Once reigning supreme as the ultimate Nuweiba destination, Basata is no longer the only camp today with a mass following. Just five minutes further down the Taba-Nuweiba Road (and around 25 minutes south of the Taba checkpoint), Ananda is a more relaxed camp (read: less rules and fees) with an easy-going manager, chilled atmosphere and a beach that’s perfect for lounging and snorkeling.
Anyone that has traveled to Nuweiba can attest to the fact that the area is full of very similar camps; yet the crowds tend to differ drastically. The super high-maintenance types that can’t live without their blow-dryer or A/C head to Crazy Horse, Bawaki and the Good Life (or cheat and drive 20 minutes up to Taba Heights); eco-tourists and AUC students head to Basata; while the more bohemian types are dispersed between Sawa, Yasmina, Sondos, Makati and Eden.
Ananda caters to a crowd somewhere in between the hippy and the preppy: on national holidays, expect the camp to be full of kids, dogs, men on their mobile phones and women in jeans checking their iPads. If you’re allergic to the sight of jeans in Nuweiba; we recommend that you visit during off-season.
Although the camp has two rows of basic bamboo huts on the beach, it also has two rows of elevated huts with tiled floors, electricity and padlocked wooden doors– anyone who has stayed in Basata would appreciate this privacy guarantee. So, you’re not exactly roughing it as you would elsewhere; in fact, the communal bathrooms are borderline luxurious with their shiny ceramic floors, large mirrors, meticulously clean shower cubicles and — the ultimate luxury — hot water in the winter.
Each hut comes with a mattress, pillow and a much-needed mosquito net; though you’re advised to bring your own sheets and a rug if it’s cold. The best huts are those located closest to the water; we recommend hut number 17 or 18, as well as the ominously named hut number zero. This hut is practically a wooden box with a tightly crammed space and zero ventilation; but it is literally one meter away from the shore, which makes for a beautiful view when you wake up.
The beach itself has a few shaded areas, where large cushions are arranged around low tables on ethnic carpets, while a few hammocks and low swings help you while away the lazy hours in Nuweiba.
At night, visitors congregate in the main seating area, which also serves as the restaurant. Colombo, the pleasant cook will serve up freshly squeezed orange juice or mermereya tea if you’re feeling cold. Meals usually consist of grilled fish, grilled chicken and pizza; or their ultimate dish, the maa’loubah, a very heavy meal of roasted meat, rice and vegetables that can be easily shared among five people.
For breakfast, we recommend their foul and shakshouka, as well as their Nutella pancakes. Appetizers cost around LE 10 to LE 15, while large salads will set you back up to LE 30. Expect to pay LE 40 and upwards for a main course.
Ananda’s once-cheap accommodation is a little more expensive today: a hut costs LE 40 per person if you’re sharing, LE 60 if you’re alone; while at other less known camps, you can find a hut alone for LE 25 (try Sawa or Sondos).
As you’re not allowed to store food or drinks in their fridge, expect to spend most of your money on your meals, averaging at around LE 160 per person per day.
If you visit Ananda often enough, you’ll be treated like a long-lost member of their family. The camp’s manager Ezz is an affable man with an astounding memory; he will remember your name and that of everyone in your group several years later, as well as all the gossip and mayhem that you may have got up to years ago; so be warned.
That being said, if he likes you, he may knock a few pounds off your bill or throw in a free drink or two. Everyone at Ananda is so open and friendly, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with the staff or fellow patrons, and you’re more than likely to run into an old friend.
Choose this camp for its relaxing hammocks, fresh meals, clean bathrooms and friendly people. Beware of the jeans and the iPads, though.
This article was contributed to Daily News Egypt by Cairo360 www.cairo360.com