.07), the normal tourist-price is however 3 or 4 pounds (€ 0.40-0.60). When purchasing something more expensive, this difference can get big!

Published on Saturday July 19th, 2003

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Fri, Mar 09 2007 - 04:29 AM rating by quikflikchiq

nice photos! great to see some more info in your reports too

Thu, Sep 07 2006 - 10:15 PM rating by mrscanada

I loved your review. It brings back wonderful memories and some not so wonderful ones. Grin!!!

Sun, Jul 02 2006 - 10:10 AM rating by jesusferro

Wonderful report!

Sat, Jun 10 2006 - 05:44 AM rating by davidx

Very god and informative.

Sat, Nov 13 2004 - 03:31 PM rating by shsmrsb

Great info. My husbands and I are visiting el Gouna in December and would be grateful for details of how we can contact Khalaf. my logon name is shsmrsb

Wed, Apr 28 2004 - 11:49 AM rating by britman

Wonderful pictures, brilliant report. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank You!

Sat, Jan 10 2004 - 12:15 PM rating by beograd

Your travelogue is very helpfull and accurate.

Wed, Nov 12 2003 - 01:31 AM rating by whereisliz

Fascinating report on an interesting place... I like that you consider the ethics along with the amenities.

Sun, Sep 21 2003 - 12:16 PM rating by marianne

This is very good information. I love Egypt and now know that el Gouna is not the place for me. Where else did you travel in Egypt.

Sun, Jul 20 2003 - 02:35 AM rating by downundergal

What a great story and the piccies are great!

Sat, Jul 19 2003 - 10:46 PM rating by merlin

Wow! I am impressed. Verry interesting report about a place I have been a few years ago (at least I think so) Not quite sure if this is the one, but the km from Hurghada are about right. I agree on the point of relaxing, but also on the ethnical isue. Hurghada itself shows in a dramatic way how poor some locals are. After I left, I felt verry bad about staying with so much great food in such a poor environment. However tourism brings them some money and without it might be worse. Great pictures by the way! I love the picture of the locals. Keep up the great work!

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