Crossroads senior web editor Judy Koutsky arrived in Cairo Jan.
29 to begin a two-week adventure in Egypt, sponsored by Wild Women
Adventures. Armed with a laptop and digital camera, she is
sending on-site reports and photographs back to Crossroads' New
Jersey headquarters on a daily basis (or whenever she can get an
Internet connection). Agents who have questions or advice for Judy
during her trip can send email to [email protected]
ASWAN, Egypt -- From Cairo International airport we caught a
flight to Luxor (about 90 minutes), where more than 90% of the
passengers departed before the plane took off for Aswan. Normally
the layover is about 20 minutes, but we had to "change a tire," so
20 minutes became 90 minutes. The flight to Aswan was about 40
minutes. The new airport here was built two months ago, and it is
gorgeous, which is a strange thing to say about an airport, but any
Aswan-bound client dreading a third-world-airport experience will
be delightfully surprised by this facility.
Aswan is where Egyptians go to get some "r and r." Our accommodations here, the Basma
Hotel, is exactly the type of place I had hoped we would stay
during this trip. Landscaped and decorated by two of Egypt's
leading artists, the hotel incorporates beautifully manicured
tropical gardens, an enormous swimming pool with a swim-up bar and
a rich collection of contemporary Egyptian art.
The front foyer is covered with Egyptian murals, and the hotel
restaurant is decorated in a Nubian style. Clients looking for the
luxuries of a five-star hotel but with local flavor and a
small-hotel feel (friendly service, slow-paced patrons) will not be
disappointed here. Visitors are greeted by a Nubian musicians and a
welcome drink upon arrival.
Clients could spend the day relaxing at the resort, or they
could journey to Paradise Island. This is a private island owned by
the Basma that can be enjoyed only by hotel guests. By taking a
five-minute boat ride, guests can settle into the tranquility of a
desert island. The Nile surrounds the island, the desert surrounds
the Nile, and the stark contrast of the sands reaching out to meet
the river makes a visit here very worthwhile.
We spent the afternoon on the island listening to Nubian music,
eating local barbecue and getting Henna tattoos. The tattoos are
done by a local artist and are available at the hotel daily. They
make great great souvenirs and wash off in about a month.
Nighttime was spent eating a buffet dinner at hotel restaurant
and watching a belly-dancer perform her hypnotizing act. If your
clients are looking to escape from the excessive stimuli of Cairo,
Aswan and the Basma hotel would be a great recommendation.
I spoke with a representative from South Sinai Travel, which is
our tour operator here, and he said very few Americans come to
Aswan. This was evident when we got off our bus and locals
surrounded us, asking to have their picture taken with us.
I believe Aswan provides an opportunity to
explore the diversity of Egypt. Here, the Nubian people -- who have
closer ties to Africa, culturally and socially, unlike Cairo, where
a strong Middle East presence is palatable -- are friendly and
Basma Hotel Aswan: 187 Rooms. Phone (011) 20-9
731-0901. Fax (011) 20-9 731-0907. E-mail: [email protected]
Price: $87 single, $119 double. Conferece room holds up to 150
Wild Women Adventures: 152 Bloomfield Road,
Sebastopol, CA 95472. Phone (800) 992-1322. Fax: (707)