Days in the desert…nights in the club
Chalkmarks Sharm

CUE the Indiana Jones theme tune.

I’m riding through the Sinai desert on a quad bike. It’s like a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There is the huge blue sky, the sun beating down and a dry wind with only rough rocky hills and high mountains ahead. Far in the distance I can just make out the oasis that is Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea coast.

A traditional cotton headdress covers much of my face to protect me from the swirling sand.

No wonder I’m thinking about historical figures like Alexander the Great and Napoleon who marched across this desert. It’s also where Moses saw the burning bush and received the Ten Commandments.

We go from dusty to dazzling in just a matter of hours!

I feel like I’m on an epic journey. But it’s a bouncy and bumpy ride.

Instead of going in a straight line, I’m all over the place, making a wiggly worm through the sand.

It was very helpful having our guide put me behind him as our group of seven set off single file. But no sooner would I speed up than I had to squeeze the brakes to slow down again.

Soon I had stiff hands and also had to adjust myself frequently on the seat just to stay on this four-wheeler.

Being a great adventurer is seriously hard work, it seems.

But worth it when we see the Bedouins – their camels a stark contrast to our shiny red quad bikes.

Since ancient times, this group of nomadic people have lived outdoors in this harsh open desert that is three times the size of Wales.

I felt privileged to be following in their footsteps.

When we turned off our engines, it was very quiet with only the sound of squalling from birds carried on the breeze.

We stopped at a Bedouin camp where we were invited into a large circular shelter covered in hanging cloth for tea.

We walked past the camels sitting at the entrance and if we wanted we could climb on and have our pictures taken. It was exciting to step in to this culture that might not be around come the next century.

All too soon we left and fixed the black and white scarves around our faces and pressed on into the desert.

I don’t know what’s in the Bedouin tea but now I was skimming along, cruising over rocks and overtaking the others. As we drove on, the guide pointed out abandoned tents and even relics of a cinema.

There were spectacular birds swirling above.

While I liked to imagine myself an explorer, this experience is open to any regular holidaymaker.

It might feel remote, here in the desert, but the hotel and its crisp linen and hot water are only half an hour away.

Here you can go from dusty to dazzling in just a matter of hours.

I stayed at the five-star Grand Hotel where the level of luxury seemed overwhelming after the Bedouin tents. On arrival I was presented with a wet towel to dab at my brow and a welcome cocktail.

The menus were exciting with 12 spots to eat including Indian, Mexican and Mediterranean food. There were five bars with some offering live music.

Then in my room from the balcony I had a clear view of the sea.

The hotel had a jetty for snorkeling, which is another highlight of Sharm El Sheikh – with reefs to explore, corals and colourful tropical fish.

If I had wanted to just relax though, I would never need to do anything energetic. There were loungers surrounding the 10 swimming pools and even impressive four-poster beds, from where you could gaze at the night sky full of stars.

But if you prefer your lights more of a flashing variety then it’s time for a change of clothes ready to hit the nightclubs.

At Taj Mahal, partygoers bounce around a warehouse-sized venue with a swimming pool and two huge elephant statues. A giant screen behind the DJ box plays a montage of cartoons to the beat of the music.

He then screams down the microphone “everybody jump.”

Then there’s Soho Square inspired by London even down to the red telephone boxes dotted around. This street is fizzing with shops, restaurants, bars including the Queen Vic Pub, an ice rink and clubs. But more surprising in this desert climate is the Ice Bar.

Everything from the seats to the bar is carved from ice, giving everything a frosty blue hue. We were given a thick duvet-fleece overcoat to help keep warm, but even then the experience was only bearable for a quick drink.

The boom from the Pangaea Night Club led me quickly upstairs where no one was fearful of the dancefloor. There were plenty of empty seats with ravers stomping as dance classics rained down.

After dark, it was easy to forget I was in this North African country. Instead of a humming of wildlife, they’d turned up the volume with a chorus of clubbers pumping their fists to the bass line.

It truly was, in the words of the song, midnight at the oasis – time to put the camel to bed.

Book it

7 nights all-inclusive at the 5* Grand Hotel. To book go to or call 0845 026 5980
The quad biking excursion is pre-bookable with Red Sea Holidays.

Suggested contents and articles.
Suggested Contents
Chalkmarks picture wins The Sunday Times Big Shot competition!
THIS is my favourite shot taken while hiking the seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria. The landscape was stunning.
Leave behind the drama, it’s calmer in Varna
IF you’re think summer holidays are best on the Med, think again. Natalie Chalk heads to bluest Black Sea resort.
Lisbon’s best kept food secret revealed
TABERNA da Rua Das Flores is a city secret in Lisbon. From the outside, it's unimpressive yet inside the food is extraordinary.