Basata, A Beach Haven in Egypt's Sinai
by Sarah El Khodary
When people think of a getaway, most think of a nice hotel, room service, a clean pool, and every other kind of luxurious accommodation that has all the elements of metropolitan city life, but without worrying about what awaits them from the boss the next day! Tourists can easily find such luxury facilities throughout Egypt.
However, there is this spot that takes people to the days when one artificial source of light was considered a luxury, and trusting people with payment was the trend. Here, we go back to the simpler days, at a place literally called, Basata.
Basata was the first tourist project in Sinai, established in 1986. It was designed and constructed by Sherif El-Ghamrawy, an Egyptian construction engineer from Cairo. Basata is only 24 km to the north of Nuweiba, but it is about 450 km from Cairo, located between Taba and Nuweiba on the Aqaba Gulf of the Red Sea. It is situated in a small bay in an area of a sandy beach a little way off the main road.
Its accommodation varies according to preference. There are a few buildings and chalets or bungalows built of clay and natural stone, with an Arabian theme that compliments the Sinai Peninsula and the surrounding landscape. For a simpler approach, one can find huts made of bamboo and reeds scattered across the beach. And those who like a camping style of life can just march in with their tents, or even just a sleeping bag.
The main focus of anything such as food, electricity, or just having a group gathering is the main Hut located almost in the middle of the area. Its the largest hut and the only one with food, and electricity (the only reason for it being there is to operate the fridge where dairies and juices are kept). From corners to corner, Arabian rugs carpet the floor and there are nicely stuffed cushions to rest your back against. However, no one gets in with shoes or slippers. Got to keep it sand-free, just as much as the sand is kept free of cigarette butts.
An ordinary day at Basata begins at sunrise. If youre sleeping in a tent you cant help the sun rays peeping in and waking you up. And no matter how late you stayed up the night before, you always wake up fresh, even with three or four hours of sleep. There are two bathrooms, one on each side of the beach. The farther one is the one with warm water, but the weather is hot during the day so you wont think of warm water until after sunset, even in January. After you freshen up, you manage your own breakfast in the main hut. The goods are neatly piled up on shelves and tables. You can get what you want and record the purchase yourself. You cook what you like, use utensils and then clean them. Make yourself tea or coffee, salad or a nice bowl of penne pasta with alfredo sauce (which I personally made!) Pizzas of different sizes are baked by a famous chef named Amm Abdu, fresh for lunch for those who want them.
After breakfast, either grab a book from the pleasantly arranged library set up in the main Hut, stretch out in the sun and read; or go swimming in the sea, which is really quiet. There are no waves whatsoever. Otherwise, join a beach volley tournament with the rest of the people staying at Basata (which is yet another great way to get to know those staying at the same place as you are, only meters apart). Another exciting activity is climbing the sand dune located right behind a hill that borders Basata. It lies between this and another hill. The sand dune is very soft and climbing it is tricky, hard, and slippery, but definitely worth it.
Activities that support individual creativity are encouraged. There is plenty of outdoor room for children to run and play safely and for parents to participate in the fun with them. Also, animals such as goats, chickens, camels, sheep, ducks, donkeys, pigeons, cats, and others are a source of pleasure for children and adults alike.At night fall, people gather in the main Hut for dinner. For those who like more privacy, they can light a fire and gather round it. Time moves slowly here, in this pristine seascape so very distant from the crowded cities, and when sleep knocks, why fight it. There is really very little to do at night except visit with your companions and enjoy the campfire. Sleep comes easy in this quiet, detached, and very relaxing atmosphere.
Basata is a quiet place where people can rest, rejuvenate and recuperate from their stressful daily lives. It is a place where one can get back to nature, and back to basics. Here, one may think and reflect against a backdrop of sand and surf To reach Basata, one drives east along Suez Road traveling under the Suez Canal trough the Tunnel. From there head further east across the Sinai Peninsula to the Naqab Airport. Then go downhill to the seaside and turn south to Basata.
Last Updated: June 9th, 2011
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