IMPORTANT UPDATE: The El Gouna waterski site has closed down. I have no official statement but it seems that the hotels next to the slalom lagoon complained about the noise. The former man ich charge, Chris Mol has left the place and is in the process of opening a new waterski location in Abu Dhabi.

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When you are looking for a place to waterski in Egypt, El Gouna is the place to go.
Located 30 minutes from the city of Hurghada at the red sea, El Gouna is a huge artificially built holiday resort with several big hotels spreading around a small Egyptian village.
Contrary to the city of Hurghada, much emphasis has been given to build a styleful resort. A vast lagoon system, tropical plants and Nubian style bungalows make the place one of the best holiday spots at the red sea.

The Sheraton Miramar in El Gouna:
One of the hotels located in El Gouna is the Sheraton Miramar. For waterskiers it is the only real hotel option since the waterski lagoon is next to the hotel. If you stay in one of the other hotels, you can still ski but you will have to take the bus to get to the Sheraton lagoon.

Hint: The food in the main restaurant and the pool restaurant is not very special. Go to the oriental restaurant at the lighthouse and take the “dine around” passport that gives you the opportunity to eat in the other hotels. (Steigenberger and Mövenpick)
Hint: You will get only one room key, which is particulary annoying if you share your room with somebody with other interests.
Hint: Everybody uses the minibus shuttles to get around in El Gouna. Get a week pass at the main station in the village for as much as $ 5 for unlimited usage!

The waterski lagoon next to the Sheraton:

This 360 degree picture was taken from the lighthouse located directly at the waterski dock. It shows the concept of El Gouna pretty well. Instead of a huge hotel building facing the beach, there are dozens of smaller bungalows on islands surrounded by lagoons.
At the left hand side you can see the main building of the Sheraton hotel with its lobby and the main restaurant. A couple of hotel bungalows are located directly at the waterski lagoon.
There is also a lagoon reserved for windsurfing wich is especially good for beginners.
At the opposite side of the lagoon construction work is going on for a new marina hotel. It should be finished at the end of the year 2001.

This 360 degree picture was taken from the border of the lagoon. Both shots are quite distorted and you must bear in mind that the lagoon is completely straight.

The dock:

The waterski lagoon is accessible from a dock located near the El Gouna light house. In the middle of the image you can see the waterski dock with some equipment and the ramp.
You may also spot the white slalom gate buoys in the center of the image.

Besides skiing, there is not a lot going on near the dock. There is a beach with a great view to the ski lagoon but unfortunately it has not been prepared for visitors yet. Since there is no sun protection and no chairs available people move off the dock soon after they have skied. Hopefully Chris will get a chance to develop the beach soon.

Until then, you can have a break at the boat bar located in the middle of another lagoon about 100 meters away from the dock. (see the first 360 degree picture)

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Skiing:

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The water:
The saltwater lagoon has been dredged for waterskiing and is 850 meters long, 65 meters wide and 2,5 meters deep. One side is open to the ocean but a large sand bank prevents the sea waves from coming in.
Skiing on salt water is a bit strange in the beginning but all skiers I met got accustomed after a day or two. The first day I entered the course with mixed feelings but ran my personal best after three days!

The wind:
The lagoon lays perpendicular to the usual wind direction and the hotels on the opposite side of the lagoon shelter the course very nicely.
Especially in spring and autumn the wind can cause problems. When I visited the place in April, I lost 3 of 7 days because of the wind that sometimes blew with force 6. I have to admit that skiing was still possible but not really good for shorter line lengths.

The coach:
Chris Mol runs the place with his wife Riham. When the managment of El Gouna decided to enlarge the resort, he convinced them to dredge a lagune for waterskiing only. It was certainly not easy to set up and run the place and I have to congratulate him for setting up such a nice new spot.
Chris is a former national champion from the netherlands and a slalom specialist skiing at the 12 meter line. His personal best is 3550 points in trick skiing and 52,25 in jumping.
From the first moment you will notice that he takes all his time to explain and teach no matter what level you are skiing at. He is one of the coaches that are able to see which of your problems has to be corrected first.
Example: Instead of letting me work on my body position out of the turns as I did for more than a year, he showed me a new way where to look during and after the turn. I ran my personal best after three days!
Chris simply is a waterski enthusiast and money making comes at second place for him.
Be aware to book your holiday with Chris directly because only then you will definately able to ski! Booked skiers have priority to tourist walk ins!

My personal advice:

El Gouna is definately a good place for waterskiing and for a vacation. Make a one week boat trip from Kairo to Luxor and visit the pyramids, the temples and the valley of the pharaos.
Then drive or fly from Luxor to the red sea and spend a week in the Sheraton in El Gouna.

Facts:
URL: http://elgouna-waterski.com
El Gouna resort: http://www.elgouna.com/
http://www.elgouna.de/ (diskussion board in German language)
http://www.el-gouna.de/ (Info site in German language)
Boat: 1996 MasterCraft ProStar 190 with a 350 MPI magnum engine (300 PS)
Equipment: Slalom course, ramp, air-tower, side boom
Beginners: 2 skis, kid-skis, wakeboard, monoski
Advanced: jumpers, slalomski, trick-skis,
wetsuit, and life-jacket : all sizes also for kids
Contact name: Chris & Reham Mol
Email: chris@elgouna-waterski.com

 

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