In the year when Serbia and Egypt celebrate 110 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Embassy of Egypt in Belgrade, with the support of the Red Sea Governorate and airline company "Air Cairo", reworded friends of Hurghada – people from our country who often visit this destination with a journey. They stayed in this popular Egyptian destination at the beginning of September, along with the Serbian journalists and the team of the Turistički Svet magazine. Enjoying the pleasant climate, the hospitality of the local population, all the benefits of 5 star resort, swimming and diving in the crystal clear waters, quad racing, camel riding and hanging out with Bedouins, we understood why these people come back over and over again to Hurghada.
Welcome to your second home – are the welcoming words of your hosts when you arrive to Hurghada – a popular Egyptian destination that has developed in the last few decades from a small fishing village surrounded by a desert into a leading tourism centre at the Red Sea, which now extends about 36 kilometres along the coast.
The sea more beautiful than the Caribbean
For lawyers and spouses Milan and Svetlana Keča Hurghada is in a way a home away from home – they have been coming to Egypt for two decades, sometimes twice a year, so on the streets of this town, especially in the shopping district, locals recognize and greet them. They showed us what makes this destination so special that they always come back.
- Primarily, the sea is crystal clear and warm, and swimming is possible over several months. The most beautiful is in May and October, when we usually come. I was in the Caribbean, and I firmly believe that the Red Sea, which is only three hours away from Belgrade, has a richer and diverse marine wildlife than the Caribbean. In addition to the sea, we are delighted with the people who are very kind here, as well as the nice weather, because here the rain can’t spoil your vacation – claims Milan Keča, explaining that “you either love Egypt or you don’t. Those who love it, always come back, because this country has some kind of magic“.
That Egypt has some kind of magic, confirmed another Hurghada fan – Mladen Lukač, who has been spending his holiday with the family on the Red Sea for the last 15 years.
- It’s nice to explore, but we don’t have a dilemma where to spend our holiday. When we arrive in Hurghada, it’s like we come home. The advantage of this destination is extremely clean and warm turquoise sea. This adds to the high quality of service in hotels and the price ratio, which is really more favorable than in other destinations. Also, the climate is very pleasant. Although the temperatures are high, thanks to a nearby mountain serving as a defense from heat, only air from the sea comes to you, which is fantastic. You do not have the feeling of too much heat, because the air is dry and there is no moisture, so it is easy to breathe. In the evening, it is also pleasant, because the wind always gently blows – says Lukač.
Wandering through the streets of Hurghada
Due to pleasant temperatures also during winter, tourist season in Hurghada lasts throughout the whole year. The most numerous are guests from Germany, Russia and Italy, and there is a growing interest of Serbian tourists, around 20.000 of them since the beginning of 2018.
Although the first association to Hurghada is a luxurious resort with attractive sandy beach, you will find its true face wondering through the streets of the old town part El Dahar with modest bazaars in which traders dressed in traditional uniforms and turbans on the head, sell spices and various souvenirs. However, for the shopping with inevitable bargain, the most ideal is the Sheraton road in Sekalla where you can buy various goods – from Egyptian souvenirs, through dates, spices, leather products and Egyptian textiles... In Sekalla, not far from the marina, there is also a new El Mina mosque, built for 12 years from funds raised by believers. Coptic Orthodox Church in El Dahar was built in the same way. We recommend that you visit both religious sites, and in order to complete the whole picture of Hurghada, take a walk through the modern part of the city called El Memsha, which means – “village road“.
In Hurghada, you can also visit the sand museum “Sand City” in which sandy sculptures in the form of sphinxes and pyramids, as well as Cleopatra, Zeus, Gaius Julius Caesar, Napoleon... are exhibited on the outdoors, and in the neighboring section – the fiction (cartoon) characters: Bugs Bunny, Spiderman, Sinbad, Masha and the Bear, Pirates of the Caribbean... To the youngest visitors the visit to nearby Aquarium could also be interesting. There, apart from the fish inhabiting the Red Sea, they can see and photograph exotic land animals – iguanas, pythons, flamingos, ostriches, camels, monkeys...
Swimming with dolphins and hanging out with Bedouins
Thanks to the coral reefs and diverse animal species found in the depths of the "sea of seven colors" – as they also call the Red Sea, Hurghada belongs to the top 3 diving destinations on the planet. Therefore, you should not miss a trip to the Paradise Island or nearby coral reefs, which include swimming with dolphins and after a brief training, snorkelling or scuba diving accompanied by an experienced guide. One thing is certain: even if you have experienced marine illness due to strong waves on the boat, you will forget about the difficulties as soon as your eyes discover the beauty of the underwater world.
But the adventure doesn’t end there. When visiting Hurghada, desert safari, which includes quad riding and buggies, is just as important as riding a camel in a nearby Bedouin village. From the local guide, we learned a lot of interesting things about the Bedouins – people who inhabit the desert areas throughout Egypt.
- In Egypt there are 73 Bedouin families, 72 of which are Muslim families and one is Christian. There are usually from 50 to 150 people in each family. Some of them live in permanent settlements, while the rest are nomads. Every family has a sheikh – family boss, who is responsible for everything. Sheikh is chosen among the richest, and that is someone who has the largest number of camels – says a guide who presents himself as Brownie, and continues:
- The Bedouins also have their own language, which is exclusively verbal – not written. They are very proud of their way of life and culture. Their life depends largely on nature – they have discovered every plant in the desert and its medicinal properties. They live only in places where there is water, at the foot of the mountains. Today, some Bedouin villages that are very close to the city are engaged in tourism, and they live a much more modern life than before – they have cars, phones, get everything from the city and see tourists every day, and we also have Bedouins that live by the tradition deep in the desert.
Smiley people – the biggest impression
Being in Hurghada, we have come to know all of its diversity – the sea, the desert, luxurious resorts and a modest living in the central streets of the city. But what in all of these places left the strongest impression on us – were people. Smiling, in a good mood, always at the service and kind, who will, as soon as they hear where you come from, ask on Serbian language: “Kako si” (How are you)? Thanks to the magic Egypt possesses, our answer, with each new visit to this country, will undoubtedly be: “Magical”!
Friendship that lasts for decades
The Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abd Alla hosted journalists and friends of Hurghada from Serbia at his office and on this occasion reminded of the great friendship between our two countries, especially during the 1950s and '60s.
- In 1967 Egypt went through a tough period and Yugoslavia was the first country that supported us. We will never forget that. I would like to say to the Serbian people that they are welcomed on the coast of the Red Sea, where summer never ends and where we will always welcome them with our arms wide opened! – pointed out Abd Alla, who is going to visit our country in mid October on the occasion of the twinning agreement between the town of Jagodina and the city of Marsa Allam in the Red Sea. On the occasion, the Egyptian delegation will talk with Serbian officials about the introduction of the Belgrade-Cairo direct flight.
Text: Biljana Bosnić Ognjenović
Photo: Časlav Vukojičić and B.B.O.