Updated: Mar 1, 2021
First, let’s be clear about something -- there’s adventure, and then there’s extreme adventure, and Egypt offers both.
But if you’re one of those people who needs that adrenaline rush, who’s comfortable being uncomfortable and actually seeks it out -- well then we have just the activities for you.
1. Gilf El Kebir Expedition
Duration: 14 days
Not a trip for the faint-hearted.
Gilf El Kebir is a massive limestone plateau deep in the remote wilderness of the southwestern corner of Egypt, around 150 km from the borders of both the Libyan and Sudanese deserts. The area is considered uncharted territory, and historic and prehistoric discoveries are being made there until present day.
People visit Gilf El Kebir to see its caves with rock art dating back 10,000 years, like the Cave of the Beasts and Cave of the Swimmers. It’s also considered the last ‘undiscovered’ stretch of Egypt.
To reach the plateau, you have to drive off-road deep into the Great Sand Sea, past the far-flung oases of Farafra and Dakhla and away from all human civilization.
Keep in mind that once you approach Gilf El Kebir, it’s total wilderness -- no phone signal, no place to buy water, no place to buy gasoline, hours upon hours away from a hospital, so you’ll need to prepare your trip far in advance.
Details: 4x4 vehicles need to be stocked with food and water that outlast your trip in the case of emergency, gasoline needs to be bottled and packed, and you’ll need medical supplies, satellite phones and special GPS systems. You also *must* have a guide with you and in some cases, security as well.
How to do it: Destination 31 arranges expeditions along with other adventure tour groups like Wilderness Ventures Egypt.
2. Kayaking from Aswan to Luxor
Duration: 7 days
Yep, that’s right. You can actually paddle the 200 km down the Nile between these two ancient Egyptian cities -- but it takes time, physical fitness and an extreme sense of adventure.
The Nile Kayak Club arranges regular Aswan-Luxor kayaking expeditions, for seven days (five of those will be kayaking). You’ll make different stops throughout the trip to check out and explore the world-famous monuments and other lesser-known points of interest, and camp/sleep and eat on a boat for 5 of those days.
Details: You’ll be paddling for around 5 hours a day, divided into a longer morning session and a shorter late afternoon/sunset session.
If this extreme adventure seems up your alley, then make sure first that you’re physically able to paddle for hours at a time, because it’s quite a workout.
How to do it: get in touch with The Nile Kayak Club and register for their next kayaking trip.
3. Skydiving at the Pyramids
Duration: the event lasts 3 days
If you’re one of those people who gets a rush from the idea of throwing yourself out of a plane, then this is a level up for you: you can throw yourself out of the plane while looking down over a great wonder of the world.
Details: Skydive Egypt organizes a drop zone over the Pyramids once or twice annually, but you need to be a certified skydiver with a valid and current B license (over 100 jumps). If you’re not certified but want to be, Skydive Egypt also arranges skydiving trips in places like Kenya or Morocco throughout the year for Egyptians, so you’re ready for when it’s Pyramids skydiving time.
SkyDive High however is an international extreme adventure tour company that can arrange for tandem jumps for beginners at the Pyramids, but are also charging $10,000 for it, so…
How to do it: register on Skydive Egypt’s Facebook page or contact them for more details/questions.
4. Diving with sharks in the Red Sea
When you think of shark diving, you might picture being lowered into the ocean in a cage with Great Whites attacking you from all angles in South Africa. And while this is appealing for some, the reality of diving with sharks in the Red Sea in Egypt is a lot more peaceful and safe, while still giving you that extreme adrenaline rush you crave -- and really shows why we need to do our best to protect Egypt’s sharks.
Non-Egyptians aren’t usually aware of the *amazing* diving and aquatic life we have in Egypt, even though we top international dive site rankings year after year. Read our article about the best Egyptian dive sites for all levels.
If you want to see these beautiful fish in their natural habitat and get your heart beating a little faster, there are several different dive sites dotting the Red Sea off Egypt’s coast known for their shark sightings.
Details: There are over 30 types of shark found in the Red Sea, and most are not dangerous to humans, although you want to obviously give these large fish the respect and space they deserve -- don’t get too close and don’t try to touch them.
You can see sharks ranging from reef sharks to hammerheads to even whale sharks if you’re lucky -- you can research the best seasons to see which type of shark and where. Famous shark dive sites include El Ikhwa Islands and Daedalus Reef among many others.
How to do it: research which area suits the season you’re in, and contact a diving center there. Hurghada, Safaga and Marsa Alam are all good starting points.
5. Rock climbing and bouldering in Dahab
Duration: half day or full day
If you love being outdoors and working up a sweat but in an extreme kind of way, then rock climbing and bouldering in Dahab’s desert mountains might be for you.
Rock climbing is pretty self-explanatory, but don’t expect the easy indoor gym kind you might be used to -- we’re talking real crags and mountain faces. The good news is that in Dahab there’s the option of taking rock climbing courses for beginners, intermediate levels and experts; something for everyone.
Details: Most rock climbing in Sinai happens in the winter months because of the moderate temperatures, but if you’re in Dahab in the summer, it’s still possible to climb, but just in the very early morning before the sun starts sizzling.
As for bouldering, what is it exactly, you may ask? Essentially bouldering is almost like a real-life obstacle course; you have to get from Point A to Point B by climbing over immense boulders obstructing your way. There’s no equipment for bouldering, so it’s basically you scaling these huge stone obstructions using your body alone.
How to do it: contact a tour company like Desert Divers, who can arrange everything from instructors to rock climbing rental equipment to transportation.
6. Dirt biking in the desert
Duration: 1 day
If you’ve always wanted to let loose on a dirt bike away from paved roads, cars and people, then head over to Hurghada (full guide here) where you can go wild off-roading in the desert on a dirt bike (or quad bike if a dirt bike is a little too intense for you).
You’ll go over dunes, valleys and varied desert terrain with a guide who decides the route based on your experience. It’s sandy, dusty and you’ll be sore for days after, but the adrenaline rush is real and hours will go by in a flash.
You can also read our post about 25 fun things to do in Hurghada and El Gouna for more activity ideas.
Details: You can rent the motorbikes (KTM 530) along with helmets and other protective gear from the adventure tour company.
Local tip: scarves are essential unless you want to inhale a ton of dust.
The tour company can arrange pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Hurghada and will take care of the bike, equipment and guide.
How to do it: contact Bike Egypt for reservations and any questions.
7. Long-distance hiking and trekking in Sinai
Duration: from 12 days to 38 days
If enjoy hiking but are looking for the extreme version of it, then look no further than the Sinai Trail. This wilderness trek is no joke -- it’s for serious hikers only who are willing to live the Bedouin, desert nomad lifestyle for extended periods of time.
Details: The Sinai Trail has different route options: there’s the Serabit el Khadem circuit, which is for 12 days, and covers hundreds of years of history. You’ll be hiking for hours led by Bedouin guides, and sleep under the stars and eat by campfire.
There’s also the incredible 38 day Sinai Thru hike, which is divided into 3 parts (Part 1 and 2 are for 12 days, and Part 3 is for 14 days. You can sign up for any part of the hike... or even do the whole thing).
According to the Sinai Trail website: “The first part is from Ras Shetan on the Gulf of Aqaba coast to Ein Kidd where there is a beautiful oasis with palms and bamboo. This first section of the route will be guided by the Tarabin and Muzeina tribes. On the second part the route continues from Ein Kidd to the highlands of St. Katherine. You will walk through narrow wadis, cross high passes and climb some of the highest peaks in Egypt with the Awlad Said and Jebeleya tribe. The third part runs from St. Katherine to Serabit el Khadem via some of the Sinai’s most remote wadis and mountains, with the Jebeleya, Awlad Said, Gararsha, Hamada, Sowalha and Alegat tribe.”
Keep in mind that throughout these hikes, you’ll be far from settlements, bathrooms, electricity, running water and other creature comforts. They provide 3 meals a day and you can bring your own snacks, but it’s not for picky eaters. There are no beds -- it’s camping all the way -- and you *must* be physically fit so you can keep up for more than a week of intense trekking.
Update: you can now also do a similar hiking trip in the Red Sea Mountains in the eastern desert near Hurghada, called the Red Sea Mountain Trail. It was ranked one of Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Places in 2019.
If this sounds like heaven on earth to you, then you’re in for one of the best experiences of your life.