It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed these days: work stress, personal stress, family stress, country stress, traffic stress and that insidious anxiety that permeates even our moments of rest. So maybe you decide to go on a vacation. But then even that can become stressful — you go to the same vacation spots as everyone else, and it just becomes an extended version of what you deal with in Cairo.
But that’s where ecolodges come in.
What exactly is an ecolodge, and how does it differ from any other hotel, camp or Airbnb?
Ecolodge definition: a type of tourist accommodation designed to have the minimum possible impact on the natural environment in which it is situated.
The beauty of ecolodges (besides the fact that they’re environmentally conscious in a country that desperately needs it), is that their focus on nature is actually a deterrent to many people, so they offer a chance to really leave the city behind, and give your mind a much-needed break.
Here are seven ecolodges we recommend for your next mental hiatus:
1. Talist Ecolodge & Farm
This little family-owned ecolodge is nestled between the Siwa lake and its surrounding mountains. They have their own farm which is used for daily produce, and there’s no electricity — you can charge your phones and other devices from the generator for an hour a day. At night, everything is lit up by candles and gas lamps. They have a natural water pool that’s perfect to relax by.
2. El Hamra Ecolodge
Location: Wadi El Natrun
Halfway between Cairo and Alexandria, in the desert next to the El Hamra salt lake, is this small ecolodge. It’s a good choice if you want to clear your head but don’t have much time/money — you can just spend a day there without staying the night. They have a pool which has seen better days, but all in all is just a quiet place not far from home, surrounded by greenery. It’s also a good base for touring the famous Christian monasteries in the area.
3. Al Tarfa Desert Sanctuary
Location: Dakhla Oasis
If you’re looking for peace, quiet and relative isolation — then this is the place for you. The remote but luxurious location makes it not easy to reach the sanctuary, but very worth it if you do. There are charter flights to Kharga Oasis (180 km from Dakhla) twice a week. It’s also one of the last stops if you’re heading out to Gilf El Kebir, the great sand sea. Impeccable food and service.
Location: Between Nuweiba and Taba
Probably the most famous on the list, this beachside ecolodge has been around since 1986. You can either stay in a chalet (with private bathrooms), a primitive hut right on the water, or pitch your own tent. There’s a communal kitchen where you can cook your own food, and everyone is in charge of cleaning up after themselves. Basata has become almost a cult classic amongst their regular visitors. Great snorkeling as well.
5. Adrère Amellal
This ecolodge is expensive, which is not surprising considering it’s a favorite of celebrities and even British royalty. But it’s not just celebrities who enjoy Adrère Amellal; normal people, both Egyptian and foreign, rave about its simplicity and its luxury at the same time. Here too there’s no electricity, and the whole ecolodge comes alive with candles after dark. It may be expensive, but definitely worth coming at least once.
6. Sands Bahariya
Location: Bahariya Oasis
While now might not be the best time to visit Bahariya, it’s good to always be aware of these places, for hopefully better times in the future. This ecolodge is a great spot for exploring the White Desert and the famous sand formations. Unlike the rest of the above ecolodges, this one does provide air conditioning for those who don’t do well with heat. Try their food that’s typical of the Western Desert — grills, tajines in clay pots and warm homemade bread.