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Project details

Train Bedouin trail guides in Egypt Egypt , RUN BY: Adventure Travel Conservation Fund | STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Project cost

0USD 20,000


Raised from 8,944 people

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Project background

A 170km hiking route in the highlands of Hurghada, the Red Sea Mountain Trail is mainland Egypt's first long-distance hiking trail. Founded in 2019 it is the sister project of the award-winning Sinai Trail – a 550km hiking route in the Sinai. The Red Sea Mountain Trail has already won backing from Egypt's Ministry of Tourism.

The project was developed by the Khushmaan clan of the Maaza, one of Egypts biggest Bedouin tribes, in collaboration with the international team of trail developers who worked to create the Sinai Trail. It is 100% owned by the Maaza today. A Bedouin Sheikh oversees the Red Sea Mountain Trail, ensuring its operation benefits the local community.

Hiking tourism is new here. The Bedouin community of Hurghada has never worked in this field. The funding from the Footprints Network will be used to conduct training sessions that will give Bedouin guides the best possible chance to succeed in this new work. The guides will carry this trail into the future.

If they succeed, the trail will succeed and grow into a strong, sustainable project that supports the wider Bedouin community. Funds will be used to train older and younger Bedouin tribesmen in essential guide skills, including Wilderness First Aid, group management and the English language.

Project overview

This project is managed by a Bedouin community that has shared a close physical, economic and spiritual relationship with the natural world for centuries.

This Bedouin community is on the front lines of managing trail tourism and is better qualified and more committed than any other stakeholder to protecting the assets of their homeland that remain so central to their survival today, including both the natural environment and its resources, and the customs and traditions of its Bedouin communities.

Project activities

The project will organise training to build the skills and capacity of the Bedouin community. The goal is to give them the training they need to guide people in the best, safest, most inspiring, knowledgeable and responsible way. 

The training will cover 3 areas:

  • Wilderness First Aid (WFA): this will equip guides with the knowledge needed to handle everything from simple injuries and illnesses to critical medical emergencies. This training will help them do their jobs safely and with confidence. It will also inspire confidence in visitors. The course will be delivered in Arabic according to a SOLO accredited WFA syllabus.
  • Group management: successfully managing a group of hikers and providing a comfortable and rewarding experience requires attention to many things e.g. personal relationships, cooking hygiene, telling stories, judgement in handling groups on tricky terrain etc. Bedouin guides with decades of tourism experience from the Sinai Trail will lead a 10 day training hike with new Bedouin guides. This will follow a guide training syllabus developed for the Sinai Trail in 2016.
  • English language: Bedouin of the Red Sea Mountain Trail have not been formally educated and levels of English language and literacy – including Arabic literacy – are extremely low. We will administer an English language course for the Bedouin who will work on the Red Sea Mountain Trail in frontline guide roles. It will aim to build basic vocabulary and equip the Bedouin with the ability to hold the short, simple conversations needed to converse with hikers and guide them along the trail.

Partners and community involvement

The Red Sea Mountain Trail is a community initiative. It was developed from the beginning by members of the local Bedouin tribe and it remains 100% owned by them today. Ongoing development of the Red Sea Mountain Trail is overseen by Sheikh Merayi Abu Musallem the leader of the Khushmaan clan of the Maaza, and his primary role is to ensure the trail benefits the Bedouin communities around it.

The initiative falls squarely within Maaza Bedouin lands and they have been involved in every aspect of trail development. All hikes on the Red Sea Mountain Trail must be done with tribal permission from Sheikh Merayi Abu Musallem and all hikes must be guided by Bedouin of the Maaza. Only Bedouin of the Maaza tribe can currently work on the Red Sea Mountain Trail and they work in numerous occupations, from guides to cameleers, drivers and cooks. This is a Bedouin project and they will be at the heart of everything.

The Sinai Trail will partner with the Red Sea Mountain Trail in delivering at least some of the training.

Part of a larger strategy

The Red Sea Mountain Trail seeks to grow a new adventure tourism industry in Hurghada. It is expected to grow into a stable, successful tourism initiative, based on several factors including:

  • significant early demand for the trail;
  • backing from Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism;
  • a highly positive reception in the world’s media; and
  • the parallel success of its sister project the Sinai Trail.

The trail took 5 years to be developed. Now it has launched, the focus will be to see it grow into a successful tourist destination.

The Red Sea Mountain Trail works to address two key issues:

  1. Economic marginalisation: in creating a new economy based on adventure tourism in the desert it will create real, legitimate jobs and opportunities for the region's marginalised Bedouin communities.
  2. Loss of cultural heritage: the trail creates a kind of work that keeps the Bedouin using traditional desert skills and knowledge. These skills are an asset for employment in the new economy and this will help incentivise their preservation in an era they are being lost.

How can I contribute?

These businesses are members of the Footprints Network and give you the option of making a microdonation when you purchase from them.

WorldNomads Australia
WorldNomads NZ
World Nomads UK
World Nomads Global
World Nomads Europe
World Nomads Ireland
Adventure Travel Conservation Fund

The ATCF is a non-profit that will provide funding, connections and an international spotlight on projects that protect the cultural and natural resources which underpin the adventure tourism industry.