Although we cannot deny our love for the city, it can get to be too consuming sometimes. Hustling is one thing, and fighting Cairo’s stigmas, traffic and currency is another. We consider ourselves dedicated to both equally, but sometimes we need a break. And like our strong dedication to ethical fashion (read more about ethical fashion here), we believe our vacationing should be just as ethical. This means forgetting breakfasts in bed, an air conditioned room and more towels than anyone really needs. So we went to Fayoum for the next best thing!
Engaging in this type of travel is often called ‘ecotourism’. Ecotourism is sustainable and ethical vacationing. It is even dubbed responsible travel because it has no negative effect on the environment. It includes camping trips, hiking trips, stargazing and the likes. (Read more about ecotourism in this Feather Light Tourism Guide by GIZ’s RIBH MENA) And here in Egypt, it is a very viable option. Not only is it cheaper (which is always a plus), the options are endless! From stargazing in Fayoum, camping in Siwa to climbing Saint Katherine, you are guaranteed to have a good time- at no cost to the environment around you. Wild Guanabana plan some of the best trips!
Zawara Camp is only an hour and 30 minutes away from Tagamo3 (New Cairo) and it’s the weekend getaway you probably need from the busy city. Zawara is an eco lodge located in Fayoum, run by Bedouins from the area. The ‘hotel’ is very small and only has about 7 huts, a couple of shared bathrooms and one gathering space for 3 meals a day. There are no electricity outlets in Zawara, and chances are you won’t have signal either. Inside the huts, there are candles and a one or two sun-powered lanterns. There are also no floors and you will be covered in sand at any given moment. Because there is no electricity, there are also no heaters! Most people visit Zawara and ask for a tent to be set up for them instead of staying at the hut to completely connect and bond with nature.
Regardless of how simple the setting is, there are quite a few activities that can done in Zawara and around Fayoum. Walking in the area of Zawara is a very therapeutic experience; being from the city, it is very rare that you are able to walk in any direction without looking around you or following artificial routes. Because of the serenity and the calmness of the space, it is the perfect spot for meditating. The scenery is always drop-dead gorgeous so you really don’t have to wait for the sunset or the sunrise. The best thing about being so far from the city however has to be looking up at night. You will never see this amount of stars, incredibly bright and overwhelming, anywhere in Cairo. It is worth the freezing weather.
Outside of Zawara, you can rent a four-wheeler and play around in the sand dunes. You can go for a swim in any of the rivers. You can ride horses, hike the sand formations and visit the Valley of the Whales and understand evolution in a completely refreshing way. The place has so much to give you from almost nothing.
Arts & Crafts Tip: Did you know that Fayoum was very famous of producing wicker made of Palm trees (Like the ones we use in our Beach Bags, check them here)? Not only that, but they also make beautiful pottery! While you’re in Fayoum, don’t miss exploring Tunis Village with it’s amazing pottery and handcrafts?
It’s important to remember that places like these do exist, and our dedication to an ethical, conscious and an environmentally-friendly lifestyle shouldn’t be limited to wearing gorgeous Up-Fuse bags or eating green. This lifestyle should extend to every action we take and every journey we embark on and there’s no vacationing from that!