KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - EL GOUNA, EGYPT
30 minutes North of Hurghada lies the resort of El Gouna, a lattice work of waterways, housing, hotels, restaurants, bars and a world class golf course. El Gouna must be the most sophisticated of all Red Sea kiting spots. A man-made dream of a town that not only caters for the kiting tourist, but attracts holidaymakers from all over Europe and also has a lively local population of 20,000 ex-pats who all call this 'French Riviera' of the Red Sea, home.
There are two main kitesurfing areas. The wind is predominantly from the north, making it cross/cross-on from the left and Buzzha and Mangroovy beaches are north of El Gouna town, while the second spot at the Moevenpick hotel is five minutes south. From town, all spots are just a very short tuc-tuc ride away. The first thing to note about El Gouna is that all spots are very tide dependent, more so in summer than winter. At high tide you can ride everywhere. At low tide you have to be careful as it does get shallow, so you'll be riding at different times in the day depending on when you book your holiday and we found that there is more water at low tide at the northern end of Mangroovy/Buzzha up by Kiteboarding Club. There is some great flat water on offer here though.
BUZZHA AND MANGROOVY
These are the main spots. The wind is predominantly cross-shore from the left and less gusty than the second spot at the Moevenpick. The gently shelving beach means that there is an enourmous amount of shallow water for beginners as well as deeper water on the outside. There are three centres spread out along the beach here, KITEBOARDING CLUB EL GOUNA being the furthest north and most upwind, so starting from there and heading upwind you have a massive, quiet area that opens up to you if you're competent and this area at this centre is better at low tide. There are 2 four star hotels very close to Kiteboarding Club El Gouna, the Fanadir and the Mosaique. One minute further away, you can find 3 three star hotels. For further information and latest travel bargains visit the KITEBOARDING CLUB TRAVEL AGENCY who can arrange a complete package for you.
The Movenpick is a five star hotel with a kiteboarding centre on their private beach. The launch has plenty of space with a designated kiting area to keep swimmers and kiters apart. there is a wide, shallow area that leads out to the deep water channel. Although a little gustier on the inside than Mangroovy, this is a good spot for those with kids if you're staying in the hotel who can be left with the day care team and for non-kitesurfing partners who want to lounge by one of the many pools, soak up the rays on the beach, go diving or go spa while you kitesurf. The kiting area on the inside is smaller than the other spots at Mangroovy beach and you have less space to run downwind before you're in the swimming area, but tends not to get so busy because the beach itself is private. You don't have to stay at the Movenpick to use the centre though as it's possible to pay a day rate.
At low tide (or for beginners all the time) booties are 'recommended' at both spots although plenty of good riders go barefoot. As with most of Egypt there are compressors and helpers on the beach to launch and land your kites and even put them away for you!
WIND, WEATHER & WATER
The basic credentials of the Mangroovy and Movenpick spots are the same with a reef lying a few hundred metres from the shore, creating a waist-deep lagoon between it and the beach. Outside of the reef is a large deep water channel. Egypt is a year-round kiting destination, but summer months are most consistent. Midday mid-summer temps can reach up to 40°C / 104°F! The water is incredibly warm, as you'd expect and you won't feel any chill on the water at that time in just your boardies. The closer you get to winter the more chill in the wind and you'll start to need a spring suit around October. The water never really drops below 20°C and the winter is still seriously good for some R&R as the whole place will be much quieter, but still with respectable air temperatures.
The wind at Buzzha Beach always comes clean and consistently cross-shore from the left and the beach is enourmous, so you can pick your spot. Each of the four centres have their own vibe and are equipped to varying degrees. KITEBOARDING CLUB EL GOUNA is the furthest away, but well worth the extra couple of minutes in the tuc-tuc.
At the Movenpick, because the beach is smaller and the rest of the hotel is downwind, they recommend that experienced riders head out to the deep water channel so lessons can take place in the shallower water closer to shore. Venture across that channel and you'll come to another lush lagoon which is accessible at high tide.
Hurghada (HRG): about a 30 minute transfer north of Hurghada. Taxis are fairly cheap.
El Gouna was built with the tourist in mind, so everything you need is here and nowhere is more than five or ten minutes on the little electric golf buggy-cum-buses for which you can buy a weekly ticket for about $2. You don't need a hire car in El Gouna. The hotel will organise a transfer, otherwise get in touch with our friends at SPRING TOURS for any kind of excursion, big or small. www.springtours.com firstname.lastname@example.org (These guys provide an incredibly friendly and professional transport service throughout Egypt). In El Gouna you can just catch a tuc-tuc to get about and they'll even take your kite gear if you want to go and kite at Mangroovy beach if you're staying at the Movenpick Hotel.
For more information visit www.elgounamap.com
FOOD & DRINK
There are loads of restaurants suiting every palate and pocket, and there are plenty of bars, though in comparison to Hurghada, things are much more tame here and you won't be raving in a club 'til 6am. The Movenpick has a number of different styles of beautiful restaurants. (We can recommend the fish restaurant at the far end! - Ed). El Gouna itself is a busy, well catered, friendly little town with an array of choices, from traditional Egyptian open air restaurants to Italian, Greek and Chinese and more around the harbour. Whatever you like basically. There are a couple of English and Egyptian bars and the Beach House is a restaurant/bar with a swimming pool!
The BUZZHA BEACH BAR is located at Buzzha Beach and offers a huge menu. You'll find everything from salads over sandwiches to steak. The portions are made for hungry kitesurfers like the first-class Cheeseburger or the Steak Sandwich with french fries. If you are more on the healthy side you'll love our fruit salad or the big greek salad. The restaurant is open all day.
There's so much to do! Take a boat ride around the town's lagoons (the man made town is built on a series of lagoons!) or play golf, sail, dive, karting, paintballing, supping down the lagoons or take a sunset cruise on the ocean diva. Hurghada is just 30 minutes back down the road if you need more hustle and bustle.