My trip to Egypt last year was something I’ll never be able to forget: beautiful beaches, crystal blue oceans, and more sun than you’d ever need. But amongst that, there were dangers not hidden too far from the tourists who flock to this destination every year. And I’d personally discover this on a haphazard adventure through the dunes of the desert.
On my third day in Egypt, I hopped on a mini bus to an area of desert that I’d be quad biking around. Being 3AM, I was shattered but excited to see the sunrise and cruise around on an ATV in the dark. It’s important to note that as a general rule of thumb, drivers in Egypt are left to their own devices, which meant I had no seatbelt and the only radio station was the scream of the engine as we reached a speed well above 100MPH on dimly lit roads. Suffice it to say, I was clinging to my seat for dear life.
Soon enough, we screeched to a halt at our destination and I was able to put my feet on the ground and the relief was incredible. Shortly after, the tour guide abruptly stated, “follow me and don’t get lost”. That was it, no other rules. I remember keeping up behind this helmet-clad maniac; the light on his bike acting as the only beacon of my bearings in the dark. It was at that point I spotted a dim light in the blackness, and without thought, steered away from the group.
What I found was a small hut under the mountains in the area and a group of men all laughing and joking around a tobacco water pipe, known as ‘shisha’. Walking in, I was no doubt very nervous but held my resolve and was welcomed upon the men spotting me. “Smoke, smoke!” the men bellowed among laughter and Arabic, but the cheers were silenced when I took off my garb.
Without any particular reason, the men began bickering and I decided to leave quickly. As I got onto my quad bike I spotted the men getting into a truck, the lights fixed on me, and clearly hanging from their arms were rifles. I had no idea what had changed their welcome cheers into a death threat, but I wasn’t going to ask. Never before had I driven with such reckless abandonment, but this was literally a frantic getaway for my life.
Mercifully, I caught sight of the group leader on the motorbike and with that, the lights of the truck vanished. I was able to get back with the group and find safety in numbers before ending the tour with a gorgeous sunrise. It’s amazing how the simple things, such as a sunrise, can be so moving after a near death experience. And it’s even more amazing what you can find off the beaten path of a crazy and incredible country like Egypt.