Breaking News: Our Red Sea, Egypt, and Lebanon Retreats for 2020 have officially been rescheduled for 2021, and there are a few spots left in each. More details at the end of this post!
Here, I’m recapping my travels in 2019, including my Wander Women Red Sea trips in September.
While I am guilty of labeling every day, activity, and aspect of my Wander Women Retreats as “my favorite” — they are hand-built experiences curated straight from my heart, after all! — I think it’s pretty unanimous that our overnight glamping excursion to Ras Abu Galum is the “wow moment” of Wander Women Red Sea.
My own very first trip to Ras Abu Galum is when the vision for this retreat really began to come together. This sojourn into rural Sinai would be the pinnacle of a week spent soaking up the best of the Red Sea. Camel riding to remote dive sites, descending into lush coral gardens, yoga by the seaside, stargazing over a crackling bonfire, and watching the sunrise over the mountains of Saudi Arabia… what could be more special?
It all starts with getting there.
As I’ve shared in previous posts, camel riding to Ras Abu Galum is a very special experience because you are actually walking in the hoof-steps of the very first divers to discover the abundant reefs that trace the peninsula. Bedouins of the Mizena tribe, who call the protectorate home and have subsidence farmed the riches of the reefs for centuries, found a second source of income in building basic camps to host the occasional travelers who make it to this remote corner of earth.
While there is no vehicle access from Dahab, to the west — you can arrive by boat, foot, or camel — a recent road to Nuweiba to the east, has made Ras Abu Galum popular with unfussy Israelis who cross the border on foot and head into Sinai to go back in time.
Our retreat dive center, H2O Divers, is one that specializes in organizing this expedition from Dahab. Dive shop manager Alex had us all in stitches when, as we all alternated between taking selfies and shrieking with pure adrenaline when our camels neared a rocky ledge, she pulled out a Kindle and flipped casually through a novel.
“Just another commute to work!,” she shrugged.
Can you imagine if yours looked like this?
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these recaps, we are always fine-tuning our trips and incorporating our guest’s feedback as we go. We tried out two different camps during the two back-to-back weeks of the retreats, each offering a unique perspective and experience. While there’s aspects I love of each, we might even try a third for 2021 — is it weird that I’m kind of intrigued by the goal of having been a guest at every single one of them?
If there was ever a “destination expert” badge I’d be qualified to grab, I think this would be my shot!
Now, while I think Ras Abu Galum is one of the most precious places on this planet, it’s definitely not for everyone — meals are simple, basic plumbing is considered a major luxury, and you do kind of just have to go with the flow.
So while between the natural beauty, the barefoot creativity, and the opportunity to disconnect, it really couldn’t be more my vibe, I definitely had my nerves about bringing a big ‘ol group of women out here to the actual middle of nowhere (or everywhere, depending on how you look at it — we advise everyone to put their phones in airplane mode lest the roaming mode attempt to click into Saudi Arabi, Israel, or Egypt, depending which way the wind is blowing.)
For the most part, my hesitations were unfounded — everyone was as awestruck, and understanding of the whims of travel, as I’d hoped.
While our last day of diving was the big draw to Ras Abu Galum, that was so epic it deserves a post all its own. So here, we’ll stick to all the fun above the surface.
Of which I’d say our Partner Yoga class very much qualifies.
I love incorporating Partner Yoga into our retreats so much because it’s not something you’ll find very frequently on your standard yoga studio schedule, outside perhaps an ocassional Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day event. But it’s so fun! Unlike Acro Yoga, which is more, er, acrobatic, in partner yoga you’re working together and offering yourself up more as a yoga prop to help guide your partner deeper into postures, help with their balance, or provide an opportunity to strengthen — and receiving it back.
Let’s be honest — it also makes for some serious giggles, and some great photos.
As mentioned, each of our retreat weeks had their Ras Abu Galum time structured a little differently and while one enjoyed a sunset yoga session, the other said farewell to the day from atop their camels.
Each was a pretty epic desert sendoff.
But there is more magic ahead when darkness falls. After dinner, we gather around a bonfire and, sipping on wine carefully wrapped in sarongs for the journey from Dahab, perhaps some of my most proud memories from the weeks began to emerge. Under a sky so full of stars you could barely believe it was real, I stepped back and saw clearly the most precious souvenir these girls were going to leave Egypt with: new friendships, forged over a week of living live at that exhilarating edge of our comfort zones.
As the night wore on, we picked off one by one to head back to our thatch huts, or to wrap up in blankets and sleep under the stars.
I opted for the latter, and let the rising sun peeking over the other side of the Red Sea welcome me to the next day.
Considering it’s perhaps not the most restful night of sleep on the trip, we start the next morning nice and easy with a sleepy Yoga Nidra circle. Basically a body scan meditation, it’s a great way to check in with yourself after a busy week.
I’m proud of and enamored with the so many styles of yoga we introduce on each retreat. Yoga is so many things to so many people, and you never know what’s going to resonate with who. I like to think we offer a tasting flight of some of my favorites. When it comes to trying new things, what’s better than a flight?
After our morning yoga sesh, it’s time to soak up the final rays of Ras Abu Galum while our hosts make breakfast and we prepare to head back to what now feels like the bustling epicenter of Dahab (which, need I remind you, is in fact a very small remote beach town itself, but after a night in Ras Abu Galum might as well be Hong Kong or New York City.)
I absolutely love Ras Abu Galum, and found it an honor to share this special place that so few make it to. With every trip, the imprint on my heart just gets a little deeper, filled with the memories of the people I shared it with.
Stay tuned for one last look at Ras Abu Galum — underwater!
Intrigued by Egypt? Our 2020 retreats have been rescheduled to 2021, and there’s a few spots left a couple of them. We’ll be holding Wander Women Lebanon: An Adventure + Yoga Retreat from August 21-28th (waitlist only!), Wander Women Egypt: An Ancient Adventure and Yoga Retreatfrom August 28th-September 4th (waitlist only!), and Wander Women Red Sea: A Dive + Yoga Retreatfrom September 4-11th (five spots left!)