Stargazing and Bedouin dinner
Alongside the amazing snorkelling trip we took out in the red sea, we also booked an excursion to visit the Bedouins on our first trip to Egypt.
We arranged both of these trips with Sharm Excursions before we left, which we found easy to book and offered excellent value for money – just choose which trips you’d like to do and when, pay a 10% deposit online, and then the rest when you’re there. Many of the activities they have don’t seem to be offered by main travel providers, and those that are appear to be cheaper on SE too.
Being mainly a resort area, a lot of Sharm el Sheikh is catered heavily to tourists, with places like Naama Bay nearby offering big food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC. If, like me, you’d prefer to stay away from these types of areas but still want to do something a little bit different alongside lazing around on the beach all day, the stargazing and Bedouin dinner trip is a great way of experiencing a little culture without having to fly all the way out to Luxor or Cairo.
We were picked up from our hotel in the late afternoon, and drove about 8kms out into the middle of the desert where the Bedouin village was.
On arrival, we were seated alongside some other tour groups at a purpose-built tent, and served a cup of traditional Bedouin tea – a sweet, herbal drink.
Next, we were invited to help make some bread the ancient Bedouin way, right on the open fire set up in the middle of the camp. The dough is ready to go, and you’re taught how to roll it out before placing it onto the fire to cook.
Although it’s only about 30 mins outside of Sharm’s main area, it really feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere with nothing but desert as far as the eye can see. If you’re up for a little exercise, you can climb up the cliffs which surround the camp to watch the sunset. It’s not a particularly challenging climb physically, but you do have to watch your step – it’s surprisingly steep in parts, and the walk is made awkward by loose stones and cracks in the ground which are found all the way up to the top. You’re not told to wear sensible shoes beforehand, and there were lots of people in completely the wrong footwear (flip-flops!) doing the climb, which is a pretty big health and safety disaster waiting to happen (and probably one of the reasons why the likes of Thomas Cook don’t offer the trip).
When you reach the top however, it’s a lovely place to look out onto your surroundings, and down at the Bedouin camp where you first started.
As the sun begins to go down, we descended from the cliff top before it got too dark, and returned to find dinner was waiting for us. All of the dishes were prepared by the villagers right there in the desert – on offer was a delicious mix of chicken (raised on their farm), potatoes, bread (which you helped to make earlier), rice, fresh salad and more. A tasty meal in unique surroundings.
After dinner we were treated to three different performances on a small stage at the front of the camp. First, a man playing the oud, a guitar-like instrument, followed by a traditional Tanura dance, and then the grand finale – a fire show. This is where it gets exciting.
A topless man on stage lights a set of poi’s on fire, and begins to spin it around him with increasingly extravagant routines. An amazing performance to see so close in front of you… and even closer when he walks off the stage and into the audience. Some people in the crowd scurry away as he approaches, while others who are more brave try to stay as still as they possibly can, so the man can swing his fireballs no more than an inch or two away from their body (and face). The more some people tried to resist, the more this just encouraged him to entertain you.
There’s no denying that he had his performance under control, and the audience’s confidence in him soon began to grow. By the end of the night, parents were voluntarily pushing their children onto the stage so he could swing his props around them. It was impressive stuff, but probably another reason why your travel provider will not offer this trip!
After all that excitement, it’s about 8pm now and nearly pitch black – the perfect time for some stargazing. A few telescopes have been set up at the foot of the cliff we climbed earlier, and a qualified astronomer introduces himself.
He huddles the group together around him, and shines his bright laser pen into the sky to point out all of the constellations and planets visible that night.
“That big bright one there is what we in Egypt call… the moon!” He jokes in between facts.
The telescopes are aligned onto two of the most prominent sights – Saturn, and the moon. One by one we’re invited to look through the telescope, and even get the opportunity take a picture through the eyepiece with our phones:
We weren’t able to get a picture of Saturn, but amazingly you could see the planet’s rings.
The night draws to a close after the stargazing ends, and we all head back to our respective hotels (unscathed) with a head full of new memories.
Sharm el Sheikh might be known as a busy destination for families and beach-goers, but it has so much more than that to offer. This was a great experience which I’m glad I had the opportunity to do, and I hope others can enjoy this and more in Sharm again soon.
Need to know
- Adult £27, children £15
- Hotel transfers included
- Available Tuesday, Friday and Sundays
Note: If you care about animal welfare, I would recommend not booking the camel ride which can be added onto the beginning of this excursion as the animals did not look very well looked-after unfortunately. Here’s what you should look out for before taking a camel ride on holiday.