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 touristic adventures.
Yet very few think of birdwatching in Fayoum, swing classes on the roofs of Old Cairo, or camping in Egypt’s Black and White Deserts. More specifically, very few are able to spot these hidden, local adventures.
Shouf is an app that spotlights 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, be it birdwatching in the desert oasis of Fayoum or feteer (oriental pies) cooking lessons in the rural farmlands of Dahshur.
“Think of the last time you went traveling, exploring all the places you thought were there to explore, only to discover later there was this amazing place you missed out on after returning,” Hanbal explains to Egyptian Streets.
The application, still young, is simple and streamlined. Upon opening the app you are given a number of governorates in Egypt to choose from, each with its own one-of-a-kind adventures. Akin to Airbnb, each adventure’s profile is a host’s page, with a description and images of each respective experience.
Hanbal himself, a 30-year-old Egyptian who spent most of his life abroad, was amazed by the plethora of local, untapped adventures present in Egypt’s tourism sector. An adventurer at heart, Hanbal left the petroleum engineering life in the Arabian Gulf to create Shouf.
“We realized that the true magic behind the app is empowering unknown locals outside Cairo to offer their experiences to both locals and foreigners. From a rowing experience in Kafr Al-Sheikh to horse-riding in Sakkara at night,” Hanbal explains.
“We also have mainstream experiences on the application that you could find elsewhere. But it’s the unknown, cultured experiences that really garner user attention. The more authentic, and off the beaten track the experience is, the more in demand the adventure is,” Hanbal adds.
The application accommodates all possible budgets, with adventures starting 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 percent as of 2021. In fact, an estimated six million tourists visited Egypt in 2021; this number was over double, at 13 million, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope these local tourists benefit from us, the way we benefit from their wonderful experiences. That’s my personal mission, to empower them. I just hope oncoming users give these hidden gems a chance,” Hanbal states.
The app’s next goal is to unravel 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 gastronomic tourism to wildlife tourism, to artisanal tourism, ensuring every adventurer comes out with a hidden gem or two.
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