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El Gouna comes alive at night; after working so hard in the water during the day, everyone wants to let their hair down. We’re not ready to call it a night, so we catch a taxi to RedSeaZone’s Monday night live music session.

Max, a British expat in his twenties with long blond hair, joins us. Having come here on a gap year in 2009, he fell in love with it and never went home.

“I came here as a divemaster, traded drum lessons for kitesurfing lessons and now I teach kiting here,” he explains.

Kitesurfing wasn’t part of the original plan for El Gouna. It was only when groups of keen kiters started turning up regularly that schools began springing up to accommodate them. Now the waters are packed with kites and a real community has formed around the sport.

The next day, I wake bleary-eyed and in need of water. But after a quick freshen up, I’m keen to get back out into the sea. “We’re going to try body dragging,” Cousha informs me.

This, I learn, is similar to Western movies when cowboys drag their enemies behind a horse until they die – and, yes, it’s painful. With a mind of its own, my kite repeatedly plummets into the turquoise water with an almighty splash, yanking me face-first into the waves.

I now understand why I was made to wear a helmet. I’m aching everywhere and I’m starting to flag. But Cousha shouts at me to get the kite back into the air.

I’m scared; I need to get it to three or nine o’clock before I launch it, but while I’m tugging on one line, it dances on the water looking like it’ll take off unexpectedly and whisk me away to Mozambique.

Finally, however, I have a breakthrough: the kite rises gently into the air, I relax and can feel – and, more importantly, can control each tiny movement of the wind in the kite as it hovers in the sun, like a majestic bird of prey.


I daren’t breathe too deeply in case the spell is broken. I feel like the horse whisperer. Cousha says quietly: “You can feel the kite.” I can feel triumph.

Before our final session, my group persuades Cousha and Nemo to show off their skills. We wade out to a safe depth for jumping, away from the rocks, and watch them in their element in the bright morning sun.

They’re skimming the water, flying through the air performing board grabs, flips and turns with the brightly painted buildings of El Gouna hazy behind them, the mountains beyond, and myriad colourful kites overhead.

I’m suddenly brought back to reality with a jolt, as Cousha comes flying towards us, yelling: “Look out!”

He’s almost within touching distance as he takes off and arcs 180 degrees around us, two metres above our heads. I feel the adrenaline surge through my body – and that’s just from watching. Now I get why people love it so much.

Before jumping back into the water, we grab a top lunch in the swanky Abu Tig Marina area, in Club 88 (Abu Tig Marina North, tel. +2 015 0739 3572), perfect for a few beachside nibbles and fruity cocktails.

Then, inspired by the instructors’ expertise, many of us manage to stand up on our boards later that day – albeit briefly – swallowing what feels like half the Red Sea with each wipeout. But it’s worth it for the sense of achievement.

Buoyed by our success, we’re keen to celebrate tonight, so Doaa insists on taking us to a traditional Bedouin camp where we feast on Egyptian food – flatbreads, mezze dips and grilled meat – and watch a live show.

Tonight, bellydancers, a whirling dervish and a comedy horse keep us entertained while we suck on flavoured shisha and sip black tea.

It’s party night on Mangroovy Beach, so we ditch the cultural experience and go off in search of beer and cocktails, arriving around midnight as the music is pumping.

The RedSeaZone instructors are here, cutting some rather unusual shapes on the sand. I order a cocktail and chat to Cousha, who’s less intimidating when he’s not in the water.

In fact, he’s quite the charmer. “You are my best ever student,” he says, although it makes me question how much he’s had to drink, and how bad his other students were.


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Big trip to Egypt: Daredevil kitesurfing and hard partying in El Gouna
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