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Reborn in the desert

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After midnight, It’s a full moon night, every this is quite, all went to sleep and in the middle of nature, it all starts. Hot water springing up and warming our cold bodies at  10 *C in January. The moon is shedding silver light on the scene. You can’t see much, actually there isn’t much to see around the water spring. A few bushes here and there, suddenly you are in the middle of the clouds with the steam coming out from the hot water. It really looks like you are swimming among the clouds on the rhythms of an everlasting Bedouin song.

This is how we started our three days journey to Al- Farfra oasis,  New Valley governorate.  The trip took about six hours drive from Cairo to our destination. The destination is almost 550 kilometers away from Cairo, but we made three stops during our journey to rest and have coffee etc.

Welcome treat

By the time we arrived to Badaweya hotel  the sun was gone. Each checked into his room in the traditionally designed hotel as separated chalets with domes at the top. Of course everyone was very hungry. We enjoyed a welcome treat of mandarins and dates from the hotel gardens, while our dinner was being prepared.  Dinner started with hot creamy lentil soup followed by roasted chicken with potatoes, mahshy i.e. stuffed vigutables, rice and salad, all homemade style.

After dinner we gathered around fire and enjoyed Bedouin tea. Some were too cold to join,and only six of us decided to take the adventure of swimming in the water spring in the middle of the night.  Our guide from the hotel drove us in a Pajero to the spring, about ten minutes from the hotel.

Healthy natural spa

Besides the marvelous scenery of swimming under the beautiful stars, bathing in hot water springs is very healthy. This water contains a variety of minerals like calcium and sodium bicarbonate. The minerals in the water, helps relief stress and heat relaxes tense muscles. It’s also good for Rheumatism and other  joints  problems in general. It smoothes and softens the skin, plus the properties of sulfur water can relieve eczema. It’s also good for the heart and whole body nourish , moreover , it improves sleep.“Saad” our guide said that swimming at night in hot spring keeps you warm for the rest of the night, where the temperature goes down to 8 or 9 *C.

* Bonus: You don’t have to shower after swimming in a hot water spring. It’s better to leave the minerals do its magic work on your skin.

I woke the first morning in my warm bed room, rays of sun coming from the circle window up the high wall. Spacious bed and a room decorated with Bedouin style and desert rocks. The living room has a traditional chimney and fridge and TV ; I doubt you’ll ever of using it.

 

Sunny breakfast

Unlike the cold night, morning was sunny and warm. We enjoyed our breakfast by the pool. Traditional “foul and Taameya” eggs, cheese, salads, yogurt, and “halawa bar” you need a lot of these at night to give you power.

Green morning

We started off to the old gardens; a massive gardens of palm trees,  citrus and olives that has been there for ages. You can try climbing the palm tree and get fresh dates, but be careful not to get caught. After a refreshing walk amongst different shades of green, we moved to the farm, ten minutes drive from the old gardens, a unique combination of desert rocks, and green land. We walked among old clay houses and met some nice farm cows and donkeys.  We found a shaded spot on a golden ground. Golden yellow tree leaves covered the place and it was about time to have a small snack. Bedouin tea and dates dipped in virgin olive oil a total new extravaganza combination. The sun is about leave and we took off to the hot water spring. A different spring where you can stand and the water will cover you up to the nick. The hot water pores on you from a man made tube. It runs down strongly giving you the best natural Jacuzzi experience in the world. The minerals in the water turned its color into more red color, so it’s normal to feel like you’re swimming in tomato soup. It’s ok; some springs have clearer water than others.

Desert evenings usually starts with the dinner around 6 pm. Taking a walk around  Farafra town, then gathering around fire camp enjoying the melodies of bedioun “nay”, traditional songs and dances. Or you can merely observe the stars spread sky or go swimming in the water spring.

Nature Master piece

On the third day, we went on our major adventure of all. After thirty minutes drive we arrived at one of kind in the world, the White desert or “ elsahara elbeeda” . It’s a national protected area where sand storms, over time, has created nature master pieces of rock formations. The massive chalk rock forest has taken many shapes; the most famous one is  the mushroom which is the symbol of the nature reserve. Also there is The Rabbit and The Chicken rocks and you can spend your day imaging what other shapes you can find there. Millions of years ago this area was a big sea, that’s why you can find fossils in limestone. Another ten minutes drive we passed by “Ein Khadra” a small oasis in the middle of the desert where you can meet some funny camels. There is also the black desert. Then we arrived at another type of desert with colored sand rocks, with different shades of red, green, yellow and black marvelous formations. Our last stop was in an ice cream-like desert, it has smooth white surface as if you have fallen into a vanilla ice cream bucket. This was our spot for a quick snack before sunset, Then we headed back to the hotel.

Crystal road

On the fourth day, we woke up early, had breakfast and got ready to go back to Cairo.  Some authentic shopping is a must; you get to choose from a variety of local dates and pure olive oil. Also there is a range of different handmade wool products that make a wonderful souvenir like gloves, scarves, and wool rugs. On the way we made a very important stop at the Crystal Mountain. It’s part of The White Desert nature reserve. The sand there is literally glowing. Natural crystals are everywhere behind a dark gloomy rock mountain; a spectacular sightseeing.  Then we continued our journey back to the capital.

Three days seemed out of this universe. As if you have travelled back to the very old times,pure, virgin nature all around you. You enjoy fresh air, glowing sky day and night. You are relaxed  and enchanted i.e. you are reborn.

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President El Sisi on Tour in Aswan Post the Arab-African Forum

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As the Arab African Forum comes to an end, President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi accompanied the participants on a tour of the archaeological sites around Aswan.

The tour included a number of cabinet ministers as well, and they all paid a visit to the Philae Temple.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi at the Philae Temple in Aswan on Monday morning

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi at the Philae Temple in Aswan

The forum that began last Saturday on the 16th of March, and witnessed the participation of more than 1,500 youth, ended yesterday morning with a huge success.

The forum that took place in the upper Egyptian city, celebrated Egypt’s chairing of the African Union and shed the light on Egypt being a meeting point between both the African and Arab civilizations.

In light of this, the forum included the discussion of several crucial topics that relate to the development of both regions. These topics included the future of scientific research and health care, and the impact of advanced technology and innovation in Africa and the Arab region.

A number of senior officials attended the opening ceremony including, representatives and public figures from Africa such as Mariam al-Mansouri, the UAE’s first female fighter pilot; Moussa Faki, the African Union Commission chairperson; Nelson Mandela’s grandson; Syrian journalist and anchor Zaina Yazigi and Ahmad Ahmad, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

As for the Arab and African countries that contributed in the AYF, they included Nigeria, Djibouti, Chad, Ghana, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gambia, Sudan, Gabon, Iraq, Palestine, Guinea and Mozambique. 

 

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Travel Guide: Egypt’s First long-distance Hiking Trail

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This new hiking trail is considered to be the first long distance trail in Egypt, it begins and ends by the Gulf of Aqaba, the 105-mile Red Sea Mountain Trail will take hikers through the epic deserts of Sinai.

Egypt is known for its breathtaking scenery of mountains, and through this trail, tourists will be able to walk through the mountainscapes west of the beach-side of Hurghada. Thus giving them an authentic experience of Egypt, and introduce them to Egypt’s beautiful culture and the local Bedouin tribes.

This trail was previously composed of ancient routes that Bedouin created; to help them in traveling, trading, and hunting, and it is owned by a local tribe names Maaza.

The 42 day sea-to-summit route is just the perfect way; to showcase Egypt’s iconic wilderness.

The aim of the project is to of course benefit tourism and also the Bedouin community; by preserving their culture and showcasing it to the world.

It will help give Bedouins leadership roles, and empower them to tell their own stories about the heritage of their homeland.

If you’re not much of a hiker, don’t worry because there are easier and shorter circuits within the Red Sea Mountain.

Note that such a hike can’t be done on your own, and that having a local guide is mandatory for safety measures.

“From vast, desert plains to deep gorges and high, rugged summits, and from crumbling Roman towns to prehistoric rock art and chapels of Egypt’s early Desert Fathers the Red Sea Mountain Trail shows the best of the region’s inimitable beauty,”

For all their latest updates, and to follow up on their hikes, check their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/redseamountaintrail/ or visit their website: http://sinaitrail.org/

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Your Travel Guide for Popular Attractions in Bali Ubud

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Bali has become the most popular island holiday destination in Indonesia, and lately became a top romantic destination for honeymooners; because of its exotic nature and breathtaking scenery. It’s known for the marvelous attractions of temples and palaces that are set against stunning natural backdrops. My advice for those interested in traveling to Bali would be to divide their stay to Ubud, Seminyak and Kuta. Each area is special in its own way, because while Ubud greets you with its nature, Seminyak offers exciting clubbing and packed dance floors. The kind of diversity that you sure will be seeking during your trip.

From my own experience at Ubud, here is a list of places that are a must visit:

1- Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey Forest, aka the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions; as it’s a natural forest sanctuary that is home to a horde of grey long-tailed macaques. As an animal lover myself, I have always wanted to see them in their natural habitat and not behind bars. This is exactly why I enjoyed being surrounded with my favorite animal.

Tip: If you want to take a photo with a monkey, hold your palm up with some food in it, but be ready for monkeys to jump on you at any time!

2- Tegallalang Rice Terraces

The huge rice terrace is another popular attraction, the greenery there is breathtaking especially at sunset. Another highlight to go to nearby is the quaint village of Pakudui, where you can find an extraordinary variety of ornamental woodwork and various carvings. The shops nearby also sell the nicest local clothes, so make sure you don’t miss out on them.

Tip: wear comfy shoes because you’ll be going down long steps, and it might get muddy as well.

Near by are the coffee fields, where you get to taste their variety of coffees whilst enjoying a splendid view of the fields. Don’t go cheap when it comes to coffee shopping, because for a caffeine addict, this will be your heaven on Earth, so make sure you take some home.

3- Lempuyang Temple

One of my absolute favorites, and definitely worth the trip up to the top. The temple is literally so high that your pictures there are as if you’re standing between the clouds. The best views are higher up the stairs, where you can see all the way across the green forested slopes and neighboring Mount Agung. But only hikers will enjoy reaching this high point via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps, but don’t worry, for the not so athletic as myself, you can pay a car to drive you up to the top, but expect a bumpy ride!
4- Finnis Beach Club 

Whether it is Finnis or any other club, spending a day at a beach club is a definite must! I mean can you name a better combination than the beach, good food and music? It won’t even cost you as much as you may think, because with a certain amount, you will have a nice comfy setting, access to the bathrooms, the beach and your choice for a meal and two drinks. And let me tell you, swimming in an island is a whole other experience.

5- Bali Swing 

The swings there are one of the reasons many now know about Bali, but what you might not know is that there are several ones, and their prices vary. So compare between prices, ask if they have life insurance (better safe than sorry) and ask them to check the pictures taken by tourists, and happy swinging!

Bali is beautiful and is surely one of the destinations closest to my heart, and so if you’re not going there for a honeymoon, substitute the fancy villa with a cheaper one, I stayed in Puri Suksma Ubud and it was a nice little hotel with a stunning view. Of course it isn’t like staying at a fancy villa that overlooks the rice terrace or coffee fields but it will definitely do.

One thing that bothered me personally was their currency. You can spend millions there, yes literally speaking, because 100 dollars equal a million and something rupiah! So as a person who sucks at math, it was hectic for me. Especially that you have to compare the prices of trips in dollars, so you would know how to bargain. So my advice is, choose a math geek to join your group.

Other than that, the experience at Bali is a new one, and can be enjoyed at a very reasonable price if you don’t go all fancy.

 

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