“I’m traveling”, “I love to travel”, “I need to travel soon”, “I wish I could travel”, eyes widen, hearts beat with this very special word, “travel.” In a world where not much is new anymore, traveling always brings you something new, a new perspective, a new experience, a new…adventure. An enriching experience where in learning of a new world you find yourself learning more about yourself. Knowing that the next day you’ll be getting in a car or a plane and going…elsewhere…knowing you’ll get into conversations with strangers and turning them into friends before even knowing their name, knowing there won’t be a routine but a new discovery is a magical experience. Here we’re talking adventure travel, where you don’t necessarily go to a familiar place, but a land faraway with people who don’t know you and terrain that is foreign to you and you end up falling in love in parting with your comfort zone. The rich MENA region offers us the rich culture, the beautiful terrains and the array of activities, elements that have inspired various travel enthusiasts from the region to start adventure travel companies and inspire others to share the same enlightening journeys. With Eid al-Fitr around the corner following the month of Ramadan, start planning for an experience that is…new.
Destination 31 is Egypt’s first adventure travel company established in 2009 focusing on interaction with local cultures, activities, and carefully thought out itineraries. More than choosing the destination, the travel group makes sure to create an itinerary that leaves their travelers engaged and enriched. One of their popular destinations includes Slovenia, Portugal, South Africa, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iceland, and Egypt. We spoke to one of the founders, Omar Hossam who explained that the company depends heavily on their detailed itineraries and connections to locals ensuring the trip is a rich experience. Travel is changing and Hossam gave us his insight about the industry itself and how it is constantly growing despite certain hiccups, “This is the trend nowadays as people are seeking more adventure tourism and less commercial old-fashioned tourism. A lot of people are finding it important for their mental health to get out of their comfort zone and find it more comfortable to do so with a group rather than alone”.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers adventurous activities such as beautiful scenery, whether it’s backpacking, to climbing, camping, and trailing as the UAE is considered to be the new hotspot for outdoor activities and travel. Adventurati focuses on the outdoors organizing international and national trips including a highlight where the group hike the Hajar mountain considered the highest mountain in the UAE and is found south of Jebel Jais. Speaking to Founder Fadi Hachicho he gave us the breakdown on what Adventurati is about, “We are passionate about all things outdoor. Our mission is to take our guests on an exciting adventure for an awe feeling. We are also on a mission to grow adventure tourism sustainably and thus work alongside local mountain tribes to offer our guests authentic cultural experiences and cuisines, it really is more of an experience because we believe adventure is living.”
The rich experience of 33 North is not only where travelers experience the outdoors but more about a how they do so. Founder Gilbert Moukheiber shares graciously his rich experience and passion for the mountains having worked in rural development and sustainable tourism with many local and international NGOs. An instructor for mountain safety, Wilderness First Aid, and mountain guides training he also holds certifications in Search and Rescue, Rope Rescue, and Winter Rescue techniques and will share his knowledge with keen outdoor enthusiasts. 33 North teaches travelers the basics of being in the outdoors all while enjoying the rich scenery and hiking trails unknown to most. Moukheiber explained the beauty of the outdoors for him, “the richness, the interactions, the feeling of being outside, going through different communities”. His knowledge of Lebanon inside out allows travelers to go through a unique experience, for Eid, 33 North will be exploring the Boukaat Loubnan Trail, a scenic trail across the mountains of the Bekaa Valley covering the Western and the Eastern Mountain Chain known as Anti Lebanon.
Life Happens Outdoors
Do you wish to grow as a person by engaging in outdoor pursuits? Life Happens Outdoors is an amazing choice for you because it is a community that provides both first-timers and experienced adventurers with thrilling activities. It’s a relaxing and enlightening experience that allows you to reconnect with yourself. Their goal is for those who take part to embark on a journey that will change their perspective on travel and allow them to grow as people. Founder Rami Rasamny, explained that they provide a variety of activities for guests in areas like Norway, Annapurna, and Peru, ranging from skiing to mountain climbing. They also believe that climbing is a culture in and of itself, with no distinguishing traits, because it helps people to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and therefore broadens their perspectives even further.
Blue Odysea fosters a community of free divers, and yogis centered around the sea. They organize travels with activities that are all centered around water. We spoke to one of the founders Raghda Ezzeldin about Blue Odysea’s philosophy and she put it simply as, “getting in touch with yourself through the environment.” They perform yoga classes with the sea as a captivating view to connect with mother nature and the rich aquatic environment of Egypt. Through activities like free diving the group encourages people to be aware of the marine world and how to take care of it, also providing a safe space for travelers to bond with one another, learn from each other and thus be part of this growing community of passionate travelers.
From sailing trips to rock climbing, Escapade offers a variety of activities that are divided into four pillars. The first pillar is “Epic journeys” which include activities like climbing mountains in Nepal, the second dubbed, “Sub-zero” focuses on skiing and ice climbing, a third pillar which focuses on sailing and other activities that are related to the water and the fourth pillar concerned with multi-adventures in countries such as Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Annapurna in Nepal. Many of their trips are adventure-packed giving travelers a rush of adrenaline as they strive for achievements such as summiting some of the most difficult mountains. We had the opportunity to speak with Mohamed Ibrahim, Escapade’s founder who explained that usually, people who sign up for such adventures are the ones looking to achieve a specific goal and share an experience with similar-minded individuals that can teach them something, where travelers get to learn more about themselves through this shared experience.
Tribe of Nomads
Tribe of Nomads apart from having the traits of an adventure travel company also focuses on the bonding experience of their travelers through various activities be its kite surfing, hiking, and desert safaris. Managing to access gem locations in Egypt such as Jabal Elba bordering Sudan, the group fosters close relationships with the local communities and engages in community service activities. They believe that community service travel helps travelers become acquainted with the destination and its ecosystem. Speaking to Tribe of Nomad Founder, Adham El Sharie, “The main focus is to customize local experiences, we also organize permits for locations that are difficult to obtain if you were on your own. Being in the outdoors is a really special experience and we’ve found that people build the strongest bonds while traveling in the outdoors, camping, hiking. These are activities that bring out people’s personalities to their fullest.”
Barefoot Adventures was birthed like many adventure travel companies out of a love of nature and the outdoors. Omar Ghannam, Barefoot Adventures founder, talked to us about how they chose to explore destinations that are not commercial like many adventure companies they also aid sustainable tourism by depending on the locals when planning. All outdoor activities are done with a sense of nature perseverance with the hope to create a community that cares for the environment more than anything else. Being a free diver Omar Ghannam carries respect for the natural environment making sure that guests are aware to preserve the natural habitat.
Ridge Adventure an adventure company located in the UAE, organizes both local and international adventures. Speaking to Founder Henzo Rashed he interestingly stated that Covid-19 started highlighting destinations that are adventure-packed and not commercial because they were more accessible and focused on the outdoors. From Lebanon to Kyrgyzstan Ridge Adventures offers a rich variety of destination options, their Eid plans take them on a hiking adventure in Lebanon’s beautiful valleys and mountains.
As for diving, we recommend Nomad Divers which includes an international community of divers who pick rich spots across Egypt. Egypt is known for its thrilling diving locations, perfect weather conditions, water clarity, and more importantly the variety the dives include. From shark diving to wreck diving to dives that show the rich colors of the corals and their immensity. Founder Ahmed El Bana explained, “Our vision is to connect with others and nature through our diving adventure trips not only in the Red Sea but around the world. We find when people finish their dives they connect on what they saw and their overall experience.”