We flew out with easyJet from Stanstead to Hurghada for a 10 day stay with friends who have retired to El Gouna, in Egypt. They had been over here in November and after much persuading Neil had finally agreed we would pay a return visit next Spring, before it got too hot, and the flight was booked the following day. We booked the extra legroom seats for both trips by the front door and it made for a comfortable flight. (Martin recommends always going for the seat at the front by the door which we will do in future). At Hurghada we had to buy visas for entry and again, following our hosts instructions, we queued at the bank for these (a speedier option than the travel agents- and they give you change from your £25 which the agents tend not to). The airport is light and airy and clearly built to accommodate lots of passengers but there were few around due to recent scares. Our hosts were waiting for us at the main entrance. No one is allowed into the building unless you are flying – as part of the Airport’s thorough security measures. When flying home we had to wait outside until our check-in desk was open and we must have been identity checked six times at various stages from check in to boarding the plane, but everyone was courteous and efficient so it didn’t feel burdensome. It was a 40 minute drive from the airport out to El Gouna where our hosts now live.
El Gouna is a newish Egyptian resort, developed and owned by the Sawiris’ Family from the 1990s onwards. It is located on the Red Sea, 20 kilometres north of Hurghada. Martin and Rosie bought their property when the resort was first being developed – as a chalk mark on the stony/sandy ground – and finally retired there the previous August, having been regular holiday visitors for a number of years. The community is a real mix of Egyptians and Europeans and they feel very safe and happy within a friendly community. The cost of living is favourable and the life style certainly suits them. Entry to the resort is strictly supervised with all passes checked and armed guards on the gates. The whole complex is surrounded by a double ditch to prevent vehicular access over the desert which surrounds it.
We spent our 10 days by the pool, on the beach or out on red sea boat trips snorkeling amongst a myriad of fish. The food in El Gouna was good at every place we ate – every type of international cuisine being offered. The resort was spotless and everyone was friendly. There was free street entertainment on Thursday evenings which was energetic and colourful and is a feature during their high season (by coincidence we were there for its opening week).
We went out on two boat trips to snorkel. One from El Gouna, and one from Hurghada. Both were good value for money and on both we saw a huge range of fish in crystal clear water. On the first trip from El Gouna we also swam with dolphins (not a guaranteed event but we were lucky). One day Rosie and I also got the bus into Hurghada to visit the market so I could see some of ‘real’ Egypt away from the resort. The market was interesting and the streets a mad flurry of cars and horns.
We came home well rested and would be happy to make a return visit (if we are asked) and I would be happy to recommend a visit to the resort if you want a quite holiday with friendly people, clean facilities and at reasonable prices.