Land of Pharaohs

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

The Red Sea has long been the playground for wealthy Europeans seeking a bit of fun in the sun away from their more gloomy weather.

Germans, Austrians and in particular Russians are only too happy to discard their heavy coats and harsh winters and head for a week or two in the warmer climes of Africa.

And it is this market that local hotel chain Sun International will be looking to tap into with the launch of three hotels in Port Ghalib, Egypt.

The hotels - The Palace, Sahara Sun Sands and Sahara Sun Oasis - all boast an impressive list of activities for those who prefer to keep busy during their holidays.

Some of the more unusual activities include desert safaris, rock climbing, deep-sea fishing, camel riding, dolphin safaris and so on.

Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening, group operations manager Graham Wood promised South Africans they would not miss out on the fun.

"A lot of effort has gone into this project and it has not always been plain sailing. We firmly believe the hotels we have opened at Port Ghalib are world class and will be among the best in Egypt.

"We have put in place a pricing structure for South African tourists that will be very competitive and we look forward to many people visiting the region," said Wood.

Souks - or what we know as markets - are part of everyday life for Egyptians. Stocking anything from fresh vegetables to every spice imaginable, from jewellery to perfumes, the souks promise an interesting journey as you wind yourself through the narrow alleyways.

Haggling over prices and goods is an expected practice and one that is fun once you get the hang of it. Never accept the original asking price, but remember you are dealing with someone's livelihood, so be reasonable!

Although it is a Muslim country, alcohol is served in hotels. Apart from that, you have to do with bottled water and a wonderful assortment of juices and teas.

The Pyramids - one of the Seven Wonders of the World - are worth a visit on their own.

Built using about 2300000 limestone blocks, weighing on average, 2,5 tons each, the Pyramids were built by hundreds of thousands of workers. Building apparently began around 2686 BC and carried on for close on 500 years.

They were originally designed as tombs for the Pharaoh - rulers of ancient Egypt. Queens from that particular era were also buried in these amazing designs.

Today it is Egypt's greatest tourist attraction and one that draws visitors from around the world.

The warm waters that lap the coastline are also a big bonus and the surrounding reefs are renowned as among the best dive sites in the world. A strict conservation programme, strongly endorsed by the the Egyptian government, has ensured the various dive sites have maintained their unique appeal, so for diving enthusiasts it's a must to explore.

l To view a video of the local launch of Port Ghalib log on to