Bird watching and swing dancing: Egyptian adventure app ‘Shouf’ promises something new
When visiting Egypt, most think of the ever-imposing Great Pyramids of Giza, or their distinguished neighbor, the Sphinx. Others may think of the country’s white shores and turquoise seas. After all, Egypt is a vault of tourist adventures.
Yet very few think of birdwatching in Fayoum, swing lessons on the rooftops of Old Cairo, or camping in the black-and-white deserts of Egypt. Specifically, very few are able to spot these hidden local adventures.
Shouf is an app that sheds light on these adventures.
Shouf serves as a platform for adventurers to book unique local tours – or as Mohammed Hanbal, founder of Shouf, likes to say: the hidden gems, whether it’s bird watching in the desert oasis of Fayoum or the feteer cooking class (oriental pies) in the rural farmland of Dahshur.
“Think about the last time you traveled, explored all the places you thought you had to explore, only to find out later that there was this amazing place you missed after you got back,” Hanbal tells Egyptian Streets.
The application, still young, is simple and uncluttered. Upon opening the app, you have a choice of several governorates in Egypt, each with their own unique adventures. Similar to Airbnb, each adventure’s profile is a host page, with a description and images of each respective experience.
Hanbal himself, a 30-year-old Egyptian who has spent most of his life abroad, has been amazed by the plethora of untapped local adventures present in Egypt’s tourism sector. An adventurer at heart, Hanbal left life as an oil engineer in the Persian Gulf to create Chouf.
“We realized that the real magic behind the app enables unknown locals outside of Cairo to offer their experiences to locals and foreigners alike. From a rowing experience in Kafr Al-Sheikh to a horseback ride in Sakkara at night,” says Hanbal.
“We also have mainstream experiences on the app that you might find elsewhere. But it’s the unfamiliar and cultured experiences that really grab users’ attention. The more authentic and off-the-beaten path the experience, the more adventure is in demand,” adds Hanbal.
The app caters to every possible budget, with adventures ranging from EGP 120 (USD 7) for an acro-yoga retreat to EGP 12,400 (USD 680) for a 7-day sailing safari experience .
Egypt’s tourism sector already holds a significant share of the country’s gross domestic product, at 12% in 2021. In fact, around six million tourists visited Egypt in 2021; that number was more than double, at 13 million, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope these local tourists will benefit from us, as we benefit from their wonderful experiences. It is my personal mission, to empower them. I just hope oncoming users will give these hidden gems a chance,” says Hanbal.
The next goal of the application is to discover the wonders of Alexandria and Saint Catherine. In the meantime, Shouf offers adventures in 10 governorates: Cairo, El Gouna, Hurghada, Fayoum, Luxor, Aswan, Marsa Alam, Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab and the Black and White Desert.
In total, there are over 100 adventures available, from food tourism to wildlife tourism to craft tourism, ensuring that every adventurer comes out with a hidden gem or two.
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