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Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Little Venice on the Red Sea" - El Gouna, Red Sea

In today’s modern and sometimes stressful world what some of us need the most, is some peace of mind, tranquility and indulgence. In this month’s issue, Excel Travel features the “little Venice on the Red Sea” El Gouna with their motto: Life as it should be! 

This fully self-contained town located approximately 25 km north of Hurghada with its own 18 hole USPGA golf course, 16 hotels ranging from the luxurious 5 star hotels to the cozy and charming 3 star boutique hotels, numerous diving centers and kite surfing stations, offers everything a guest could need and want during their stay. This year round destination leaves no wish unfulfilled and offers something for every budget and desire. Whether you are looking to just relax on the beach, discover the spectacular underwater world, have some fun on the waves by kitesurfing or putting on your dancing shoes and listening to some great music by world class DJ and artists, El Gouna truly lives up to its slogan: Life as it should be!  

El Gouna has also become a permanent home for many residents, both Egyptians and foreigners, accordingly the resort is equipped with accredited schools, an up to date and world class hospital, nurseries, supermarkets, an open air cinema, and various institutions such as the German Hotel school, the soon to be opened Technical University of Berlin and a Nursing Institute.  El Gouna is a quaint and friendly neighborhood and whether you know someone or not, you are always greeted with a smile. With its dome shaped houses and beautifully rounded arches, which act as a natural cooling system in the summer, El Gouna is the flagship project for the Orascom Development and Holding company.  

El Gouna has been recognized as Egypt’s most environmentally friendly destination, thanks to its various environmental efforts such as regular beach and island clean ups, as well as all of the hotels being accredited with the Green Globe and the Green Star Hotel initiative. The Green Globe Award is a prestigious award from the Green Globe International, a non-profit organization that promotes environmentally and socially responsible tourism. The Green Star Hotel initiative aims to improve environmental standards in the Egyptian hotel industry through the minimization of environmental impact while maximizing the appeal to guests.

If you love food, El Gouna is a food lover’s paradise. Offering tantalizing and exceptional cuisines from around the world, you can enjoy a different dish every night of the week without eating the same thing twice. From French, Mediterranean, Egyptian to the exotic Asian cuisines such as Thai, Indian and Vietnamese, there’s something for everyone.  You can still sample different cuisines even if you are a half board or an all inclusive guest, as all EL Gouna hotels participate in a Dine Around program which allows you to have your dinner in different hotels at no extra charge.

Breakfast at the Steigenberger Golf Resort hotel:
One of the best breakfast buffets served in El Gouna.  
With a variety of freshly baked breads, jams, fruits, waffles and much more, it will satisfy any appetite whatever your food preference is. 

Segway tour:
A great way to see El Gouna is by using the Segway; a motorized vehicle compromised of a board, wheels and a handle bar. The vehicle is propelled by shifting your weight either to the front or to the back; to go forward or backwards respectively or by moving the handles to the side to move either to the left or the right. Anyone can do it and it just takes a few minutes to get used to it.   

Wine tasting at the EgyBev Winery:
Experience the journey of the Egyptian authentic wine, a process that starts from the plantation of grapes in the deserts of Egypt (organic grapes) to the labeling of the bottles until the final process of delivery. Free winery tours are organized Sunday through Thursday and guests can taste awarded wines such as the Jardin du Nil White 2010 and the Jardin du Nil Red 2009, both silver medal winners at the Challenge Millesime Bio 2011 and 2012 respectively in Montpellier, France.  

The El Gouna Golf Club:
Currently the only 18 hole USPGA championship course, designed by Gene Bates and Fred Couples was designed with every golfer in mind, whether you’re an amateur trying out the sport for the first time or a pro playing the tournament circuit. The course is surrounded by breath taking mountains and lagoons and is open all year round to all players with a handicap of 45. The Golf Club offers introductory courses three times a week for non golfers with a PGA professional. 

Lagoon tour:
Enjoy a beautiful and relaxing lagoon trip along the waters of El Gouna and discover how “the little Venice on the Red Sea” became El Gouna as it is today. Along the way see some beautiful villas and apartments, the Abu Tig Marina and some of the hotels. 

Lunch at the Captain’s Inn Steakhouse:
For all meat fans, the Captain’s Inn Steakhouse located at the Abu Tig Marina, offers mouthwatering steaks, cooked to your liking with a variety of sides. In the evenings enjoy the wonderful atmosphere the marina has to offer. 

The Abu Tig Marina and the New Marina:
Enjoy a stroll on the marina boardwalk and take in the atmosphere of the beautiful and exquisite yachts which are berthed. The New Marina, opened in 2009 can berth yachts up to 60 meters in length. The two marinas are connected to each other and offer a wide variety of restaurants, boutiques and bars. From spring until the beginning of winter, outdoor festivals at various venues at the marina offer free entertainment such as live bands, shows and singers.  

Downtown walk:
Take a walk around the down town and visit some of the shops, including the Artistic Village, or stop at one of the numerous coffee shops for a cup of coffee or even a hookah (shisha), and if you love sports, there’s a sports bar which shows live broadcasts of all sporting matches. 

Embassy of Knowledge:
The Embassy of Knowledge is El Gouna’s local library offering a calm and relaxing place for studying or simply picking up a new book to read. The library is connected to the Library of Alexandria with thousands of books available online as well as offering on a daily basis the Culturama show. On nine screens the history of Egypt is explained from the time of the pharaohs until modern times. 

Languages offered are in English, German, French and Arabic and Russian on request.


Book your holiday to El Gouna through us. You can even combine it with an Egypt historical tour or even a Nile Cruise. Have a look at our Coral Package.

El Gouna Steigenberger Golf resort Segway Tour Egybev Winery Jardin du Nil White 2012 Jardin du Nil Red 2009 The El Gouna Golf Club 18 hole golf course Egypt Lagoon Tour Red Sea Abu Tig Marina Captain's Inn Steakhouse El Gouna New Marina Artistic Village Embassy of Knowledge

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Photoblog: Wildlife Watching at Victoria Falls Reserve, Zimbabwe

Posted on August 14, 2012 by on http://www.wildjunket.com

Before us, across the sprawling savanna, stand a herd of over 50 buffaloes. Apart from the occasional stares, they are surprisingly oblivious to our presence – some of them fighting other bulls head to head, others strolling around the dry arid land. As the sun slowly disappears beyond the horizon, we leap off our jeep, crack open several bottles of beer, and watch as the buffaloes graze and linger, with the African savanna washed in a golden glow.

Over the past few days, we’ve been game driving in Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, spotting plenty of wildlife every morning and evening. Our base, Stanley & Livingstone, is a beautiful lodge located within the reserve, with wild baboons, elephants and giraffes roaming around our backyard. During our time here, we’ve been rewarded with impressive sightings from herds of zebras grazing on the grasslands, to kudus galloping amidst the bush, and vultures eyeing the savanna from the top of the Acacia trees. Out of the six black rhinos that call this reserve home, we spotted four of them, as they linger just inches away from our jeep, oblivious to our presence.

There’s nothing quite like watching an animal in the wild – the emotions that come along with it often stirring and awakening. As a wildlife buff, I’ve always been drawn to places with great wildlife opportunities and that’s why we’re here in Zimbabwe. Here are some of Alberto’s best shots from Victoria Falls Reserve, hope they’ll give you a feel of how wildlife watching is in Zimbabwe!

Some buffaloes stare at us with much curiosity…

while others continue to fight head to head.

Two zebras stand in line here, almost as if they’re posing for a shot.

Alberto captured this shot just as the baby black rhino is slurping some water. Doesn’t it look way too adorable?

Slightly darker and furrier, the bushbuck almost resembles a cross between a llama and antelope.

We spot a warthog, too busy feeding on grass to be bothered with us.

Impalas all gather amidst the bush, prancing around like dainty savanna angels.

Another black rhino munching on dry leaves. All the rhinos in the reserve were brought in from other parts of Zimbabwe to be bred and protected here. These rhinos have been de-horned to protect them from poachers.

A female kudu struts elegantly across our path and we all stare in silence, awed by her beauty.

While having lunch one day, we spotted this teenage elephant coming for a sip at the hotel’s waterhole.

Groups of impalas and baboons all come out for a sip at our lodge’s waterhole.

A baboon family sit around the waterhole at sunset. I wonder what they’re looking at!

The gorgeous lilac-breasted roller, also known as rainbow bird, spotted on a branch in the reserve.

Disclaimer: This experience was made possible by Rani Resorts (Stanley & Livingstone) and Nicky Arthur PR. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.  

Taken from: http://www.wildjunket.com/2012/08/14/photoblog-wildlife-watching-at-victoria-falls-reserve-zimbabwe/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WildJunket+%28Wild+Junket%29 [15.08.2012]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Did you know? Fort Jesus in Mombasa was built in the shape of a man.

Fort Jesus is a Portuguese fort built in 1593 by order of King Philip I of Portugal (King Philip II of Spain), then ruler of the joint Portuguese and Spanish Kingdoms, located on Mombasa Island to guard the Old Port of Mombasa, Kenya. It was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air), and was given the name of Jesus. In 2011, the fort was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, highlighted as one of the most outstanding and well preserved examples of 16th century Portuguese military fortifications.

Between 1631 and 1875 the fort was won and lost nine times by the nations contesting control of Mombasa. It was declared a historical monument in 1958. Today it houses a museum.

The fort was designed by a Milanese architect, Giovanni Battista Cairati, who was the Chief Architect for Portuguese possessions in the East. It was the first European-style fort constructed outside of Europe designed to resist cannon fire. Today, it is one of the finest examples of 16th century Portuguese military architecture, which has been influenced and changed by both the Omani Arabs and the British. The fort quickly became a vital possession for anyone with the intention of controlling Mombasa Island or the surrounding areas of trade. When the British colonised Kenya, they used it as a prison, until 1958, when they converted it into a historical monument. James Kirkman was then assigned to excavate the monument, which he did (with a large use of external historical documents) from 1958 to 1971.

The architecture of the fort represents the rough outline of a person lying on their back, with the head towards the sea. The height of the walls is 18 meters. The original Portuguese fort had a height of 15 meters, but the much taller Oman Arabs added 3 meters upon capturing the fort.

The fort combines Portuguese, Arab and British elements, representing the major powers that held it at different times in history. Portuguese and British presence if felt by the presence of their respective cannons. The Portuguese cannons had a range of 200 meters and are longer than the British cannons which had a range of 300 meters. Oman Arabs marked their occupancy with numerous Koran inscriptions into the wooden door posts and ceiling beams. The Muslim tradition of 5 pillars is also portrayed throughout the fort, with a former meeting hall supported by 5 stone pillars to the ceiling.

Some of the historical structures still standing in the fort include Oman House, which was the house for Sultan who governed the East African coast. Others are an open water cistern by the Portuguese for harvesting rain water, and a 76-foot deep well sank by the Arabs, but whose water was too salty to be used for anything but washing.

The fort was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2011.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Jesus
  • http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1295
  • Gilbert, Erik, and Jonathan T. Reynolds. Africa in World History: From Prehistory to Present. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2008, p. 225
  • Kirkman, J. 1974. Fort Jesus: A Portuguese Fortress on the East African Coast Clarendon Press: Oxford
  • Pictures by  Juan Nel

"Island Style" Mombasa

by Candis Poley

Day 1:
An early start and eager to visit Mombasa in Kenya.  Boarding the flight at 07:45 and 3 and a half hours later we in Mombasa.  As I step off the plane I immediately feel the hot and humid tropical air of Mombasa.  

I think I should go to the “ladies” and change into something more “Island style”.  

Greeted by the warm and friendly people of Mombasa we are transferred to the South coast of Mombasa.  “Wow” what an eye opener Mombasa is more modern than I thought I we drive to the South Coast.  I notice little shopping centre’s called “Naku mat” which hosts a Woolworths and Mr Price.  

What I find really interesting and unique is that we have to get onto a ferry and when I say we;  I mean literally the whole mini-van and luggage onto a ferry to cross over to the South Coast of Mombasa.  What an experience!

Upon arrival at Leopard beach Resort we are welcomed with warm towels and cool cocktails.  Walking down to the beach I discover white sands and blue waters – the atmosphere is serene and peaceful; what bliss.  We ended the day with great food, a live band, fine wine and good company.

Day 2:

Our beaches in Africa are amazing.  Today we explore more of the South Coast;  the beaches are brochure perfect! We has all just gone for a swim; and the water is warm and inviting. We ended the day with sundowners at the beach bar at the Diamonds Neptune Palm Resort.

Day 3: 

Another inviting sunrise in Mombasa,  the highlight of the day was the delightful lunch at Serena Beach Village;  nothing beats the taste of fresh seafood “just caught”  and put into the hot pan. 

Day 4: 

An early start.  We all ready and geared for a day in Tsavo National Park.  As we journey to the National Park we experience a bit of city traffic;  similar to the peak hour traffic one would experience in Johannesburg – who would have thought. However this traffic was more enjoyable as we had excellent company and a great picnic style breakfast compliments of Neptune Beach Hotel.

What a day filled with adventure and awesome game viewing,  a lion to my left and a dazzle of Zebra’s to my right. We encounter a true 4x4 adventure by getting stuck in the mud;  our very professional and knowledgeable guides manage to get us free.  What an adrenaline rush being stuck in the middle of the wilderness with wild animals roaming freely.

We arrive at our very “top notch” hotel Sarova White Sands at around 18:00 this evening.  All exhausted from the Safari adventure;  we still managed to enjoy a full on buffet with great live entertainment at the Sarova White Sands. 

In a nut-shell Mombasa is a great destination with lots to do and see!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

20 Inspirational Travel Quotes

Posted on August 2, 2012 by Elica Sue on the WILDJUNKET blog (http://www.wildjunket.com/)

1. The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.  – St. Augustine
2. All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.  – Martin Buber
3. The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. – Gilbert K. Chesterton
4. Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. – Benjamin Disraeli
5. When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.  – Clinton Fadiman

Photo by Kobusm from Travellerspoint

6. To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. – Aldous Huxley
7. The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. – Samuel Johnson
8. If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. – James A. Michener
9. Throw your dream into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. – Anais Nin
10. He who would travel happily must travel light. – Antoine de St. Exupery

11. Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones. – Anne Sophie Swetchine
12. There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign. – Robert Louis Stevenson
13. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
14. I travel light. I think the most important thing is to be in a good mood and enjoy life, wherever you are. – Diane von Furstenberg
15. What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do, especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road. – William Least Heat Moon

Photo by Anshu from Travellerspoint.com

16. The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them. – Amelia E. Barr
17. Own only what you can carry with you; Let your memory be your travel bag. – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
18. Wherever you go, go with all your heart. – Confucius
19. Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be right and only way. – Ralph Crawshaw
20. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. – Bill Bryson

 Photo by Elica Sue