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Sahara Safaris



Filed under : Joire De Vivre

We were really exhausted. Every step was made with a great effort. Me and some of the guys had to carry the bags of some girls in order to keep moving with a good pace. Seeing the top of the mountain ahead motivated us to go forward. Even though we were all tired, but the less tired ones kept encouraging the more tired ones, which created a very intimate feeling u can hardly feel with people u don’t know that fast. Finally we made it to the top of the mountain. What a relief! To see all other mountains lower then you while you r on the top of mount Catherine. I’m not a very religious person, but my eyes teared a little when I read some verses of Quran while I’m watching the whole world beneath me. When u r down a mountain and u look up, u feel the greatness of the mountain; When u r still going up with a certain amount of doubt that u won’t make it, your feeling with its greatness increase. When u finally go up, u feel u could get some of this mountain greatness. This is merely one of the many sensations, idea and activities SaharaSafaris Community (SSC) can offer you.

SSC is a group that was formed a few years ago. It’s a society of explorers or wannabe explorers. The word “explorers” doesn’t mean necessarily that they explore mountains and deserts only. It means they explore everything, including different cultures. The group was founded by Mohamed Mabrouk, who is an intellectual engineer that has always an interesting thing to say about most of the topics u can speak of. It started as a yahoo group then expanded to facebook, as facebook provides better events reservations and announcements. However, the discussion board on the yahoo group still holds some really interesting topics and info either related to the group itself or related to general life aspects that any member of the group think it might be helpful to another member.

One of the most famous activities SSC performs is hiking, specially in Sinai. Sinai is a wonderful place. I’m not talking about Sharm, Dahab or even Taba which is less popular than the former two. I’m talking about the heart of Sinai, the high mountain area in the middle. Where nature is still far from the evil hand of the industry. Mountains arn’t only some rocks heaped in mountains. These rocks tell the story of Earth itself. If u went to a hike with Mabrouk, he’ll tell u what stories do these rocks tell; he likes to call it a cultural landscape experience. When the hiking day ends in camp, the relaxed and satisfied group of Safarist hikers usually gather around fire, on the side of either a camp made of tents or a stone Bedouin houses and talk with native Bedouins or a person of certain importance related to the place we r in, like a ranger or a native natural medicine doctor. Or simply get to know each other more. When u get back, u find out that ur muscles have become stronger, u have enjoyed a wonderful time in a wonderful place and u gained many new friends. SSC doesn’t promote hiking in Sinai for just fun and sport, even though they r enough reasons to practice this type of activity, but more to explore Sinai culturally. To develop the community of Sinai Bedouins without eliminating their originality. There r many historical places in Sinai that deserve to stop at for a while. SSC is about exploring these places, culturally and naturally.

One of the important activities in SSC as well, is the 4x4ing sport. The first thing that comes to ur mind is that it’s an expensive sport. To some extent it’s. It’s not cheap, but still available to a big portion of the community. Many of the safarists have a used 4×4 which is affordable to a certain extent. U can buy a 1996 Cherokee with a 60,000 LE, or 2001 Vitara with the same price. you spend a couple of thousands more to make it in a shape fit for the desert and  now you’re ready to learn the skills. Mabrouk, along with some other safarists, organizes extensive orientation sessions with tools in the desert and have 4x4ing trips specially for beginners and others for experienced desert 4x4ers. There’s always zero tolerance for those who break the rules (now collaboratively compiled by many experienced 4x4ers at http://saharasafaris.org/how-to-do-desert-4x4ing) so be careful. 4x4ing isn’t just driving a car with the 4×4 gear when u get stuck in the sand. Experienced 4x4ers learn about the desert in which they drive like Sailors learn about the sea. They call it reading the terrain. And even with experienced drivers fully equipped, 4x4s get stuck sometimes in very difficult conditions. If you know what you’re doing, recovery is part of the what safe 4x4ers learn.. However, it’s always fun to work with a nice company like the ones u r gonna meet in SSC. And for that they have a range from picnic for families with stunning scenic place to spend the day before back to city, to advanced technical 4x4ing trips on the difficult complex sand dunes systems.

SSC isn’t just about adventurous activities. As I mentioned before, they r a culture group. They make presentations about historical topics, or about fields of science that is or isn’t related to the previous activities, Like astronomy for example. SSC makes star-gazing nights occasionally with mentoring to explain what is being seen. Before that of course you have attend their famous 5 hours astronomy orientations where they talk about structure of the universe and astronomical coordinates. Sometime SSC makes introductory sessions before the event itself given by other SSC members. SSC has a variety of topics to lecture about. The GPS is one of them as it’s not just of great help for 4x4ers and hikers, it’s also a great help for navigation anywhere.

Few years ago, SSC has started a new online project, which is to make a data base for info about Egypt with the wiki style. It’s still a work-in-progress. The safarists write articles about the places they have visited and publish it in SSC website then share the links with all from www.saharasafaris.org. This kind of open book with continuous contributions can be a guide for all other members to find what they need to know about potential places they may visit. Articles r being written then modified or added to by other members. Each member can make use of the expertise of other members or can simply know a lot more about the country we r living in or even other foreign and Arabic countries. Check this out for example: http://saharasafaris.org/faransa-street

All types of people seem to fall for something in SSC. There are those who are over 50s and prefer hiking as well as young ones. There are many young ladies in their shining 4x4s who are now getting to learn the safe experience on the sand dunes. There are Leaders from young students learning to give of the knowledge they have learned to others helping them appreciate and serving those who like to learn. That’s why I guess they call it a Community.

People who r interested in such activities mostly hold a certain mentality that u would like to know. Hiking and camping and any team activity is mostly about cooperation and communication between the individuals performing the activity. That’s why, in a group like SSC, u get to know high quality people in a very good way. People used to say that “army friends never forgotten” because u go through a lot of effort and physical hardships with. SSCYou may like to think of it the same but enjoyable in SSC; it’s also educational, physically consuming, intellectually rewarding, and could be on for the rest of your life.

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