An excursion described as the ‘Ultimate Desert Experience’ just has to be given a try hyperbole or not! This one involved the desert around Sharm el Sheik, Egypt and consists of travelling on quad bikes followed by a short camel ride before heading a little further into the desert on the quad bikes. The eventual destination is a ‘Bedouin’ camp to be wined, dined and entertained in the traditional manner.
Not an auspicious start
Travelling with a friend Aimz; we were provided with a helmet, goggles and shamag then received some instruction and a short driving test before setting off. I had an absolute blast on the bikes. It was my first time but I took to it immediately, Aimz though was a little more reserved.
This was probably partially due to one girl having an accident during the initiation training. It looked quite spectacular and she seemed to be very shaken up, and possibly seriously injured. The tour providers were quite happy to move her at first but it was pointed out she may have a spinal injury. Eventually she was moved however and taken to the local hospital for a check up.
The camel ride was just a token gesture but a good opportunity for a photograph, and another new experience. Our Bedouin guides were quite relaxed and happy to allow me to have a little trot on my camel encouraging it to go faster and challenging Aimz to a race.
All too soon though we were back on the quad bikes and heading further into the wilderness of a rocky and dusty desert.
On arrival at the Bedouin camp we were offered some tea and sheeshas, Always a good start to an evening’s entertainment but was in place of the wining earlier mentioned.
One of the hosts explained some of their customs. This included the going rate for goats required to exchange for a pretty bride, a good deal in my opinion. Aimz was not so keen though and not being sure the exact number of goats allowed through customs before having to declare them I decided to decline.
It was not the first time I had been offered camels or goats for her, still not entirely sure if this was because she is extremely pretty or because it appeared as if I might be a likely candidate for making such a trade.
The encampment was an excellent location for some photographs and the sun was setting so it was just about perfect. The camp is surrounded by low lying rocky hills, but the feeling was still of a vast, expanse which stretched as far as the eye can see. Apart from the encampment there was one or two isolated buildings which appear to be almost part of the landscape and made from a similar rock.
Whilst the meal was being prepared I climbed some of the surrounding hills and took some pictures, the transportation made pretty good subjects too.
The entertainment was unusual, mainly tribal dancing and the audience were invited to get involved, add to this the buffet which was really pretty good and it was a top day.
Finally however it came to an end with another quad bike ride in the dark, and as I had been packing up my camera and tripod when my group left, I was required to play catch up. This was great fun as darkness threatened to envelop us, and allowed me and my guide to drive pretty quickly. Initially he checked a couple of times that I was able to keep up, but once he was reassured we were able to open up the throttle and really go for it. Maybe “The Ultimate Desert Experience” was overstating it just a tad but I found this excursion thoroughly enjoyable all the same.
Just a good job our Bedouin hosts had not suggested an exchange involving a quad bike, might have been riding home from Egypt alone!