We're trading in our heels for some hiking boots for a Gouna weekend.
How many times have we sat in the office bored, choosing to invest all our energy into “looking” like we’re working instead of actually working? How easy would it be to trade our lives for more peaceful ones by the Red Sea, maybe even Gouna?
Thinking of the gorgeous seaside town, the first thing that comes to mind is the lovely boutique hotels, the strips of restaurants overlooking the sea and the freedom to wear whatever we please. However, that's not all Gouna has to offer as a new online Instagram account, Gouna Mountain Goats, introduces us to the other side of Gouna, one that a lot of people including the town's residents haven't always known much about.
Gouna Mountain Goats is a hiking group that takes its participants through a journey in the area's mountains and deserts, where we get to leave the city lights behind and trek through hidden pathways, take in breathtaking sights atop mountains and spend a night in silence under the stars. Co-founder, Sytze Boomsma, who's been living in Gouna for 13 years hadn't realised that a little hiking trip he'd taken a few years back would turn into his passion and his livelihood. Two years later, he had gotten to do what he loves day in and day out and now shares it with the world."A few years ago, me and some friends decided to kind of wander into the mountains and explore because the thing is most people here never think to do so," says Boomsma. "We've got beautiful [desert and mountain] landscape though and it's literally right across the street. Starting Gouna Mountain Goats was never actually a plan, it just kind of happened. Now, we do trips around Gouna that include camping, hiking and that sort of stuff."
Teaming up with local Bedouin families, Boomsma started organising more trips and realised there was a demand for it. The Dutch native had originally come to Egypt as a diving instructor and worked in Taba for a while. Hiking was still not an interest at that point. Shifting his sense of adventure from the treasures of the Red Sea to the mysteries of Gouna's desert, Boomsma finds himself in nature regardless of whether it's under or above sea level.“In the desert, I get the same feeling I get under the water, which is a sense of adventure, of exploration. It's exciting to find new animals be it underwater or above. It's exciting to get to know the scenery and take it in.”
Boomsma’s partner in crime, co-founder and adventure companion is a bedouin from the Ababdeh tribe, who was born and bred in the magnificence of Gouna’s mountains. Ahmed Al Ababdeh's grandfather originally migrated to Gouna in the 1970s and the family settled by the foot of a mountain which housed the remnants of old Roman wells and ruins. Ababdeh’s father had sent him to the Swiss hotel school. He didn’t stay there long however as he felt restless being indoors as opposed to under the vast backyard of the desert that he'd grown to call his home.
"At most, a hotel is five stars and I prefer to go to the mountains under a million stars,” says Al Ababdeh, “So, should I pick five stars or millions of stars? I prefer to stay in the desert," Ababdeh tells Euronews.
Gouna Mountain Goats scour the desert and mountains of the area, even naming their favourite trails and hidden passageways after elements of pop culture. "The Hobbit’s trail to Mordor is a super cool climb because once you’re on top, there’s a crater-like structure and it looks exactly like this one scene from Lord Of The Rings There’s another super cool trail which is my favourite and we call it the corridor. It’s a passage that goes through the mountains and it’s almost like a magic door because as you’re walking or if you’re in a car you could easily miss it. It’s a crack on the side of one the mountains and it’s narrow, but once you go through that and climb and get to the top, it’s beautiful. There’s this sense of accomplishment.”
Gouna Goat Climbers don’t have a website as they rely on word of mouth and their Instagram account.
“It’s more about people passing it on. With word of mouth it’s cool because you attract like-minded people.”
Check them out on Instagram.