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Claus's Desert Adventure

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Full of fun and excitement, after a four-hour flight from Frankfurt, our group landed on May 01 in Egypts No.1 resort at the Red Sea; Hurghada. It was 23:00hrs when we landed, and the temperature was still 25 C which gave us a great idea about what was waiting for us. During our first days, we experienced a heat wave of 40C in the shadow, which we weren`t used to at all. But, we still didn`t miss our cold, rainy weather in Germany. Our nice dream hotel, with its own private sand beach and the cool drinks at the pool made us bear it all easily. After the 3rd day, the Red sea granted us a cool down to 35 C. North Africa is well-known too all tourists for its stomach disorders. It normally happens because of the climate change. So, most of us got diarrhoea, which seemed to us like the (Revenge of the Pharaohs). But, thanks to our Grabo-Team, and with the use of some tablets we got it under control quickly. Well..you should never drink tap water in Egypt. But, this also goes for all southern countries. 


After we recovered from the diarrhoea, we got the (Ultra Lights Flying Fever). Our trip organizer, Wolfgang Grabowski, found the newest and most unimaginable thing for us "wheelies": Ultra Light flyers.  A Swiss guy owned those flyers and was based in El-Gouna airport. He never had a group like us, involving 12 wheelchairs to become his co-pilots. Due to the strong desert-sea wind, we had to delay our first flight several times. The wind is very sudden between the desert and the sea. Our flying objects were kind of small engine delta flyers in which two seats were positioned behind each other, with the back seat set a little higher than the front seat. The pilot was in the front seat steering the flyer, and I was sitting in the back seat. And so we flew in the sky at a height of about 500 feet over El-Gouna. It was like a dream to me, and I never felt myself that free before. The deed made me totally forget about my disability and my wheelchair. I even felt as if I never needed one and wished those 20 minutes, which are the flight duration, never came to an end. But our pilot finally went down, and landed me again on the ground of hard reality.


Our hotel organizes a Bedouin Night once a week in the Egyptian desert. After arriving at their campsite, we had a camel ride, which is planned for all guests. Of course, it took us longer than the other healthy people. So, after they finished, and while waiting for dinner to be ready, they kept watching us riding. And through that, the next day our group of Grabo-Tours-Reisen, a special tour operator for handicapped, got in the next days very prompt contact with other hotel guests, who showed interest  in our handicapped trip. 

It is also important to mention that our hotel in El-Gouna is completely disabled friendly. It has 14 rooms, which are accessible for wheelchairs. And overall, more or less there are flat to steep ramps fixed. If a ramp was too steep for us, we got immediate help from our tour leaders, hotel staff or even some other guests who were very helpful too. All you need is to talk to them in English or German, but the majority understands sign language too. 

El-Gouna located 20km north of Hurghada, and is an artificial resort, built from scratch about 10 years ago. It encompasses only the hotel resorts and the belonging restaurants, bars and discotheques. The village has several lagoons. Our boat trip through these lagoons, passing under bridges reminded me of Venice, just a lot warmer…the green golf court didn’t fit in this desert area. But, although it was all artificial, it was very nice to see all this. The man-made waterfalls at the Gouna entrance assured us, that even in that hot desert we’d never get thirsty. Such holiday resorts were highly guarded. Even at the entrance of every hotel you can find a police man with a gun. This is supposed to keep the tourists secured, but Hurghada and the surrounding area never had a terrorist attack and we felt ourselves very safe.

We also went several times to the souks (bazaars) of Hurghada. I`ve never seen such lively sellers like those of Hurghada`s bazaars. They are capable of attracting every single tourist into their shops, using words like all for free, ALDI prices or come in, very cheap. It seems like they recognize everybody`s nationalities from their noses and immediately use their language. One of them even yelled End sale at C&A after us. Of course you have to be aware of a zigzag ride between the water pipes and all the different herbs and spice booths. But it always remains a great adventure of the Orient. And, of course there are always the shoe polishers and the beggars who run after you asking for some baksheesh.

Another top spot of our holiday was the one-day trip to Luxor. Luxor, known in 1500 BC as Thebes, was the capital of Egypt. There is a wide desert between Hurghada and Luxor, adorned with some beautiful mountains, which we had to cross. For security reasons, and fear of terrorism, this road is highly guarded, and since 1998 all tourist buses are only allowed to drive this road in a convoy, which is secured and escorted by the police. So, all the buses gathered at Port Safaga. At 7:00am prompt our convoy started moving.  Approximately 80 vehicles, consisted of buses, vans, and private cars, drove in a big snake escorted by the police at the beginning and end. There were sometimes even small races inside the convoy. They set out at a high speed, so that after 3 hours, we reached a green area. Suddenly, we found out that we had reached the Nile Valley and were driving along it. There, we saw farmers in their long white garments, either riding donkeys or driving tractors on their way to their farms. Some of the irrigation systems were electric, but most of them were still as primitive as in the ancient Pharaonic times. 
While our tour in the great temple of Karnak Temple and Luxor, the quicksilver of the temperature went up to 45C. At that time, I really missed the cool temperature of Germany. The Karnak temples with their great Column Halls are one of the seven world wonders. Our Egyptian tour guide Sherif, who was raised in Germany, gave us a wonderful outlook on Egyptian history. Anyone who was interested in a handicapped specialized trip to Egypt should refer to Egyptforall, reachable on the Internet at:
http://www.egyptforall.com/ or the German Partner http://www.grabo-tours.de/to get more info. 

On the day before the last, we got a private yacht, chartered specially for our group, and went out into the open in the Red Sea. We stopped at some beautiful coral reefs. This was a good opportunity for those who wanted to snorkel. Our team just made everything possible. But, I wasn’t that interested in it. With the special carry chair, I was brought on deck and I experienced a wonderful sunset in a very cloudless clear sky. But more impressive were the stars in the sky over the Red Sea. We were served dinner on the yacht…freshly caught fish and shrimps. We were enjoying the great taste of Red Sea fish for the last time. 

  

On our flight back home there were enough seats available in first class. Egypt Airs staff gave us those seats without even extra-charging us. I call this really handicapped friendliness. I believe the whole trip went so nice and smooth because we were under the protection of the sun god RA.

  

When we arrived in Frankfurt...endless rain welcomed us. 

 

 

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Best links

   Handicapped Scuba Association International
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International Association for Handicapped Divers
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