Posts Tagged With: Red Sea

Enter Qusseir

Qusseir, the oldest city on the Red Sea coast, is now being developed into an exclusive tourist resort.

Qusseir owes its importance to Muslim pilgrims, who for centuries used it as a departure point to the Arabian Peninsula. It is located 140km south of Hurghada on the Red Sea and 650 km southeast of Cairo and is famous for its picturesque landscape and historic harbor. Only in the last few years has Qusseir started to become known as a tourist resort with some deluxe tourist villages. Its attractions are similar to other Red Sea resorts: virgin beaches, coral reefs and untouched marine life. However, unlike other cities on the Red Sea, this one is not quite completely involved in tourism.

When touring Qusseir, the visitor sees a number of coffee shops, native clothing stores, a single supermarket and a small number of tourist bazaars selling imitation Pharaonic statuettes, scarves, glabbiyas and some gold items– a far cry from the Red Sea resort of Hurghada which is awash with tourist- related activities.

“At first people here have had no concept of tourism and we found it difficult to recruit workers for our tourist village,” said Safwat Badr, general manager of the Mövenpick Resort El Quseir, a five star hotel in Qusseir. “Now it is different. People have begun to understand that tourism is beneficial and among other things, will result in employment for a lot of people. Now we recruit 65 percent of our workers from Qusseir. The rest come from other governorates,” he explained.

Movenpick Resort El Qusseir, built on the traditional Nubia style

Movenpick Resort El Qusseir, built on the traditional Nubia style

Swimming facilities at Movenpick Resort El Quseir

Swimming facilities at Movenpick Resort El Quseir

The interiors of the resort

The interiors of the resort

Besides providing accommodation, the resort offers diverse recreational activities to its guests. One of these are shuttle tours of the old city.

One of the sites in the old city is the now restored Ottoman fortress, which has an interesting Visitors’ Center with displays of local history, archaeology and culture. Initially built to protect Ottoman land, it also housed Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers during the French Expedition whose task as to prevent supplies sent from the Arabian Peninsula from reaching the Mamelukes. A visitor can see the towers and the many tunnels used by the soldiers to hide from their enemies. “You know this tunnel ends in Luxor,” said a seven-year-old child playing inside the castle. “This is a widely-held myth, that these tunnels can lead you to places as far away as Luxor, Safaga and even Cairo,” said a passer-by who overheard the child.

A canon at the ancient Ottoman fortress

A canon at the ancient Ottoman fortress

Entrance to the fortress

Entrance to the fortress

Other interesting sites open to the public are the Farran Mosque, with its famous Ottoman minaret, and the police station, which was visited by Mohamed Ali Pasha on his trip to Qusseir in 1805. The police station is now the central police station in Qusseir.

The hotel also offers excursions to surrounding areas with experienced guides using jeeps, horses, camels and bicycles.

The land surrounding the hotel is picturesque: high mountains with different coloured strata, where fossil shells mingle with sand and rocks. Lakes and the phosphate mines can be visited, where ruins attest to the large community that once inhabited the area.

These phosphate mines were used by Italians in 1920, and it was they who built the settlement which included schools. Blackboards, as well as the villas of administrators and small worker houses beside the wells, can be seen by visitors. The railway lines, once used to transport phosphate, run through the hills and mountains.

The remenants of Italian influence add a romantic flavour to downtown Qusseir Photo: Pierre Loza

The remenants of Italian influence add a romantic flavour to downtown Qusseir Photo: Pierre Loza

A traditional gate of Qusseir houses

A traditional gate of Qusseir houses

Movenpick Resort El Quseir consists of spacious bungalows constructed in the traditional Nubian style, with facades of rough natural stone—a style intended to be followed by future tourist villages built here, to give the city a special character. “We are going to use local stone only because it is convenient and will give the area a special aura,” said Abuel Haggag Abdel Rehim, head of Qusseir’s City Council.

How to get there:

By air: Hurghada airport (120 kms north of Qusseir) or Luxor airport (220 kms west of Qusseir) or Marsa Alam airport (65 km south of Qusseir).


Movenpick Resort El Quseir,

Radisson Blu Resort El Quseir

Flamenco Beach and Resort El Quseir

Akassia Swiss Hotel El Quseir

Fanadir Resort El Quseir

Categories: Egypt, Red Sea, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Go Holistic

Meditation, yoga safari and underwater yoga are new terms being used in Egyptian coastal tourist resorts.

Stresses of life have changed travel trends. Two decades ago, travellers looked for culture holidays where they could visit ancient sites and museums. When city life stress increased, the trend changed to resorts where travellers could spend most of their time relaxing on a beach, swimming, snorkelling and diving.

Travellers of today are more demanding. On top of the sand, sun and sea, they want something that really releases the tension, something that solves the difficult equation: how to spend free time on a vacation doing something positive with your body, mind and soul.

From here came the introduction of meditation and yoga in several Egyptian resorts. Many in South Sinai, particularly in Dahab, are offering yoga vacations for beginners and experts. These include practising yoga in simple but clean hotels, usually run by the Bedouins of Sinai. Sometimes, the itinerary transcends the boundaries of the hotel and into the desert for meditation in a peaceful and serene atmosphere or deep into the sea for a unique experience.


YOGA ON A SHOESTRING: A possible yoga vacation is offered by Yoga on Shoestring Holidays. They have packages in Dahab from 2 to 9 February, from 16 to 23 March and from 11 to 18 May. Accommodation will be in Coral Coast Hotel which offers two types of accommodation: standard and superior rooms.

Mornings begin with meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques) for early risers, followed by another class from 8.30am to 10.30am. There is an evening yoga class at 5.30pm.

Each holiday has an overnight trip into the desert. Delicious food cooked on open fires prepared by the Bedouins, camel riding and sleeping under the stars all combine to make this an amazing and unique experience.

Your mere presence in Dahab, this small village in South Sinai, is an exclusive adventure. Dahab offers an array of exciting things to do from snorkelling, scuba diving and windsurfing to horseback riding, camel riding and jeep driving in the desert.

Dahab in fact has many diving centres offering introductory dives, PADI certification and dives for the more experienced. The tranquil Bedouin village of Abu Gallum is a glorious walk from the famous dive site at the Blue Hole. Mount Sinai and St Catherine Monastery are a short drive away from Dahab. The package offers a night-time walk up Mount Sinai to view a spectacular sunrise.

For more information, visit


DIVING AND YOGA HOLIDAY: This holiday package, offered by Adventure Yogi, is a combination of yoga, meditation, massage, sunbathing, camel rides, desert safari, snorkeling and diving.

Taking place at Marsa Shagara on the Red Sea, Adventure Yogi offers two programmes, one in the winter, from January 9 to 16 and in the summer from June 5 to 12. For accommodation, you can choose from Safari beach tents on the beach, traditional domed lodges and en-suite guest houses. Led by experts in their field, the week will give you an introduction to yoga and diving. It is suitable for everybody – divers and non-divers, experienced Yoga practitioners and beginners in both fields.

The yoga diving course combines techniques of hatha yoga, asanas, pranayama and meditation with scuba and apnea (breath-hold) diving in a beautiful, natural environment. This approach brings yogis to incredible close encounters with nature and help them feel stillness, relaxation and altered states of consciousness. For all, yoga and diving removes stress and encourages a freedom from thought. As well as diving travellers can snorkel, camel ride, horse ride, indulge in massages, and sunbathe.

For more information, visit

Yoga 3

YOGA RETREAT: This eight-day package in Sinai Desert is a yoga retreat rather than a yoga holiday. It is designed for people who would like a more in-depth and holistic study of yoga, rather than just doing the asanas (postures). The main activity on this holiday is yoga, ie yoga asanas, pranayama, (breathing techniques), meditation and yoga philosophy. There will be two classes per day with meditation and chanting morning and evening. Camel, horse riding, windsurfing, diving and desert safaris are also available. The camp has its own house reef with beautiful corals and rich marine life, perfect for swimming snorkelling.

On the first day, yogis will arrive and settle in the camp. Second and third days are dedicated to yoga, sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and camel riding. On the fourth day, besides yoga, travellers will do a desert excursion to the Coloured Canyon; climb Mount Sinai for sunset and visit Saint Catherine Monastery. Fifth day is a day off whereas on the sixth day, there will be evening yoga at Castle Zaman. On the seventh day, travellers will enjoy a traditional desert Bedouin dinner and will have an after evening yoga session. The eighth day, yogis will gather for a closing ceremony.

For more information on this package, visit


Categories: Body and Soul, Egypt | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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