Yoga holiday in Egypt

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Departure information

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Yoga holiday in Egypt

The hotel where our guests stay is Bedouin owned. The Bedouin are the indigenous people of the Sinai whom we have a long standing relationship with and our team includes these local people. The most important difference we make is in the intention and ability we have to cooperate and learn from our hosts. Cultural exchange and respect is fundamental to our program as yoga is a spiritual and moral exercise for the wellbeing of all. We give what is lacking in most mass tourist activities—ie. an aid for travellers to get to know the culture in which they are visiting in a down to earth and real way. We pay our workers fairly and encourage travellers to follow the protocol for a Muslim, tribal culture.

Reviews of Yoga holiday in Egypt

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 13 Dec 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Being in a relaxed and friendly place.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go diving as well as doing yoga. Make the most of the beautiful location by taking trips to the Sinai Mountains and St Catherine's Monastery.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, many people benefitted locally from the environmentally friendly hotel and tourism trade.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic experience!

Reviewed on 31 May 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hike to Bedouin Village - I arranged locally outside of the tour operator trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If enjoy flow yoga and do regularly do not chose this yoga trip - do not do desert trip - takes you within walking distance of hotel, not 'desert' !

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


No.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Hotel - basic as advertised, but clean & good service generally. Yoga - not great experience, prefer flow yoga - great for absolute beginners, felt add on trips where rip off & would have missed out on sessions if not attended trips.

Read the operator's response here:

I always recommend people to do the Bedouin village trip and am happy to point them in the direction of people who can take them.

The main purpose of the desert trip is not to "see" the desert as we go at night but to Meditate in the supreme silence of the desert which is what we do and then to have dinner cooked by local Bedouin in their traditional style.

The holiday benefits local people hugely. As previously mentioned the desert meditation/dinner is totally run by local Bedouin. We employ locals for all our transportation needs, excursions and the hotel is owned by local Bedouin. Most of the employees at the hotel are locals.

If someone doesn't want to come on a trip we still offer them their scheduled class.

Reviewed on 05 Jan 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Dahab is a beautiful place and provides plenty of opportunities for activities, whether in the desert or by the beach. The people in the group were great and we made some great friends during the week.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


n/a

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Not too highly, unfortunately. As a single traveller, the price of the yoga package is fair. But as two persons travelling together, we effectively paid twice the amount for our room. The room was extremely basic (which we expected - the description of the room was "simple but comfortable") but also dirty and dingy (the room had not been thoroughly cleaned in a while - bathroom floor was dirty, shelves were dusty; the shower was old and rusting; the mosquito grid over the window was hanging off; sheets were washed but old and stained; the room was lacking even the most basic amenities like hooks to hang wet clothes). If we had booked the hotel without the yoga package, we would have paid EUR42 for our Double Mountain View A/C. But having both paid the same price for the yoga package, we effectively paid the equivalent of EUR94 for this room. I need to emphasise that the hotel location, gardens, pool, yoga room and especially the staff are wonderful. So we were surprised and disappointed at the standard of the room, considering the price we paid for it.
Due to the flexibility of the yoga package, new people arrive every day to join the course. In addition, outside people are able to drop in for classes. This means that the level of the classes does not progress. Sadly the main yoga instructor did also not encourage individual growth during the week, making the classes very rigid and rather adapting the level to the lowest common denominator than letting people choose their own level of practice. We were very lucky that there was a guest instructor teaching the afternoon classes while were there, from which we benefited far more.

Despite these disappointments, we enjoyed our holiday since Dahab is a beautiful place and the people made it a very fun week, both the local people and other people in the yoga classes. I would not, however, recommend this particular yoga package to other people. Several people from my yoga community in London (and from my mother's yoga community in Munich) were very interested to hear what it was like and I have had to tell them I do not recommend it.

Read the operator's response here:

I make a very special effort on first teaching a person to evaluate what I think they need to progress in their practise. I don't discuss it as it would take too long with a largish group such as yours, but it is none the less happening and you were in no way an exception. You may have heard me mention that the practise of hatha yoga is primarily to develop the mind, is for self enquiry, the physical benefits being secondary. Unfortunately in the west there tends to be far too much focus on the body therefore, in my opinion often missing the point. Had you voiced your grievances with me I would have been only too happy to discuss them and tried to give you what you wanted.

As for the room. Again, had you mentioned it to me I would have done my best to improve matters. Regarding the price, this includes over and above the room cost, your classes, transport to and from the airport, the cost of the yoga room hire, myself and the team organizing excursions etc for you and doing our best to give you an enjoyable holiday, hopefully meeting your needs. I am glad you liked Veena's classes and other things. Wishing you and your mother all the very best for the coming year.

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Getting fitter and healthier through some great yoga. Snorkelling over the coral reef at Dahab, making new friends, waking up in the morning to a view of the Red Sea and Saudi Arabia in the distance, relaxing and chilling out. Many good
memories!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Always wear sunscreen! Wash your hands after handling Egyptian money.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely benefited local business owners and taxi drivers. But I was told by an ex-pat that the 'local' Bedouin are prohibited from working in the tourist industry and that many of the hotel workers were from the Nile Delta region. But generally yes the locals were very welcoming.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very very good : )

Reviewed on 31 Aug 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The hotel staff and locals were very friendly. I chose to learn to dive whilst there too which was fabulous!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Ensure women take and wear appropriate clothes (it is a Muslim country and bare chests, shoulders and legs will offend and promotes an unhealthy view of white women). It is NOT a yoga retreat as the hotel is not solely accommodating yoga. There is also a dive centre attached and also the pool is open to non-residents who bring their children with them! If you are after a true retreat this is not the place for you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Not sure that it did benefit local people? It did not minimise impacts on the environment as we all drank bottles and bottles of mineral water as the local water is not safe to drink. Also, there are no local facilities for recycling - Egypt is certainly behind in this regard.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was good but not great. I wanted a quiet, peaceful retreat and to practice and improve my yoga. The yoga teacher was not one of the regular teachers I understand (check this before you book if you want Barbara or Monica as they take leave in July/August). He did not teach us but showed us how to do the postures but his eyes remained firmly shut for almost the entire class! Almost every class there was a posture that only he was doing whilst the rest of us opted out - he was totally oblivious! He encouraged us to do postures that are not suitable for beginners despite being told that one of our group was a beginner! When I said that I had a sore back from the previous day he told me that I should just push through it and carry on!! I said that I thought I hadn't done the posture properly and wanted him to check me and he replied that my soreness wasn't down to the yoga! (and never did check any of our postures). On the other hand, his meditation was fabulous - definitely his strong point.

I ended up doing my open Water Scuba Diving Course as it turned into that sort of holiday - a 'do it' rather than a relaxing one! I would not book this holiday again - it lacked any cohesion as no-one seemed to be running things from the yoga/hotel point of view. Not all the things indicated in the brochure are available - the Bedouin dinner ("there are not enough of you for that"), yoga on the beach ("no, it will only be in the yoga studio") and yoga under the stars (the teacher was not aware of this at all when he was asked).

Read the operator's response here:

Point 2: You should have received an info pack in advance which includes dress code.
Re accommodation - I see your point and this is why we call it a Yoga Holiday on the website and state that you will be staying in hotel. We also state in the info-pack that there is a dive centre attached. We do now offer a Yoga Retreat as a separate holiday in a different location. I'm sorry for any mis-understanding on this point. If there is something you think I should change/re-write in our advertising please let me know.
However, having run the holidays there for many years now, I have to say I find the yoga room extremely peaceful as I do the hotel in general which is why I have remained there.

Point 3: With both these issues I'd say there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you would not be aware of as a tourist on a week's holiday there. I would say it hugely benefits local people as it gives them work which they wouldn't otherwise have. The local people of Dahab depend on tourism for their livelihood. Us being there offers them work at the hotel, driving taxis, selling their wears, plus all the work the diving creates for locals. More and more Egyptians are becoming instructors and by law each dive centre has to employ a certain ratio of instructors. The issue of re-cycling is huge in Dahab and we (ex pats mainly) have been working very hard with the government to try and put re-cycling in place, it is just beginning to happen, but it is very difficult when you are up against people who don't see it as necessary.

Reviewed on 30 Aug 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


That's a difficult one... how to describe the lasting feeling of calm and contentment that stayed all week and that I have brought back with me? The sense of peace after a week of relaxation, yoga and new friends was wonderful, as were the views from the small and friendly hotel. The surrounding mountain area was calming and inspiring, a perfect place to chill out and get away from it all. This was a truly great escape.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do it! Don't be daunted at the prospect of travelling alone as it's a friendly, warm and welcoming place.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, I felt as though I saw a lot of the local community and gained a sense of how the hotel and its staff worked with the community in Dahab.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic, a truly great experience and I would like to thank everyone I met for their help and friendship. I would recommend this to anyone.

Reviewed on 09 Jan 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Climbing up the Mount Sinai - and especially coming down again, light, renewed, singing and dancing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Keep days free for spontaneous things and just relaxing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Partly, yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was exactly what I needed, relaxed, lots of time for improvising and just being.

Reviewed on 11 Nov 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Chilling out in a cafe in Mashraba (central Dahab) drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice, smoking a shisha, reading a good book and just relaxing. The snorkelling all along the coast.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Dahab itself is a friendly and welcoming place and I had no problems at all walking around as a independent female traveller. The Bedouin Moon Hotel I would describe as shabby chic but my main concerns was regarding the quality of the yoga instruction itself. At best it was 'amateur' at worst it was 'unprofessional'.

There are two classes a day: 8 - 9.30am and 5 - 6.30pm and as the hotel is situated a good 30 minute walk from upper Dahab, I found little space time for really exploiting other activities during the day. I would recommend taking the morning class and using the rest of your time to explore/chill out in Dahab. At the time of writing (November 2009) the classes were available separately at the hotel for 80LE. If you'd like to book a yoga holiday, consider booking your hotel and classes (classes are available at other hotels in the resort too) separately.

I would not recommend the classes for student with back problems. When one participant commented on the aches she had in her back she was advised she had a weak back and that the soreness was good for her! The yoga classes I attended were not suitable for beginners. I have been practising yoga for 3 years and I struggled, particularly as one instructor liked to hold each position of the sun salutation for around a minute. I found this particularly tiring as I'm used to the 'flow'.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Not really. Energy: No evidence for the use of renewable electricity at the hotel / resort despite the obvious potential for solar or wind power. The hotel did not use energy efficient lightbulbs. Water: You can't drink the tap water so no 'pure' water is used for flushing / bathing which is a positive. The hotel has a swimming pool which some may not consider appropriate for a desert environment. Waste: No attempt made to recycle the necessary water bottles/drink cans. No evidence of composting of food waste. Transport: The location of the resort necessitates a transfer from Sharm and location of hotel within the resort means a taxi is necessary from trips into Mashraba (central Dahab), essential at night or 45 minute walk. Share a taxi to reduce environmental impact. Local People: It's mainly local people who run the cafes / shops within Dahab. Try to use an Egyptian if you want to book a massage rather than foreigners offering the service. I found one at the Marine Hotel is Masbat (upper Dahab).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Disappointing. I had come to Dahab to 'chill' and this was not really possible with the timing of the yoga classes that left very little time in between for exploring or just sitting in a cafe and watching the waves.

One of the yoga class teachers 'instructed' rather than 'demonstrated' the moves / postures, spending the class sitting on blocks and taking the class through postures - some of which I had not done before and I found it hard to relate words into actions. Her particular classes also tended to concentrate on breathing, which is fine but not to the detriment of movement and positions.

I really enjoyed Dahab, I really enjoyed meeting wonderful people in the hotel and other participants in the yoga class, but if you want to improve your yoga through a professionally tutored yoga holiday, this is not for you.

Read the operator's response here:

Timing of the yoga classes: it's dark in winter at 5 pm hence the time. In summer it's 6 pm. Dahab is very small- usually 7 hours is enough time to chill out or do diving or windsurfing. Many of our guests dive 2 dives a day during the yoga holiday. Normally guests who book a yoga holiday come especially to benefit from intensive yoga practice so we don't understand this comment. The guest does not specify what she means by unprofessional... all our teachers are certified by the Yoga Alliance and our director has been teaching for 40 years. We run a teacher's training course every spring. About the level of the teaching: on yoga holidays inevitably groups are of mixed abilities and we try to modify the classes to suit the guests. We teach the Sivananda style of yoga which emphasizes breathing and meditation in the poses. Our classes are slow and gentle for the most part. Generally students do not find one minute to be excessive for holding a pose and they are always encouraged to go at their own pace and come out of a pose if they feel strain. We emphasize as well that yoga is not an aerobic exercise class but a path of self-realization. ie. a holistic, spiritual endeavor so slowing down is part of teaching the mind to be slow and relaxed.

The Egyptian government as of yet has not embraced solar and wind power despite ideal conditions for it. We do not own a hotel but operate through a small, Bedouin (local tribal people) owned hotel. There is no recycling in Dahab or even in Egypt and rubbish is a huge problem. We recently participated in a fundraiser and awareness raiser that brought together foreigners, Egyptians and Bedouin to tackle this problem. This was organized and brought about by one of our local yoga students as part of her karma yoga (selfless service). As we are of the few foreigners who live in Dahab one of our teachers in particular speaks fluent Arabic and has met with the Mayor numerous times to encourage a recycling program which does not exist in Egypt as of yet. Progress is coming but it's slow.

About massage: it's not particularly appropriate in the culture for an Egyptian, Muslim man to massage a woman. Tourism is slowly changing this but as female Egyptian masseuses are rare we usually recommend local foreign massage therapists that work with us (both men and women and certified by European training agencies). The walk: so far all of our guests prefer that we are out of the noise of the middle of town for the benefit of their practice. You can meditate on the beach right in front of the hotel in peace. The 30 to 40 minute walk to town is along the beach through the Bedouin village and most guest love this. The taxi ride is 5 minutes and costs 1 English pound.

We are sorry that the guest did not like the timing of the yoga classes and happy that she enjoyed Dahab. As for unprofessionalism our teachers are in fact highly educated in other professional fields such as academia, psychotherapy, management and other. We have never heard that they acted or taught inappropriately either in or out of class so would welcome to hear specific problems that we can solve.

Reviewed on 22 Dec 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snorkeling in the Red Sea at the Lagoon until the sun went down and mediating in the Sinai desert under the stars with a huge full moon.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


As a female be aware that you are going to a strict Islamic country.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Certainly financially it benefited local people and the instructors were aware of the environmental issues of the area encouraging good practice.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I enjoyed it, but I would have been more comfortable if I had been male or not traveling alone.

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