6 Peaceful Spots in Egypt To Spend New Year’s Eve Away From the Crowds
2019 is drawing to a close, and whether it was a fantastic year or a please-God-never-again year (in reality, it was probably something ‘meh’ in between), all you know is that you want to end the old and ring in the new with some sort of peace of mind.
Peace of mind is hard to come by in the midst of screaming crowds, pulsating music, 1000+ EGP party tickets (why! why?!) and hangovers and/or sober existential crises.
So if you’re in the mood to usher in 2020 away from Egypt’s big cities and big parties, someplace where you can be close to nature, breathe in fresh air and check your stress and anxiety at the door, then give one of these peaceful destinations a try.
1. Ras Abu Galum & The Blue Lagoon
Ras Abu Galum is an Egyptian national protectorate, about 15 km from Dahab. There’s a small Bedouin settlement on the beach at the edge of the national park, and you can either camp on the beach under the stars or stay in one of the primitive beach huts.
There’s no electricity and limited running water, but the Bedouins provide fresh and local fare and water for extremely reasonable prices.
The Blue Lagoon is an even more remote and beautiful beach camp spot, about another 8 km north of Ras Abu Galum.
In both Ras Abu Galum and Blue Lagoon, daily activities range from diving, snorkeling, swimming, kitesurfing, hiking, sunbathing, reading or just relaxing by the beach. At night you can watch for shooting stars by the fire and revel in the fact that there’s no one else for miles around.
How to get there: From the Blue Hole in Dahab, you can reach Ras Abu Galum either by hiking by foot (it’s relatively flat terrain, but rocky), and really soak in your remote surroundings, with the sea on your right and the mountains on your left.
If the hike is too much or you have too much diving gear, you can take a boat or ride a camel.
Blue Lagoon is another hike/camel ride from Ras Abu Galum.
Go to Ras Abu Galum and The Blue Lagoon if:
The thought of sleeping and waking up on the beach already makes you feel less stressed
You enjoy camping or primitive accommodations
You like to dive or snorkel
You love being away from it all
Local tip: Blue Lagoon is one of our 9 world-class beaches in Egypt, check out the rest.
2. Lake Nasser
Did you know that Lake Nasser is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world? This massive reservoir is home to more wildlife than villages, so it’s easy to forget that anyone else exists when you’re in middle of the enormity of the lake.
The easiest way to access Lake Nasser is by booking a lake cruise, which usually ranges from 3-5 days. If you’re staying in Aswan and know local boatmen, they might be able to take you down by motorboat, south of the High Dam.
Besides the world-famous Abu Simbel, there are other ancient monuments dotting the shoreline of the lake, like Wadi el Seboua, home to the Temple of El Seboua, Temple of Amun, Temple of Dakka, Temple of Maharraqua and the Valley of the Lions.
There’s also the Temple of Kalabsha, Temple of Kertassi and the Temple of Beit el Wali. Most of these ancient historical sites were rescued by UNESCO and international aid from being flooded by Lake Nasser, same as Abu Simbel.
Fishing is allowed in parts of the lake, and you can fish from both the shore and your boat. Nile Perch is a type of prized fish found in Lake Nasser, and the lake is also one of the last safe havens for the Nile crocodile.
Go to Lake Nasser if:
You enjoy cruises or you know someone in Aswan who can hook you up without a cruise
You love visiting archaeological sites
You find lakes and wildlife peaceful
You want to enjoy the sun and warm weather
3. The Western Desert Oases
‘The Oases’ is actually an umbrella 5-in-1 suggestion; each oasis is quite a ways from the next, so we’ll go through them quickly and you can figure out which oasis fits you the best.
What they all do have in common though is the feeling of being at the edge of the Earth; the surrounding desert is just so all-encompassing that you’ll feel like you’re literally in the middle of nowhere (and you kind of will be).
The natural springs at the oases vary between hot springs and cold springs, and are known for their natural therapy.
At each of these oases, you can camp, stay at local lodgings or in some cases, stay in more upscale ecolodges.
Siwa Oasis: the most famous of the big 5, Siwa is about 300 km Southwest of Marsa Matrouh, and 50 km from the Libyan border. In Siwa you can find the temple of the Oracle, from Alexander The Great’s time; the Mountain of the Dead and Cleopatra’s Bath, a famous natural spring.
Farafra Oasis: found approximately midway between Dakhla Oasis and Baharia Oasis, Farafra is known best for its proximity to the White Desert and its massive chalk rock formations.
Baharia Oasis: close to the Black Desert, the Baharia Oasis is also home to the Valley of the Golden Mummies, a Greco-Roman necropolis. Also found in Baharia were dinosaur fossils; the Carcharodontosaurus and Bahariasaurus (hilarious name) date to around 95 million years ago.
Dakhla Oasis: Around 350 km from the Nile, Dakhla is between Farafra and Kharga Oases. Dakhla is considered by some to be the most beautiful of the oases, due to an abundance of greenery and the cliffs surrounding it. Dakhla is also home to Al Qasr, a fortified Islamic town erected in the 12th century, believed to be built by the Ayyubid kings.
Kharga Oasis: the most southern, and most modernized, of the big 5 Western Desert oases. It’s home to the Temple of Hibis (constructed around 2500 years ago) and El Bagawat, an ancient Christian cemetery that functioned from the 3rd to the 7th century AD. It’s one of the oldest and best preserved Christian cemeteries from the ancient world.
Go to one of the Western Oases if:
You love being in or around the desert
You want to stargaze or see the Milky Way
You don’t mind the desert cold at night
You want to swim in natural springs
4. Ras Shetan
This stretch of rugged coast between Taba and Nuweiba in the Sinai Peninsula is known for its simple, no-frills beach camps right on the water. The camps, mainly runned by Bedouins, vary from simple rooms to beach huts to camping tents right on the shore.
Most of the camps offer a variety of different dishes for meals, and you pay your tab before you leave -- Ras Shetan is not a place where you have to worry about things like carrying around money or phones.
In these quiet, sunny camps time seems to slow down -- there’s not much to do besides sunbathe, relax, swim and recharge from reality. Electricity is only available for a few hours, and there are communal bathrooms.
At night, most of the camp residents gather around a bonfire and sing and exchange stories with each other and their Bedouin hosts.
How to get there: driving or bus. Or you can fly into Sharm El Sheikh airport and finesse a ride from there.
Go to Ras Shetan if:
You like a bohemian, communal vibe without actually having to deal with people if you don’t want to
You want to be near the beach
You want to have long stretches of time to relax and have nothing to do
You don’t mind long car rides
5. Abu Dabbab Bay, Marsa Alam
One of the most stunning stretches of beach in Marsa Alam. You get the choice of staying at the lodge (wooden bungalows with private bathrooms, safeboxes and TVs) or staying in nearby camps and desert hotels and buying a day pass to access the beach, pool, diving center, snorkel rental gear, umbrellas, sun loungers, showers and beach bars and restaurants.
Around New Year’s, the temperatures during the day are in the mid-20s celsius, so it’s pleasant beach weather without being too hot.
Abu Dabbab Bay is a diver and snorkeler’s paradise -- it’s where you’re most likely to see giant sea turtles, and is home to two dugongs! Dugongs are also known as sea cows, close cousins of manatees, and Abu Dabbab’s two semi-permanent resident dugongs are called Dennis and Dougal.
How to get there: you can either fly into Marsa Alam airport or drive/take a bus (it’s an 8-10 hour drive though!)
Go to Abu Dabbab Bay if:
You want warm, sunny beach destination without having to worry about it being full with people you know
You want to learn to dive or already know how
You want to hopefully spot a sea turtle or dugong (you don’t have to dive for this!)
You want comfortable accommodations
6. Luxor & Aswan
We spoke above about Lake Nasser, but if you haven’t been to Luxor and/or Aswan, we definitely recommend visiting them first.
A Nile cruise is one of the best, most relaxing (and yet somehow one of the most efficient) ways of seeing the two cities in 3-5 days. You literally don’t have to worry about anything -- the cruise staff takes care of all excursions, with a guide, and all meals are provided on the cruise ship.
If a cruise is out of your budget, then there’s a lot of different accommodation options in Luxor and Aswan, ranging from Airbnbs to historic hotels to Nubian ecolodges.
Although Luxor and Aswan are two completely different cities with very different sights to see, what they both have in common is a sense of stillness and peace -- the pace there is much more laid-back and you just feel like there’s more room to breathe.
How to get there: you can either fly into Luxor or Aswan and take a cruise from either city, or you can take the overnight train from Cairo.
Go to Luxor & Aswan if:
You enjoy learning about Ancient Egypt and actively exploring the temples, monuments and tombs
You find being Nile-side peaceful
You have an interest in Nubian and Upper Egyptian traditions and culture
You want to be somewhere warm
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